As we’ve gotten to know her over the past few years, we’ve noticed that Melissa Inouye, in any group, has a remarkable way of reorienting a conversation. She tends to be the one with the eyes to see “the least of these.” She has a profound and sincere empathy for those who are in deep struggle, those on the edges, the marginalized, the looked-over, the passed-by. When these people and their difficulties are invisible to others, she gently call others’ attention to them as well.
That uniquely empathetic perspective she brings has found a beautiful expression in her new book Sacred Struggle: Seeking Christ on the Path of Most Resistance. It’s a “treatise on trials” — one in which Melissa asks the deepest, most difficult questions without shying away from them, including those around her own experience with cancer.
The book, and the conversation we had with Melissa, deal with struggle itself, but also with its second-order effects: how can struggle be alchemized into connectedness — into Zion — instead of driving us apart? Who gets to assign meaning to struggle? Is there a way to avoid pain in a community, or is it built into the experience?
Melissa received her Ph.D. from Harvard in 2011 and became a Senior Lecturer in Asian Studies at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. She’s now working as a historian for the Church History department.
We were grateful, as we always are, to benefit from her deep wisdom born of lived experience.