Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges
TRAUMA AND LIVED RELIGION TRANSCENDING THE ORDINARY
R. Ruard Ganzevoort and Srdjan Sremac
Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges
Series Editors R. Ruard Ganzevoort Faculty of Religion and Theology Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Amsterdam, The Netherlands Nancy Ammerman Department of Sociology Boston University Boston, USA Srdjan Sremac Faculty of Religion and Theology Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges publishes monographs and edited volumes that describe and critically interpret pressing societal issues from a lived religion perspective. Many contemporary societal challenges regard religion, directly or indirectly, and usually religion contributes to the problem as much as it fosters positive outcomes. The defining feature of the series is that religion is approached not as a stable system of official positions, traditions, creeds, and structures but as a fluid and multi-layered practice of what people actually do, experience, think, and share when they appropriate religious repertoires, specifically in the context of dealing with societal challenges. Topics to be addressed range from conflicts and (in-)tolerance, to building inclusive societies; from urban development and policy-making to new forms of social cohesion; from poverty and injustice to global ecological. Challenges of the 21st century. While such issues are studied by several disciplines, with different approaches and foci, this series adds a particular focus on the everyday practices of religious and spiritual actors. Contexts to be studied include, but are not limited to faith communities, educational and health care settings, media, and the public sphere at large. The series has a global scope and is open to studies from all contexts and religious backgrounds such as the sociology of religion and cultural anthropology, religious studies and theology, history and psychology, law and economy. More information about this series at http://www.palgrave.com/gp/series/15215 Other titles from Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges: LIVED RELIGION AND THE POLITICS OF (IN)TOLERANCE (2017) Edited by R. Ruard Ganzevoort and Srdjan Sremac VIOLENT TRAUMA, CULTURE, AND POWER (2017) Written by Michelle Walsh THE MAKING OF A GAY MUSLIM (2017) Written by Shanon Shah
R. Ruard Ganzevoort · Srdjan Sremac Editors
Trauma and Lived Religion Transcending the Ordinary
Editors R. Ruard Ganzevoort Faculty of Religion and Theology Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Srdjan Sremac Faculty of Religion and Theology Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges ISBN 978-3-319-91871-6 ISBN 978-3-319-91872-3 (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91872-3 Library of Congress Control Number: 2018941894 © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, express or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Cover credit: Painting by Danilo Vuksanović Printed on acid-free paper This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland
Trauma and Lived Religion: Embodiment and Emplotment 1 Srdjan Sremac and R.Ruard Ganzevoort Part I Body Torture and Lived Religion: Practices of Resistance 15 Kathryn House Disgust, Shame, and Trauma: The Visceral and Visual Impact of Touch 45 Stephanie N. Arel Part II Meaning Significance of the “Visceral” in Lived Religion Studies of Trauma 73 Michelle A. Walsh v
Traumics: The Church and Trauma in Comic Book Format 95 Maike Schult Part III Relationship The Function of Religion in the Context of Re-Experiencing Trauma: Analyzing a Case Study with the Concepts of Transformational and Transitional Object 113 Hanneke Schaap-Jonker Trauma in Relationship—Healing by Religion: Restoring Dignity and Meaning After Traumatic Experiences 129 Mariéle Wulf Part IV Testimony Lived Religion and the Traumatic Impact of Sexual Abuse: The Sodalicio Case in Peru 155 Rocio Figueroa Alvear and David Tombs Feeding the Hungry Spirits: A Socially Engaged Buddhist Response to the Distortion of Trauma 177 Jürgen Jian Lembke and Julianne Funk Part V Ritual Remembering for Healing: Liturgical Communities of Reconciliation Provide Space for Trauma 203 Armand Léon van Ommen
Victimization via Ritualization: Christian Communion and Sexual Abuse 225 Hilary Jerome Scarsella Index 253
Rocio Figueroa Alvear Good Shepherd College, Auckland, New Zealand Stephanie N. Arel New York University, New York, NY, USA Julianne Funk University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland; Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), Athens, Greece Kathryn House School of Theology, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA Jürgen Jian Lembke Association Via Integralis, Basel, Switzerland; Glassman-Lassalle Zen Lineage, Edlibach, Switzerland R. Ruard Ganzevoort Faculty of Religion and Theology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands Hilary Jerome Scarsella Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA Hanneke Schaap-Jonker Centre for Research and Innovation in Christian Mental Health Care, Amersfoort, The Netherlands Maike Schult University of Kiel, Kiel, Germany ix
Srdjan Sremac Faculty of Religion and Theology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands David Tombs University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand Armand Léon van Ommen Department of Divinity and Religious Studies, Aberdeen University, Aberdeen, UK Michelle A. Walsh School of Social Work Boston University, Boston, MA, USA Mariéle Wulf Moral Theology and Christian Ethics, School of Catholic Theology, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands
List of Figures
Feeding the Hungry Spirits: A Socially Engaged Buddhist Response to the Distortion of Trauma Fig. 1 Testimonial art by Marian Kołodziej untitled (Kołodziej 2009, p. 175) 178
Remembering for Healing: Liturgical Communities of Reconciliation Provide Space for Trauma Fig. 1 Cycle of remembering for healing 216
Trauma and Lived Religion: Embodiment and Emplotment Srdjan Sremac and R. Ruard Ganzevoort
Traumatic experiences and other significant life events have specific significance in the study of religion. They are on the one hand important drivers for religious reflection and action but on the other hand they constitute fundamental challenges to religious meaning systems. Religious traditions provide a repertoire of language and actions that can express and transform these challenging experiences. In the past decades, trauma studies have become an important field of insight, combining neurosciences, coping theories, and sociocultural and religious studies. In bringing trauma studies into the field of lived religion, this volume offers more profound understanding of the ways in which individuals and communities respond to challenging situations.
S. Sremac (*) · R. R. Ganzevoort Faculty of Religion and Theology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands e-mail: [email protected]
R. R. Ganzevoort e-mail: [email protected]
© The Author(s) 2019 R. R. Ganzevoort and S. Sremac (eds.), Trauma and Lived Religion, Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91872-3_1
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By giving attention to lived religious wisdom, both scholars and caregivers can reimagine experiences of trauma. There may be both possibilities for transformation and growth and moments of harm. The present volume focuses on the power of the ‘ordinary,’ ‘everydayness,’ and ‘embodiment’ as key to exploring the intersection of trauma and the everyday reality of religion. These essays examine how trauma is articulated and lived in people’s concrete, material actualities wherein meaning is made (religious), coping mechanisms are constructed, and bodies testify to espoused truths. Trauma and Lived Religion covers this broad and complex area of interrelated issues. The authors represent various theoretical and methodological perspectives on lived religious and post-traumatic realities, but each seeks to demonstrate the vital relevance of the concept of lived religion to the study of trauma. Each helps us to understand the lived particularities of trauma as embodied practices in which (religious) stories and narratives are created, transformed, and shared. They will show how the meaning of (religious) narratives may be reframed and how somatic memories of trauma express sacred realities. They examine symbolic regimes, contemplative prayer techniques, and liturgical micro-practices to ask how trauma is experienced and expressed. They look anew at sacred texts and varieties of meditational and mystical experiences to see them through the lens of trauma. This collection thus evokes a deeper exploration of how lived religion exposes the spiritual realm underneath post-traumatic realities, looking for the ways it may bring things back into a meaningful order. These essays call attention to material and spatial practices in the post-traumatic situation that point to the relationship between presences and absences of the ‘object of significance’ (Pargament 1997). They explore the lived experiences out of which theodicy and meaning-making emerge in the aftermath of violent trauma (Klassen et al. 2006). A central question in this volume therefore regards the key elements of structure and content in the connection between lived religion and the experience of trauma. In order to understand the process through which lived religious and traumatic experiences are constructed, and how this shapes individual as well as collective identity, it is necessary to focus on the everyday experiences, interests, and needs of the trauma survivors involved in this process. In previous studies on trauma, the role of lived
Trauma and Lived Religion: Embodiment and Emplotment 3
religion in this process has not always been acknowledged. Instead, religion was often conceptualized as a more or less stable system of convictions and behaviors, operationalized as an independent variable affecting traumatic experiences and especially coping processes (Pargament 1997), rather than as a volatile and ambiguous multidimensional repertoire that individuals navigate in a continuous negotiation with their personal and social context and narrative (Ganzevoort 1998a, b). Because lived religion is fluid, religiousactors and phenomena cannot be fully demarcated from other domains (psychoanalytical, cultural, political) in which they are situated. This volume acknowledges that complexity and focuses on the post-traumatic actualities and world-making subjectivities of lived religion. Our lived religion approach also, critically, points to ways that such potentially destructive narratives, bodily actions, and meanings might be disrupted and resisted. In the chapter by Kathryn House, for example, there is a call to develop practices of everyday prophetic religion that can resist the normalization of torture. Our approach to lived religion attends to its multilayered complexity. It is at once social, material, memorial, somatic, narrative, acoustic, aesthetic, and erotic. It is all the ways in which the sacred is produced and performed in the realm of the everyday. A lived religion approach takes its starting point in religious practices (or what Morgan (2014) aptly calls ‘religion-at-work’) and its exquisitely varied expressions: in ‘what people actually do, experience, desire, hope, think, imagine, and touch’ in everyday contexts and settings (Sremac and Ganzevoort 2017, 5; Ganzevoort and Roeland 2014). It is also characterized by a particular holistic or ecological understanding of religion as something that is embedded and embodied (cf. McGuire 2008, 13–14; Orsi 2016, 2010, xv). Lived religion, in other words, takes place in concrete material, spatial, political, cultural, and social environments, through embodied subjects who act, think, feel, see, hear, smell, touch, and experience. Adopting the general framework of everyday lived religion as the ethnographic and hermeneutical background for understanding the performative dimensions of ‘religion-in-action’ as it functions in people’s ordinary lives, the authors in this collection critically correlate the experience of trauma with lived religious realities, symbols, sacred
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texts, canonical religious stories, spiritual contemplative practices, and transcendental material/aesthetic meaning-making. That is to say, lived religion is a matrix of performative representations of symbols, narratives, and imaginations. The concrete forms of the sacred and its real presence in ordinary people’s lives promise rich and generative material for analysis. We consider in this volume the sacred to refer to those dimensions of human experience that allow for another way of perceiving and being in the world. It is not necessarily another reality outside this world/reality, but another perspective toward this reality. Lived religion, therefore, points to the real encounter with a sense of extraordinary presence. It may be in the midst of mundane action, or it may be a revelatory event that effects a dramatic reordering of the individual’s horizon of meaning and an autobiographical transformation. Everyday religious experience, as well as ritual/liturgical practices, can (as both Ommen and Scarsella explore) place traumatic experience within a cultural, narrative, and/or personal history and memory. And learning from the experiences of those who bring trauma memories to those rituals challenges the established theo-religious modes of academic knowledge production. As a traumatic event irrupts into life and reconfigures the ways we see the world, lived religious world-making processes involve various relationships between memory, body, language, sensations, and space. These processes take place in a realm where earlier taken-for-granted references have been traumatically interrupted and stripped of their previous significations. Lived religious world-making can, however, inform post-traumatic coping mechanisms, significantly contribute to the re-envisioning of traumatic experience, and open a regenerative realm of action and relationship. Trauma is often experienced as a contradiction to reality-as-perceived, and it resembles the limits of language and presentation in general. Trauma’s reality, as Orsi (2016, 102) points out, is ‘disassociated from all semantic-linguistic-verbal representation.’ Bodies must be taken into account, since trauma goes beyond the subject’s discursive horizons and it is experienced in the visceral realm (van der Kolk 2014). As Michelle Walsh’s essay points out, one is rendered speechless, and cognitive processes can become frozen along with
Trauma and Lived Religion: Embodiment and Emplotment 5
particular viscerally encoded memories. To understand the lived traumatic (and religious) repertoire, we have to be aware that the traumatic and religious experiences are often stored in somatic memories without discursive frameworks attached to them. Both lived religion and trauma insist that bodies remember (see House, this volume). Shelly Rambo (2016, 7) states in her introductory chapter of Post-Traumatic Public Theology that the evolving attentiveness to the ‘somatic dimensions of trauma emphasizes the limits of language and points to ritual expressions of healing that target the body.’ The present volume, therefore, assumes that trauma speech is never entirely comprehended by linguistic ‘grammar’—and the same could be said for spiritual speech. Drives, affects, fantasies, dreams, ecstasies, and aesthetics are often known and expressed in bodily performances not words. Hopes, sensations, and moods are trans- and extra-linguistic experiences that constantly irrupt into the symbolic/linguistic and the material order of trauma. As Walsh’s essay also reminds us, trauma leaves traces, not only on people’s bodies and minds/discourses but also inscribed on space. Meaning-making is not ‘disembodied and abstract, but deeply sensorial and material’ (Meyer 2014, 218). At this point in the conversation, our explorations could benefit from insights into the effects of trauma on the brain. While technically not completely accurate, the triune brain model originally proposed by Paul MacLean in the 1960s helpfully distinguishes between three functions of the human brain. The first function is the control of basic bodily functions and the continuous monitoring of the environment as being safe or unsafe. The second function is located in the ‘limbic’ system of affects and emotions, regulating among others stress hormones. The third function is based on the neocortex, allowing the cognitive processes of memory, interpretation, and choice. These three functions combined allow us to process and respond to significant life events. Stress responses serve to alert and energize the system in order to cope with the threatening situation. If all goes well, the neocortical system restores cognitive agency so that the stress levels return to normal. In the case of trauma, this balancing mechanism becomes ineffective due to a destabilizing high stress level resulting from the sensory overload in the primary and limbic system. This basic insight into the
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effects of traumatic experiences on the brain helps us to understand the precognitive, bodily nature of trauma, but it also reminds us that the connection of trauma and religion might not be located primarily in the cognitive dimensions like religious convictions, creeds, and attribution of meanings, but in the limbic, sensory, material, and bodily dimensions. Scholars in religious studies and theology would do well to attend more closely to these non-cognitive dimensions of lived religion. The studies in this volume offer ample material for that transition.
Overview This volume is organized around five dimensions of the trauma–lived religion nexus: body, meaning, relationship, testimony, and ritual. Although these dimensions are not thought to be exhaustive, they offer a useful spectrum of perspectives to understand the variegated interactions of trauma and lived religion.
Body To begin with, two chapters focus explicitly on the embodied nature of both trauma and lived religion. Kathryn House’s essay engages the centrality of embodiment in both torture and the study of lived religion to suggest practices of resistance. It notes the depth of physical and psychological trauma inflicted in torture and insists that in order to begin to resist torture as a moral or effective practice, careful attention must be given to articulating and then dismantling the underlying logics of the body, truth, and practice. The essay delineates current faith-based efforts to educate communities and advocate for an end to state-sanctioned torture and solitary confinement, specifically through a focus on the work of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), and concludes with a call for resistance to torture through both prophetic imagination and practice.
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Stephanie Arel examines the impact of touch—as both an optic and haptic phenomenon—on the affective residues of trauma manifested in disgust and shame. Probing the media presence of Pope Francis and his modeling of inclusivity through touch, the chapter presses for a Christian theological awareness of the effects of touch, readily apparent in Christian praxis, on those marginalized and traumatized by society, noting how touch and touching become modes of living religion. Calling for a theological intervention on shame and disgust as vestiges of trauma, Arel presents a theological counter-narrative to shame embodied in the lived religious acts—and their representations—of Pope Francis.
Meaning Building on embodiment, the next two chapters focus on the construction of meaning regarding traumatic experiences. Drawing on her personal vignettes of ethnographic immersion experiences, Michelle Walsh explores the significance of attending to the body as a source of knowledge in the lived religion study of trauma. Bodily experience not only is argued to be the relational root of the religious impulse, it also is the source of disrupted meaning-making in the aftermath of trauma. The experience of trauma is one source of embodied depth fiercely seeking new forms of expression, including through religious stories and practices. Such fierce desire also can press the poetic limits of language and material expressions and the boundaries of formal religion. These in turn raise complicated questions in challenges to traditional ethnographic boundaries and claims of objectivity, as well as for power and ethics in field research. Against the background of multiple cases of sexual abuse by church personnel, Maike Schult’s contribution explores the traumic’s special range of expression in the area of religious taboo subjects. It is centered on the comic ‘Why I Killed Peter.’ Schult argues that its imaginative combination of words and images can make the perspective of the abused child visible and show the manipulative way the moment of abuse is prepared. This essay reveals critical moments of trauma that can lead to a disintegration of religious notions and values.
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Relationship In the next step, we present two chapters that focus on the effect of trauma on religion mediated through relationships. Hanneke SchaapJonker focuses on the functions of lived religion in the context of trauma from the perspective of psychology of religion. A case study in which the vivid re-experiencing of trauma in flashbacks is explicitly connected with religious faith is discussed and analyzed with concepts from object relation theories. The author focuses on the concepts of transformational object (Bollas) and transitional object (Winnicott). The case study of Rachel is presented and analyzed. Rachel is a twenty-year-old Dutch woman with a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who discusses her suffering, including her flashbacks and related questions about God with her Christian therapist. Mariéle Wulf explores theologically how trauma may affect spirituality. If a relationship is traumatizing, she argues, it affects all the dimensions of the human being and deprives a person of his/her dignity. As a result of trauma, a person’s identity collapses, and the offender destroys the existence of his victim. In contrast to the malignant verdict of the offender, pastoral care can provide the experience that ‘it is good that you are just as you are.’ The loss of relationships following infidelity can be healed by a faithful relationship. This triple promise confirms a person’s dignity; it is a promise that is finally, and in unbroken fidelity, given by God himself.
Testimony The next two chapters deal with testimony, i.e., the presentation of personal narratives of trauma in terms related to spiritual traditions, thereby linking to the ‘dangerous narratives’ of those traditions (Metz 2011). Rocio Figueroa Alvear and David Tombs explore the traumatic impact of church-related sexual abuse through a case study of the Sodalicio Society in Peru. It draws on recent interviews with eight male survivors, who are now middle aged and who were psychologically and sexually abused when they were younger. The authors argue that
Trauma and Lived Religion: Embodiment and Emplotment 9
the abuse had a major impact on their lived religion and that attention to spiritual impacts taking place alongside physical and psychological impacts. Jürgen Jian Lembke and Julianne Funk in their chapter seek to describe the distortion as a psychological and physiological phenomenon, as a lens through which to consider a particular experience of trauma and healing, also related to Auschwitz, though individual lived religiosity. The authors argue that through the Three Tenets—not knowing, bearing witness, and loving action—Bearing Witness Retreats open ritualized spaces to recall traumatic events, confess the unspeakable, acknowledge the experiences of one another, drawing together a community reconnecting not only those called ‘victims,’ but also ‘perpetrators.’ While the Zen Peacemakers’ approach is not a therapeutic method, this engaged and lived spiritual practice includes all domains of human experience and therapeutic attention, thus addressing trauma, grief, the distortion of social interaction, but also joy, sharing, encouragement. The chapter bears witness to one German experience of this retreat in Auschwitz/Birkenau, including a ritual, the Gate of Sweet Nectar, which takes seriously the psycho-spiritual damage of violence by welcoming and feeding the hungry spirits—e.g., the ghosts of genocide and marginalization.
Ritual The final two chapters focus on ritual as the trans-linguistic space for both healing and revictimization. Léon van Ommen’s chapter contains the search for space for trauma in one of the focal points of religious communities, i.e., their liturgical gatherings. The author connects trauma and liturgy through the concept of remembrance, which is a key concept in both trauma studies and liturgical theology. The author elaborates on remembrance by looking at the complementary studies on trauma and lived religion of Storm Swain, Miroslav Volf, and Robert Schreiter. Showing the potential power of lived liturgy to create space for suffering and trauma, the chapter ends with a plea for liturgical communities of careful remembrance.
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Finally, Hilary Scarsella interrogates the relationship between trauma and liturgical ritual as it manifests for survivors of sexual violence participating in Christian celebrations of communion in particular US contexts. Arguing that ritualization has a uniquely intimate relationship with traumatic experience, the chapter theoretically undergirds sexual violence survivors’ sense that communion participation exacerbated their vulnerability to harm, and it validates survivors’ experiences of communion participation as retraumatizing. Far from seeking to categorically dismiss Christian communion as irredeemably problematic in light of sexual violence, the author calls on theorists and practitioners to partner with sexual violence survivors in reforming the practice such that participation refrains from perpetuating harm.
Bibliography Ganzevoort, R.R. 1998a. Religious Coping Reconsidered. An Integrated Approach. Journal of Psychology and Theology 26 (3): 260–275. Ganzevoort, R.R. 1998b. Religious Coping Reconsidered: A Narrative Reformulation. Journal of Psychology and Theology 26 (3): 276–284. Ganzevoort, R.R., and J.H. Roeland. 2014. Lived Religion. The Praxis of Practical Theology. International Journal of Practical Theology 18 (1): 91–101. Klassen, D.W., M.J. McDonald, and S. James. 2006. Advance in the Study of Religious and Spiritual Coping. In Handbook of Multicultural Perspectives on Stress and Coping, ed. P.T.P. Wong and L.C.J. Wong, 105–132. Boston: Springer. McGuire, M. 2008. Lived Religion: Faith and Practice in Everyday Life. New York: Oxford University Press. Metz, J.B. 2011. Memoria Passionis. Freiburg: Herder. Meyer, B. 2014. Around Birgit Meyer’s ‘Mediation and the Genesis of Presence: Toward a Material Approach to Religion’. Religion and Society: Advances in Research 5: 205–254. Morgan, David. 2014. The Material Culture of Lived Religions: Visuallity and Embodiment. Mind and Matter: Selected Papers of Nordic Conference 2009. Studies in Art History, 41. Helsinki: Taidehistorian seura.
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Orsi, A.R. 2010. The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1880–1950, 3rd ed. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. Orsi, A.R. 2016. History and Presence. Cambridge, MA and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Pargament, K.I. 1997. The Psychology of Religion and Coping. New York: Guilford. Rambo, S. 2016. Introduction. In Post-Traumatic Theology, ed. S.N. Arel and S. Rambo. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Sremac, S., and R.R. Ganzevoort. 2017. Lived Religion and Lived (In)Tolerance. In Lived Religion and the Politics of (In)Tolerance, ed. R.R. Ganzevoort and S. Sremac, 1–15. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan. van der Kolk, Bessel. 2014. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. New York: Penguin Books.
Part I Body
Torture and Lived Religion: Practices of Resistance Kathryn House
Introduction: Witnessing In December 2014, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) released the much-anticipated review of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program (SSCI 2014). The full document, over 6700 pages, remains classified, but the almost 525 pages made available offered indisputable proof of the clandestine interrogations, renditions, and detentions of individuals thought to have knowledge of terrorist activities after the attacks on the USA in 11 September 2001. Jared Del Rosso pointedly summarizes the slippages and recalibrations of authority and truth in the documents: “the CIA employed unauthorized interrogation techniques and used authorized techniques in unauthorized ways and that those techniques did not yield valuable information” (2015, p. xi). Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein confirmed that
K. House (*) School of Theology, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA e-mail: [email protected]
© The Author(s) 2019 R. R. Ganzevoort and S. Sremac (eds.), Trauma and Lived Religion, Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91872-3_2
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in her estimation, the evidence is now clear “that, under any common meaning of the term, the CIA detainees were tortured…the conditions of confinement and the use of authorized and unauthorized interrogation and conditioning techniques were cruel, inhuman, and degrading” (2014, p. 4). Indeed, one key insight of the report was that “the interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and the American public” (SSCI, “Findings and Conclusions,” 2014, p. 3). The SSCI report also included confirmation that officials at the highest levels implemented and condoned the following enhanced interrogation techniques: exposure to extreme temperatures, sleep deprivation, confinement, rectal feeding and rehydration, threats of death to prisoners and prisoners’ families, stress positions, sexual humiliation, waterboarding, and walling (“Findings and Conclusions,” 2014, pp. 3 and 4). Since 2014, not only have these techniques been named in the Committee’s 2014 study, but also they were recalled in testimony from Guantánamo detainees obtained in declassified transcripts of military hearings (Savage 2016). Ariel Dorfman’s lament in “Hope/Esperanza,” a poem recounting a parent’s unending horror of not having information about a child disappeared under General Pinochet’s brutal regime in Chile, resounds in the wake of these American affirmations: “Somebody tell me frankly/what times are these/ what kind of world/what country?” (2002, pp. 10 and 11). It is possible to view the Program as one misguided step of a country otherwise devoted to human rights, even in the most tenuous and trying circumstances. President Obama’s statement at an August 2014 press conference, as some report revelations were beginning to surface, demonstrates this view: “…In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values…And when we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, techniques that I believe and I think any fairminded person would believe were torture, we crossed a line…And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so that, hopefully, we don’t do it again in the future” (Obama 2014). But such sound bites do not account for the complexity and history of torture within the USA. If Dorfman’s question is a call about the reality
Torture and Lived Religion: Practices of Resistance 17
of torture as a matter of national policy, here related to the admissions of torture in the CIA’s program, then Nafis White’s installation piece “Can I Get a Witness?” is a response from the related context of police brutality in the United States. In the piece, a neon sign hangs on an unadorned wall (White 2014a, b). It beckons: “Can I Get A Witness?” in neon white matchsticks, sharp, blazing, just barely touching at tenuous angles. The letters are crooks and curves, stretching and bending. A typed list, running vertically down the page, is posted to the left of the sign. This is a list of the names of men and women who have been killed by police forces in the USA. The list begins with “2104: Mike Brown (Ferguson, MO)” and ends (begins?) with “2009: Victor Steen, (Pensacola, FL).” In the artist’s description, White notes that the piece grew out of seeing Mike Brown’s body lying in the street for four hours, bereft of concern from those who were sworn to protect him. White explains: “This terrible event, along with the many before and after are part of my landscape, part of my DNA, and the call to action, to work together as a community to challenge these violent events is being illuminated and shouted out for all to bear witness to. Our collective witnessing is what is shifting our landscape and our consciousness” (2014b). The intrinsic connection between the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program and White’s statement is highlighted here to emphasize that the violence perpetuated under the auspices of the CIA’s program is arguably not the exception but the norm in US-American policing strategies (Alexander 2012, p. 13; Gordon 2014, pp. 107 and 133; Zimmerman 2013, p. 183). Note that the Executive Summary was released in Washington, DC, on 9 December 2014, and gained traction during waves of protest in the USA over police brutality. One such sparking event was that on 3 December, a grand jury did not indict New York Police Department Officer Daniel Pantaleo for placing Eric Garner in a chokehold that ended his life (New York Times Editorial Board 2014). Contrary to the way records of torture abroad were destroyed, the evidence from Ramsey Orta’s video forced a visual and auditory reckoning with Garner’s repeated cries of “I can’t breathe” and the seven minutes of silence as he laid motionless (Guardian.com 2014). Thus, the simultaneity of the report’s release and the grand jury decision might be accidental, but the timing is not inconsequential.
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I intentionally begin by forging a connection between the torture of non-US-American enemy combatants and insurgents and police brutality against US-American citizens, predominantly black and brown US-American citizens, to reiterate the ubiquity of such violence within the context of the USA. As legal scholar Dorothy E. Roberts explains, the logic of torture is well acquainted with “racialized hierarchies” and the “marking” of brown and black bodies, bodies deemed in/subhuman. Roberts articulates the operationalizing of these hierarchies in this way: “Torture’s maintenance and production of racialized hierarchies links the current treatment of detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantánamo to the status of African Americans in the United States. Torture functions similarly in both cases to mark the bodies of brownskinned victims as savage objects undeserving of civilized legal protection and to violently impose their subjugated status” (Roberts 2008, p. 230). Theologian Kelly Brown Douglas argues that such an understanding functions within the American myth of Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism, America’s “original sin” of white supremacy, evident as far back in US-American history as in the forced removals of against Native Americans and enslaved African Americans in the history of the founding of the USA (2015, p. 15). Torture, then, must be understood within a history of racialized violence in the USA, even as it is contextualized within the US-American reality of mass incarceration and police brutality, as movements like #BlackLivesMatter have brought to the forefront of American consciousness (Douglas 2015; Alexander 2012; #BlackLivesMatter 2016). To say “never again” is to deny history past and history unfolding; to frame the CIA Program as a reasonable but unfortunate response in a time of extreme fear masks the way in which institutionalized violence against persons of color is the precedent and norm rather than the exception in the USA. Positing torture within this broader context of racialized violence has implications for trauma and lived religion. It not only takes seriously torture’s impact on individual persons, but also attends to the perspectives of scholars such as Maria Root and Stef Caps, who broaden definitions and diagnoses of trauma by attending to the “long-term, cumulative trauma suffered by victims of racism or other forms of structural oppression” (Craps 2013, p. 20; Root 1992). Such a context also
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presses the power of the ordinary and the “everyday” as a significant lens by which to analyze the intersection of torture, trauma, and lived religion. Rebecca Gordon has persuasively argued that instances of torture seem like aberrations. Torturers seem to be betraying orders, stepping out of line and taking things too far. On the contrary, Gordon contends, torture’s power is in the fact that it is highly normalized; it is ingrained in and protected in institutions rather than singular or rare occurrences. It is this imagined rarity that lends the reality of torture an air of m ystique or responses of shocked condemnation rather than sustained resistance or acceptance of its ubiquity (2014, p. 107). Analysis through a framework of lived religion offers a similar methodological move by refusing to prioritize the abstract, special or set apart as the subject of study and as the most insightful location or source of meaning-making. Whereas the study of religion often assumes a dichotomy between the sacred and the profane, focusing predominantly on religion as unembodied beliefs in stable and fixed institutions, Robert Orsi argues that engaging religion from this more materialist and empiricist perspective embraces the ways that unique individuals at particular times and places in specific spaces practice religion. According to Orsi, this expands the definition of what it means for humans to make meaning and just where such meaning-making might take place (1997, p. 7). Religious practice is not confined to pews or pulpits, but encompasses all of the places where humans narrate and interpret their worlds. Such intersections and spaces—offices, subways, the streets— are religious, he contends, because they “are the places where humans make something of the worlds they have found themselves thrown into, and, in turn, it is through these subtle, intimate, quotidian actions on the world that meanings are made, known, and verified” (1997, p. 7). Torture, which has the horrific capacity for creating worlds and is grounded in beliefs that bodies bear particular truths, can thus be queried through a lens of lived religion. Engaging a lived religion framework provides more than a tool for description or analysis, however, and more than a heuristic revealing the banal brutality of torture. It also, critically for this essay, invites exploration of practices grounded in religious commitments to disrupt and resist torture. Cornel West’s designation of “prophetic religion”
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is helpful here and a powerful interlocutor for addressing how lived religion might counter the terror of torture (2011). West describes prophetic religion as “tragicomic” and a “fugitive affair – an empathetic and imaginative power that confronts hegemonic power always operating” (2011, p. 99). At the core of prophetic religion is the “catastrophic, the suffering of oppressed people”; not in a flimsy, patronizing way, he asserts, but in “having a genuine love and willingness to celebrate with and work alongside those catching hell” (2011, p. 96). “Prophetic religion,” he argues, “is an individual and collective performative praxis of maladjustment to greed, fear, and bigotry” (2011, p. 99). Examining prophetic lived religion, then, places “performative praxis of maladjustment to greed, fear, and bigotry” at the heart of what might be considered religious, shifting narratives of truth, the implications of embodiment, and considerations of authority and norms (2011, p. 99). I seek to make three moves in this essay. I do so with White’s naming of both the individual and the collective in mind. The first is White’s assertion that realities of systemic violence are carried within one’s person—within flesh and blood, within one’s very DNA. The second is the summons for collective witnessing, action and response. Thus, acknowledging the undeniable connection between the individual and the collective, I will describe torture’s impact upon individual and collective bodies, engage a lived religion framework to explore Gordon’s notion of torture as a false practice, and outline practices of resistance to torture. In these turns, I will identify Christian practices that disrupt what Christian ethicist William Cavanaugh deems the “social imagination” that makes torture possible (Cavanaugh 1998), while also expanding upon a notion of what might be considered Christian practice or lived religion in a prophetic tenor (West 2011). According to Cavanaugh, torture destroys not just physical bodies but also social bodies, bodies which are undergirded by a powerful social imagination, which he describes as a “vision which organizes the members into a set of coherent performances, and which is constantly reconstructed by those performances,” (1998, p. 12). I will ask how the materiality of bodies in the context of torture challenges conventional definitions and concerns of systematic theological categories within new accountabilities, sources, and norms, thereby seeking to build upon
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an understanding of religion itself. This is not to discount the necessity of laws that prohibit torture or the honoring of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which the USA helped to create and ratified in 1984 (United Nations OHCHR 1984). It is, however, to hopefully join those who, in word and deed, refuse to see torture as a reality that only those with extraordinary powers or authority can prevent.
Intersection of Lived Religion, Torture, and Trauma “Everydayness” and embodiment are key to exploring the intersection of torture, trauma, and everyday religion. Ruard Ganzevoort and Johan Roeland contend that “everyday” embodied practices, “patterns of action and meaning that somehow transcend our everyday existence,” are the focus of lived religion analysis (Ganzevoort and Roeland 2014, p. 94). They continue that this focus on action and embodiment expands and democratizes an understanding of religion, pressing religion as something that “happens” outside of the confines of the tasks of religious professionals or that can only be measured by large quantitative studies (2014, p. 94). Meredith McGuire argues in a similar direction. Whereas the study of religion or religious persons might have previously been confined to institutional beliefs or dogmas, McGuire suggests lived religion as a more richly textured approach than a simple cognitive one (2008, p. 12). She explains that human bodies matter in the study of religion because they are the conduits by which religious experience is fomented. According to McGuire, “Lived religion is constituted by the practices people use to remember, share, enact, adapt, create, and combine the stories out of which they live. And it comes into being through the often-mundane practices people use to transform these meaningful interpretations into everyday action. Human bodies matter, because those practices… involve people’s bodies, as well as their minds and spirits” (2008, p. 98). McGuire also suggests that practices do: They establish a sense of social connection between people, ignite emotional ties, and are the
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ways in which institutional memories and identities are passed down within communities. She cautions, however, that while there are “creative spiritualties” that engender more harmonious relationships, focus on beauty, and inspire compassion, there are also “destructive spiritualities” or practices and rituals that destroy the body and encourage violence toward or hatred of others (2008, p. 117). Thus, the utilization of a practice makes a difference and elucidates her claim that “embodied practices are hardly neutral” (2008, p. 117). From a more positive perspective, discipline is intrinsic to devotion to a practice or ritual that reflects one’s level of commitment and the gravity with which one considers a pursuit or practice worthwhile. From a more negative perspective, however, discipline can also have deleterious effects on bodies (2008, p. 118). Torture is a very salient example of the ways in which practices with strict disciplines might be connected to what McGuire calls “destructive spiritualities.” Just as the category of lived religion emphasizes that embodied practices are the ways stories and narratives are created, transformed, and shared, the theoretical foundation for torture as a productive action relies on a belief that bodies tell truths and impart meaning. Both lived religion and torture insist that bodies know. In order to articulate practices of resistance in hopes of dismantling torture’s hold on the human imagination as a productive, useful, or moral act or response, some attention must be turned to the definition and logic of torture. The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment defines torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical, or mental, is intentionally inflicted by or at the instigation of a public official on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or confession, punishing him for an act he has committed, or intimidating him or other persons” (1984). Gordon expands the definition, adding that torture involves “dismantling the victim’s sensory, psychological, and social worlds, with the purpose of establishing
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or maintaining that entity’s power” (Gordon 2014, p. 37). William Schweiker’s insistence that torture involves “dehumanizing the victim” is another key observation of the approach used by torturers (2008, pp. 211 and 212). It is indeed an individual’s humanity that becomes central to both enacting and resisting torture. Elaine Scarry’s pivotal work The Body in Pain provides insight into torture’s world-destroying aspects. Scarry asserts that every conceivable aspect of a victim’s world is rendered into a source of pain; the world one has known is transformed into “a grotesque compensatory drama” (1985, p. 28). Intense pain is experienced spatially. A victim’s world both constricts and expands to the immediacy of the body, negating anything outside of the body. Gordon contends that the pain is thus not just physical, but also psychological, even temporal—torture disorients to “reduce the victim’s world to an eternal, incomprehensible here and now” (Gordon 2014, p. 26). Torture is a cruel manipulation of what Scarry calls the “sheer material factualness” of the body, but in the process of annihilating a victim’s world, the materials of everyday life are also subverted for these coercive purposes as well. The simple materials in a building—windows, ceilings, walls, sinks, toilets—are transformed from into weapons (1985, p. 40). Scarry explains that a victim’s sense of reality and stability is distorted in the transformation of rooms and buildings as objects that provide comfort and safety into objects that produce pain and house horror (1985, p. 40). Gordon posits that disrupting and dismantling of detainees’ sensory worlds has been a regular feature of treatment in US detention centers, including those at Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, and Afghanistan. I offer evidence of this in a now-declassified 2002 CIA interrogation proposal from CIA Headquarters to those who sought to extract information from Abu Zubaydah. According to the interrogation proposal, Zubaydah was to be held in an all-white room that was brightened twenty-four hours a day. His room was to be constantly bombarded with noise, his sleep disrupted, and his contact with others very limited. The goal of these efforts, the proposal states, was for Zubaydah to develop a sense of “learned helplessness” (SSCI 2014, pp. 29 and 30). The proposal was offered while Zubaydah was hospitalized, but upon
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his arrival to his cell, these conditions, and indeed in a myriad of other techniques, have been used on Abu Zubaydah since 2002. An air- condition in the all-white room induced and regulated freezing temperatures. Security officers wore all black—black boots, uniforms, gloves, and balaclavas—to prevent Zubaydah from forming a connection with any of the interrogators. He was often kept naked with his hands and feet shackled (SSCI 2014, p. 26). It would also be the case that in 2002, Zubaydah spent 47 days in isolation without being asked any questions (SSCI 2014, p. 31). Page DuBois analyzes western philosophical traditions’ embrace of a logic that conceives “the body of the other as the site from which truth can be produced, and to using violence if necessary to extract that truth” (1991, p. 10). She traces the etymology of the word torture from the Greek word basanos, which was a test that determined whether or not an object was pure gold (1991, p. 6). Literally, it was a darker-colored stone that could be rubbed by another stone, and if a mark was produced, the stone in question was gold. Such is the origin of the word “touchstone,” and this method was used by bankers in antiquity to confirm the value of different circulating coins. Metaphorically in the pre-classical period, DuBois states that it also appears in aristocratic poetry as a term used to determine loyalty, a significant test as during the sixth century B.C.E., class strife threatened the established hierarchies and power structures (1991, p. 10). In Sophoclean poetry, she asserts, the word shifts catachrestically from “test” or “touchstone” to “torture,” and the figurative definition becomes authoritative and extended to a methodology by which truth was assessed in Athenian courts (1991, p. 21). Now, instead of a test of loyalty between nobles or those of equal status, DuBois articulates that slave bodies became a particular site from which truths are rendered. “In the Greek legal system,” she contends, “the torture of slaves figured as a guarantor of truth, as a process of truth-making”(1991, p. 47). Whose bodies could be tortured was a line upon which the difference in citizen and slave was drawn; slaves could be tortured, but Athenian citizens could not. Citizens could give testimony in trials, but the testimony of a tortured slave was held in even higher regard. The underlying rationale for this was that citizens
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possessed logos or reason, but slaves were thought to lack the capacity for reason, to exist as sheer materiality (1991, p. 52). Under torture, though, their bodies would bear the truth, and so the testimony rendered in the process of torturing a slave’s body was believed to surpass that of citizens’ rationale truths (1991, p. 68). Torture did not just render truth, though, or insist that individual bodies knew—it was the method by which humans could differenti ate between themselves and construct social identities. Darius Rejali explains that “torture generates different disciplinary orders, sharpening differences among human beings” (2009, p. 57). In Rejali’s “civic discipline model” of torture in a democracy, torture importantly delimits identities—to make meaning, drawing from McGuire—about identities such as citizen, slave, human, enemy, or “other.” Christopher Einolf argues that, just as DuBois demonstrates in ancient Greece, one pattern that emerges in torture is that it is more frequently used against outsiders and those who are not “full members of a society” (2007, p. 105). Rejali notes that torture is used against those who are ethnically, racially, or religiously outside the norm. In ancient republics, foreigners, slaves, and prisoners of war were included in this demarcation; in contemporary times, torture victims might include a variety of “quasi citizens,” including immigrants, refugees, or unhoused individuals (2009, p. 57). According to Rejali, torture resolved anxiety about who is a virtuous and worthy citizen, albeit now through methods more interior than outwardly physical. While scars from torture might have physically marked and demarcated bodies in ancient Greece, in modern democracies, torture is operationalized differently, Rejali posits, explaining that it “works on the inside, leaving its traces on habits and dispositions. Different kinds of people know where to go and not to go, where is venturing too far and where is home” (2009, p. 57). The role and power of the state are also critical in understanding how identities are both constructed and abused in torture. While much more could be said at this juncture, one significant aspect of the state’s power is in the medium of voice. Cavanaugh proposes that in the act of torture, a prisoner or victim’s capacity for speech is also shattered and replaced with that of the regime. A victim’s voice is muted, and her words are made to “double the voice of the state,” the state’s words substituted for her own (1998, p. 35).
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According to Rejali, one shift between classic and modern torture is that while classic torturers left marks or brands on bodies, modern torturers seek “to apply physical pain in order to touch the mind or warp a sense of self, and thereby shape the self-understandings of prisoners and dispose them to willing, compliant action” (2009, p. 35). This shift contributes to contextualizing torture within a trauma framework. The demolishing of the sense of self is characteristic of a traumatic event or stressors (Tal 1996, p. 15). Traumas are typically thought of as singular, catastrophic events—“a single devastating blow or an acute stab that breaks the protective shield of the psyche” (Craps 2014, p. 49). Torture is certainly traumatic as an assault against the body, but those who work to care for and advocate on behalf of victims also note that torture necessitates a broader definition of what constitutes trauma as well. In this sense, child psychiatrist Lenore Terr’s categorization of a Type II trauma as trauma that is ongoing, repetitive, and interpersonal rather than a Type I trauma that is episodic and could include “act of God” events allows for a clearer understanding of the bonds severed in torture (1991, p. 15). From a perspective of practice, torture’s power is also in exactly what kind of activity torture is. Gordon argues that to compel a sustained response to torture, it must be viewed as a formidable socially embedded “false practice” rather than the occasional malicious acts of a few rogue individuals. Torture is often viewed as episodic, even random, Gordon notes. It is conceived of as an activity performed haphazardly by a few misguided “bad apples” who have transgressed the boundaries of acceptable disciplinary practices (2014, p. 129). Countries sign declarations and resolutions promising not to torture (United Nations OHCHR 1984). But such an understanding elides torture’s commanding grip. Words and best intentions are never brought to life. These promises are routinely broken in the present, and they deny the history of state-sanctioned brutality against people of color in the USA, whether through chattel slavery, lynch mob terror, or the system of mass incarceration that churns on today. Just as, according to Ganzevoort and Roeland, “the concepts of praxis and lived religion focus on what people do rather than an ‘official’ religion, its sacred sources, its institutes, and its doctrines,” a more robust study
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of US-American approaches to torture should focus on what is actually done. It is only through such a reckoning that alternatives are made possible (2014, p. 93). Gordon engages philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre’s definition of practice to begin to demonstrate just what sort of activity torture might be considered. According to MacIntyre, practice is a “coherent and complex form of socially established cooperative activity through which goods internal to that form of activity are realized in the course of trying to achieve those standards of excellence which are appropriate to, and partially definitive of, that form of activity” (1984, p. 19). As Gordon reveals, MacIntyre himself addresses torture in After Virtue as a form of activity that is not in fact a practice because no internal goods—habits of excellence or virtues—are produced (Gordon 2014, p. 107). Gordon, however, looks to Christopher Lutz’s assessment of MacIntyre and posits that torture can be considered a “false practice” (Gordon 2014, p. 119; Lutz 2009, p. 98). In Lutz’s estimation, according to Gordon, instead of engendering moral virtues, a false practice stifles these virtues and inhibits rather than contributes to a human being’s pursuit of what MacIntyre calls “the good life” (Gordon, “Saying No! to Jack Bauer,” 2014). Gordon expands on Lutz’s contention of torture as a false practice by arguing that torture does in fact produce goods: It produces truth, enemies, and torturers (Gordon 2014, pp. 155 and 156). As previously discussed here, torture is permitted because it is believed to yield knowledge—a truth that the findings of the Executive Summary reveal as incredibly shortsighted. The truth that torture produces, in Gordon’s estimation, is the truth of the regime’s reality. Through relationships with the torturer and the tortured, and through connections between the larger society and ruling body, a very particular truth is “created and established” (Gordon 2014, p. 156). But torture’s force resonates outside the ways that truth might be produced. Not only are individual and physical worlds profaned in torture, but torture becomes a series of mechanisms to disrupt networks of care and compassion, creating a fearful and fragmented society of individuals in its wake (Cavanaugh 1998, p. 15). It is thus possible to see that torture renders many bodies incomprehensible—individual human bodies, social bodies, and
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physical habitats and environments. This is evident in Gordon’s assertion that in addition to truth, torture creates enemies. Gordon posits that this is crucial to the creation of Cavanaugh’s notion of social imagination (2014, p. 165). As Cavanaugh proposes, “One of torture’s primary purposes is the fostering of a certain kind of social imagination of who our enemies are” (2006, p. 307). When we view pictures taken at Abu Ghraib that depict prisoners as both dangerous and cowardly, they become, as Gordon states concisely, “a superhuman threat embodied in a subhuman human being” (2014, p. 165). This treatment of prisoners has also been a source of provocation and growth for Al-Qa’ida. Gordon assesses that the “war on terror” has indeed produced many more enemies for the USA. She quotes a US Army Major under the pseudonym Alexander Maxwell who states that it was the prison abuses at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, rather than any Islamic ideology or theology, that contributed to the growth of Al-Qa’ida (2014, p. 164). Critical theorist Judith Butler’s provocative assessments of the post9/11 US-American response are instructive for considering the ways in which constructions of the human person are being challenged by a new acceptance of torture as inevitability. Significantly for a lens of lived religion that centers materiality, Butler brings the categories of vulnerability, precarity, and grievability into the frame of considering who might be considered human (Butler 2006). In this war on terror, Butler queries: “Who counts as human? Whose lives count as lives? And, finally, what makes for a grievable life? ” (2010, p. 51). Butler contends that if infinite detentions and torture are accepted practices, the notion of what it means to be human has become threatened and possibly, mirroring indefinite detention, “indefinitely foreclosed” (2006, p. 100). She continues that the lives of terrorists have been deemed unreal. Terrorists’ ambiguous status under US-American policies and their inhumane treatment is part of the production of the dehumanization. It was actually the silence around these prisoners—the fact that their identities were disclosed and hidden from the media—that helped produce the conditions of their dehumanization. In her essay “Survivability, Vulnerability, and Affect,” Butler explains that in times of war, we imagine that our existence is bound up with
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others whom we can recognize—those whom we can identify as human (2010, p. 42). We differentiate between those whom we think will help us to survive and those who are our enemies; enemies are not “lives,” but threats. She writes, “Those whom we kill are not quite human, and not quite alive, which means that we do not feel the same horror and outrage over the loss of their lives as we do over the loss of those lives that bear national or religious similarity to our own” (2010, p. 42). There are others that we cannot see, hear, touch, taste, or even smell as human—they have fallen out of the acceptable frames for the construction of one upon whom our own survival was bound up. But what if our survival depends on recognizing how we are indeed bound up with others (Butler 2010, p. 52)? For Butler, this would mean that we are able to critique the ways in which ideologies of war subvert our sensory experiences of each other and exploit the fact that humans are indeed constituted by vulnerability and precarity. Persuasively, she argues that very same sociality and interdependence that are abused, endangered, and coerced in torture are also that aspect upon which our survival is based (Butler 2010, p. 61). It is my argument that any reconfigured social imagination that precludes torture must take sociality and precarity into account. While this essay can only point to possibilities for further exploration, it is worth noting that Butler’s approach to materiality and the capacity to see another as one upon whom we depend, and who depends on us, carries implications for lived religion in that these broaden lived religion’s theoretical scaffolding. Attention to practice and action are critical, but if vulnerability, precarity, and grievability are constitutive of humanity, then new opportunities for meaning-making are created. New “praxis” emerges, and areas of inquiry for how humans seek the sacred through relationships are cultivated; activism, political engagement, or interfaith dialogue and action are examples of such relevant expansions. Certainly, the notion that humans are made in and bear the image of God—the imago dei—has also always been a compelling foundational theological argument for rejecting torture. Kelly DentonBorhaug articulates this powerfully:
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the notion of the imago dei at the heart of humankind overwhelmingly disables any argument in favor of torture. All humans bear and witness to the face of God in one another and have been declared to be part of God’s good creation; Christians are called to take with utter seriousness the full personhood of all women and men in all their essential relations as individuals, as members of many communities, actors in historical times and places, embodied beings related to all the rhythms of the earth and as human spirit. (Denton-Borhaug 2008, p. 221)
While Christian traditions might espouse humanity as created in the image of God, the existence and persistence of torture, sustained through death-dealing white supremacist racialized hierarchies, undergirded by misogyny and homophobia (Butler 2010, p. 129), and maintained through unexamined and unrelenting fear, point to a great chasm between belief and practice. Perhaps humanity is created in the image of the divine, but as M. Shawn Copeland articulates, the body is “a contested site: ambiguous and sacred, wounded and creative, malleable and resistant – disclosing and mediating ‘more’” (2009, p. 56). Since the ways that religion is embodied are central to this essay, Copeland’s argument is central that when thinking of theological anthropology and America, one must consider bodies within empire. Because of the bodies broken by empire—those who go hungry, those who are dispossessed, forsaken, overlooked, and I would add—tortured—these are the bodies who must figure centrally in any estimation of whose life can be considered sacred, grievable, precarious, or vulnerable. Connecting the conditions of empire under which Christianity developed with that of the totalizing force of globalization (of which the post-9/11 response is also indicted), then what Christians believe about bodies must, Copeland insists, “protest any Imperial word (anti-Logos ) that dismisses the body and seeks the desecration of human bodies” (2009, p. 57). Additionally, other Christian theologians argue that at a very basic level, Christians are remiss if they forget that an imprisoned, tortured, and executed political prisoner stands at the center of their faith tradition (Aguilar 2015; Cone 2011; Taylor 2001). This in and of itself should be reason enough to fortify Christian abhorrence and rejection of torture. New Testament scholar Jennifer Glancy states poignantly that within
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the context of the Roman Empire, “Jesus’s tortured body is a truth- telling corpus” (Glancy 2005, p. 108). Perhaps a pressing question is: How do people of faith consider or bear witness to this truth?
Counter-Practices In a speech to a gathering of torture survivors in 2002, Dorfman suggests that the very act of gathering together, speaking, listening, and protesting as a collective is in and of itself an offense to torture’s intentions. He states, “This sort of profanation of the body and the mind is precisely meant to render the victims passive, mute, depressed, and ashamed; to destroy their dignity and exclude them from society; and to make them afraid for the rest of their lives…” (2004, p. 6). I am compelled by both his diagnosis of the evil of torture and his suggestion that taking up space together denies torture’s power to define and demarcate lives indefinitely. I will now explore counter-practices to torture through an examination of theologian Mark Lewis Taylor’s notion of “practices of liberating spectrality” (Taylor 2014, p. 122). I will examine how these are exercised on a larger scale by social and political movements as well as in a more particular manner through Taylor’s engagement with Sister Dianna Ortiz’s memoir, which Taylor refers to “as a poetic and narrative art form, a text that is itself a case of spectral imaging in practice, as much as is the artful and inventive religio-political vision that Ortiz forged in her own life struggle before writing the book” (Taylor 2011, p. 198). To discuss the contours of practice that diffuse the concentration of weight upon agonistic bodies—that resist and defy the world-shrinking practices of torture—Taylor offers four dimensions of embodied counter-practices that renounce and resist torture as illustrated by torture survivor Sister Dianna Ortiz’s memoir The Blindfold’s Eyes (Ortiz 2007). Acknowledging that these assessments are his own categorizations, Taylor suggests that these four characteristics might be thought of as “invigorating resources” within any movements. The first characteristic is “somatic performance of wounded bodies” (Taylor 2011, p. 199).
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If torture attempts to demolish the body, then it is in the visible physical body that resistance must appear. Taylor describes the way that Ortiz speaks of healing rituals involving water that reawaken her body and restore a sense of security and space (Taylor 2011, p. 200). He also notes how her life as a survivor and activist has taken shape in the steps of pilgrimage, the voice of her testimony, the “getting-in-the-wayness” of civil resistance or of speaking up. Taylor writes exactingly: “Torture’s reduction to broken flesh so brutalizes the body, so breaks its sustaining power of connections to other bodies, that every subsequent per formance of the body that is constructive – whether ‘reactive’ or ‘proactive’ – is crucial to developing strength for survival and resistance” (Taylor 2011, p. 202). The second characteristic is “anamnestic solidarity,” a move away from the physical body to the acknowledgement that the boundaries between the living and the dead invoke what Taylor calls the “seething presence” of those gone before, or those silenced in the face of oppression (2011, p. 203). Anamnestic solidarity involves strength and remembrance from the past to inform and strengthen the future. Introducing Diane Nelson’s term “fluidarity”—a liminality between the past and the future and between relationships—Taylor traces the ways that Ortiz affirms times when she sensed the dead were with her, strengthening her work (2011, p. 203). Ortiz is buoyed not only by those who have gone before, Taylor observes, but also by her compatriots and community surrounding her now, mobilizing and supporting her life (Taylor 2011, p. 208). The third aspect is “reviving naturalism and the ‘otherworld’” (Taylor 2011, p. 61). Here, there is a sense of crossing between the natural world and positing a naturalist faith. These are the “circles of sociality” at work between Ortiz and the natural world (2011, p. 201). The fourth dimension Taylor describes is “grotesque transcendentalism” (2011, p. 212). These are the ways that Ortiz re-envisions the Christian tradition. For example, Taylor notes that her memoir relays very little Christology and that within it, the Christian cross is not a symbol of redemption or salvation; it is a symbol with similarities to methods of torture like lynching, burning, or raping (2011, p. 214). Ortiz assumes a more naturalistic approach, reworking theological concepts. Taylor’s use of the grotesque here is in the reimagining of
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transcendence—the “vestiges of the transcendent” are not absolutely removed, but are reworked (2011, p. 217). She is a bricoleur, resisting terms, symbols, and conceptions that were part of her torturer’s theological landscape, and instead, she blends and folds old rituals with new sensibilities and demands (Taylor 2011, p. 218). Turning his lens to the context of mass incarceration, expanding on his earlier focus on these spectral practices as embodied by Ortiz, Taylor outlines three “impulses” that enliven “critical movements of resistance” (CMR) as they draw upon the power of other historical struggles (2014, p. 136). The three impulses are the “owning of agonistic being,” the “cultivating of artistic expression,” and the “fomenting and resisting of organizing practices” (2014, pp. 136, 138, and 139). These practices are necessary, Taylor implores, because “the world is heavy… with social practices that generate and organize death and dying” (2011, p. 7). Through such practices, people are able to confront and undercut the “necropolitics” that contribute to these systems. This is because even though policies and institutions are driven by greed and instrumentalize humans, making them disposable, those who suffer in these systems also resist and form alternatives. It is these counter-practices of resistance that rely on other visions of humanity, of bodies, of materiality, and of ways of being together (Taylor 2011, p. 7). These are practices that resonate with Butler’s declaration that the exposure that humans have to one another, their constitution by sociality, yields a vulnerability that can be exploited but that also leaves open the possibility for love and justice (Butler 2010, p. 61). That humans are bound together is the “constant risk of sociality – its promise and its threat” (Butler 2010, p. 61). The promise of agonistic practices in the context of torture is that they seek to not accept a status quo, but to embrace contingency, possibility, and rupture. Against the tyrannies of torture—the narrowing of a victim’s world, the pacification of protest speech, and the substitution of state-sanctioned narratives, the constriction of the fullness and diversity of human experience and identity into “enemies” or “allies”— agonistic practices create alternatives. If one of the tenets of a lived religion focus is to prioritize ways that people are living “in ordinary places in everyday moments,” as McGuire argues, a focus on such practices is insightful (McGuire 2008, p. 215).
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The owning of the agonistic being involves affirmation and recognition that victims’ lives are indeed formed by a reality of suffering. Receiving new attention in political theory, agōn, is a Greek word meaning “struggle” (Taylor 2011, p. xii). There is a growing focus on agonism within political theory to name the ways in which struggle, plurality, and conflict are more apt frameworks for engaging democracy than those that prioritize neutrality and consensus (Kalyvas 2009, p. 15). Emphasizing agonism places focus on the “struggle that entails human pain and suffering (agony), and includes, though cannot be reduced to, the antagonisms and contradictions in social beings that often generate such struggle and agony” (Taylor 2011, p. 6). For Taylor, agonistic politics capture the reality that exploitation, suffering, and struggle are carried by so many in the world (2011, p. 4). As an impulse of decolonizing political practice, the owning of one’s agonistic being contributes to reflexivity; this reflexivity in turn gives rise to the embodied recognition of oppression, isolation, or the reality of being one who is treated without (Taylor 2014, p. 137). This reflexivity might manifest in actual calls or cries of grief in varied forms that perform the task of both bringing a community together and initiating organizing against the violence and also send a clear charge to those “outside” that such indignities should be suffered by no one. Artistic expression is the second impulse of critical movements of resistance. Here, Taylor draws from Butler in his use of “spectral humans” to describe humans who are disenfranchised, but not powerless; instead, they act out of other modes of power and visibility, which Taylor says occurs through art. Spectral practice entails “imagistic art forms’ symbolic force in practice,” growing up out of the “ruins of transcendence,” he explains (Taylor 2011, p. 24). Artistic expression is embodied in symbolic language. As Taylor notes, “liberating spirit’s resistance amid antagonism is through its arts, performing its refusal in the face of imposed social suffering” (Taylor 2016). These expressions can run the gamut from a nod or a gesture to a style of clothing or a vestment; graffiti, songs, paintings, quilts, or the swell of a protest can all be artistic expressions of resistance. The arts become a way to re-envision the future wherein “people in the present step forward toward liberating life” (Taylor 2016).
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While these are practices of those who have endured torture, others who have not been tortured also seek to embody practices of refusal and resistance. One such group is the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) (“What is NRCAT,” 2016). Following the release of the Abu Ghraib photographs, Princeton professor George Hunsinger called together 150 US-American faith leaders to explore how religious communities could organize a response to the torture taking place against detainees. NRCAT was formed during that 2006 conference. With a membership now of 320 religious organizations and 6700 individuals, and with relationships with local and state branches, NRCAT works for four goals: to bring about a cessation of torture of detainees, to abolish solitary confinement, to end direct or indirect US support of countries that support torture, and to fight the prejudice, hatred, and bigotry that contribute to a proclivity to torture those of minority/targeted religious, ethnic, or racial groups, including, since 2010, fighting anti-Muslim sentiments (“What is NRCAT,” 2016). In addition to signing a statement of conscience called “Torture Is a Moral Issue,” NRCAT suggests several artistic and performance pieces to draw attention to ending torture in a manner that might be considered a demonstration of liberating spirit. One current piece that is used at religious and human right conferences and art exhibits is a replica of a solitary confinement cell. Individuals are invited to spend up to an hour in the cell reflecting on the days, weeks, even months, or years that some prisoners are forced to endure. Another NRCAT resource encourages the use of orange in worship spaces—ribbons, candles, altar coverings, etc.—during Torture Awareness Month, which is marked in June (NRCAT, “Torture Awareness Month,” 2016). Orange represents the orange jumpsuits worn by prisoners, and that were worn by Guantánamo detainees when they first arrived (NRCAT, “June 2016 Bulletin Insert,” p. 2). NRCAT also provides a liturgy that faith communities can use in services. The “Prayer of Solidarity” attends to the breadth of the intersecting racial and economic dimensions of solitary confinement and torture and connects the policies and practices of both. For example, leaders are invited to pray, “We stand with those unjustly held due to racist and xenophobic policies. We stand with those unjustly held because being poor has become criminalized…
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We stand with those in Guantánamo…We stand with those in solitary confinement for months, years, even decades,” while the congregation responds with “We stand in the midst of a broken world, O God” (NRCAT, “Bulletin Insert,” p. 1). The reader’s theater manuscript “If the Shu Fits: Voices from Solitary Confinement” is another example of a way in which people of faith disrupt hegemonic, fear-driven narratives that insist that solitary confinement is a productive punishment. The script, originally a collaboration between NRCAT and Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP), written by Andy Griggs and Melvin Ishmael Johnson, has been performed by a myriad of groups, from faith communities to community theater groups. The script includes statistics and history of solitary confinement in the USA, but perhaps more importantly, it includes testimony, narrative, commentaries, and stories from incarcerated persons, their families, and concerned attorneys and community members (“If the Shu Fits,” 2016). Poetry can also engender similar disruptions in the context of torture. Poems from Guantánamo prisoners, poems that survived redactions and numerous obstacles but that were published in 2007, serve as Taylor’s final touchpoint as examples of ways that resistance is fomented (2014, p. 139). The SSCI report might well be judged as a “text of terror,” to call to mind Phyllis Trible’s terminology (Trible 1984). With so many tens of thousands of words now documenting these state-sanctioned abuses, perhaps it is necessary to listen even more closely now to the prisoners themselves. Attending to the possibility of survival for those unjustly imprisoned, Taylor offers Judith Butler’s exploration of this 2007 collection (Taylor 2014, 139). These poems, she writes, “sound the incarcerated body as it makes its appeal” (Butler 2010, p. 61; Falkoff 2007; Qtd. in Taylor 2014, 139; Qtd. in Taylor 2011). Many of the poems were written by men who had been tortured. Butler writes of the poems: “The poems break through the dominant ideologies that rationalize war through recourse to righteous invocations of peace; they confound and expose the words of those who torture in the name of freedom and kill in the name of peace” (Butler 2010, p. 61). Such sentiments are captured exquisitely in the poem entitled “Death Poem” by Jumah al Dossari, who was held at Guantánamo from 2002 to 2007 and never admitted any connection to terrorism nor was charged with a crime.
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Take my blood. Take my death shroud and The remnants of my body. Take photographs of my corpse at the grave, lonely. Send them to the world, To the judges and To the people of conscience, Send them to the principled men and the fair-minded. And let them bear the guilty burden, before the world, Of this innocent soul. Let them bear the burden, before their children and before history, Of this wasted, sinless soul, Of this soul which has suffered at the hands of the “protectors of peace.” (al Dossari 2007, p. 32)
“Don’t deodorize that funk,” West urges (2011, p. 97). Don’t erase the catastrophic at the core of US-American history or its present, West implores. Taylor’s “practices of liberating spectrality” and the impulses of CMRs resonate with West’s contention that various forms of truth-telling, protest, and solidarity are at the heart of prophetic religion. This is evident in West’s explanation that in “prophetic religion the condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak… we’re talking about something that is engaging, something that is risk taking, and it has everything to do with the enabling virtue, which is courage—the courage to expand empathy, expand imagination, think critically, organize, mobilize… Bearing witness, that’s what the call is about” (West 2011, pp. 99 and 100). Participating in my faith community helps me imagine what prophetic religion might look like. I am a member of The First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain, a multicultural Baptist congregation in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain. I am inspired by the many ways that members are committed to peace and justice work around affordable housing, environmental concerns, health care for elders, immigration, education, and the arts. Over the past two years, our congregation has become more involved in efforts to mobilize against mass incarceration and police brutality. Our church leadership traveled to Ferguson, MO, organizing and participating
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in direct nonviolent action (Marquard 2014). Others have marched faithfully through Boston’s streets, with bikes, babies, and plenty of signs, disrupting traffic and business as usual in marches organized by #BlackLivesMatter. Our church also co-sponsors an open mic and slam poetry event that has become a powerful space for local and internationally recognized artists to perform. These evenings are full of breathtaking rhymes, lament, furor, veil-lifting, and truth-telling. They are ripe with witness that refuses to normalize oppression or name it as something other than a “state of emergency” (West 2011, p. 97). They are an affirmation of both Taylor’s and West’s suggestions of poetry as central to critical movements of resistance and a cornerstone of prophetic religion (Taylor 2014, p. 139; West 2011, p. 96). I am struck by how much these poetry nights have become part of what McGuire might calls the embodied spirituality of my faith community. McGuire argues that lived religion is indeed embodied, and that it entails the practices that people use to bring their faith to life, to recall and re-imagine their faith, and to “create the stories out of which they live” (2008, p. 118). The spoken word poetry evenings have allowed folks to tell a different story together about the kind of violence they have experienced or observed in the world and about the ways in which bodies and voices are a witness to another way of being. These are ways folks in my community have embodied a response to the profanations against unarmed black bodies. It is the collective witnessing in those spaces that challenges traditional notions of what it means to gather as a body in a church building, what it means to be persons of faith, and just what sorts of practices might be defined as religious.
“Waterboarding Is How We Baptist Terrorists” (Blake 2014) Such reimagining and collective witnessing are imperative because it is not only those who refuse and resist torture as a matter of national but those who support it whose voices are amplified. At a 2014 gathering of the National Rifle Association (NRA), Governor and former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin issued the above statement to
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demarcate how she would treat terrorists, as opposed to their currently lax treatment she perceives they receive. Equating humane treatment of “enemies” with coddling them, Palin draws on Christian imagery to drive home the power she would alternatively administer. Palin declares, “Come on! Enemies who would utterly annihilate America! They who’d obviously have information on plots, say to carry out jihad. Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable – not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists” (Blake 2014). Those deemed terrorists have been “baptized” by Christians before. Schweiker traces the history of waterboarding to the persecution of Anabaptists during the Protestant Reformation and the Spanish Inquisition (2008, p. 213). He explains that because Anabaptists rejected infant baptism in favor of adult baptism, King Ferdinand ruled that drowning was a fitting retort to Anabaptism (2008, p. 214). Likewise during the Spanish inquisition, the toca or tortura del agua involved forcing the victim to choke on water through a soaked cloth placed in one’s mouth. In these techniques, the underlying reasoning was that such punishments would produce repentance—would make a truth known. This connection makes clear that waterboarding is also a gross inversion of a practice that symbolizes birth, inclusion in community, and flourishing (Schweiker 2008, p. 214). In June 2016, transcripts of Abu Zubaydah and others’ testimonies at military hearings regarding their treatment were declassified (Savage 2016). These testimonies reiterate the truths exposed through earlier reports, many of which had been gathered only from memos while detainees’ testimonies were classified. I conclude with searing sections of Zubaydah’s testimony describing the waterboarding he endured, which Gov. Palin insinuates is equivalent to Christian initiation: Last thing, of course, same thing use again and again, different time, plus they put me in the same [via Language Analyst] medical bed. They shackle me completely, even my head; I can’t do anything. Like this they put one cloth in my mouth and they put water, water, water. Last point before I die they stand [via Language Analyst] bed they make this [making breathing noises] again and again they make it with me and I tell
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them, ‘if you want to kill me, kill me… Because I not afraid of what you do, but if I have I will give you real information but really I do not know and because I am human even I not afraid I will tell people it is more [Via translator] than I can handle… But the truth after this after the second – or second -…They told me sorry we discover that you are not number three, not a partner even not fighter.” (Zubaydah 2007, p. 139)
Zubaydah’s testimony provides many truths. In the context of torture, the last thing is always the same thing is always the last thing. His torturers are sorry. He is not who they thought he was. He is not a partner, not a fighter. He has almost been killed through a technique with deeply religious foundations, a technique that should repulse Christians instead of exciting them to action. His flesh has not revealed the truth his torturers sought, and yet other truths are surely exposed, other summons issued, other imperatives demanded, I would argue: It is a confession by the institutions in which torture was condoned and carried out that they are willing to betray some narratives of morality and human dignity for others. It is a summons to vigilance and resistance of the ways in which religious narratives and practices might be twisted and turned not to the service of peaceable ends, but of brutally violent ones. And finally, it is a demand to reject reinscriptions of boundaries between citizen and slave, enemy and human, taking seriously the responsibility of imagination to envision new ways of relating not forged from the destruction of others but rather from a mutual, reciprocal, possible flourishing (Jantzen 1999).
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Blake, A. 2014. Palin: ‘Waterboarding Is How We Baptize Terrorists’. Washington Post, April 28. Available from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2014/04/28/palin-waterboarding-is-how-we-baptize-terrorists/ (10 June 2016). Butler, J. 2006. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. New York: Verso. ———. 2010. Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? New York: Verso. Cavanaugh, W.T. 1998. Torture and Eucharist: Theology, Politics, and the Body of Christ. Malden, MA: Blackwell. ———. 2006. Making Enemies: The Imagination of Torture in Chile and the United States. Theology Today 63 (3): 307–323. Cone, J. 2011. The Cross and the Lynching Tree. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. Copeland, M.S. 2009. Enfleshing Freedom: Body, Race, and Being. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. Craps, S. 2013. Postcolonial Witnessing: Trauma Out of Bounds. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ———. 2014. Beyond Eurocentrism: Trauma Theory in the Global Age. In The Future of Trauma Theory: Contemporary Literary and Cultural Criticism, ed. G. Buelens, S. Durrant, and S. Eaglestone, 45–61. New York: Routledge. Del Rosso, J. 2015. Talking About Torture: How Political Discourse Shapes the Debate. New York: Columbia University Press. Denton-Borhaug, K. 2008. A Theological Reflection on Torture and Democracy. Dialog: A Journal of Theology 47 (3): 217–227. Department of Defense. 2016. Verbatim Transcript of Combatant Status Review Tribunal Hearing for ISN#10016 (No. 15–L–1645/DOD/114). https:// assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2861410/CSRT-transcripts-highvalue-ACLU-FOIA.pdf, 114–143 (13 January 2017). Dorfman, A. 2002. In Case of Fire in a Foreign Land: New and Collected Poems from Two Languages, Bilingual edition. Durham: Duke University Press Books. ———. 2004. The Tyranny of Terror: Is Torture Inevitable in Our Century and Beyond? In Torture: A Collection, ed. S. Levinson. New York: Oxford University Press. Douglas, K.B. 2015. Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Press. DuBois, P. 1991. Torture and Truth. New York: Routledge. Einolf, C. 2007. The Fall and Rise of Torture: A Comparative and Historical Analysis. Sociological Theory 25: 101–121.
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New York Times Editorial Board. 2014. It Wasn’t Just the Chokehold: Eric Garner, Daniel Pantaleo and Lethal Police Tactics, 14 December. http:// www.nytimes.com/2014/12/05/opinion/eric-garner-daniel-pantaleo-and-lethal-police-tactics.html (18 June 2016). Obama, B. 2014. Press Conference by the President, 01 August. https://www. whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/08/01/press-conference-president (7 September 2016). Orsi, R. 1997. Everyday Miracles. In Lived Religion in America: Toward a History of Practice, ed. D. Hall. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Ortiz, D. 2007. The Blindfold’s Eyes: My Journey from Torture to Truth. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. Rejali, D. 2009. Torture and Democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Roberts, D. 2008. Torture and the Biopolitics of Race. University of Miami Law Review 62 (2): 229–247. Root, M. 1992. Reconstructing the Impact of Trauma on Personality. In Personality and Psychopathology: Feminist Reappraisals, ed. L. Brown and M. Ballou, 229–265. New York: The Guilford Press. Savage, C. 2016. Detainees Describe C.I.A. Torture in Declassified Transcripts. New York Times, June 15. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/16/world/ detainees-describe-cia-torture-in-declassified-transcripts.html (18 June 2016). Scarry, E. 1985. The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. New York: Oxford University Press. Schweiker, W. 2008. Torture and Religious Practice. Dialog: A Journal of Theology 47 (3): 208–216. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. 2014. Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program (No. S. Report 113–288), 113th Congress, Second Session. https://fas.org/irp/congress/2014_rpt/ssci-rdi.pdf (10 May 2015). ———. 2014. Findings and Conclusions. Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program (No. S. Report 113–288), 113th Congress, Second Session, 1–19. https://fas.org/irp/congress/2014_rpt/ssci-rdi.pdf (10 May 2015). Tal, K. 1996. Worlds of Hurt: Reading the Literatures of Trauma. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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Taylor, M.L. 2001. The Executed God: The Way of the Cross in Lockdown America. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. ———. 2011. The Theological and the Political: On the Weight of the World. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. ———. 2014. Decolonizing Mass Incarceration: ‘The Flesh Will Wear Out Chains’. Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory 13 (1): 121–142. ———. 2016. The Arts. MarkLewisTaylor.net. http://marklewistaylor.net/articles/#text-4 (10 June 2016). Terr, L. 1991. Childhood Traumas: An Outline and Overview. The American Journal of Psychiatry 148 (1): 10–20. Trible, P. 1984. Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR). 1984. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CAT.aspx (10 June 2016). West, C. 2011. Prophetic Religion and the Future of Capitalist Civilization. In The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere, ed. E. Mendieta and J. Van Antwerpen. New York: Columbia University Press. White, N. 2014a. Can I Get a Witness? http://nafiswhite.com/can-i-get-a-witness/ (17 December 2017). ———. 2014b. Can I Get a Witness? Artists Against Police Violence Tumblr. http://artistsagainstpoliceviolence.com/post/104802123784/can-i-get-awitness-nafis-white-2014 (28 November 2016). Zimmerman, Y. 2013. Other Dreams of Freedom: Religion, Sex, and Human Trafficking. New York: Oxford University Press. Zubaydah, A. 2007. Verbatim Transcript of Combatant Status Review Tribunal Hearing for ISN 10016. Central Intelligence Agency 114–143. https://www. documentcloud.org/documents/2861410-CSRT-transcripts-high-value-ACLU-FOIA.html (13 May 2018).
Disgust, Shame, and Trauma: The Visceral and Visual Impact of Touch Stephanie N. Arel
In March of 2013, Pope Francis celebrated Maundy Thursday in Casal del Marmo prison in northwest Rome rather than according to the established practice of having the ceremony in St. John Lateran’s Basilica. Newspapers across the globe recorded this break in tradition. At Casal del Marmo, the Pope conducted the ritual of foot washing prior to the symbolic meal commemorating the last supper of Christ before the crucifixion. Inmates at the prison including men, women, Muslims, and atheists assumed the roles of the disciples. Pope Francis washed and kissed their feet establishing an alteration in tradition, one he has since maintained. Despite the reaction of traditionalists complaining that the Pope’s actions refute Catholic Law, images of his inclusion of women, atheists, and Muslims into the Maundy Thursday ritual made international news. Nine months later, pictures of Pope Francis touching and kissing a man battling neurofibromatosis flooded the Internet. Major news S. N. Arel (*) New York University, New York, NY, USA e-mail: [email protected]
© The Author(s) 2019 R. R. Ganzevoort and S. Sremac (eds.), Trauma and Lived Religion, Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91872-3_3
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resources featured the story. Headlines read: “Pope Francis Embraces Man with Tumorous Disease,” and “The touching moment Pope Francis halted his weekly general audience to kiss and hold a disfigured man.” Similar images of Pope Francis reaching out to kiss and touch his followers have been equally affecting. In the photographs, the Pope touches and kisses those he approaches. He kisses the feet of prisoners, including women, Muslims, and atheists who, at the Pope’s request, occupy traditionally male and Christian roles. He embraces a disfigured man whose appearance challenges modern standards of beauty. The images of his touching and kissing instigate an affective response from viewers that might be one of affection and warmth. The Pope’s willingness to engage in bodily contact with others fosters an interpretation of his disposition as sensitive and accessible. This imaged vulnerability is supported by his willingness to ride in an unarmored vehicle. All of these visual depictions, accompanied by countless others, turn attention to the Pope’s apparent compassion directed toward those marginalized by society, and in the case of the foot washing, those marginalized specifically by the Catholic Church. Visual representations of the Pope’s actions have been viewed worldwide by millions. Such images incite particular human acts and cognition due in part to the Pope’s leadership role in the Christian and religious world. However, as Graeme Vincent Flett urges in his work, analyzing how visual technologies shape behavior patterns of Pentecostal church service participants, that “images have persuasive power to influence human behavior” (2015, p. 36). Flett continues to remark on the mediating quality of visual communication and its capacity to be active, passive, and seductive (2015, p. 36). His reflections echo what Marshall McLuhan points out in his work on the medium, which directs attention to the effect of an image, not simply its singular meaning (McLuhan 1964). These images have an effect, not only because the Pope can be considered a model, a celebrity even, but also because, through the use of widely disseminated photographs, his actions are given a medium. Viewed by audiences in the public domain, the effects of the images are intensified; the power and influence of the images increase (Flett 2015, p. 35). The photographs impel and incite
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corresponding behavior, regardless of whether or not viewers consider this consciously; the unconscious impact of watching the Pope kiss and touch has a shaping effect on bodies. Thus, regardless of the intent of the image distribution, the images of the Pope touching and kissing have a mimetic quality, embodying a way of practicing the Christian faith. Moreover, the photographs are of very specific intimate and emotive acts toward specific populations, neither of which are usually featured for public consumption. Representations of bodily contact between male religious leaders and minorities or marginalized individuals disrupt what is generally the “norm” in media presentations of flesh-to-flesh contact. Images of physical contact or caresses more commonly feature abled, normative bodies, and in the case of Catholic ritual foot washing, these are male bodies. Socially traumatized bodies as the central images of visual representations impress upon onlookers a certain mode of being, more prominent because the behavior exemplified is being conducted by an influential religious figure. Touching and kissing though banal, everyday activities, engaged in by the Pope assume a religious quality. Further, the images confront the onlooker with a narrative that by its nature begins to work toward de-marginalization, decreasing the sense of otherness and blurring strict distinctions of the norm. The moment of observation of these images can be understood as what Ruard Ganzevoort calls an “encounter” which takes place “between the human mind and external reality” (2013, p. 2). In this encounter, interpreted as the act of viewing the Pope touching the marginalized other, an opportunity for meaning making emerges, an opportunity that also, as Ganzevoort asserts, offers a moment of religious meaning making. The process might occur as a result of understanding the Pope as a critical religious leader, but religious meaning making in this context lies outside of the fact that the Catholic Church is represented in the images. The lived experience that grants value might emerge as a consideration of intimacy through touch, or as a reflection on the ability to cultivate empathy. My aim is therefore neither to decipher what McLuhan would call the “content” of the message the Church or the Pope wishes to convey nor to glorify his actions but instead to inquire about the “effects” of what is portrayed in the
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medium of the images when the stigmatized, traumatized body is touched, publicly, by someone of import. Thus, thus the Pope’s actions and the images of the actions function independently from one another. In the first case, the impact is upon the person touched; in the second case, the images of touch effect a viewing audience, working to magnify the Pope’s actions. The Internet enables an exponential dissemination of the images, which model a particular practice that has ramifications for how we interpret and treat the stigmatized body. Visual representations of the touch communicate a religious sensibility about how to confront stigma, which interconnects with experiences of shame and trauma. Social realities that incur marginalization often result in the production of stigma; sociologist Erving Goffman affirms that such stigma manifests as disease making a person “not normal” or not quite human (1961, p. 4). The act of stigmatizing another colludes with the affective structures of disgust, shame, and, in cases of insidious marginalization, trauma. If we consider that the Pope kisses and touches populations that have been stigmatized, who bear an affective life of shame, then we can conclude that the images of this touching offer a counter-narrative to shame. In these images, stigma, shame, and trauma converge on and in the bodies of the marginalized. These bodies are recognized, first in the haptic realm, but the haptic, transferred to images, becomes visual. Yet, viewership is still affected—or touched—by the images themselves. Thus, the visual and haptic converge in representations of touch as empathic and intimate to counter-narratives of stigma, shame, and trauma. Navigating the complexity of this dynamic requires an understanding of stigma including both how it is socially produced and how it relates to shame. Affectively, shame emerges distinctly as a response to stigma but it is also, I will show, an affect at the center of the experience of trauma. The images of the Pope touching and kissing provide a visual entranceway to an investigation regarding how touch—both actually and virtually experienced—begins to disrupt narratives of stigma, shame, and trauma. Ultimately, I show that the images of the Pope kissing and touching simulate an effect of actual touch, illustrating empathy in action and instigating social change.
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Stigma Goffman establishes three categories of stigmatization: of the body in various physical deformities; blemishes and non-normative expressions of character that assemble in the prisoner, the mentally ill, the unemployed, and in those with radical political opinions; and finally, tribal stigmas of nation, race, sex/gender, or religion transmitted through lineages (1961, p. 4). The prisoners of Casal del Marmo fall into his categories not only because they are prisoners, but also because as women, atheists, or Muslim, they possess “tribal stigmas” according to hierarchal conceptions of gender and religion in the Catholic Church. Vinicio Riva’s physical sores and blisters, evidence of his neurofibromatosis, correspond with Goffman’s first category. All of these individuals bearing a stigma cast out of the privileged position of “the normal” and thus thrust beyond the acceptable norm of being, learn that they are a defiled thing, and so “shame becomes a central possibility” in their daily lives (Goffman 1961, p. 7). Defilement by social and religious structures that marginalize supports the development of affective shame in these individuals, a shame motivated by the concept of disgust. In human evolution, disgust is an affect that signals danger prompting an avoidance of a particular object. The disgust of this sort surfaces when a stimulus characteristic of an object is similar to what we associate with other disgusting objects. When an unfamiliar object imitates or correlates with something considered disgusting, that object provokes nausea generally because it shares characteristics with an evolutionarily dangerous object, and the body responds with rejection. However, disgust is also learned. In the caregiver-infant dyad, disgust functions to direct or control the behavior of the infant (Tomkins 2008, pp. 22, 56, and 57). Manifesting in facial expressions with the mouth turned down and the lip drawn up, the look and affect of disgust communicate dislike and rejection; disgust is a means of distancing the self from a perceived dangerous object (Tomkins 2008, p. 367). Disgust delineated from its important evolutionary role in human existence to signal the brain the presence of an object that could be
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harmful to life if ingested as disgust for things that are not taken into the mouth is complex (Tomkins, pp. 28 and 357). This normal survival response framed by social and cultural mores morphs into disgust prompted by an awareness of difference, where the norm, as a universal or positive attribute, is set up against what is not the norm, as a particular or negative attribute. Law and other organizing systems such as religion identify norms. What lies beyond these norms, Martha Nussbaum asserts in her work on human affect, are qualified as disgusting. Established by “reasonable man,” these norms determine equally what “may be (or should be) legally regulated” (2004, p. 86). Social ordinances and religious prescriptions established by the “reasonable man” related to normative appraisals that change depending on mores within a society often merge in systems that reflect power, hierarchy, and domination. Within the traditional Catholic ritual, foot washing does not take place on the feet of women due to the “reasonable” fear of the presence of sexual desire and, worse, women’s encroaching upon men only ordination. Priests across the globe have, responding to the Pope’s introduction of Muslims and women in the proceedings (and the Pope’s subsequent decree altering the ritual), refused to continue the Maundy Thursday practice. Their responses indicate a sense of disgust at these populations which violate an identifiable and certain power structure controlled and maintained by Catholic men. Stratified structures establish and identify the disgusting which arouses shame in humans so identified. The systems harmonize in a unique way, functioning as caregivers do when they assume the role of “controllers” of affect. Modulating affect through signaling disgust succeeds and is sustained socially because humans share similar visceral, affective, precognitive responses to stimuli. The shared factor exists in the body, specifically the biological experiences of shame and disgust (Ekman et al. 1987). When shame is invoked by disgust, it inhibits an individual’s agency, severs his or her attachments, and enables hegemonic structures to exert control. This kind of social control makes an impact on every level of society dictating the disgusting and evoking shame. As with other kinds of affects, disgust assists in the formation of a certain way of being in the world, one that is both dispositional, or internalized, and manifest (Nash 1990, p. 433). Culturally and socially, disgust helps to concretize shame.
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Shame is a complicated experience aroused when we experience ourselves as treated as something or someone disgusting. We understand a thing that we perceive as disgusting to be something antithetical to us, or representing someone that we believe is antithetical to us but that may also signify some part of self that we find disgusting, what Julia Kristeva calls that which is “abject” to ourselves and which elicits disgust (Kristeva 1982). Contempt-disgust thus associates with shame. Teasing them apart proves difficult, especially in the experience of self-contempt, evoked by the perception of abjection or a lack of self-worth often situated at the center of the experience of being stigmatized.
Shame The Pope’s actual touch of the stigmatized body, along with the images that convey this touch, refutes shame. More will be said about the actual effects of touch, but here it becomes necessary to establish the ramifications of shame, including how shame prevails as a central affect in the traumatized body. Shame of stigmatization and disgust arrests the body. The experience of shame includes effort to reduce facial communication, aversion of the eyes to look down or away, dropping of the head and sometimes the upper torso, recoiling from observing eyes, and blushing (Tomkins 2008, p. 352). In shame, the body turns into itself, signifying a corporeal withdrawal. As psychologist Allan Schore explains, the experience of shame is a “biologically stressful” event that acts like a sudden “brake” to an excited emotional state; shame severs interest in another or attachment to another (Schore 1994). Stifling excitement in a form of hypo-arousal resulting in submissiveness and defeat, shame thus interferes with human connection. Its immediacy and potentially negative intensity inspire a conscious or unconscious judgment that the self, or part of the self, is corrupt and not worthy of human contact or association. Shame becomes what Tomkins expresses as “a sickness of the soul,” which manifests as self-disgust and a lowered sense of self-worth (2008, p. 351). For instance, Vinicio Riva’s experience of disgust expressed by a man on a bus whom Riva attempted to sit beside elicited anger, which he withheld but which also provoked
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shame manifested in a desire to escape the setting. This response to hide as a result of communicated diminished worth was a regular occurrence for Riva (Wedeman 2013). Riva’s experience draws out shame’s function within the visual realm or within a field of exposure. The act of being seen as disgusting triggers shame for Riva. Viscerally potent, shame thus emerges as the “self ’s vicarious experience of the other’s real or imagined negative evaluation” (Lewis 1987b, p. 108). Importantly, the self is the target of attack in shame, in both the “visual and verbal imaging of the ‘I’ from the other’s imagined point of view” (Lewis 1987a, p. 17). Shame necessitates some kind of envisioning—either in real or imagined time. Within the visual realm, as Helen Block Lewis asserts, shame is predicated upon a relationship to the other where the self “cares” about the other’s opinion (1987a, p. 16). Feeling shame authenticates that not only is one seen and shamed but also that one cares about the opinion of the other doing the seeing. That shame occurs in the visual realm delineates shame from guilt, typically associated phenomenologically with hearing the voice of God. On a more physical level, guilt can be distinguished from shame not only according to its perceivable biological, ontogenetic evolution but also according to the accompanying cognitive operations for each affect (Tomkins 2008, p. 350). In shame, the self-perceives an inherent, internal lack: something is therefore “wrong” with the self. In guilt, the focus is on “wrong action.” Thus, the self is not the focus in guilt. Vulnerability to shame arises as soon as a child is visually capable of recognizing familiar faces and is pronounced when a child’s emotive response is met by displeasure from the primary caregiver (Sedgwick and Frank 2005, p. 6; Tomkins 2008, pp. 120–135). For example, a child smiles, and this physical sign of pleasure or happiness evokes dissatisfaction or contradictory displeasure in the caregivers’ gaze, thus evoking a shame response in the child. In Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial stages, the infant encounters “crises” of shame beginning at the age of approximately 18 months, a time when the child is becoming aware of being observed, emphasizing the visual nature of shame’s emergence. The crisis of guilt begins later, at the age of three, when a child is cognitively able to acknowledge and
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modify behavior (Tomkins 2008, p. 368; Erikson 1980, pp. 71–80; 1993, pp. 255–258; Schore 1994, p. 153). These developmental distinctions support an interpretation of shame as evolving or occurring in the realm of the visual. Contingent on the context, simply being seen or seeing can provoke shame, as with Riva’s rejection by the man on the bus. Shame does not relate to understanding the capacity to take initiative, or “do” something, on which guilt is dependent. Because of affects’ nature as energy from the body, the surge or submergence of affects like shame can cause deleterious effects especially if they remain in the body unconsciously processed. Shame’s positive nature of signifying attachment morphs into destructivity when shame goes unacknowledged. Failing to address shame leads to shame’s interment in the self. As physiological and visceral, the management of shame proves challenging, especially because, as a painful affect, people tend to want to will shame away, ignoring it or attempting to conceal it. Repressed, disregarded shame, shame interred in the body, can be expected to cause a rift or a problem, especially an internal problem. Research has shown that shame increases the stress hormones cortisol and ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), while inhibiting the health of the immune system through pro-inflammatory cytokine activity (Dickerson et al. 2005, p. 1194). The result of this mechanism positions “a body in shame” for the flught, fight, freeze response to intolerable fear and stress making this body susceptible to greater incidences of physical illness (Van Stegeren et al. 2007, p. 63). Avoidance of shame precipitates its interment in the form of cycles or spirals. The unpleasant experience of shame often elicits more shame, self-disgust, and violence (Lewis 1987a, pp. 21–26; Scheff 1987, p. 109; Herman 1992, pp. 64–70, 105, and 189; and Gilligan 1996, pp. 110–114). The cyclical nature of shame, that shame induces more shame whether of itself or first perambulating through guilt or rage, manifests in trauma survivors as disturbing forms of repetition compulsion (Caruth 1995, p. 256).1 Understood generally as a psychological phenomenon, repetition compulsion comprises the repetition of a traumatic experience by a survivor of trauma, at least symbolically. Characterized by denial, concealment, and isolation, and part of a dialectical system ensconced with corruption and malevolence, repetition compulsion
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assumes the role of what Sue Grand terms a “malignant dissociative contagion” (2002, pp. 16–17). Whoever represents the initial corruption claims domination and makes “claims to the truth” that confuse reality and seduce the person harmed into a complicated association that repeats trauma and perpetuates shame (Grand 2002, pp. 16–17). The voice that claims truth represents the voice of the perpetrator or dominator, but the initial role of destruction lies in persons and systems that both deny and reinforce shame promoting its interment. Silence emerging from the embroilment between the person being harmed and the perpetrator supports this process. Unnamed, unarticulated shame inters itself in bodies, and silence thus becomes a weapon of destruction. Silence around shame inculcated in systems of dominance and control leaves survivors withdrawn, splitting themselves, hiding their shame, and at the same time incapable of escaping its deleterious physical effects. More trauma correlates with more repetition of that trauma, just as interred shame contributes to more shame. Furthermore, traumatic situations in the family of origin disrupt healthy attachment necessary for the regulation of shame. To be unconnected, or vulnerable, equates to being weak, mortal, and shamed; this is the perpetual place of the targeted victim in many kinds of trauma; vulnerable, ostracized, and potentially stigmatized or shamed, the survivor confronts feelings of inferiority and shame. The sense of wholeness, or ability to tolerate vulnerability, that emerges in situations of successful attachment fails to evolve. Shame becomes a multilayered state of existence, too painful to face, and therefore, shame becomes interred. The interment of shame constitutes an almost natural phenomenon, even outside of situations of trauma. The affective experience of shame marks vulnerability and self-exposure that, instead of exploring to facilitate attachment, people often deny or evade. Nussbaum confirms this when she aligns shame with the “primitive,” what is connected to infantile demands for omnipotence, encapsulated in the idea of a “general neediness and vulnerability” (Nussbaum 2004, p. 183). Her sense of primitive shame emerges from the defeat of the narcissistic infant in Tomkins’ work, whose shame at rejection lies in the reality of his/ her body as vulnerable but craving human connection (2004, p. 15).
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Shame situates itself at this juncture between the self and the other as it implicates attachment and severs attachment. Shame emerges when one experiences the self as not whole, connecting to a “primitive longing for wholeness” a longing that is fulfilled in relationships (Nussbaum 2004, p. 186). In the tradition of Catholic Church, the understanding that a woman, a Muslim, an atheist, or a prisoner is not worthy of foot washing on Maundy Thursday provides the terrain for exclusion of these populations from a critical religious practice. This exclusion achieves a diminishment of self, severing possibilities for attachment. The Pope’s act of accepting all into the ritual presents an opportunity for a restoration of integrity in a very intimate, religious relationship thus enacting the fulfillment of the desire to feel whole. The danger of shame violating a sense of wholeness relates to its disruption of relationality. In the absence of relationships which recognize the other’s wholeness, the biological nature of shame, including its preverbal emergence and visceral interment, dangerously enables shame to become perpetuated in affective cycles related to shame itself and angerrage. According to sociologist Thomas Scheff, the broken social bond or lack of deference which leads to a negative self-evaluation manifests in shame (1987). From this point, shame can either be acknowledged— and therefore repaired—or unacknowledged, denied, and/or repressed. In the case of the latter, symptoms emerge. Recent research on shame and trauma has more explicitly linked the two, locating shame at the core of symptomatology of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (Dutra et al. 2008). This move marks a shift away from the identification of anxiety and fear as the primary affective response to trauma (Herman 2011, p. 5). Altering the focus of the physiological and psychological effects of trauma from fear and anxiety to shame is especially important in cases where the trauma is a result of human design or if it is insidious, enduring over large periods of time, and intertwined with systems of oppression and domination. Repeated stigmatization from societal norms, especially if such stigmatization occurs by various groups, can be considered a kind of trauma that incurs shame. “The shame concerns being treated as a physical object in the very context where special personal recognition is expected” (Fonagy et al. 2003, p. 445). Experiences of being “abject” and unloveable,
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disgusting and abnormal, occurring regularly for marginalized and stigmatized population thus produce shame. Herman links shame to structures of domination and subordination which are inherently traumatic and which have persisted in a human life on a social scale. Such shame correlates with trauma in the perception of the world as dangerous (promoting the turn inward), in the perception of the self as unloveable or as failing to prevent a trauma, or negative self-perception after the trauma (sense of worthlessness) (Harman and Lee 2010, p. 14). Unacknowledged shame about such trauma prevents intervention or restoration. Furthermore, shame and the aftermath of trauma have similar resonances. Shame is a preverbal affect that when experienced motivates the self to turn away or hide from view. Shame inspires silence and replicates the speechlessness of trauma, including the difficulty to describe a traumatic event or events. This lack of description replaces a cohesive narrative composed of words, marking where what Annie Rogers calls “the unsayable” operates (2007). This unsayability for Rogers constitutes the way that trauma becomes invisible; in such cases, Herman would argue, shame motivates the escape from view. The inability to articulate trauma and shame allows each to assume a coded form in the body, in human action, and in speech (Rogers 2007, 44). Riva’s experience on the bus—a sense of diminishment followed by an unexpressed flood of rage that led to his silence and desire to disappear—evidences this phenomenon. Triggered shame motivated his desire to leave the bus, but an ensuing doctor’s appointment pressed him to stay even as his physiological symptoms prompted him to do otherwise. Just as shame floods the self, acting as a brake to arousal systems, past trauma enters the present immediately and without warning, in the form of flashbacks, body memories, nightmares, or what is called dysregulated affect (Schore 1994). Used to describe an affects operation at a heightened level, dysregulation inspires levels of pain that are too much to bear. In such cases, a range of responses ensure to manage the affect including but not limited to addictive behaviors, self and other-directed violence, and suicide. The self in shame, or the self re-experiencing trauma, is destabilized, and unlike the self in guilt, not unified. A self that is split or that represses certain experiences or behaviors is
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often recognized as dissociated. Dissociation is yet another way of managing the pain of trauma and dysregulated affect (Dutra et al. 2008). Similar to the act of withdrawing, dissociation allows a person in shame to disconnect from the self and others. Disenabling this disconnection or fostering re-connection plays a central role in ameliorating the shame experience. To begin to counter shame requires then that the person in shame actually come into view to attach or associate to another person.
Returning to Images and Actions Understanding the centrality of shame, in the experience of both stigmatization and traumatization, leads to a richer interpretation of both what occurs in the images of the Pope touching and what happens when the medium through which these actions are conveyed are widely spread photographs. The images persuade behavior, and the behavior they convey relates intimately with the concept of countering shame. A consideration of this transfer of behavior—from lived praxis to photograph and then presumably back to lived practice—can be categorized as an approach to the study of religion that is inherently practical, and thus influenced by the “practical turn” in the study of religion (Ganzevoort and Roeland 2014, p. 93). R. Ruard Ganzevoort and Johan H. Roeland call “lived religion” a domain of praxis that focuses on what people do instead of concentrating on institutional doctrines and creeds (2014, p. 93). This concept of lived religion supports not only a focus on the Pope’s behavior’s—as he counters traditional creeds in the act of foot washing—but also on the effect of the images on the observer’s behavior. We can isolate the Pope’s actions—and consider them—focusing on what he does in the public persona—as a model. His actions impart an openness, good in and of themselves. He approaches and touches stigmatized and marginalized bodies. This behavior constitutes an aspect of his own lived religious practice. His public persona and realm of influence establish such practice as something to emulate. The photographs compound his influence. As they lie outside of doctrine and creeds, the images of the Pope touching and kissing function independently from the conveying a message about how to “live” religion.
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Qualities of Touch Touch possesses remarkable and daunting power biologically and socially. Before a fetus has eyes and ears, it develops skin, the organ that perceives touch and sensation (Montagu 1986, p. 4). This corporeality renders touch the “first medium of communication” (Montagu 1986, p. 3). And, as Aristotle insists in On the Soul, “if an animal is to survive, its body must have tactual sensation” (II.11). Once born, lack of physical contact—as in cases of gross neglect in childhood—leads to failure to thrive. Failure to touch an infant can also lead to the infant’s death. Significantly, neglecting or not touching a child precipitates the greatest shame in that child, exceeding the shame produced by other forms of abuse and behavioral control; not touching also has the greatest negative impact on brain development (Perry and Szalavitz 2006, pp. 64–66). For children in this predicament, the need for touch to stimulate brain growth goes unmet, resulting in vacuous affect and deep levels of shame. In the study of monkeys, apes, other mammalian species, and humans, touch is a “basic behavioral need ” similar to the basic physical need to breathe (Montagu 1986, pp. 42 and 46). Both mother and child need to experience touch to experience attachment; secure attachment provoked by the mother’s caresses and strokes, along with eye contact and verbal cooing, helps to develop self-worth. Attachment bonds, critical for the human species, require that the human child experience touch for much longer than other mammals. The exigency of touch leads to marked physiological and psychological benefits. In the case of the mother, the connection to the child promotes internal healing from childbirth (Montagu, p. 42). In preverbal children, the establishing of interpersonal bridges which connect the child to the caregiver demands the child be touched and held. Touching and holding lead to higher incidences of resiliency in children, along with their ability to recreate secure bonds in adulthood (Kaufman 1996, p. 35). Touch is thus critical as a means of teaching the child how to regulate affect, bond to others, or to recuperate from the interference of such bonds. Touch is an intervention that has the potential to address the negative aspects of shame repairing broken bonds, but clearly, touch can also be
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employed to do harm. The magnitude of this concern, along with the terrible traumas that people have endured as a result of abusive, malignant touch, cannot be denied, and yet here, keeping the biological need for touch in the forefront, attention to the positive aspects of touch help to adjudicate touch’s ability to ameliorate wounding. While touch renders bodies open to harm, what makes bodies the most vulnerable, as Judith Butler asserts, also opens them to the greatest moments of healing, connection, and passion (2010). The body’s susceptibility “establish[es] the possibility of being relieved from suffering, of knowing justice, even love” (Butler 2010, p. 61). Positive touch can therefore be connected to living with love and with connection. These empathic connections, which the Pope creates and models, have the potential to ameliorate shame.
Touch Responds to Shame Both Pope Francis’ lived religious practice of touching bodies, along with the images of these, offers a pathway of analysis to consider how touch makes an impact on the stigmatized body and therefore on shame. On a purely biological level, touch transforms affect and thus has the capacity to alter the affective experience of shame. This physical level features in the Pope’s actual touching. The tactile action takes place in the visual realm when touch serves as a means of acknowledging another’s existence or of ratifying his/her humanity. Touch as acknowledgment expands in the images of the Pope’s touching. As a means of connection and communication, touch conveys that a person exists, that he or she is seen, thereby denoting worth and contradicting damaging shame. The image polarizes this effect. Recent research in the neurosciences shows that shared representations of the experience of touch, and pain, occur in the human brain (Banissy and Ward 2007; Keysers et al. 2004; Blakemore et al. 2005; Schaefer et al. 2006). The “observation of tactile stimuli delivered to other individuals” induces activity in an observer’s somatosensory cortical areas (Bufalari et al. 2007, p. 2554). This means that not only being touched but also watching someone else being touched can activate an area of the
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brain sensitive to touch. Therefore, watching someone being touched elicits a similar affective response and transformation to that experienced by the one actually touched (Gallese and Sinigglia 2011, p. 1). The images of the Pope touching draw into our consideration the basis of physical embodied acts and material bodies, to which Meredith B. McGuire argues, spirituality is closely linked. These bodies are not abstract; they are “arthritic bodies, athletic bodies, pregnant bodies, malnourished bodies, healthy bodies, and suffering bodies” (2008, p. 97). McGuire presents the concept of lived religion, engaged in and by bodies, as “constituted by the practices,” often mundane, which people use to create meaning (2008, p. 98). Religious rituals that practice touching, along with other modes of physical sensation, ultimately promote what McGuire calls “everyday religious experience” (2008, p. 102).
Transforms Affect It is the everyday experience of touch that transforms affect. The organ, as skin, touched elicits a somatosensory perception that leads to neural networks in the brain perceiving a change. When the body is touched, Antonio Damasio writes in Descartes’ Error, “the brain constructs a transient representation of local body change, different from the previous representation of that area” (1994, p. 263). The processing of constitutional changes “rapidly triggers a wave of additional body-state changes which further deviate the overall body state from the base range” (Damasio 1994, p. 263). Therefore, not restricted solely to the part of the body being touched, touch affects the whole body, or the organ of flesh, as well as its interior (Chrétien 2004, pp. 92–93). Signifying an affective encounter, touch stimulates neural networks, triggering affect, and within this encounter, the physical—flesh—and affective—neurobiological response—converge. The sensory, somatic response to the touch collides in such a moment with the social, external human interaction, and research has shown that even brief skin-to-skin contact procures a positive affective incitement with or without conscious awareness (Fisher and Heslin 1976).
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For instance, in one experiment, subjects handed a library card were touched during the exchange; some subjects knew ahead of receiving the card that a touch would occur, while others did not. The results showed that “a casual touch of a very short duration in a Professional/ Functional situation had positive consequences for the recipient” (Fisher and Heslin 1976, p. 419). In addition, the affective response of the recipients who were not prompted, those who were not told that they would be touched, reacted similarly. Those who knew they would be touched, along with those touched who had no knowledge that touch was a part of the research, reacted positively to the touch. Thus, whether or not the touch was perceived, it generally had a positive effect on the recipient’s affective responses (Fisher and Heslin 1976, p. 420). In this case, “a touch (of less than one second) had the power to make people feel better,” whether they realize it or not (Fisher and Heslin 1976, p. 420). Whether or not a touch is perceived, touch stimulates positive affects. A project entitled “Touching Strangers” by photographer Richard Renaldi provides another example for how touch stimulates constructive affect. Beginning in 2007, Renaldi paired strangers in urban areas with one another for intimate photographs—the participants might lean on a shoulder, hold another’s hand, or embrace. Interviews with subjects after the photograph shoot reveal the impact of the physical contact. After his picture was taken with a 95-year-old fashion designer Reiko Ehrman, poetry teacher Brian Smeeden reported experiencing care and compassion for the woman who minutes before had been a stranger (Hartman 2014). After only brief encounters including posing and touching for a photograph, bonds formed. On his 2015 visit to the USA, Pope Francis stopped on the tarmac of the airport in Pennsylvania to touch and kiss Michael Keating a young boy in a wheelchair with severe disabilities. Filled with emotion, his father turned away; his mother, unable to understand the Pope’s Italian, said even so she heard “love” (Zauzmer and Bailey 2015). Love was not communicated through words but through the Pope’s actions. Kristin Keating spoke of the softness of his hands and how the incident changed her family. Part of this change could be argued to be a result of the Pope’s place as a powerful religious figurehead, but the Keating’s
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response to the Pope’s touch parallels the response to touch of Renaldi’s subjects. Many of the participants reported feeling tender and empathic to the person with whom they posed. Each experienced an affective encounter that fostered their connection to one another, connections that potentially impede the debilitative aspects of shame. Renaldi’s work returns attention to the photograph and touch in contemporary secular settings. Viewing Renaldi’s work, strangers touching one another, or simply watching the Pope touching someone has an effect on the observer that replicates the sensation of touch. This effect goes beyond the McLuhan’s analysis of the message and into the field of neuroscience. Neuroscience has shown that through the mechanism of the mirror neurons (the neurons that enable the body to experience the psychological effects of what is happening to another body), the experience of watching someone be touched spreads to the viewer, who through visual transmittal experiences touch him/herself (Banissy and Ward 2007).
Acknowledges While touching stimulates positive affect, it also functions as a means of recognizing another person’s existence. In Metaphysics, Aristotle asserts that touch has significance as the capacity to name, indicate, or acknowledge. For example, when the Pope touches the inmates or those with severe physical disabilities, he communicates to them, and through the media to the world, their worth and their inclusion in the Catholic community. At its most basic then, his touch acknowledges being, human being. For Aristotle, touch signifies multiple dimensions of being redressing the diminished sense of self-worth in shame, as it confers respect through acknowledgment—enhanced by the public dissemination of images. The quality that touch possesses to ratify existence, and which is highlighted by Aristotle, also figures in the Bible where Thomas touches the wounds of Christ to know that Christ is real. Similarly, Jesus appears to the disciples in Luke 24: 38–39, imploring their touch, to verify his presence and gain their trust. He says to them, “Why are you
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frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” Therefore, biblically, touching ratifies being in a way that intensifies the notion of establishing presence through sight. Touching substantiates existence and solidifies the essence of being. Through touch, the Pope communicates to those he embraces, “You are here to me.” The Pope’s touch counters the refusal to see, name, or touch in the process of stigmatization, where not to be touched is to remain unrecognized, or not human. Authentic recognition through the Pope’s touch offers a narrative that combats the feelings of diminished worth in shame. This tactile part of relating defies embodied shame that communicates a body’s un-belonging, and as it has been reported to affect onlookers, it inspires people of faith to treat the marginalized differently.
The Counter-Narrative to Shame These images of the Pope touching draw his behavior into the public eye. The images become texts that we read and negotiate. They possess a mimetic quality, illuminating ways of being in the world. The meaning of the Pope’s actions is not fixed, nor is it absolute, but it suggests a counter-narrative to shame. Essential to this counter-narrative in the images is the practice of touch, which takes place within a field of exposure. The pope’s actions are seen, and in this observation, the visual and tactile collide. Touch occurs in the same realm as shame—to be touched is to be seen; in contrast, to be in shame is to escape from view. While the photographs draw the prisoners in Casal del Marmo, Vinicio Riva, and the many others the Pope touches into view in an obvious way, the touch does so in a subtle and affective way, at variance with the diminishment of stigmatizing or rejection in disgust. The Pope’s actions interrupt the stigma of disfigurement or criminality as he welcomes the incarcerated and the disfigured or disabled into participation in religious practice. He subverts the notion that women are to be excluded as “disciples of Christ,” and he tells a story of solidarity with those of other faiths. His fresh perspective, along with his
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method of modeling that perspective through touch, declares the dignity inherent in the human person. At Casal del Marmo, kneeling before the prisoners, who assume the role of the disciples, Pope Francis bathes and kisses their feet. His actions model compassionate touch offering visual proof of inclusivity, which inherently denies the possibility of stigmatization or shame. The act of touching flesh in a non-invasive manner communicates humility, empathy, and compassion, all countering the narrative of shame. The intimate corporeal contact also conveys familiarity and affection. The touch communicates inclusion and love. On one level, photographic images convey a Pope touching and kissing those whom culture and society (including Catholicism) stigmatize, challenging conventional categorization. He washes the feet of those society wishes to marginalize; he kisses and embraces those with visual signs of physical deformity. This is the mimetic dimension, but on another level, something affective happens in the Pope’s act of touching. This act makes an impact upon both the receiver of the touch and the viewer. The experience of receiving the Pope’s touch raises a central issue related to how shame is viscerally countered or ameliorated through empathic connection. Recent neurological research has supported the idea of touch as useful in creating positive affective experiences— not only for the person touched, but also for those observing touch. Again, due to mirror neuron capacity, when someone views another being touched a similar neurological response happens transforming affect immediately. Thus, the Pope’s touch or simply watching the Pope touching contradicts the negative affect of shame provoking interest, excitement, and joy. The painful state of shame can unfold and morph as, according to Helen Block Lewis “into a renewed sense of closeness to others” (1987a, p. 26). Along the same lines, Elspeth Probyn asserts that even though it seems counterintuitive to link shame to pleasure, joy, and connection, shame “floods us when we feel unlovable” and thus triggers a desire for love (Probyn 2005, p. 14; see also Wurmser 2007; and Nathanson 1987, p. 165). And it is precisely love, or a restoration of connection, that lessens the overwhelming shame affect. Shame Probyn
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writes, “illuminates our intense attachment to the world, our desire to be connected to others, and the knowledge that, as merely human, we will sometimes fail in our attempts to maintain those connections” (2005, p. 14). Thus, shame requires an intervention that involves dissolution of the perception of the inferior self, the restoration of dignity or self-worth, and the repair of broken bonds. In addition, a commensurate physical embodied response to shame, which manifests in touch, enhances shame’s amelioration. Thus, the Pope with his very visible acts of touching and kissing (along with his riding among the masses in an open-topped vehicle) reveals accessibility and vulnerability that communicate a willingness to accept people and bodies in their full humanity—that is, including in their shame. The images intensify this acceptance as they effect a common equality among all bodies. Further, the Pope offers for those he touches, and those watching, a counter-narrative to the disgust that provokes shame. This is achieved by and through the touch. When shame is faced and its debilitating fetters loosen, interest is restored; the possibility for connection, one to another increases and healing begins. The capacity to engage empathetically and intimately also ensues. A simple touch and the media representation of it inaugurate this trajectory. Touching creates opportunities for new experiences that counter shame, startling the self who perceives worthlessness into an alternative present. The Pope’s embraces create cognitive and somatic fissures, drawing attention to human bodies as well as to the potentially reparative connection that transpires between two people in the act of the touch. Moreover, the effects of his touch have been documented by observers. In fact, skeptics argue that his religious influence as the pope makes an affective impact—this intensifies the effect of his touch. It is also true that shared representations of the experience of touch occur in the human brain, and touch increases these empathetic responses (Banissy and Ward 2007; Keysers et al. 2004; Blakemore et al. 2005; Schaefer et al. 2006). The “observation of tactile stimuli delivered to other individuals” induces activity in an observer’s somatosensory cortical areas (Bufalari et al. 2007, p. 2554). Thus, viewing images of the Pope touching activates areas of the brain sensitive to touch in the observer.
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Reports in media all over the globe have recorded how people who have felt marginalized by the Catholic Church now (after watching Pope Francis) feel more included, welcomed, and relaxed about their participation in religious experience, whatever the range. According to the Pew Research Center Religion & Public Life, studies conducted in October 2015 after Pope Francis’s visit to the USA show that both American Catholics (50%) and non-Catholics (22%) have a more positive view of the Catholic Church as an outcome of his papacy (2015). These results are highest among the most liberal Catholics, those who have been dubbed “cultural Catholics” or those who break with Catholic doctrine but consider themselves culturally Catholic or partially Catholic in other ways (Truong 2015).
Conclusion Pope Francis’s touch has an affective charge, one that counters the preverbal affect of shame. When flesh meets flesh, the two touching experience altered affectivity regardless of the context. For this moment, they experience an empathic connection. Even at its briefest, the convergence of flesh constitutes a social bond that both physiologically and psychologically opposes the way that shame interferes with such bonds. Further, when touch acknowledges the other, it counters the negative self-evaluation characteristic of shame. Touch in this way also paradoxically acknowledges shame as a part of human experience. To touch a marginalized body is to touch this body’s shame, to acknowledge it, therefore offering a fissure in the cycles of additional shame and rage. The Pope’s act of touching acknowledges human beings, conveying a message that lifts the veil of shame. His comportment as he touches those he meets, along with the media’s portrayal of these encounters, offers a narrative that counteracts shame and its dangerous manifestation into violence. Modeling a lived religious practice of touch, which literally transforms negative affect into positive affect, the images of the Pope’s touching and kissing provoke new meaning making related to approaching the marginalized, or those in shame. In the images of the Pope, touch becomes an intimate connection that recognizes and acknowledges the other.
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Ultimately, the images of the Pope’s actions, along with the actions themselves, address shame offering a counter-narrative to shame and trauma, one that includes being vulnerable, exposed, and open to the other. Intentionally or not, he models empathy through touch that has potential to confront stigma, counter disgust, and ameliorate shame. This dynamic is simultaneously visual and visceral. The dual sensory modes respond to shame’s operation in the field of exposure. When shame is seen, paradoxically, it begins to dissolve. The touch heightens this dynamic, presenting a visceral and lived religious practice of countering shame and the vestiges of trauma.
Note 1. Trauma can be understood as some event so catastrophic that speaking and communicating appears to be insurmountable. Often trauma creates indelible memories, which are not integrated into a person’s conscious life experiences.
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Harman, R., and D. Lee. 2010. The Role of Shame and Self-Critical Thinking in the Development and Maintenance of Current Threat in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy 17: 13–24. Hartman, S. 2014. New York Photographer Turns Strangers into Friends. CBS News, viewed 15 December 2015. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ new-york-photographer-turns-strangers-into-friends/. Herman, J.L. 1992. Trauma and Recovery. New York: Basic Books. Herman, J.L. 2011. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder as a Shame Disorder. In Shame in the Therapy Hour, ed. R.L. Dearing and J.P. Tangney. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Kaufman, G. 1996. The Psychology of Shame, 2nd ed. New York: Springer. Keysers, C., B. Wicker, V. Gazzola, J.L. Anton, L. Fogassi, and V. Gallese. 2004. A Touching Sight: SII/PV Activation During the Observation and Experience of Touch. Neuron 42 (2): 335–346. Kristeva, J. 1982. Powers of Horror: An Essay of Abjection, trans. L.S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia University Press. Lewis, H.B. 1987a. Introduction: Shame—The ‘Sleeper’ in Psychopathology. In The Role of Shame in Symptom Formation, ed. H.B. Lewis, 1–28. London: Psychology Press. Lewis, H.B. 1987b. Shame and the Narcissistic Personality. In The Many Faces of Shame, ed. D.L. Nathanson, 93–132. New York: Guilford. McGuire, Meredith B. 2008. Lived Religion: Faith and Practice in Everyday Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. McLuhan, M., and L.H. Lapham. 1964. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: Signet Books. Montagu, A. 1986. Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin. New York: Harper & Row. Nash, R. 1990. Bourdieu on Education and Social and Cultural Reproduction. British Journal of Sociology of Education 11: 431–477. Nathanson, D.L. (ed.). 1987. The Many Faces of Shame. New York: Guilford Press. Nussbaum, M. 2004. Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame and the Law. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Perry, B.D., and M. Szalavitz. 2006. The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog. New York: Basic Books. Pope Francis. 2013. Twitter Update, 27 March, viewed April 2015. https:// twitter.com/Pontifex?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor. Pope Francis. 2016. Twitter Update, 28 January, viewed January 2016. https:// twitter.com/Pontifex?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor.
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Positive Impact of Pope Francis on Views of the Church, Especially Among Democrats and Liberals. 2015. Pew Research Center: Religion and Public Life, viewed November 2015. http://www.pewforum.org/2015/10/07/ following-visit-two-thirds-in-u-s-view-pope-francis-favorably/. Probyn, E. 2005. Blush: Faces of Shame. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Rogers, A. 2007. The Unsayable: The Hidden Language of Trauma. New York: Ballantine Books. Schaefer, M., H. Flor, H.J. Heinze, and M. Rotte. 2006. Dynamic Modulation of the Primary Somatosensory Cortex during Seeing and Feeling a Touched Hand. Neuroimage 29: 587–592. Scheff, T.J. 1987. The Shame-Rage Spiral: A Case Study of an Interminable Quarrel. In The Role of Shame in Symptom Formation, ed. H.B. Lewis, 109– 149. London: Psychology Press. Schore, A. 1994. Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers. Sedgwick, E.K., and A. Frank (eds.). 2005. Shame and Its Sisters: A Silvan Tomkins Reader. Durham: Duke University Press. Snizek, R. 2013. Through Pope’s Embrace, 8-Year-Old Rhode Island Boy Touches the World. Catholic News Service, viewed March 2015. http://www. catholicnews.com/services/englishnews/2013/through-pope-s-embrace-8year-old-rhode-island-boy-touches-the-world.cfm. Tangney, J., and R. Dearing. 2002. Shame and Guilt. New York: The Guilford Press. Tomkins, S. 2008. Affect, Imagery, Consciousness. New York: Springer. Truong, K. 2015. ‘Pope Francis’ Message Soften Hearts of America’s ‘Cultural Catholics’. The Christian Science Monitor, 7 September. Van Stegeren, A., A.O. Wolf, W. Everaerd, P. Scheltens, F. Barkhof, and S. Rombouts. 2007. Endogenous Cortisol Level Interacts with Noradrenergic Activation in the Human Amygdala. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 87: 57–66. Wedeman, B. 2013. Meet the Disfigured Man Whose Embrace with Pope Francis Warmed Hearts, viewed 15 January 2016. http://www.cnn. com/2013/11/26/world/europe/pope-francis-disfigured-man/index.html. Wurmser, L. 2007. Torment Me, But Don’t Abandon Me. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Zauzmer, J., and S.P. Bailey. 2015. Pope Francis Saw a Boy with Cerebral Palsy. This is What Happened Next. The Washington Post, viewed 15 January 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/09/26/ pope-francis-saw-a-boy-with-cerebral-palsy-this-is-what-happened-next/.
Part II Meaning
Significance of the “Visceral” in Lived Religion Studies of Trauma Michelle A. Walsh
Vignette: A Formation Story in Body and Blood and a Question On a cool autumn day in September 2006, I numbly approach the area, not quite knowing what I feel. I have served as an urban youth social worker and lay street minister for more than a decade. Spontaneous street memorials to the dead are not new to me. This particular shrine is personal, however—deeply personal. This time, for the first time, I begin to take pictures of the pole, marked by a street sign “CRESTWOOD PK” at the corner of Townsend Street—a pole now decorated with colorful stuffed animals, including numerous teddy bears tied with flowers. This site marks the area where my 14-year-old
M. A. Walsh (*) School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA e-mail: [email protected]
© The Author(s) 2019 R. R. Ganzevoort and S. Sremac (eds.), Trauma and Lived Religion, Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91872-3_4
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African American goddaughter’s 17-year-old nephew was murdered a few days ago, on the border marking the connection between Roxbury and Dorchester—two “inner-city” neighborhoods in the poverty zones of Boston in the USA. I turn and walk across the street to the place where Kenny had laid shot and dying. The sidewalk is still marked by a stain of orange red, spread in a seeming outline of Kenny’s lower back in my imagination, where blood seeped from his body. I feel compelled to take a picture once again of this spot where Kenny had lain, still not quite knowing what I feel other than that this is a connection to Kenny, an extended family member by mutual adoption in the complexity of race and class border-crossing relationships I knew in my early lay youth ministry and pre-social work days. This is a lingering connection to Kenny’s body—a body I once had held in my arms when he was 3 or 4 years old as he pitched and screamed in resistance to being separated once again as his mother left him, possessing a life force that nearly knocked me down the stairs on which I climbed, while holding his raging body firmly against mine. Then, at that moment, I felt a keen helplessness witnessing the larger oppressive forces in which, I was coming to know more deeply, both he and his mother were caught as repeated victims. Now, at this moment, helpless once again with a numbness associated with a sense of inevitability, I stare at the mark. This orange red splay on the sidewalk is what remains of the handsome young boy who, in a different memory, laughed with delight as he swam in the lake on a youth ministry field trip. I am filled with a tangle of memories—his spontaneous hugs during other joy filled times as a young child, pitted against later family reports of his anger and struggles as an urban black male teenager. I am viscerally uncomfortable, dazed, and compelled at the same time to snap the picture—is this sacred or sacrilegious what I do? Why am I taking this particular picture? Do I have a right to take and keep this picture? I take only one picture this time. At this moment, I have become a documenter of death and memorialization. At this moment, I have begun a shift in role from adopted family survivor to participant observer to ethnographer without even realizing or understanding it and what is yet to come.
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The “Visceral Moment” Connecting Lived Religion and Studies of Trauma At this moment of a violent traumatic rupturing of relationship, my body’s visceral reactions of horror, numbness, powerlessness, confusion, and yet still conflicted desire for ongoing connection, gave rise to what some might call a religious action and religious questions. Ease of narrative meaning-making is disrupted and displaced by visceral feelings and remembered images, followed by a hesitant movement toward action simultaneous with moral self-questioning of the action’s significance, meaning, and justification or authorization. This is a moment outside the practices of formal institutional religions, yet the religious impulse to create meaning still rose out of my body’s confused visceral impulses in the aftermath. In choosing to lift this moment up, I expand upon the role of narrative studies in lived religion research by attending to the visceral affective capacity of the human body as a primary source of knowledge, one that prompts the very impulse to question and make meaning of an experience and then draws from possibilities in a particular cultural religious linguistic context—such as the language of sacred versus sacrilegious for myself. The human body becomes the first empirical grounding place for R. Ruard Ganzevoort’s (2011) argument that religion persists even through periods of formal religious institutional decline—that instead of secularization and loss of religion, the religious impulse goes through periods of institutionalization, deinstitutionalization, and re-institutionalization over time. Religion as “transcending patterns of meaning arising from and contributing to the relation with what is held to be sacred” (Ganzevoort 2011, p. 2) is prompted first through the body’s capacity to experience a relationship with the sacred, a felt experience of transcendence or immanence. That bodily experience is the relational root of religiosity or, as Ganzevoort notes using a term by Hijme Stoffels, it is the source of “wild devotion” (p. 5), a wild devotion that in turn is channeled in different ways through religious institutions, practices, and rituals—some formal and some popular—for generations over time.
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Terms such as religiosity and “wild devotion” also are fruitfully connected to Wendy Farley’s (2005) exploration of desire, including its grounding in the body and the body’s experiences of infinite desire in the face of suffering as well as joy and delight. Writing during a period of trauma and upheaval when she had lost the ability to read, Farley turns to experiences through her bodily senses other than sight as the wellspring of meaning, particularly folk songs and body practices in the Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian traditions. She writes: “As a good Protestant it did not occur to me that metaphysics had a root in bodily contemplative practices and that in the absence of these practices metaphysics makes almost no sense at all” (p. x). It is our sense of reality that becomes disrupted by trauma, the “world-sense” (Walsh 2017) of our metaphysics becomes disrupted and with it our means of communication and making meaning. In the vignette I share above, a secular clinical professional might abstract out and disregard the religious meaning-making questions prompted and diagnose me with a label from their DSM V manual as being in Acute Stress Disorder, carefully noting the bodily reports of numbing, being dazed, and hints of some dissociation with suggestions of arousal, intrusion, and avoidance. Yet this would miss empirical data in the multiple layers of exposures to such murders over time, now compounded by a personal familial border-crossing bodily relationship that adds intensity and depth to my visceral reaction. I had held this young man in my arms as a very young child during a moment of fierce protest and desire for his mother—the fierceness of which was imprinted on my own body that day and in a forever embodied memory. The spark and weight of my “religiosity” years later at the site of his murder emerged from a felt “moral injury” (Moral Injury Project) in the traumatic severing of our connection. This then gave rise to deeply religious moral questions about hesitant actions in the aftermath of loss, while also seeking to make meaning out of a felt ongoing connection that is both immanent and transcendent yet wordless. The body is the site of my knowledge and impulse to action, the impulse and desire to seek.
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Vignette: An Intersection with the Academy’s Desires Boston murders in 2006 are on the rise again, and I am in the first two weeks of my doctoral studies in practical theology the September Kenny is murdered. Two weeks after Kenny’s murder and one week after assisting in his funeral, I also am meeting with my denomination’s ministerial fellowship committee to authorize my path to ordination. My sermon for the committee is focused on urban ministry and the representation of Kenny’s death as the statistical number “51” in 54 Boston murders to that date—how the reduction in a statistic fails to capture the enormity of the lived reality of trauma and the transcendent experience of eternal loss yet still infinite desire. One month later, in October, our youth ministry programs are impacted by three murders in one week—one is a 29-year-old male cousin of family members in my particular weekend youth ministry named LeVar. Once again, I feel compelled to take pictures of the spontaneous street memorial that shapes in the aftermath of LeVar’s murder, this time on Stanwood Street in Dorchester, a street that had been rated as one of the most violent streets in Boston to live on in the early 1990s. This is the street where I first faced direct physical threats to my person and property, as well as the ambiguity of being assured of protection by a powerful young adult leader on the street who also became the first person in the community I would know to meet a violent end during the nearly 18 years of my urban youth ministry. His name was Moses—a helpful name for the African American minister seeking to make some transcendent meaning of the senseless during his eulogy and funeral. I lived in the field of violence and death for those years, the raced and classed killing fields of American cities where religious meaning-making in the aftermath of violence comes in fractured pieces. I arrived on the doorstep of doctoral studies with these fractured pieces, these lived experiences, and so many more, in my mind, body, and spirit—unknowing as yet that they would so thoroughly shape my work
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in the academy and lived religion studies of trauma. I am first and foremost still a survivor on arrival. Many of my then professors, now colleagues, would continue to express intellectual curiosity and fascination through my years of academic study at the university, but without the embodied knowing that comes from living in those borderlands, the embodied joys and the embodied costs. The anthropology professor encourages me to study these street memorials I have shown her in pictorial form. The pictures are speaking something not fully known but interesting to her, and she desires a deeper academic gaze (Mitchell 2005). I have no memory of showing her the picture of the orange red bloodstain at that time— though I mention it in a footnote in the final paper. She recommends the work of Jack Santino (2001, 2006) as a starting place, a cultural folklorist who has studied spontaneous shrines in Northern Ireland and around the world for their commemorative and political performance functions. My doctoral path, and it seems my academic writing path for life, has been set at this moment. I desire and am in search of language and theory now for myself and for my own liberation, not for the academy (hooks 1994)—and the religious search is fierce, with a wild devotion and willingness to hear the metaphoric potential of any language or theory that seems to express these visceral lived experiences, even words drawn from a different context or different disciplines, including material expressions. Trauma demands a register of cultural multiplicity for lived religious meaning-making in its aftermath, with attention to popular culture practices that fall outside the range of formal religious practices, such as these spontaneous street memorials. The study of trauma and lived religion is and must be inherently interdisciplinary. Ethnography and autoethnography become my guiding methodological tools at the intersection of lived religion and trauma studies. I learned to look for and desire an ethnographic spark of visceral recognition in my body’s knowledge when drawing on words, theories, and disciplines to represent these fractured pieces of trauma for the academy’s meaning-making linguistic world.
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How the “Inside/Outside” Ethnography Debate Impacts Lived Religion Studies of Trauma There is a historical debate in ethnographic methodology regarding the value of being inside versus outside of a community of study, also known as applying the emic versus etic perspective. Which acquires a greater claim to “truth” and “objectivity”? Yet many in contemporary ethnographic studies are recognizing this as a false dichotomy with an inevitable failure to account for the full complexity of lived experiences field-workers encounter, including ethnographers of religious experiences, whether they emerge from the field, enter into the field, or define the field (Spickard et al. 2002). Thomas A. Tweed (2002) asks: “Where are fieldworkers when they do fieldwork? Inside, outside, or in some other social space” (p. 68)? If someone lives within a community for many, many years, and repeatedly encounters the community—including regularly partaking in its communal meaning-making rituals— in such a way that their felt experience of self is no longer entirely the same, can one rightly call them an outsider? But if they have not grown up in the community and still bring other aspects of cultural self-identity to its service or study, can they rightly be called an insider either? I have no other way to account for my own lived experiences except to see myself as in a type of “queer in-between” status as an ethnographer of lived religion in the study of trauma—and I find I am not alone in ethnography by witnessing to this “in-between” and its visceral and potentially transformative impact, including for one’s sense of the religious in the aftermath of trauma. I did not grow up in Boston, let alone in an “inner-city” context. I grew up as a young white working-class girl, enculturated to atheism and with middle-class family aspirations in a Midwestern US context. I had some personal exposure to family generational concerns with alcoholism and violence and other trauma, but no personal exposure to understanding the combined negative impact of institutional racism and classism in the USA, including its impact on my own white identity formation. My naïve entré into full immersion with African
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American urban youth and families came less with any embodied knowing of race and racism than from an embodied knowing of the cultural impact of economic inequality and possessing class traveling status, being the first in my family to complete a college education, later a Ph.D., and retaining a deep political commitment to economic equality by the time I began social work school in the early 1990s. However, the placement of my relatively privileged white body in a black impoverished community, and being exposed directly and indirectly to violence for nearly 18 years, forever changed my sense of self and embodied knowledge of the differences and added layers of racism as intersected with classism in the USA. What also shifted and changed during this period of immersion was my atheist stance, yielding to the development instead of my desire, my yearning, for religious language, stories, and practices that expressed and resonated with my encounters with suffering and trauma, initially turning to Buddhism and also finding my way into the Jewish and Christian traditions. For example, a sermon preached to the relatively privileged that conceptualized Easter as primarily about the return of spring did not connect for me now with any meaningful transcendent depth, whereas previously it might have been a very comfortable sermon prior to my “inner-city” immersion. My religious yearning and desire were for a story powerful enough in transcendent yet embodied meaning-making that it reflected living as part of a black community that experienced the repeated traumatic rupturings of Good Friday and its aftermath. I needed a religious story that reflected a “world-sense” (Walsh 2017) of the work necessary to live and hope and move again in those particular aftermaths at Easter’s dawn. My body taught me of experiential depths that needed correspondence to religious stories and practices reflective of those depths. While I later learned to re-conceptualize these experiences in secular social scientific terms as “autoethnographic” when reporting them within an academic context, it is clear that there is “something more” of these depths in the stories of contemporary ethnographers who struggle with their reactions to these types of visceral disruptive meaning-making experiences. These experiences unsettle the comfortable and known in one’s identity by virtue of mutuality of impact, including in the field of lived religion studies. Tweed (2002), for example, expresses his own
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discomfort with this aspect of his ethnographic fieldwork with Catholic Cubans in Miami, yearning at the end of his essay to go back to writing history rather than anthropology: “Not only was my position as interpreter confused, but sometimes those whom I studied tried to change my position” (p. 71). In contrast, and drawing from his experiences in ethnographic fieldwork with the “Word of Life” charismatic organizations in Sweden, including their university, Simon Coleman (2002) argues: As fieldworkers, we usually assume that the salient and powerful work of representation—and thus of assigning cultural identity—is carried out by us. Is this always true, however? What of the voices and actions of our informants? Do they not interpret, contest, appropriate, and perhaps re-present what we do in accordance with their own agendas? And must we continue to assume that there is a fundamental social, cultural, and analytical divide between “the field” and “home”? (77) Believers are perfectly capable of employing anthropological discourse in a reflexive manner, and although I might not regard them as doing exactly ‘my’ kind of anthropology, I would not presume to state they are incapable, by definition, of being ‘real’ anthropologists … we can hardly sustain the ethnographic myth that the places and people we study are bounded, self-contained, and incapable of their own reflexive responses to multiple discourses, including those produced by academia. (86)
Thus, when this “queerly not-quite-nativized little white girl” arrived back on the academy’s doctoral doorstep, my two decades of cultural, economic, and racial border-crossing and visceral “conversion” experiences of altering worldview/world-sense, including through exposure to violent trauma, had already marked my body and mind and spirit with a fierce desire and wild devotion, a religiosity if you will. This fierceness manifested as a desire to seek out and be true to the language and theories that resonated with the experiences of “my adopted people,” even while recognizing the improbability of the complete capture of their experiences and my own—a transcendent academic meaning-making quest that always would be somewhat elusive, as in a finger pointing as perhaps all the words of the academy are in their poetry. As Farley (2005) writes:
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Reality is beyond being, beyond word and concept, but we pursue it with mind and emotion, with word and concept, and in communities that are flawed and limited. Desire lives at this border, fed by the tradition in which it finds itself and pushing beyond it. If it is lucky, it will fly back and forth along this border, drinking the wisdom of tradition and entering the silence that cannot be called back into words. (14–15)
Yet in my fierce academic search of desire, some theoretical tools and language would succeed in registering that poetic resonance—if I broadened their metaphoric and contextual applications. The first of these did indeed come from Santino’s (2006) writings on spontaneous shrines: … because these are more than memorials. They are places of communion between the dead and the living … They are sites of pilgrimage … They commemorate and memorialize, but they do far more than that. They invite participation even from strangers. They are “open” to the public … I suggest that the shrines personalize public and political issues, and in personalizing them, are political themselves, even in the absence of overt political sloganeering, as in Northern Ireland. Spontaneous shrines are silent witnesses. Further, they reflect and comment on public and social issues … Spontaneous shrines act [in opposition to depersonalization] … the shrines insist—by their disruption of the mundane environment, their calling attention to themselves—they insist on us acknowledging the real people, the real lives lost, the devastation to the commonwealth that these politics hold. By translating social issues and political actions into personal terms, the shrines are themselves political statements … They are, I believe, the voice of the people. (12–13)
While the spontaneous street memorials I studied in Boston took no overt public political protest performance in form as they had in Northern Ireland and Latin America, they did disrupt the “mundane environment” of Boston streets while commemorating a murdered loved one—if not on an individual basis then through their sheer accumulative numbers over the years. These indeed also were sites of pilgrimage for family, friends, and strangers—and places where, drawing from a different anthropological theory, “communitas” arose through the shared experience of “liminality” in the creation of the spontaneous shrine (Turner 1969/1995):
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Communitas breaks in through the interstices of structure, in liminality; at the edges of structure, in marginality; and from beneath structure, in inferiority. It is almost everywhere held to be sacred or “holy,” possibly because it transgresses or dissolves the norms that govern structured and institutionalized relationships and is accompanied by experiences of unprecedented potency. (128)
As they bring people together across lines and positions in the society to pay their respects—family members, gang members, neighbors, professionals—these shrines are sanctified and made holy through the pilgrimage and gifts left and are rarely disturbed, often for a year or many more. Families I interviewed spoke to accepting all gifts to a street memorial, even those that made them feel uncomfortable, such as liquor bottles for some. They might move a gift to a different location in a memorial, but not remove it entirely. Families also spoke to being surprised and touched by the different types of people drawn into creating a memorial for their murdered loved one, even people they had never known before but who had known their loved one. Within lived religion studies, Ganzevoort (2011) also would recognize such street memorials as religious in nature, serving both a social and an existential function through their ritual creation, creating a context for communication with the dead in transcendental material aesthetic meaning- making as well. Another transcendent religious concept, expanded in metaphoric content and application beyond its original context, also began to resonate from my experiences with and studies of the street memorials, inclusive of interviews with the young people—that of “dangerous memories.” Johann Baptist Metz (1977/2007) created this language within a specific Christian theological context, yet I heard it alternatively first through the work of Sharon D. Welch (1989/2000) and saw its expanded metaphoric application to street memorial rituals, specifically through Santino’s recognition of the performative dimension always implicit in spontaneous shrines: Johann Baptist Metz has identified the power of dangerous memories in resisting communities … Dangerous memories fund a community’s sense of dignity; they inspire and empower those who challenge oppression.
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Dangerous memories are a people’s history of resistance and struggle, of dignity and transcendence in the face of oppression. (Welch, 154–155)
As I reflected on the power of my own visceral response to Kenny’s memorial, as well as the words of the young people I interviewed for this initial pilot study of the street memorials, I realized that these rituals and locations did provoke a type of “dangerous memory” of oppression and resistance. I personally cannot pass that particular spot on Townsend Street without remembering both the particular and the universal impact of violent trauma. My body is imprinted with an ethnographic visceral that resonates with one young adult female interviewed who said: The spot where somebody dies you tend to never forget … You would tend to forget the things that he did on a daily basis, but as far as where he was found or anything that pertains to his death you never forget that. You never forget the spot where somebody gunned down a family member of yours or just in a violent act did something to a family member of yours. You would never forget that.
This ethnographic visceral of knowledge in my own body also led me deeper into the literature of neuroaffective attachment studies in trauma and again into expanded uses of metaphors that might correlate with lived religion studies of meaning-making in the aftermath of violent trauma (Walsh 2014, 2017). For example, grief rituals such as the street memorials and other forms of memorials could be seen to reflect both “continuing bonds” (Klass et al. 1996) with the dead and also our human mammalian capacity for neuroaffective interdependence that has been termed “limbic resonance” (Lewis et al. 2000/2001)—and each of these social scientific concepts could be mutually correlated through the multivalent capacity of metaphor to religious concepts and lived experiences, such as the language of the movement of the Spirit and/or the Holy Ghost, without reducing one field of linguistic experiential worldview or world-sense to the other. Transcendent and immanent experiences, wild devotion and infinite desire, rooted in the body—whether viewed a gift of God or of the Universe—become the common “text” or source out of which different linguistic cultural religious systems arise.
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Queer Reflexivity and the Ethnographic “Visceral” of Trauma in Lived Religion I “became” an ethnographic field-worker after the fact, already having experienced the “disruption” of what Melissa M. Wilcox (2002) terms “the ethnographer gone native and the native turned ethnographer”—a “queer not-quite native” indeed, not quite fully inside and not quite fully outside but existing in a queer borderland. Right now, one might say that I am engaging, to a large degree, in “confessional ethnography” for the purpose of discussing the methodology of ethnography in the lived religion study of trauma. I acknowledge my political leanings toward “critical ethnography” from a decolonizing stance (Smith 2012) and that my research, of course, entailed autoethnography, but there seems to be a “something more” to my lived experiences than these particular categories are able to capture (Madison 2012). “Critical reflexivity” reaches toward this language, yet I find myself drawn to the word “queer” from the position of embodied knowing and the visceral impact of cultural boundary crossing, as well as from experiencing the impact of trauma and the religious impulse to question and language. In saying this, I recognize that I am consciously expanding the use of the word “queer” beyond solely an association with gender, sex, and sexual orientation (Walsh 2017). I am encompassing for myself other border-crossing categories, including those of race, class, religion, culture, and the lived experience of being a survivor of trauma. As usual, I find a need to expand the metaphoric potential of words through their root meaning, such as “queer” meaning “deviating from what is expected or normal” and thus designated as “strange” in that it breaks normative categories of expectations—a “breaking” often registered on the somatic visceral level through felt experiences of curiosity, fascination, surprise, shock, revulsion, avoidance. Others also have been pointing to intersectional uses for queer theory (Barnard 2004). A deeper exploration of this potential for the intersectional use of queer theory in anthropological theory and ethnographic lived religion studies is warranted, including consideration of polarization of desire, devotion, and revulsion in the religious context.
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Thomas J. Csordas (1993) has spoken to “somatic modes of attention” which “are culturally elaborated ways of attending to and with one’s body in surroundings that include the embodied presence of others … Our concern is the cultural elaboration of sensory engagement, not preoccupation with one’s own body as an isolated phenomenon” (p. 138). Cultural elaboration of visceral reactions thus means the engagement of embodied social group identities, such as race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and class. Crossing cultural borders necessitates explicit bodily engagement of these social group identities in ethnographic anthropology and lived religion studies, sometimes with queer visceral results. Mark Graham (2014), in his exploration of queer theory and anthropology, writes on the significance of not neglecting the body or consigning important visceral data to the field diary only: It is obvious to any anthropologist that visceral reactions like disgust are a potential resource for an ethnographer. By exposing somatic biases, including fears, embarrassment, squeamishness, prudishness, and disgust (but also pleasures) we use the knowledge gained to direct our attention to those aspects of the people we study that have evoked or provoked such reactions. More than an ethnographic tool, affective fieldwork also draws attention to non-subjective, visceral, sometimes molecular processes. The lowly, often disavowed and frequently organic aspects of ethnography: bowels, digestion, fatigue, ennui, listlessness, bad moods, temper tantrums, elation, euphoria, fear and loathing. This is the stuff often consigned to diaries. Their frequent neglect is yet another symptom of the absent body. (137)
I find the word “visceral” is often turned to as a descriptor by others as well as by myself (Walsh 2017) for the somatic when reporting encounters with cultural difference, whether positive or negative as Graham notes above. In her congregational study of a US North Carolina church that seeks to embody a multiracial and multicultural Christian ideal, Mary McClintock Fulkerson (2007) recognizes and attends to these visceral realities of border crossing, both for herself as a white middle-class able-bodied woman as well as for the congregants
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she studies. In crossing borders of race and disability, the ethnographer and congregants all carried “hidden inheritances, habituated bodies with desires, and, implicitly, affective and visceral reactions” (p. 11). As a theologian, cultural anthropology and ethnography provided central tools and insights for Fulkerson’s lived religion congregational study. She writes: “my conscious commitments to inclusiveness were not completely correlated with my habituated sense of the normal” (p. 15), and even more honestly: “Visceral responses create the possibility for aversive ‘isms’” (p. 19). The visceral in this sense becomes available for identification and languaging and an important source of sociological knowledge when the ethnographer pauses for attention to it. The “visceral” becomes an important clue to institutional structures and human barriers to change or transformation of desire, even when there is a guiding religious narrative fostering a transformative ideal. Trauma also is experienced in the visceral realm (van der Kolk 2014), yet it is more closely associated with visceral overwhelm such that language is lost in the process—one is rendered speechless and cognitive processes can become frozen along with particular viscerally encoded memories. Visceral overwhelm need not always be experienced in the highly aversive negative association of trauma. Visceral overwhelm also can be positive, for example, the temporary experience of overwhelming joy and beauty, as in the birth of one’s desired child. Yet the experience of trauma, included repeated trauma, is qualitatively different in that avoidance, terror, hypervigilant anxiety, and other symptoms can emerge for individuals and, at times, for collective societies. In the aftermath of trauma, one’s world of spiritual or religious meaning- making can be radically or drastically impacted and forever changed. Worldviews/world-sense also can be impacted and forever changed by the temporary overwhelm of great joy or beauty, and this often is the positive role that structured religious rituals play in providing the appropriate channel for this type of overwhelm, perhaps the channeling of wild devotion as suggested by Ganzevoort. In trauma, however, there often is no ready-made structure at the moment of impact. Hence, we witness as ethnographers the field of spontaneous community created responses, such as street memorials among other expressive or material
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responses. Attending to the moment of “ethnographic visceral” as field-workers observe or participate in such spontaneous rituals in the aftermath of trauma can yield important data about a community’s processes of religious meaning-making.
A Few Final Implications for Ethics and Power in Lived Religion Studies of Trauma Lynn Davidman (2002) writes: “Mainstream social science has privileged a more distant form of knowing in the interest of ‘objectivity’ and rational science … because the self is a contaminant in social research” (p. 20). Yet, she also notes that “contemporary ethnographic research theory argues that in order to develop emphatic, nuanced, and sensitive accounts of peoples’ lives we must work through with and through our knowing selves” (p. 20). As an ethnographer, I have come to appreciate deeply that different kinds of knowledge come in different ways … and have embraced, as part of my ‘data,’ the visceral knowledge that comes to me through my own senses … Research of this kind is potentially transformative—of self, of respondents, and of our society as a whole … Several respondents have contacted me to tell me how participating in the interviews began for them a process of exploration and healing … The telling of lives always changes those lives; by telling their life stories, respondents freed themselves from the cultural and social mystification and silencing of death and its consequences … The goal of a study such as this is not only to produce information about a social phenomenon but also to touch readers emotionally. (25–26)
For the ethnographer in lived religious studies to consider the visceral reactions of one’s body as part of the field of discoverable knowledge entails more detailed training in somatics and doing ethnography from a sensory stance (Pink 2009/2015). Ethically, it also entails incorporating a deeper understanding of power dynamics in the field, gaining full institutional support from the academy, and developing a stance
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by the researcher of cultural humility, openness, mutuality, and willingness to be vulnerable, particularly when drawing upon the body for knowledge in trauma studies. A red flag of caution in this area recently was raised by a doctoral student’s essay, documenting her experience of rape while engaged in fieldwork and the complications this posed for her writing in the aftermath, including balancing protection of field informants with care for self (Huang 2016). How does the academy reconcile the costs to the ethnographer, including trauma and moral injury, for the precious knowledge gained? Are there mutuality and accountability in the shared academic project of desire and transcendent meaning-making? Beyond the ethical dilemmas of solitary ethnographers in the field, what would it mean for lived religion studies of trauma to strive for a level playing field in all research contexts, striving for equity of resources, decision-making capacity, and respect for cultural norms and standards? What would it mean to recognize that objectivity may lie in recognizing a natural mutuality of influence and to see field subjects as full partners in any research done, whether with an individual fieldworker or with an organized fieldwork with multiple participants? What would the development of large-scale mixed methods community-based participant research projects (Hacker 2013) even begin to look like for lived religion studies of trauma? This latter vision may be the largest growing edge of lived religious studies, given the truism that “[e]thnography has long been enmeshed in colonial power-relations” (Spickard 2002, p. 237). Spickard argues for two regulative ethical ideals in post-colonial ethnography—that of truth and that of equality (perhaps better envisioned as equity, I would argue). Equity in this stance finds contextual “truth” in and through the relational encounter, one that holds the possibility of mutual enrichment, change, growth, and transformation, including religious transformation—not necessarily equality but a mutually agreeable equitable exchange. An ethical approach to equity … demands that native interpretation of our beliefs be given as much weight as our interpretation of theirs. This changes ethnographic practice. If we are no longer imposing interpretations, but trading them, we begin
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to converse with our informants … Presuming equality means that we can no longer present just one side of the conversation; we must present both. Our dialogues become the subject of ethnography, not its means, and ethnography becomes personal: a matter of cross-cultural encounter rather than a one-way view. (Spickard, 247)
Conclusion I return to where I began—Kenny’s street memorial and my solitary and cautionary picture of an orange red bloodstain with accompanying ethical wonderings of my role. What was the root of that visceral impulse, and where has it led me to today? Perhaps I will never know in its entirety, and perhaps it is a lifelong learning in cross-cultural humility and border crossing and a never-ending project of human existence, the queerness of indeterminacy in Western culture and in encountering the infinite nature of desire and wild devotion that is the bodily root of religiosity. Are we more queered by our living visceral bodies than we realize in ethnographic studies of culture, trauma, meaning-making, and religion? If so, what is our ethical responsibility as ethnographers to acknowledge our own bodily identities and lived experiences more richly and fully—our gendered status, our class status, our religious status, our raced/ethnic/cultural status as we engage relationships with mutuality and humility in the field? Moreover, what is our pedagogical responsibility to the graduate students we train to enter ethnographic fields containing violent trauma and conflict—to prepare them for the visceral realities their bodies will encounter, as well as the probable impact on their preexisting worldviews and world-sense, and to engage in trauma stewardship (Lipsky 2009) along the way. How does the academy draw ethically from knowing and valuing that their bodies as ethnographers are and always will be important sources of academic knowledge about meaning-making and lived religious practices in the aftermath of trauma—and from this the academy makes its own transcendent experience of meaning? How is each of us, regardless of group identity, implicated always by our own infinity of desires and
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wild devotion to meaning-making—even in the field and even in the academy? Religion persists in many forms.
References Barnard, Ian. 2004. Queer Race: Cultural Interventions in the Racial Politics of Queer Theory. New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc. Csordas, Thomas J. 1993. Somatic Modes of Attention. Cultural Anthropology 8 (2): 135–156. Davidman, Lynn. 2002. Truth, Subjectivity, and Ethnographic Research. In Personal Knowledge and Beyond: Reshaping The Ethnography of Religion, ed. James V. Spickard, J. Shawn Landres, and Meredith B. McGuire, 17–26. New York: New York University Press. Farley, Wendy. 2005. The Wounding and Healing of Desire: Weaving Heaven and Earth. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. Fulkerson, Mary McClintock. 2007. Places of Redemption: Theology for a Worldly Church. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ganzevoort, R. Ruard. 2011. Framing the Gods: The Public Significance of Religion From a Cultural Point of View. In The Public Significance of Religion, ed. L.J. Francis and H.-G. Ziebertz, 95–120. Leiden: Brill. Graham, Mark. 2014. Anthropological Explorations in Queer Theory. Burlington, VT: Ashgate. Hacker, Karen. 2013. Community Based Participatory Research. New York: Sage. hooks, bell. 1994. Theory as Liberatory Practice. In Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom, 59–75. New York: Routledge. Huang, Mingwei. 2016. Vulnerable Observers: Notes on Fieldwork and Rape. The Chronicle of Higher Education. http://www.chronicle.com/article/ Vulnerable-Observers-Notes-on/238042. Accessed 13 October 2016. Klass, Dennis, Phyllis R. Silverman, and Steven L. Nickman (eds.). 1996. Continuing Bonds: New Understandings of Grief. New York: Routledge. Lewis, Thomas, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon. 2000/2001. A General Theory of Love. New York: Vintage Books. Lipsky, Laura van Dernoot, with Connie Burk. 2009. Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. Madison, D. Soyini. 2012. Critical Ethnography: Method, Ethics, and Performance, 2nd ed. New York: Sage.
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Metz, Johann Baptist. 1977/2007. Faith in History and Society: Toward a Practical Fundamental Theology, trans. J. Matthew Ashley. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company. Mitchell, W.J.T. 2005. What Do Pictures Want? The Lives and Loves of Images. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Moral Injury Project. http://moralinjuryproject.syr.edu/about-moral-injury/. Accessed 31 October 2016. Pink, Sarah. 2009/2015. Doing Sensory Ethnography, 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Santino, Jack. 2001. Signs of War and Peace: Social Conflict and the Uses of Symbols in Public in Northern Ireland. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ——— (ed.). 2006. Spontaneous Shrines and the Public Memorialization of Death. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Simon, Coleman. 2002. ‘But Are They Really Christian?’ Contesting Knowledge and Identity in and out of the Field. In Personal Knowledge and Beyond: Reshaping The Ethnography of Religion, ed. James V. Spickard, J. Shawn Landres, and Meredith B. McGuire, 75–87. New York: New York University Press. Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 2012. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, 2nd ed. New York: Zed Books. Spickard, James V. 2002. On the Epistemology of Post-Colonial Epistemology. In Personal Knowledge and Beyond: Reshaping The Ethnography of Religion, ed. James V. Spickard, J. Shawn Landres, and Meredith B. McGuire, 237–252. New York: New York University Press. Spickard, James V., J. Shawn Landres, and Meredith B. McGuire (eds.). 2002. Personal Knowledge and Beyond: Reshaping The Ethnography of Religion. New York: New York University Press. Turner, Victor. 1969/1995. The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure. New York: Aldine de Gruyter. Tweed, Thomas A. 2002. Between the Living and the Dead: Fieldwork, History, and the Interpreter’s Position. In Personal Knowledge and Beyond: Reshaping the Ethnography of Religion, ed. James V. Spickard, J. Shawn Landres, and Meredith B. McGuire, 63–74. New York: New York University Press. van der Kolk, Bessel. 2014. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. New York: Penguin Books. Walsh, Michelle A. 2014. Prophetic Pastoral Care in the Aftermath of Trauma: Forging a Constructive Practical Theology of Organized Trauma Response Ministries. PhD dissertation, Boston University. ProQuest (AAT 361085).
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Walsh, Michelle A. 2017, Forthcoming. Violent Trauma, Power and Culture: An Interdisciplinary Exploration in Lived Religion. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Welch, Sharon D. 2000. A Feminist Ethic of Risk, 2nd ed. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. Wilcox, Melissa M. 2002. Dancing on the Fence: Researching Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Christians. In Personal Knowledge and Beyond: Reshaping the Ethnography of Religion, ed. James V. Spickard, J. Shawn Landres, and Meredith B. McGuire, 47–60. New York: New York University Press.
Traumics: The Church and Trauma in Comic Book Format Maike Schult
The portmanteau word “traumics”1 encompasses the content and form of trauma and comic and merges them in a new genre.2 The subjects discussed here—extreme historical events such as the Holocaust, themes such as flight and forced migration, as well as the processing of childhood traumas—show that comics and graphic novels that tackle trauma are not just a subgenre of popular culture or even lowbrow literature, but are perfectly suited for bringing traumatic experience to light, sublimating blows of fate, and playing a role in historical research and education at school and in the parish. They raise their readers’ awareness and compel them to careful reading, thus providing a valuable contribution to how taboo subjects are perceived and processed in society. Their potential lies in their ability to combine factual and fictional content in a form and language with room for both the visualized and the hidden, that which can be expressed and that which seems unutterable. They place the suffering into a temporal-spatial framework, while leaving M. Schult (*) University of Kiel, Kiel, Germany e-mail: [email protected]
© The Author(s) 2019 R. R. Ganzevoort and S. Sremac (eds.), Trauma and Lived Religion, Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91872-3_5
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room for filmic, disjointed, fragmented expression, in the same way that traumatic events are typically experienced, and they simplify complex circumstances and overwhelming emotions in an appropriate way. Against the background of multiple cases of sexual abuse by church personnel, this contribution explores the traumic’s special range of expression in the area of religious taboo subjects and is centered around the comic “Why I Killed Peter” (“Warum ich Pater Pierre getötet habe”).3 Its imaginative combination of words and images can make the perspective of the abused child visible and show the manipulative way the moment of abuse is prepared. It becomes clear how the abuser uses empathy to break down barriers and confuses the child’s perceptions by taking advantage of family conditioning. This essay thus sees itself as a contribution to the understanding of lived religion, and as a critical indication of what can lead to a disintegration of religious notions and values.
Pars Pro Toto: Pater Pierre as the Representative of Abused Lived Religion In 2010, cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church were uncovered on a massive scale and well documented in the media. This was triggered by events many years ago at an elite school, the Jesuit Canisius College in Berlin. The admission of guilt that two Fathers had systematically abused a large number of boys over a period of many years shocked the public4 and turned into a scandal as it became clear that comparable cases existed in both Catholic and Protestant parishes. An avalanche of victims’ reports has since brought the taboo subject “sexual abuse of charges in institutions” into the spotlight and ensured that their cases became well-known and researched, and that the perpetrators were prosecuted.5 The Church authorities also reacted, setting up contact points and publishing handouts to inform and guide their staff.6 These publications clarify the perspectives of the abused and the abusers, uncover the motives and strategies of the latter, and provide help in terms of pastoral care for both sides, without relinquishing solidarity with the victims. Yet the question of what makes supposedly
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protected spaces such as church, school, or therapy centers vulnerable in the first place to such violations of personal space often remains unclear. However, a perspective on this topic is provided, surprisingly, by a comic. Its unique form of expression makes it perfectly clear how violations of personal space are learned, practiced, and systematically developed. The book in question is entitled “Why I Killed Peter.” It was published 2006 in France (“Pourquoi j’ai tué Pierre”), translated into German in 2008 (“Warum ich Pater Pierre getötet habe”) and came out in the graphic novel series of the prestigious publishing house Carlsen, winning the Max and Moritz comic award in the very same year. It tells the story of a case of sexual boundary violation which also took place a long time ago in a church setting. An individual case, a case in which the life of an individual falls to pieces in a single night. Olivier is twelve years old. For the third time in succession, he accompanies Pater Pierre to the holiday camp. But this time something is different. Pater Pierre has brought a dog with him, a wolf-like creature in a black-red coat with yellow eyes and a panting tongue. A harbinger of hell, housed at the gate of the holiday camp and “frightening the living daylights” (Ka 2008, p. 29) out of the boy. Pater Pierre, well acquainted with the boy, quickly notices Olivier’s fear of the dog. Looking him in the face and with forefinger raised, he promises that he need not be afraid: “Don’t worry, he is very friendly with everyone who is with me. He’d never hurt a friend of mine” (Ka 2008, p. 29). To prove his point, he invites Olivier to come with him on long walks. He insists that the boy accompanies him and takes the dog by the lead. This is a “privilege” (Ka 2008, p. 30). Sure enough, the boy loses his fear and feels proud and special, the chosen one. Indeed he is—and has been for longer than he can imagine, and for purposes other than he believes— by a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The walks with the dog are part of the grooming process by which the abusers attempt to inveigle themselves into the confidence of their victim (Hodek 2011) by flattering and wooing them like a groom, by being attentive, rewarding, and spoiling them until the moment the assault becomes possible. In this case, the walks are followed by the beach, the beach by an exclusive ride on a bus, and the bus by a night
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which changes everything. In the furthest corner of the dormitory, mattress by mattress, next to all the other sleeping boys who see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing. The somber sequence of drawings is dragged out over several pages (Ka 2008, pp. 47–56), time is stretched, language reduced. The two figures are distinguishable only by their contours. All objects have disappeared. One’s gaze is forced to witness the forced intimacy. The world falls away: “He’s too close” (Ka 2008, p. 55). The colors darken the room. Only certain elements stand out symbolically, the obtrusively tapping finger of the adult on the boy’s shoulder, insisting that the boy obeys him. The silent gaping mouth of the child. The fragment “My friend…” (Ka 2008, p. 56) for the person who is lost to him here in the dark, until the contours dissolve, until frame and panel become indistinguishable and everything fades to black. One of the special achievements of the book is to show the loneliness of the child without revealing exactly what has befallen him and thereby not reducing his story to this single sequence. The abuse forms the center of the book, but the book is not limited to this assault. It recounts the before and after, and illustrates in a carefully composed symbolic language how everything is connected. It pursues the developing entanglements chronologically over 11 chapters. It starts when Olivier is seven years of age, and ends on June 21, , the first day of summer (Ka 2008, p. 111). A certain rhythm is given to the chapters with headings which answer the book title “I Killed Peter because I am 7 (8, 9, 10, 12, 15, 16, 19, 29, 34, 35) years old.” The closing image is dated July 16th, 2006, and shows the eleven Oliviers united in a group picture, at peace with themselves.
Setting the Trap The story begins with a sickly child spending the holidays with his grandparents, who introduce him into the church. The church is shown as an eerie, dark, and threatening place. A place for adults, patting the only child in their midst on the head and declaring him to be a good kid. Because he dislikes the place but does not wish to disappoint the adults, he feigns illness. In the evenings, his grandmother tells tales of
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hell. These arouse frightening creatures in his imagination which hover over his bed and grab at him. Grandmother knows that you go to hell if you do bad things, if you touch your “pee-pee” (Ka 2008, p. 4). But the boy had already done that long ago. Olivier’s parents do not go to church. They are an “alternative family” (Ka 2008, p. 6), and the alternative is: all humans are equal and swim naked in the lake. It is an open marriage, parents sleep with other partners. One morning, Olivier finds a strange woman in the bathroom. She is stark naked and he feels a pleasant tingling sensation. Olivier loves his grandparents. But he also loves his parents’ way of life “without taboos, without a false sense of shame” (Ka 2008, p. 24). Who is right here? The grandparents, with their traditional but bigoted world? Or the unrestrained parents, loving their freedom and scorning religion? Pater Pierre connects the two worlds. He is the link between the two opposites. He joins that which is tearing the boy apart. A friendly, uncomplicated man brought into the parental home by the grandparents when Olivier is nine years old. They can all agree about him, even though little is known about him. Pater Pierre is a priest, but without a cassock. An itinerant preacher plays guitar and celebrates masses by the dozen. He comes from nowhere and stays for years. A bulky man wearing shirts and jeans, with a profuse beard, hairy paws, and a furry body, and a winning grin from ear to ear. Grandmother presents him: “He’s a good man, intelligent and with a good sense of humor” (Ka 2008, p. 11). And the parents also liked the “lefty” buddy-priest, thought he was cool and funny: “Pierre is accepted into the family like a close relative […]. My grandparents are as happy as the sheep on God’s pasture. My parents are also proud of the priest friend. It shows their openness” (Ka 2008, p. 12). The boy thinks he has found a friend. But appearances deceive. In comparison with the old fogeys, Olivier knows as churchmen, portly Pater Pierre seems lively and approachable. “A difference like day and night” (Ka 2008, p. 11). Pater Pierre does not speak about God and the church. He does not proselytize. He builds up relationships. But that is exactly where he shows his own day and night sides, where he bares his double face.7 He can sense seismographically how the boy has been preconditioned in terms of relationship experiences: guilt feelings and
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shamelessness, loyalty and disavowal, the repression of fear and inner voices in order to spare the adults, readiness to adapt and hold one’s tongue8 and the yearning for a good place. Just such a place was created by Pater Pierre. For years, he has been inviting young people to his “Happy River” holiday camp. At first sight, an idyllic place of which Olivier believes: “I already know more or less what hell looks like, but now I can imagine paradise: ‘Happy River’” (Ka 2008, p. 21). But it is exactly this place that turns into the opposite overnight.
The Consequences The perpetrators of sexual violence are empathetic and patient. They make contacts, build relationships, and pave the way for their deeds. They feel their way in and they know the best baits. They manipulate, desensitize, and ignore what is put in their way in terms of barriers. They show their two faces: sensitive and brutal. They can disguise and deceive, can fascinate people, and generate sympathy. In this way, they use their empathy as means to prepare the deed9 and show themselves to be gross and vicious as soon as they have achieved their aim (Holzbecher 2015). They are seldom discovered and brought to justice. Whereas the victim has a long road of consequences ahead of him, the perpetrator ‘disappears’ from the story.10 The comic “Why I Killed Peter” also asks the question how one is to live with such a completely impossible story (Caruth 2000, p. 86) stamped on one’s being. How one is to come alive again after someone has killed something off inside, and how one can overcome the evildoer inside without needing to kill him. The book can take advantage of the genre’s specific means of expression to make visible in a parallel way what is normally only tellable in sequence: the overwhelming complexity of post-traumatic consequences and the speechlessness which accompanies the trauma. The morning afterward begins without a word. With a long stare at the scene of the crime, a long sequence of awakening and then what often follows a crime: a vow of silence. Not much is necessary to make this work. Abuser and victim exchange few words. Pater Pierre asks
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“About last night, what do you think about it?” (Ka 2008, p. 59) The boy answers “You’re the adult, I’m the child. It can’t be right” (Ka 2008, p. 59). The adult twists this and says “I’m glad you see it like this” (Ka 2008, p. 60). Because he does not want to look back and think about it. His aim is: remain silent and get an agreement so as not to be discovered. He says: “We can’t speak about this” (Ka 2008, p. 60). And the child promises what the adult demands of him: It’ll remain our secret. The destructive effect of this promise is now described in the second part of the book. As the boy grows up, has other sexual experiences, marries, becomes a father, and yet cannot rid himself of the abuser and the abuse. He sticks firmly to his vow of silence. Only once does he dare to come out of hiding. He breaks his silence and entrusts himself to his mother. But she comes up with nothing better than: “Amazing how mature you already were back then” (Ka 2008, p. 68). Mother and son never mention it again, and his father never gets to hear the story because Olivier locks it up inside again since “Talking about it changes the tone of the story. I feel so terribly naïve, manipulated, impressionable” (Ka 2008, p. 68). Because his mother makes light of the story, his inner voice shrinks again.11 Olivier tries to see the deed as an “anecdote” (Ka 2008, p. 68) lacking in importance and tries to live with the harm done to him. But the trauma will not simply go away of its own accord. Just like Pater Pierre’s finger, it taps Olivier insistently on the shoulder, time and time again. It haunts him in the form of depression, aggression, sleeping problems, nightmares, and effects on the body; it comes back as a sense of dissociation, displacement, and a weakening of the whole personality. The church is a particularly powerful trigger, releasing deeply felt hatred and damning blanket judgments because he cannot reach the target of his emotions. When friends christen their son, Olivier rants on about the “vileness” of the church (Ka 2008, p. 72) until their friendship breaks. The wedding of another couple triggers a flashback, and in the middle of the church service, Olivier is dragged into the here and now of the trauma, everything is right there in front of him again (Ka 2008, pp. 73–80): “in my head Pierre is everywhere with his gentle voice and shining eyes, in his swimming trunks, as he cajoles me with his whispers” (Ka 2008, p. 75). The vertically raised forefinger of the Father (Ka 2008, p. 29) is a reminder of what the
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boy should take in his hand at night (Ka 2008, pp. 52–53) and blends with the accusing forefinger of the (Catholic) church (Ka 2008, p. 75). Occasional services bring his own case back to life and when Olivier’s daughter is twelve years old, as old as he was at the time of the deed, he wakes up from his dreams, crying uncontrollably and with the feeling of having lost something. Someone important. A part of himself (Ka 2008, p. 83).
Looking Closely: Reading Comics as an Act of Witnessing “Why I Killed Peter” is an autobiographical comic.12 Olivier Ka is the barely veiled pseudonym of the French author Olivier Karali, born in Lebanon in 1967. Karali tells his own story here, and it is the telling of it which brings the lost self back, until all fragmented and splintered parts of Olivier are standing smiling next to each other in the final image. Writing is the means by which the events can be banished from inside the person: “It’s high time to write the whole story down, from beginning to end. There is no other way to get rid of it. I am lucky in that I can beat it by writing about it. It is as effective as psychoanalysis and saves a lot of money. So I dive into my memories” (Ka 2008, p. 84). But over and above a textual rendering of the trauma, it is the medium of the comic which permits a vivid portrayal to bring the story home to its readers. This process is described in the final chapter of the book (Ka 2008, pp. 81–110). Olivier is now 35 years old. He has reached the point at which he can confront his own story. He writes it out of his system in a painful process and afterward finds: a real friend. Alfred (Lionel Papagalli, born 1976 in Grenoble) is a comic artist and willing to work with the story. Olivier tells him what happened and Alfred offers to visualize the story in images. Both agree: “This text should be a graphic novel” (Ka 2008, p. 85). The decision turns out to be a fortuitous choice in two ways: firstly, it takes both of them back to where the act of abuse took place. In the
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camp, they unexpectedly meet the person who Olivier thought during so many chapters he needed to kill. Pater Pierre suddenly appears among the abandoned houses. He is an old man now, just a little old man, bald, with weak hands, over whom Olivier towers. The victim grabs the chance to confront the abuser with the consequences of the deed. He shows him the first 60 pages of the comic he has already begun, and Pater Pierre reads everything without saying a word. He reads right to the end: “As he gives the pages back to me, his face is haggard and drawn. His eyes are red, the corners of his mouth are turned down. In one blow he has had to swallow twenty five years …”13 (Ka 2008, p. 106). The abuser remains behind and has to face himself and “bear this load” (Ka 2008, p. 110), and Olivier can finish this, find closure and look forward to new times: “It’s the 21st of June. The first day of summer” (Ka 2008, p. 111). Thus, paradoxically, that which draws writer and artist together also drives abuser and victim apart. Beyond this, it is also Alfred’s drawings which turn out to be a stroke of luck. With empathy and compassion at the service of the victim, they feel their way into the new world of his experience and develop a whole new language: drawing to tell. They make it possible to depict such difficult content at the interface of verbal and non-verbal communication, to bring it out into the open without jeopardizing the dignity of the boy. The drawings are sensitively adapted to the age of the protagonist. They start as children’s book illustrations in the style of E. O. Plauens “Father and Son,”14 adding photograph and video sequences later, when the research begins, which break up the graphic realism and mark the fuzzy boundary between fact and fiction. Their research leads the pair out of the boy’s internal imaginary world and turns the comic into a document, a testimony which allows the suffering to be preserved and left behind. The narrative devices (Schüwer 2008) used here are a mix between text and film. They are especially well suited for describing traumatic experience, the splintering of language, the overflowing, overwhelming images, the discrepancy between what one believes one feels and what is actually happening.15 The “confusion surrounding guilt” (Hodek 2011: “Verwirrspiele um Schuld”), the “linguistic confusion” (Ferenczi 1972: “Sprachverwirrung”) between child and adult, and the “invasion” of the
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self (Fischer and Riedesser 2009, p. 334), fatefully fusing abuser and victim through the enforced intimacy. We can see the abuser, for example, bursting out of the belly of the victim (Ka 2008, p. 93), and upon careful inspection, the book’s cover illustration turns out to be an optical illusion containing two faces at the same time: the bearded Pierre looking left and the boy with a pointy nose looking right, both enclosed in an almond-shaped eye through which the book invites the reader to look, and look carefully. The therapeutic effect for the afflicted author is to be found in the narrative classification of the extreme event: The trauma is assigned a frame, receives space and time, and therefore its place in the past so that a future can be possible. For those who see and read the story, the act of reading becomes an act of witnessing. They need to become irritated and dismayed, and they need to look carefully. They need to visualize the events in their mind’s eye and understand what happened. Comics, then, prove themselves to be a medium which makes it easier to tell such difficult stories. However, they also present challenges in terms of comprehension, thus becoming schools for perception. They sensitize the reader to see deceit, disguise and connections; show links, doppelgängers and ambivalences; and do not split perpetrators and victims into simple black and white categories. Perpetrators are not monsters, they are human beings. Human beings with two sides, but with a single task: to accept sole responsibility for their actions. This often underestimated medium, much maligned as trivial, thus proves itself to be an art form in its own right which can make visible when appearances deceive and can uncover the banality of evil (Hannah Arendt) also in church contexts.16
Notes 1. The term “Traumics” is pretty new and not yet elaborated in academic references. As far as I can see, it was used for the first time by Mel Loucks 2014: “Traumics are, simply put, comics plus trauma. […] The relationship of trauma (especially childhood trauma) to the comics [sic!] medium is a thread that runs throughout Hillary L. Chute’s 2010
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Graphic Women: Life Narrative & Contemporary Comics […]. By their very nature, comics provide a potentially ideal means through which to tell those stories which require the fragmentation and reconstruction of events of high drama and emotional intensity. The juxtaposition of images on the comic page make comics what might be considered a ‘natural’ fit for exploring the concept of ‘Remembering, repeating, and working-through’ examined so in-depth in Cathy Caruth’s seminal 1996 work on trauma, Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, and History.” From http://www.english.ufl.edu/imagetext/news.shtml?/ cfp/traumics_comics_narratives_of_trauma_cfp.shtml. Accessed 16 September 2016. The definition of the term should be elaborated in a more solid way, but shows the vivid interest on trauma, which as a pattern of interpretation creates new concepts while as a medical diagnosis talks about deep wounds. 2. The topic of trauma in comic book format is not a new one per se. The beginning of the connection of the concept of trauma and comic books can at the latest be set with the publication of “Maus” by Art Spiegelman (1973, 1980, first time published in German 1989), who also created “In the Shadow of No Towers” (2004) after 9/11. Cf. footnote 12 and Frahm (2006). 3. We focus on Alfreds & Olivier Ka’s comic, 2006, Why I Killed Peter. German version 2008: Warum ich Pater Pierre getötet habe. Text: Olivier Ka, adapation and drawings: Alfred, colours: Henri Meunier. From the French by Martin Budde, Carlsen Verlag, 112 pages. Quotations are translated from the German version. Cf. book review by Schult (2015). 4. The events themselves took place in the 1970s and 1980s. They were reported for the first time in a newspaper in the 1990s but not followed up. 5. Cf., for example, the works of Haslbeck, Faulde, Bucher, and Augst, and currently the special issue of Wege zum Menschen (2015). 6. After the Canisius College, cases were made public; the guidelines regarding abuse in the Catholic Church were reviewed at the end of August 2010. From http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/chronik-dermissbrauchsskandal-in-der-katholischen-kirche-a-1012711.html. Accessed 16 September 2016. Regional Protestant Church authorities (Landeskirchen) also responded. Cf., for example: Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland (2012).
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7. Graphically expressed in the changes of facial expression: rough strokes which darken Pater Pierre’s face alternate with brightly lit images of broadly grinning lips stretching across the page and shining or innocent eyes. 8. For example, when Olivier’s mother orders him not to tell the grandparents that he does not believe in God anymore in order not to hurt them (Ka 2008, p. 27). 9. The empathy of the abuser is highlighted by Schlör (2015). The empathy evoked by the genre is explained by Blank (2015, pp. 332–337). 10. Pater Pierre also disappears from the story on page 64 and only resurfaces on page 90. The older Father is never again seen in closeup. 11. Holzbecher (2015, p. 42): “If the reaction of the counselor plays down what happened, the inner voice weakens again.” 12. For genres, cf. Hangartner (2009). Among the first to talk about their own lives and serious themes in a comic is Art Spiegelman in “Maus. A Survivor’s Tale”. He describes the Holocaust as an animal fable where the Jews are mice, the Nazis cats, Poles pigs, and Americans are dogs. In her worldwide bestseller, “Persepolis” Marjane Satrapi describes her childhood in Iran and more recent comics address the fate of refugees and religiously motivated attacks. “Why I Killed Peter” alludes to Spiegelman when the boy is turned into a mouse and Pater Pierre into a cat (Ka 2008, p. 41). One of the first comics to address sexual abuse was: Talbot (1995). Talbot sensitively tells the story of a girl who was sexually abused by her father in England and yet manages to find her own life. The lecher is represented as a fox in some scenes. 13. This more or less corresponds to the time from the act of abuse to the confrontation in the text and also in the real life of the author, born in 1967 (1979–2004). 14. Pater Pierre looks like the father in Plauen and as a representative of the church illustrates the close connection between Father (Pater) and father. This also gives the assault an incestuous angle. Olivier’s biological father on the other hand is conspicuous by his near absence. 15. Holzbecher (2015, p. 49) observes that children have not yet been able to develop their perceptual accuracy. They take adults as the benchmark, even if their inner voice tells them something different: “Even when the child perceives the boundary violation as something wrong, it will in most cases not dare to oppose the superiority of the adult. As a result, the child’s own feelings are pushed aside and treated as wrong.”
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It is just such discrepancies which the comic’s images can make visible, e.g., when Olivier accompanies his grandparents to church he says “I like going with my grandparents,” while we actually see a somber building on a rainy day (Ka 2008, p. 2). 16. If we understand the name “Peter” (Pierre) as a derivation of “St. Peter,” the comic also asks on which rock the church is actually built and which mechanisms allow individual cases like these to happen on such a huge scale, as made public in 2010. For the institutional aspects, cf. Wentzek (2015).
Bibliography Augst, Kristina. 2012. Auf dem Weg zu einer traumagerechten Theologie: Religiöse Aspekte in der Traumatherapie—Elemente heilsamer religiöser Praxis. Kohlhammer Verlag. Blank, Juliane. 2015. Literaturadaptionen im Comic: Ein modulares Analysemodell. Christian A. Bachmann Verlag. Bucher, Rainer. 2004. Machtkörper und Körpermacht: Die Lage der Kirche und Gottes Niederlage. Concilium. Internationale Zeitschrift für Theologie 40 (3): 354–363. Struktureller Verrat: Sexueller Missbrauch in der Kirche, Matthias-Grünewald-Verlag. Caruth, Cathy. 2000. Trauma als historische Erfahrung: Die Vergangenheit einholen. In Niemand zeugt für den Zeugen: Erinnerungskultur und historische Verantwortung nach der Shoah, ed. Ulrich Baer, 84–98. Suhrkamp. Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland. 2012, ed. Die Zeit heilt keineswegs alle Wunden: Leitlinien zum Umgang mit sexualisierter Gewalt. Second and Revised Edition of the Handout. Medienverband der Evangelischen Kirche im Rheinland. Faulde, Cornelia. 2002. Wenn frühe Wunden schmerzen: Glaube auf dem Weg zur Traumaheilung. Matthias-Grünewald-Verlag. Ferenczi, Sándor. 1972. Sprachverwirrung zwischen den Erwachsenen und dem Kind: Die Sprache der Zärtlichkeit und der Leidenschaft . In Ferenczi, S., Schriften zur Psychoanalyse. Introduction by Judith Dupont, ed. Michael Balint, Vol. II, 303–313. S. Fischer Verlag. Fischer, Gottfried, and Peter Riedesser. 2009. Lehrbuch der Psychotraumatologie, 4., updated and Extended Edition. With 22 Illustrations and 20 Tables. Reinhardt & utb.
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Frahm, Ole. 2006. Genealogie des Holocaust: Art Spiegelmans MAUS—A SURVIVOR’s Tale, Dissertation at the University of Hamburg 2001, Wilhelm Fink Verlag. Hangartner, Urs. 2009. Von Bildern und Büchern: Comics und Literatur— Comic-Literatur. In Comics, Mangas, Graphic Novels, ed. Heinz Ludwig Arnold and Andreas C. Knigge, 35–56. Edition Text + Kritik. Haslbeck, Barbara. 2007. Sexueller Missbrauch und Religiosität: Wenn Frauen das Schweigen brechen. Eine empirische Studie. LIT Verlag. Haslbeck, Barbara. 2009. Wenn Nähe weh tut: Traumatische Folgen von Grenzverletzungen und sexuellem Missbrauch. In Arbeitshilfe zur Fastenaktion der evangelischen Kirche 2010 Näher! 7 Wochen ohne Scheu, 48–50. Hansisches Drucks- und Verlagshaus. Haslbeck, Barbara. 2010a. ‘Gott deckt die Pfarrer’: Sexueller Missbrauch in der Kirche aus Opferperspektive. In Klerus und Pastoral, ed. Rainer Bucher and Anton Pock, 21–34. LIT Verlag. Haslbeck, Barbara. 2010b. Der Stachel der Opfer: Zum kirchlichen Umgang mit Opfern sexualisierter Gewalt. In Sexuelle Gewalt. Fragen an Kirche und Theologie, ed. Stephan Goertz and Herbert Ulonska, 83–91. LIT Verlag. Haslbeck, Barbara. 2010c. Missbrauch in der Kirche aus Opferperspektive. Pastoraltheologische Informationen 30 (2): 87–101. Matthias-GrünewaldVerlag. Hodek, Sylvia. 2011. Verwirrspiele um Schuld im Kontext von sexueller Gewalt: Täterstrategien in familiären und familienähnlichen Strukturen. Diakonia. Internationale Zeitschrift für die Praxis der Kirche 42 (2): 95–103. Matthias-Grünewald-Verlag. Holzbecher, Monika. 2015. Sexuelle Grenzverletzungen im professionellen Kontext. Wege zum Menschen 67 (3): 38–50. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Ka, Olivier. 2008. Warum ich Pater Pierre getötet habe. Text: Olivier Ka, Adapation and Drawings: Alfred, Colours: Henri Meunier. From the French by Martin Budde. Carlsen Verlag. Schlör, Joachim. 2015. Jenseits der Grenze: Grenzüberschreitungen aus der Täterperspektive. Wege zum Menschen 67 (3): 73–86. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Schult, Maike. 2015. Wenn der Schein trügt: Kirche und Missbrauch im Comic. Praktische Theologie. Zeitschrift für Praxis in Kirche, Gesellschaft und Kultur 50 (4): 243–250. Gütersloher Verlagshaus.
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Schüwer, Martin. 2008. Wie Comics erzählen: Grundriss einer intermedialen Erzähltheorie der grafischen Literatur. Wissenschaftlicher Verlag. Talbot, Bryan. 1995. The Tale of One Bad Rat. Dark Horse Comics. Wentzek, Dieter. 2015. Prävention zum Schutz vor sexuellen Grenzverletzungen und sexualisierter Gewalt in der Kirche als integraler Bestandteil von Ausund Fortbildung und Personalentwicklung von kirchlichen Mitarbeitenden. Wege zum Menschen. 2015. 67 (3): Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.
Part III Relationship
The Function of Religion in the Context of Re-Experiencing Trauma: Analyzing a Case Study with the Concepts of Transformational and Transitional Object Hanneke Schaap-Jonker
In the case of trauma, human existence is characterized by brokenness, struggle, and fragmentariness, which asks for a process of making sense of one’s traumatic experiences in light of one’s own biography, identity, and religious beliefs or worldview. Dealing with these ultimate questions and existential experiences is a process with a highly individual character, which forms a part of ‘lived religion’. In this context, lived religion can be defined as the everyday religious practices that people do in their process of meaning making and identity construction, making use of religious resources and meaning systems. Both practical theologians and psychologist of religion study this everyday religious
H. Schaap-Jonker (*) Centre for Research and Innovation in Christian Mental Health Care, Amersfoort, The Netherlands e-mail: [email protected]
© The Author(s) 2019 R. R. Ganzevoort and S. Sremac (eds.), Trauma and Lived Religion, Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91872-3_6
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meaning making and the personal practice of religion (Dezutter and Corveleyn 2013; Ganzevoort and Roeland 2014; Jonker 2004; Park 2013; Rizzuto and Shafranske 2013; Westerink 2013), although their focus and theoretical frameworks are different. In this contribution, the focus is on the functions of lived religion in the context of trauma from the perspective of psychology of religion. To gain a deeper understanding of these functions, the case study of Rachel, a twenty-yearold Dutch woman with a posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), will be discussed and analyzed with concepts from object relation theories (ORT), nowadays the dominant perspective within psychoanalysis (Fonagy and Target 2003, pp. 107–110). In particular, the concept of transformational object as explained by Christopher Bollas (1987) and the concept of transitional object as described by Donald W. Winnicott (1953, 1971) will be used. As Rachel explicitly connects the vivid re-experiencing of trauma in flashbacks with Christian faith, her case gives insight into the ways in which religious faith is used and lived out, and clarifies the psychological dynamics of lived religion in the context of trauma.1
Experiencing God While Vivid Re-Experiencing the Trauma: Rachel’s Case Rachel is a twenty-year-old woman who suffers from a posttraumatic stress disorder after being raped on street by a stranger. Her attachment style is fearful and insecure, and her life history is characterized by emotional abuse and domestic violence. At the moment, Rachel suffers a lot from intrusive flashbacks, ‘re-living’ being raped again. Therefore, she receives Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy in combination with attachment therapy. In this context, she discusses her suffering, including her flashbacks and related questions about God with her Christian therapist. Rachel has given explicit permission for the use of her case. To maintain her privacy, identifying information and some aspects of her story were changed, but this does not significantly alter the content of case.
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Description of Therapy Sessions First Session (…) R: I can’t control my memories. Every time I feel being pawed by that man. My head is full of shit. When I close my eyes, I see awful images, and I hear the dreadful things he said, predicting a flashback. So every evening I am scared to go to bed, and I stay awake as long as possible. Lying is terrible; the mattress feels like the body of that man. T: Sounds dreary, a head full of shit and awful images. I can imagine that you do not want to lie down. R: Yes, and then I feel very anxious and very dirty. And I do not dare to sit on God’s lap then. T: Sit on God’s lap? R: Hm. When I long for God’s comfort and presence, I often imagine that I am sitting on His lap and that He puts his arms around me, and holds me and soothes me. But when I re-experience the trauma, I feel too dirty. It feels like He turns his back on me and does not want me. (…) T: What do you believe about God? Who is God for you? R: I know that God is with me. Since I was twelve years old, there has not been any day in which God was not there. But I am afraid that He is angry when I cannot resist a flashback. And that He does not want me when I see those awful images and cannot stop thinking about that man with his thing. Maybe I’m oversexed in God’s eyes, and too bad. T: That’s very special and valuable, that you have experienced that God has been there for you every day, and that He has never forsaken you. This reminds me of the Name of God – in the Bible He reveals himself as the “I AM” (Ex. 3:14), as the God who is, and who is with you, and who will be there. But that is not the only thing about his Name; He also calls himself “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34: 6, NIV). And should this not color the way He looks to you? (…)
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Second Session (…) R: Again, the flashbacks were horrible. And the fear for the flashbacks too. When I am alone during the night, I long for somebody who holds me when I go to bed and lay down, who keeps looking at me and continues to talk, so that I know that I am ‘here’ and not in trauma-time. That would help, that I should not fall apart into pieces. And God does not talk with a real voice and when I am fighting against the flashbacks, I am afraid that I will not hear Him anymore, you know, with His inner voice. Because when I have a flashback I hear nothing. (…) R: But one night, I thought: OK, God does not talk to me with a real voice now. But I can talk with my voice. So I started to say the words of God loud. And I chose the text you mentioned last week, about God’s Name, and that he is merciful and compassionate. And I wrote that text on a bit of paper, and put it next to my pillow in my bed. And when I went to bed, the Name of God was there, and I was not alone, and I could lie down, because I had a loving and faithful God at my side. But in the middle of the night, I woke up and discovered that the paper had fallen down under my bed. So then I went out of my bed and crawled under my bed to pick it up, because God’s Name on the floor is impossible, of course. (…)
Case Analysis from the Perspective of ORT Trauma and the Capacity to Believe in Object relations theories form a family of theories that emphasize interpersonal relationships, especially early relational experiences between mother and infant. In their view, human beings develop in a context of significant emotional relationships and are motivated by these relationships for their entire life.2 By implication, within an ORT framework trauma is understood in the context of relationships and development.
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When Winnicott discusses the ‘capacity to believe in’ (Winnicott 1986, p. 143; 1965, p. 93), which is comparable to Erikson’s concept of ‘basic trust’ (Erikson 1950), he defines trauma as a failure of the other to meet the dependence of the subject or a breaking of faith. In case of trauma, ‘the infant or child has built up a capacity to “believe in,” and environmental provision first fits into this and then fails…’ (Winnicott 1989, pp. 145, 146). The subject may experience feelings of hate in reaction to the failure of the object. The trauma may affect the child’s capacity for object-relating and transitional experiencing (see below; Winnicott 1989, p. 147). Therefore, trauma, either acute or chronic trauma, may result in a fixation in or regression to early developmental stages and the accompanying primitive defense mechanisms, such as the symbiotic stage (2–6 months), in which the capacity for reality testing may be impaired, and the separation-individuation stage (6–24 months) with the defense mechanisms of splitting and dissociation (Gabbard 2014; Kernberg 1975, 1976; Mahler 1975). In Rachel’s case, the regression to the symbiotic stage is clearly visible. She is struggling at the border of ‘me’ and ‘not me’, and the imminent re-experiencing of the rape in flashbacks makes it difficult to differentiate between her own inner world and external reality. Just like an infant, Rachel’s self needs support in order to survive and to prevent that she would fall apart into pieces. Object-relational theorist regards the mother as the first person to provide everything the infant needs (e.g., Guntrip 1969, p. 326; Winnicott 1965, p. 39; 1971).
God as Transformational Object From an ORT perspective on lived religion, the functions of religion and religious faith are related to the developmental functions that the mother has for the infant in early life. When an infant is unable to differentiate between self and other, between ‘me’ and ‘not me’ during the symbiotic stage, it needs the mother to provide a background of safety and a continuity of being. Processes of relating and knowing are only fragmentary during this stage, with inner and outer world being commingled, and the mother helps the infant to integrate instinctual,
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cognitive, affective, and environmental elements of sensory perceptions into a coherent experience, (Bollas 1987, pp. 13, 14; Shafranske 1992, p. 64). Because the infant mainly perceives her presence and function as manifest in the process of transformation, Christopher Bollas calls the mother a ‘transformational object’, something in the surround that has a transforming function, but could not be pointed to as having a freestanding, discrete existence (Bollas 1987, pp. 13, 14). In her struggle for reality testing and differentiation between her own inner world and external reality, Rachel immediately relates her fear for lying down in bed to a longing for God’s nearness and comfort. God is represented as a caring parental figure, probably the wished-for parent that Rachel has missed during her youth. This parent should tuck her in and help her overcome the difficult challenge of going asleep in a dark room. The eye contact with this parental figure and her/his soothing voice should confirm her and provide continuity of being, preventing that she falls apart into pieces and leaves the here and now while re-experiencing the trauma. In this way, Rachel needs God as a transformational object, who helps her overcoming the flashbacks. Just like the mother who makes the infant’s fragments of experience or knowledge into a meaningful whole by containing and transforming ‘indigestible’ raw sensory perceptions and primitive emotions into ‘digestible’ elements by giving meaning to them and returning them to the infant (cf. Bion 1991, pp. 6, 7; 1967, p. 115), God should help her to transform her raw and ‘indigestible’ memories into meaningful and ‘digestible’ experiences. Rachel’s case shows that the need for a transformational object remains during life. In Bollas’ view, the subject is always searching for this object in order to integrate new experiences in a meaningful way, also as an adult. The subject still wants to surrender itself to this ‘medium’ because of the experience of transformation, which alters the self and leads to hope, and provides a sense of confidence and vision. However, when Rachel longs for transformation and continuity of being, she simultaneously fears that God will reject her because she is unworthy. She blames herself for her sex-related thoughts and images and attributes her feelings of being bad and unworthy of God. By implication, her ambivalent feelings toward God are closely related to
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her self, reflecting both her desires and anxieties; her experience of God as a transformational object is influenced by her current psychodynamics, including processes of internalization and projection, and a limited capacity to believe in, with basic trust being replaced by basic distrust and existential anxiety (Rizzuto and Shafranske 2013; Winnicott 1989, pp. 145–147).
The Name of God as a Transitional Object In Rachel’s case, we discover not only the longing for God as a transformational object, but also her use of the paper with the biblical text about the Name of God. Her development from longing for God as a parental figure who calms her with his soothing and reassuring voice to talking with her own voice and speaking God’s words aloud parallels the development of the infant who moves from the symbiotic stage to the stage of separation-individuation. During the symbiotic stage, the transformational object, being either the mother or God, is more experienced as a continuation or extension of the self than as a separate person or entity; it is more important as a process than as a person. However, as the infant grows up and moves to the stage of separation-individuation, it begins to recognize the discrepancy between the mother’s reactions and its own expectations, and concludes that the mother is a separate person, both in a physical and a psychological way. Because the self is initially too weak to maintain itself without the caring environment, the infant demands to be accompanied by a special teddy bear, a security blanket, or another special object that is found in the surrounding world and which unusual status the parents should not challenge. According to Donald W. Winnicott, this object facilitates the infant’s transition from being absorbed in its own world of imagination to being a participant in the external reality, and from total dependence to relative independence. Therefore, it is called a transitional object. It is both created in a highly subjective way and found as an object in the outer world. Because the object is extremely personal to the child and created in the child’s fantasies, and at the same time, it belongs to the external reality, being the ‘first “not-me” possession’ (Winnicott 1971, pp. 1, 5;
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Jones 1991b, p. 121), the object can perform its developmental and transitional function, which has both a supportive and a transforming nature. From an ORT perspective, the God representation can be understood as a transitional object: personal experiences, needs, wishes, and fears are intertwined with beliefs about God that are shared by a community of believers in this representation (Jones 1991a; Rizzuto 1979; Schaap-Jonker 2008). Because of the dynamic relationships between subjectivity and objectivity in the God representation, it can perform its supportive and transforming function.3 However, for Rachel, the more objective aspect of the God representation—in this case: the belief that God is with people—is present only to a limited extent, and she is not able to appropriate its psychological meaning in an adequate way. Her inner world dominates the outer world, and the more subjective aspect of her God representation is very dominant due to the intrusive flashbacks. In order to strengthen the objective aspect of the God representation, Rachel’s therapist mentions a new Biblical text that is in line with Rachel’s understanding of God. Rachel is capable to accept these notions about God and even underlines their objectivity: by saying the words loud, she makes them ‘real’, as they are no longer only thoughts or memories in her mind. She even writes these characteristics of God down on a bit of paper, materializing them in this way. Exactly when ‘the Name of God’ has reached this degree of objectivity, it is used as a transitional object: Rachel takes it along when she goes to bed, just like a teddy bear. The specific character of the transitional object, which simultaneously belongs to inner reality and external world, results in a transitional experience in which subjectivity and objectivity are paradoxically intertwined. This transitional experience is the core feature of phenomena such as arts, religion, creative scientific work, and imaginative living and belongs to a sphere in between that Winnicott calls the potential space. It is described as ‘the third part of the life of a human being, a part that we cannot ignore.’ This part ‘is an intermediate area of experiencing to which inner reality and external life both contribute. It is an area that is not challenged, because no claim is made on its behalf except that it shall exist as a resting-place for the individual engaged in the perpetual
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human task of keeping inner and outer reality separate yet interrelated’ (Winnicott 1971, p. 2). For Rachel, this perpetual human task is of vital importance, and the need for a resting place is obvious. However, trauma initially obstructs her access to the potential space. She is hardly able to relate imaginatively to a transitional object and to surrender to a divine other (or to aesthetic moments), maybe because of the imbalance between inner and outer world. Instead, she feels possessed by the trauma, which becomes an event that is anthropomorphized and subjectively experienced as an infinite, all-powerful other (Frawley-O’Dea 2015, p. 177). Just like she could not resist ‘that man’, she cannot resist the intrusions and flashbacks. The therapist’s intervention to strengthen the objective aspect of the God representation and to make her subjective world less dominant enables Rachel to relate to a loving and supportive God as an object and to be engaged in meaningful contact, which is typical of transitional experiences (Winnicott 1971, p. 98). Winnicott emphasizes that religion, as a part of culture and a way of creatively coming in contact with reality, retains the transitional experience, just like arts, imaginative living, and creative scientific world (Winnicott 1971, p. 14). In line with this, Bollas speaks of symbolic equivalents of the transformational object and makes a connection to religious faith, pointing to the fact that in many religions, God or the divine is believed to have the potential to transform (Bollas 1987, pp. 14–17). In his view, the function of the transformational object, which initially precedes the transitional object, is maintained in transitional experience, and the search for the transformational object becomes a part of the transitional experiences, which are used for a cohesive self (Shafranske 1992, pp. 68, 70). Rachel’s paper with the Name of God clearly has both these supportive and transformative functions. As a transitional object, it helps a traumatized woman in the difficult task ‘of keeping inner and outer reality separate yet interrelated’ (Winnicott 1971, p. 2), and contains her trauma-related fears. It transforms a situation of threat, loneliness, and being exposed to brute force to an experience of safety: Rachel experiences that she is not alone, because a loving other is with her. The transitional object can fulfill these functions exactly because subjectivity and objectivity are intertwined. If it was only a product of fantasy or defense mechanisms, it could not
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support the self. If it were only an external (dogmatic) truth, it would not have significance for the self (cf. Meissner 1984). However, because the Name of God responds to the subjective feelings of Rachel, it receives its meaning and transformative power and shows that involvement of the self in relationship with the outside (religious) reality leads to experiences of meaning and feeling real and alive (cf. Jones 1996; Schaap-Jonker 2008, pp. 47–49). Rachel’s therapist used a religious intervention in the therapeutic process by offering religious ‘content’ to give support. At the same time, the therapeutic process itself provided holding, the therapist functioning as a transformational object, containing Rachel’s fears, self-disapproval, and self-disgust (cf. Bion 1991). Probably, the processing of religious content in the context of therapy will only be effective (and meaningful) if the processes between therapist and client form a fertile soil.
Discussion and Conclusion This case study shows some of the psychological functions of lived religion in the specific case of re-experiencing the traumatic event in intrusive flashbacks, giving more insight into the accompanying psychological processes and (unconscious) dynamics. Rachel needs religion as a transitional object which supports her self in differentiating between inner and outer world, and which transforms her intense fears for (re-experiencing) the man who was raping her into feelings of safety and continuity in the here and now. To fulfill this transitional and transformative function, lived religion should have both a ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ nature, and these two aspects should be balanced. Clinicians and workers in mental health care, as well as pastoral workers and spiritual caregivers, should take this into account when dealing with the interactions between trauma and religion and become alert to features of their patient’s experience that may reflect needs for transformational and transitional objects (cf. Maltby and Hall 2012). In conversations about survivors’ spiritual lives, experiences of religion, and representations of and relationships with God, they could offer religious texts, narratives, symbols, or rituals, which could fulfill a transformational and
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transitional function. This is essential in the context of trauma, in which the shattering of faith is often implicated, and helps survivors ‘to free their bodies, psyches, and souls from bondage to trauma’ and enables them ‘to resurrect their spirits’ (Frawley-O’Dea 2015, p. 181). Attention to the needs for transformational and transitional objects fits the importance of, and may contribute to the development of an inner sense of safety as an essential skill in the process of coping with trauma-related dissociation (Boon et al. 2011, p. 82). From the perspective of ORT, relational needs, unconscious dynamics, fantasies, and defense mechanisms, which are explicitly associated with life history and psychic functioning, are highlighted in the analysis of people’s processes of adapting to and coping with trauma—whether acute or chronic—and the functions of religion in these processes. The concepts of transformational and transitional object help to focus attention on human beings’ needs for and benefits of the hope of transformation and becoming new in some respect, as well as their needs for and benefits of holding onto something (or someone) through which (who) they feel held and supported. More than approaches that primarily focus on conscious attributions, personal constructs or representations that contribute to global and situational meaning making (cf. Park 2013; Starnino 2016), the ORT perspective leads to a refined analysis that gives more insight into meaning making ‘in action’ and (unconscious) efforts for meaning and coherence, as meaning making is understood as the ‘unconscious cognitive and affective processing that involves memory, fantasy, and the rapid use of defense in situations of intrapsychic anxiety or external threat’ (Rizzuto and Shafranske 2013, p. 126). Approaching lived religion as a transitional phenomenon and stressing its supportive and transforming function has advantages, but also limitations. By focusing on positive functions of religion, more restrictive, suppressive, and disruptive aspects of religion, as well as religion as an area of struggle, may remain beyond of sight (cf. Exline 2013). However, attention to more negative functions of religion is necessary too, because religion is not always beneficial to people in dealing with consequences of traumatic events (Shaw et al. 2005; Walker et al. 2009). This case study focuses on a negative aspect of the aftermath of trauma, namely intrusive flashbacks. In this way, the case study reflects
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one particular moment in the process of dealing with trauma, and does not give a complete picture. By implication, the case study does neither show the functions of religion in the long term nor on posttraumatic growth (cf. Shaw et al. 2005; Starnino 2016). Therefore, more research is needed.
Notes 1. It hardly needs saying that the study of lived religion is not restricted to Christian faith or theistic worldviews; cases of other persons belonging to other religious traditions could have been chosen as well, but the author works in a Christian setting. 2. See for a more detailed introduction into ORT Fonagy and Target (2003), Hamilton (1988), and Schaap-Jonker (2008). 3. From a Winnicottian perspective, subjectivity and objectivity cannot be entirely separated, but are dynamically related; a dualistic distinction between them does not exist in the transitional sphere. Thus, an object relations (Winnicottian) epistemology goes beyond the Cartesian gap between subjectivity and objectivity (Jones 1996, pp. 107–113; SchaapJonker 2008, p. 49).
References Bion, W.R. 1962/1991. Learning from Experience. London: Karnac Books and Maresfield Library. Bion, W.R. 1967. Second Thoughts. New York: Jason Aronson. Bollas, C. 1987. The Shadow of the Object: Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known. New York: Columbia University Press. Boon, S., K. Steele, and O. Van der Hart. 2011. Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. Dezutter, J., and J. Corveleyn. 2013. Meaning Making: A Crucial Psychological Process in the Confrontation with a Life Stressor. In Constructs of Meaning and Religious Transformation, ed. H. Westerink and S. Heine, 167–184. Vienna: Vienna University Press.
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Erikson, E.H. 1950. Childhood and Society. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. Exline, J.J. 2013. Religious and Spiritual Struggles. In APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion and Spirituality, vol. 1, ed. K.I. Pargament, J.J. Exline, and J.W. Jones, 459–475. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Fonagy, P., and M. Target. 2003. Psychoanalytic Theories: Perspectives from Developmental Psychopathology. London and Philadelphia: Whurr. Frawley-O’Dea, M.G. 2015. God Images in Clinical Work with Sexual Abuse Survivors: A Relational Psychodynamic Paradigm. In Spiritually Oriented Psychotherapy for Trauma, ed. D.F. Walker, C.A. Courtois, and J.D. Aten, 169–188. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Gabbard, G.O. 2014. Psychodynamic Psychiatry in Clinical Practice, 5th ed. London and Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press. Ganzevoort, R.R., and J.H. Roeland. 2014. Lived Religion: The Praxis of Practical Theology. International Journal of Practical Theology 18 (1): 91–101. Guntrip, H. 1969. Religion in Relation to Personal Integration. British Journal of Medical Psychology 42: 323–333. Hamilton, N.G. 1988. Self and Others: Object Relations Theory in Practice. New York: Jason Aronson. Jones, J.W. 1991a. Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Religion: Transference and Transcendence. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. Jones, J.W. 1991b. The Relational Self: Contemporary Psychoanalysis Reconsiders Religion. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 59 (4): 119–135. Jones, J.W. 1996. Religion and Psychology in Transition: Psychoanlysis, Feminism, and Theology. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. Jonker, E.R. 2004. Weal and Woe: Exploring the Concepts. In Weal and Woe: Practical-Theological Explorations of Salvation and Evil in Biography, ed. R.R. Ganzevoort and H. Heyen, 17–33. Münster: LIT Verlag. Kernberg, O.F. 1975. Borderline Conditions and Pathological Narcissism. New York: Jason Aronson. Kernberg, O.F. 1976. Object Relations Theory and Clinical Psychoanalysis. New York: Jason Aronson. Mahler, M.S., F. Pine, and A. Bergman. 1975. The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant: Symbiosis and Individuation. New York: Basic Books.
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Maltby, L.E., and T.W. Hall. 2012. Trauma, Attachment, and Spirituality: A Case Study. Journal of Psychology and Theology 40 (4): 302–312. Meissner, W.W. 1984. Psychoanalysis and Religious Experience. New Haven: Yale University Press. Park, C.L. 2013. The Meaning Making Model: A Framework for Understanding Meaning, Spirituality, and Stress-Related Growth in Health Psychology. European Health Psychologist 15 (2): 40–47. Rizzuto, A.M. 1979. The Birth of the Living God. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Rizzuto, A.M., and E.P. Shafranske. 2013. Addressing Religion and Spirituality in Treatment from a Psychodynamic Perspective. In APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion and Spirituality, vol. 2, ed. K.I. Pargament, J.J. Exline, and J.W. Jones, 125–146. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Schaap-Jonker, H. 2008. Before the Face of God: An Interdisciplinary Study of the Meaning of the Sermon and the Hearer’s God Image, Personality and Affective State. Zürich: LIT Verlag. Shafranske, E.P. 1992. God-Representation as the Transformational Object. In Object Relations Theory and Religion: Clinical Applications, ed. M. Finn and J. Gartner, 57–72. New York: Praeger. Shaw, A., S. Joseph, and A.P. Linley. 2005. Religion, Spirituality and Posttraumatic Growth: A Systematic Review. Mental Health, Religion & Culture 8 (1): 1–11. Starnino, V.R. 2016. When Trauma, Spirituality, and Mental Illness Intersect: A Qualitative Case Study. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Available from, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tra0000105. Walker, D.F., H.W. Reid, T. O’Neill, and L. Brown. 2009. Changes in Personal Religion/Spirituality During and After Childhood Abuse: A Review and Synthesis. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy 1 (2): 130–145. Westerink, H. 2013. Constructs of Meaning and Religious Transformation: Current Issues in the Psychology of Religion. Vienna: Vienna University Press. Winnicott, D.W. 1953. Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena: A Study of the First Not-Me Possession. International Journal of PsychoAnalysis 34: 89–97. Winnicott, D.W. 1965/1990. The Maturational Process and the Facilitating Environment. London: Karnac Books.
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Winnicott, D.W. 1971. Playing and Reality. London: Tavistock Publications. Winnicott, D.W. 1986. Home is Where We Start from: Essays by a Psychoanalyst, ed. C. Winnicott, R. Shepherd, and M. Davis. New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company. Winnicott, D.W. 1989. Psycho-Analytic Explorations, ed. C. Winnicott, R. Shepherd, and M. Davis. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Trauma in Relationship—Healing by Religion: Restoring Dignity and Meaning After Traumatic Experiences Mariéle Wulf
Just recently, trauma caused by destructive relationships appears in the focus of research even if the traumatizing influence is not as obvious as in the case of shocking experiences. Traumatizing relationships are like slow poison, slowly but surely killing the soul of the affected person. Moreover, traumata expand and affect other areas of life. As religion is experienced as a relationship, the slow poison can also affect belief. In relationships, the basis of our psychical life grows: the acknowledging of our existence and of our originality. This is the essence of unconditional love—the love, God gives eternally.
M. Wulf (*) Moral Theology and Christian Ethics, School of Catholic Theology, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands e-mail: [email protected]
© The Author(s) 2019 R. R. Ganzevoort and S. Sremac (eds.), Trauma and Lived Religion, Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91872-3_7
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Trauma in Relationship, Affecting Spirituality Micro-Trauma—Trauma in Relationship Traumatic experiences are often linked to striking events such as natural disasters, existential loss, or death-threatening events—also in relationships (Walker et al. 2015a, 7). In this article, the focus lies on so-called micro-trauma. Crastnopol calls it a trauma “hidden in plain sight,” as if “nothing especially traumatic” ever happened; but “repetitive interactive events” of a certain quality can cause the same effect (2015, 1ff.). To understand why more or less invisible events can lead to a trauma, another factor has to be considered: the relationship of the persons in the traumatizing situation. Therefore, trauma in relationship is brought into focus. Small disturbing events normally do not cause a traumatizing injury—except in relationships, which are experienced as being essential for survival. In this case, the potentially traumatized person feels an existential need for the relationship and wants it to persist, as he or she depends on the potential aggressor. The dependent person is offended and affected by the person he/she needs in order to be able to survive (Rosenberg 2010, 46). Therefore, micro-trauma often takes place in childhood which leads to one of the deepest injuries, the “developmental trauma” (Crastnopol 2015, 20ff.; Wulf 2014, 95ff.). As the micro-traumatic events in a relationship are rather invisible—their “corrosive effects are more likely to go unnoticed – and uninterrupted – for years” (Jones 2009, 15), the trauma they cause is often misunderstood as “insecure attachment” or “pathological accommodation” (Crastnopol 2015, 2)—a misinterpretation leading to inadequate therapy: One may try to restore the relationship. That exposes the victim to ongoing traumatization. The therapeutic intervention must rather be diametrically different: The victim has to be separated absolutely from the offender until he/she understands that his behavior damages his counterpart. Accumulated micro-traumas in relationships can be caused by misguided or ambivalent attachment (which is the most traumatizing relationship, cf. Wulf 2014, 78ff.). Crastnopol enumerates the following kinds of malignant relationships:
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– An on–off relationship shifts between two extremes: hate and love, warm and cold feelings, affectionate attention and neglect. – The double-bind relationship is characterized by a great discrepancy or even contradiction within the relationship (Fischer and Riedesser 2003, 143ff.). – Secret sexual abuse can be more easily recognized than psychical abuse, which can only be detected by the injuries it causes. – In the secret-power relationship, the offender sends a permanent, but never openly expressed message, such as “you need me – I reign.” – The unkind cutting back is characterized by love deprivation (Crastnopol 2015, 29ff.). – By “airbrushing and excessive niceness,” all mistakes are retouched— if you are perfect (Crastnopol 2015, 115ff). This excessive demand ends up in a “golden-cage-syndrome” (Wulf 2014, 152f.). – In “connoisseurship gone awry,” a know-it-all can prove himself as a fault-finder. Nobody and nothing is good enough for him (Crastnopol 2015, 53ff.). – Uneasy intimacy embraces all forms of abusive relationships and all kinds of psychical “frontier crossing”: Inner boundaries are not respected (Crastnopol 2015, 84ff.). – Chronic entrenchment leaves behind collateral damage (Crastnopol 2015, 137ff.). The traumatizing offender is “the eternal victim” (Wulf 2014, 142) who asks for help then rejects it, since being the victim constitutes his/her identity. – The “unbridged indignation” has a similar traumatizing effect (Crastnopol 2015, 169ff.) in that bristling persons are—in their own minds—permanent victims. – “Little murders” are committed by “everyday micro-assaults” (Crastnopol 2015, 185ff.) denying the victim’s dignity. A micro-trauma is hardly visible at its genesis, though it is manifest in its outcome: the loss of self-confidence, powerlessness, and anxiety in relationships. Traumas have the tendency to generalize: In effect, all human beings are possibly “bad,” incalculable as they are and therefore frightening. In consequence, the former victim is often unable to create
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and live in a stable relationship. Those socially traumatized people can even develop an unsocial or narcissistic personality. My thesis is the following: Micro-traumatic events in relationship cause dignity to die, because dignity is experienced in relationships. As all human relationships are uncertain to some extent, religious resources can provide a grounding to those ungrounded aspects of human life and healing by a salvation human beings cannot provide.
Spirituality Affected by Trauma Walker, Courtois, and Aten provide a rather wide definition of “spirituality” as the “experiences” in which survivors of trauma can “find their courage, regain hope, and become whole again” (2015a, 4). Deusen and Courtois contribute an even wider definition of “redemption” as “a process of moving from something to something else; it is the act of taking back something that was wrongly taken from you” (2015, 50). For patients who are emotionally traumatized, emotional care must be taken into account—which is, according to Aten et al. (2015, 189ff.), directly connected to spiritual care. Spirituality may be seen as a not-specified movement to deal with broken meaning and searching for meaning (Walker et al. 2015b, 18; Jones 2009, 15). Insofar, religious and existential well-being are bound together (Richards et al. 2015, 95). “Trauma, by definition, is an event so discrepant from a person’s meaning system that it alters or damages that person’s meaning system,” because it causes “discrepancy among beliefs, values, goals, and perceptions of events” (Slattery and Park 2015, 127). Faith, on the other hand, might be seen as a protective factor (Walker et al. 2015c, 150ff.), but often the survivors experience ambivalence: Trauma may “interrupt or serve” one’s beliefs (Walker et al. 2015a, 3f.); God images can be damaged by trauma, can cause trauma or be healing (Frawley-O’Dea 2015, 169ff.). A trauma may alienate the victim from “self, others, and God images” (Walker et al. 2015a, 10); it may cause a “spiritual crisis” and touch the metaphysical worldview or the God image (Richards et al. 2015, 85ff.)—especially if it occurs “in the name of God, or is carried out by religious leaders,
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religious beliefs and impact” (Walker et al. 2015b, 19). Victims are disappointed if their church does not provide adequate help (Rambo 2010, 2). Nevertheless, the “healing work of theology and faith communities” must not be underestimated (Jones 2009, 21); they provide a place for the traumatic experience, witness the testimony, and know reframing and healing stories (Jones 2009, 32ff.). Value and dignity, experienced in this community, can reconstitute meaning (Wurmser 2012, 222). “Because most trauma involves an assault on the victim’s spirit, identity, and self-worth, healing from trauma is fundamentally a spiritual process or a quest for spirituality involving a deep need for meaning and value” (Courtois 2015, 55).
Dignity—Affected by Trauma Dimensions of Being Human If the essence of the human being is touched, trauma occurs. This happens when one of the following essential traits is in danger: The human being has a conscious relationship between him/herself and his/her own existence, their (1) identity. This relationship makes freedom possible which entails responsibility. Freedom and responsibility constitute (2) morality. The body (3) is the living, but material dimension, constituting the relationship (4) to space and (5) time. Individuality (6) is the most secret characteristic of the human person, directly linked to human dignity. Dignity is accessible by the level of our emotional maturity (7); the “feelings of value” testify to a certain objectivity—other than the rational truth, seized by the (8) spirit and expressed through (9) language. The spirit testifies to the horizon in which value is experienced, that is to say, the all-embracing meaning. The search for meaning attests to another constitutive trait, namely transcendence (10) or religiosity. All constitutive, essential traits are experienced and developed in the most basic characteristic, called (11) sociality, which in its deepest and most existential form is love (Faure et al. 2010, 4). In love, we experience what and who we are. This is why trauma in relationship affects the human being as a whole (Wulf 2011).
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Dignity in Relationship Dignity constitutes the deepest value a person can feel. As such, dignity is the apex of emotional and moral orientation, warranted by the four main values mentioned before: love, freedom, truth, and life. If someone neglects one or more of the four basic values, dignity is threatened and trauma follows: – Each form of wrong love or deprivation of love can cause a traumatic injury—especially in the first years of life, when a child is totally dependent on his/her parents, or on parental persons. – A lack of freedom can cause one of the dominant feelings in trauma: powerlessness. – Arbitrariness, replacing truth, is the strongest impediment to freedom, as freedom is only possible in a safe and steady environment. – Life-threatening incidents menace the body, the bases for what we are and do. In micro-trauma, these threatening influences are not easily detected, but the experience of a lack of dignity, or a broken dignity, can be an indicator of trauma. Therefore, safeguarding and restoring dignity is the main aim of therapy, as it is the basic orientation and meaning. Reddemann reflects on dignity in the context of trauma: It is an inalienable property of each human being, his essences, the “royal” or “divine spark,” but in trauma, it is not experienced anymore. This experience has to be regained, reformed, and re-established after trauma (Reddemann 2008, 29, 46f.). Traumatized patients feel damaged by their psychical illness or injury and must never be harmed by the therapeutic methods—neither patient nor therapist (Reddemann 2008, 38). Restoration of dignity is in the victim’s “own purpose” (“Selbstzweck,” Wurmser 2007, 84ff.). In this regard, the therapeutic relationship plays an important role. However, appraisal, esteem, and respect are not enough; the patient needs real devotion—“methodical devotion” is not sufficient to replace the lack of love (Reddemann 2008, 41, 43). In order to regain freedom, the patient has a right to defend him/herself against life-threatening influences. It is a deep
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acknowledgment of truth if the patients are finally able to express their anger against the harm done to them (Reddemann 2008, 41). It is often the first “No!” against a traumatizing influence—a way back to the life of the self which was “killed” by the trauma (Wulf 2014, 53ff., 120f., 156). The patients are victims although feeling guilty; acknowledging this truth can heal them from the shame that points to broken dignity (Reddemann 2008, 93; cf. Wurmser 2007, 82ff.). The victim can discover, for example, that the hatred directed against him/herself, the guilt and the excessive longing for love he/she feels, is actually the manifestation of the hatred, guilt, and longing of the offender (Reddemann 2008, 50f.). If these emotions are redirected to the offender, the victim can liberate himself/herself and re-experience dignity. The deepest and most trustworthy way of regaining dignity after having been touched by a traumatic incident is through love. By unconditional love, confirming identity, appreciating individuality, and warranting trustworthiness, the bonding capacity will be restored as emotional resonance and a capacity for empathy will grow and help the survivor to regain the “right of dignity” (Reddemann 2008, 58).
Dying Dignity On the other hand: If identity is broken, if existence is abnegated, if individuality is denied, if emotions are not taken seriously, and if fidelity is lost—the victim loses dignity. Powerlessness, insecurity, and a death threat will follow. Without access to one’s interior self and inner values, no motivated action can be executed. In effect, the person is dying on several levels: – As the emotions and deeper feelings become paralyzed, motivation gets lost. (Crastnopol 2015, 37ff.) – As access to the self is lost the offender takes over and reigns over the soul of his victim who is dying internally. In particular very dependent victims, such as babies and young children, are totally paralyzed. – A loss of trust in the world and in others causes a loss of hope. Absolute hopelessness can even lead to corporal death.
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Trust in oneself and in the world at large can only be regained by trusting others. Therefore, trustworthy persons and safe relationships play a crucial role in the process of overcoming trauma in relationship. As dignity is experienced in love, the three promises of love will shape the following chapters.
“It Is Good That You Exist.”—Confirming Existence Breaking Identity/Denying Existence Trauma in a relationship causes a breakdown of identity and lessens one’s experience of the fullness of existence. The loss of identity (Wurmser 2012, 268ff.) or “splitting” (Wurmser 2007, 53) causes a person to lose access to his/her acting, thinking, and feelings—either now or in his/her memory. Identity seems to be destroyed (Kapust 2012, 105) or it shifts from the identity of the strong and autonomous person to the identity of the victim (Röhr 2010, 70ff.). Crastnopol names it the “skewing in one’s sense of goodness, efficacy, or cohesion” (2015, 4), by which the victim ends up feeling that he/she cannot do anything right and that he/she is, in reality, a “nobody.” Anxiety is over-heightened and self-esteem lowered (Crastnopol 2015, 3). The broken self is absolutely powerless and unable to move. Sometimes victims “freeze” or are unable to feel anything. Freedom and responsibility are destroyed. The victim does not feel anything but hopelessness and helplessness; the “fight-flight stress response to hyperarousal” does not function anymore, the victim falls into “emotional deadness” and ends up in a “black hole,” the soul is murdered (Deusen and Courtois 2015, 47ff.). It seems that the soul is able to initiate within itself an emergency shutoff (Wulf 2014, 37ff.), a “shutdown of adaptive processes, and its lack of integration” (Rambo 2010, 27). The traumatized person is not aware of this function. At the most, he/she feels a kind of short interruption of awareness, a few seconds perhaps, though minutes or even hours may have passed. Later, he/she may understand that this self-regulation
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system of the soul caused this break to make survival possible (Kraemer 2003, 32; Wurmser 2007, 43ff.). If this function of the soul cannot be stopped—as the threatening situation persists, or the soul does not regain the strength to face reality—the loss of self-reference can stop all functions of self-preservation. This can cause a psychogenic death, or at least a strong wish to commit suicide, or inflict self-damage (Fischer and Riedesser 2003, 41f., 162). Another self-protecting function of the soul is fragmentation or dissociation, which is activated in a life-threatening situation—even if the “event” is more or less invisible outside, as it is the case in microtrauma. Escape is not possible, no help is provided, and a person can feel ruthlessly exposed in not having any ability to change or manage one’s situation (Kraemer 2003, 27). Dissociation means to separate from one’s own personality; fragmentation means splitting from one’s memory (Fischer and Riedesser 2003, 116). In both cases, the person has no access to his/her own experience. This is the reason why traumatized persons are sometimes considered borderline patients (Fischer and Riedesser 2003, 65), but it would be more adequate to speak about “inner doubleness” (Wurmser 2007, 11) as the doubling or splitting is nothing but a protection (Wurmser 2007, 60). It is important to differentiate these cases with great precision. Finally, the traumatized person feels as if he/she is losing his/her existence. Dreams of falling into a black hole, or withdrawing into “absolute silence” (Jones 2009, 29), feelings of self-dissolution, of losing the world, of being destroyed, of being afraid of existence or relationships— all this can indicate a loss of identity caused by a trauma (Rosenberg 2010, 46f.; Kraemer 2003, 103). “Trauma is often spoken about as a dissolution of the death-life-boundary” (Rambo 2010, 25) as the victim is dying internally.
The Malignant Solution: To Take Over the Position of the Offender The potential victim identifies with the offender, thereby making the offender a part of his/her own personality. This means that the victim
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takes over the offender’s expectations, feelings, sometimes even his personality, and does not know where the boundaries are: A victim once cut his offender to feel that he was not him! Wurmser quotes another victim saying: “It is as if the destroyer is within me; as if I am the most dangerous one, as if his great power is turned against me” (Wurmser 2007, 57). The victim of exclusive possessiveness shows all the signs of self-destructiveness: shame to exist, narcissism, masochism, phantasies of grandiosity, of being all-mighty or godlike (Wurmser 2007, 196ff., 2012, 168, 189, 210, 221ff., 298ff.). The victim may deliver itself to repeat the trauma or to delusions of grandeur, ridiculousness, shame-rage and perversion (Wurmser 2012, 186, 189; 2007, 91ff.). But all this just prevents him/her from blossoming or growing; he/she experiences finally a deep powerlessness and inner loneliness (Kraemer 2003, 173). The second strategy is introjection. This may be an unripe form of identification, but a malignant introjection is in essence a part of the offender who manifests his wishes and requirements in the victim. The victim experiences those wishes as his own, though he suffers from the overcharging it requires (Rosenberg 2010, 12, 24ff.). Introjection is another strategy of the soul to survive the almost deadly experience of trauma. If the threatening part of the beloved counterpart is estimated as part of one’s own soul, one can manage it and it will be less disturbing (Rosenberg 2010, 53f.). But the price is high: The victim loses his/her own identity, individuality, and emotions, and dies an inner death. The third strategy is the dissociation of the bad part of the offender. “This habitual ignoring results in dissociated anxiety that undermines a coherent and valued sense of self as well as a trusting relatedness to others” (Crastnopol 2015, 5). This strategy allows the victim to take over the positive self-image of the offender, but at the same time, it seems to destroy the proper positive self-image. In the double-bind situation, the three strategies do not seem to help. The victim is forced to hold two contradictory viewpoints—no escape is possible. The result is a social traumatization (Fischer and Riedesser 2003, 143ff.). As “the urgent need for ongoing connection is the prime motivator in human behavior,” one keeps the relationship to the
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offender “if there is anything good to be had from our significant others at all” (Crastnopol 2015, 8)—even if it means to be disrupted in a double-bind relationship.
Restoring Identity in Relationship The first promise of love is to confirm existence: “It is good that you exist.” In this promise, identity is guaranteed and life is safeguarded (Faure et al. 2010, 4). To ascertain that existence is really acknowledged, love must have a certain quality: It must be an unconditional and selfless love. Conditional love limits commitment and has the capacity to destroy authentic love, as it demands something from the beloved person and does not merely love him/her for who he or she is. In consequence, the traumatized person has problems trusting others. Weren’t human being untrustworthily in the past? A rather “technical” relationship in therapy does not help; survivors need an “existential relationship” (Wurmser 2007, 289ff., 306ff.), a human acknowledgment of their existence.
Spirituality—Broken and Healing Identity Spirituality is affected by existential anxiety and doubts caused by trauma (Richards et al. 2015, 92f.). God is in a certain manner losing his identity, his existence. “Questions such as ‘What was God thinking?’ or ‘Why did God let this happen?’” (Walker et al. 2015b, 19) may occur. On the other hand, if God is the one who holds my existence in his hands—the former victim is safe (Wulf 2014, 57); his/her existence is no longer dependant on the yes or no of the former perpetrator. In this regard, God’s existence can be seen as a healing resource. Spiritual care in this context consists mainly in confirming the existence by the unconditional presence of the caregiver, especially in the dreadful moments and hours. As all seems to die down, “love remains” (Rambo 2010, 159). Moreover, the caregiver can be a trustworthy witness that God is with us in our suffering (Rambo 2010, 5). Even in the
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deepest abyss, we are never alone: God overcomes death, even the inner death caused by trauma: I may exist, be, live again!
“It Is Good How You Are.” Appreciating Individuality If someone does not have any access to good primary relationships, he/ she often has to keep the bad ones, even if they cause traumatic injuries. Any relationship seems to better than none, because we do not learn who we are except in relationship to another.
Denying Individuality and Emotionality In a traumatic experience, individuality is disclaimed and proper emotions are abnegated. Indeed, the victim has a sense of losing the relationship with him/herself. This can cause “depersonalization” (Fischer and Riedesser 2003, 83): Whatever has happened actually is experienced as happening to another person. That causes a disruption to a holistic view of life (Fischer and Riedesser 2003, 85) and to the self-image. This is closely linked to one’s feelings, especially to the sense of one’s own dignity, the foundation of trust in the world. Depersonalization causes a loss of one’s own emotionality. All values, even self-worth, are lost. This can cause self-hatred (Röhr 2010, 49ff.), emotional blunting or hyper-sensitivity regarding the feelings of others (Fischer and Riedesser 2003, 162). A desperate quest for appreciation, respect, or love can result. The reason for this can be privation, menacing or neglecting. What follows is aggression, often in the form of auto-aggression and self-devaluation (Fliss and Timmermann 2008, 88). Emotional abuse, using the child for one’s own needs, frustrates the child who tries to fulfill its parents’ wishes or unfilled dreams (Röhr 2010, 128ff.). Sometimes it develops unrealistic fantasies of its own capacity to satisfy the longings of others (Kraemer 2003, 99f.). A child’s needs will not be respected if adults depend on the child (Röhr 2010, 115ff., 153ff.). Some adults attribute to
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the child another role, which is too demanding: The child has to play the role of the partner, of a lost brother or sister, of a parent, or of an intimate confidant (Röhr 2010, 122ff.). The child or overstrained person suffers from a loss of self-worth, and this results in a loss of dignity. The victim cannot trust his/her own feelings anymore, he/she risks losing all his/her values and, consequently, an emotionally healthy orientation.
The Malignant Solution: To Be like the Aggressor Wants Me to Be Taking over the offender’s feelings leads to a strange situation. In one’s own sense of self or “me,” there exists a “good-me,” a “bad-me” and a “not-me” that can be indicated (Crastnopol 2015, 12). After trauma, only through therapy can these three self-identities be recognized and discerned again. In the traumatizing situation, the victim does not know which self is which; it cannot assign feelings to the different manifestations of “me.” Is anger the positive feeling of the good-me, which finally restores autonomy? Or is it the rage of the offender who tried to destroy me? Sometimes one’s feelings can mirror the offender’s feelings (Wulf 2014, 155f.)—our own inner world of feelings is lost. Finally, one’s own individuality is denied. The victim merges with the offender—in order not to be lonely and lost (Rosenberg 2010, 53). In this union, the victim loses him/herself by denying the traumatizing feelings arising from the relationship and takes over the position of the powerful offender. This means that the victim repudiates his/her own genuine feelings and takes over the wishes of the offender in order to gain his/her love: “If I fulfill your wishes, you will be well-disposed towards me. Than you will love me, and everything will be good. Or: If I feel how you feel, we will be close to each other; when I subordinate myself, you will not hurt me any longer. Then I will be a good object for your love” (Rosenberg 2010, 53f.). The victim acts according to a “strange script,” which makes him/her the perpetrator’s “marionette” (Kapust 2012, 101). Thus, subjection is another strategy to finish the torture of violence and to instill a positive image of the offender. If I subject myself to the
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other, he will stop, because he is good. Subjection is the ultimate strategy that can be perverted to become sadomasochism, especially since it does not achieve its aim (Rosenberg 2010, 48f., 53). This is one kind of repetition, a kind of “identification with the aggressor” that leads to active aggression in one’s own behavior (Rosenberg 2010, 50), or to a repetition of the same type of pathological relationship (Lüdecke 2010a, 13).
Restoring Individuality in Relationship The second promise of love is confirming individuality: “It is good that you are just the way you are. You do not have to change to gain my love.” The character of the person is acknowledged: He or she is not wrong but good! This includes that his or her emotionality is accepted. Such love leads to a healthy self-reflection (Ford 2011, 69). To guarantee this function, love must accept the person without any limitation. A child needs an all-embracing, loving parent as a “mirroring selfobject and an idealized parental imago” (Crastnopol 2015, 17) to develop and become what he or she can be; his/her individuality is accepted.
Spirituality—Broken and Healing Individuality Through a traumatizing experience, especially the trauma in a relationship, a person can feel separated from spirituality (Courtois and Ford: Einleitung, 26). In trauma, God seems to lose his power and his positive character and may be seen as a projection of the superego, or as representative of oppressing moral systems (Wurmser 2012, 119ff.). In the mind of the victim, he perverts to the God of atrocity, revenge, intolerance, jealousy (Wurmser 2012, 126) and is nothing but the “inner judge” and a despot: Facing this God, the person does not feel anything but guilt and shame (Wurmser 2007, 75; 2012, 123ff., 132). On the other hand, a hale image of God is a powerful resource for healing: God can be experienced “as a substitute attachment figure” (Walker et al. 2015b, 23)—healing the wounds of misguided attachment. If he is seen as the one holding the power in his hand, a “splitting of ego and superego” (Wurmser 2007, 47) can take place: The victim
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does not have to overcome the trauma by an unrealistic self-image, but can leave his destiny to God’s powerful hands. If someone enjoys positive experiences with people working in the church or other religious communities, a positive image of God can be built. A patient assumes his experience of a “healing community” in the following sentences: “I am family. Other people are mostly helpful. God is questionable. The world is friendly. Therefore, I will be helped” (Deusen and Courtois 2015, 51, 43).
“This Will Be True Forever.” Warranting Trustworthiness Losing Fidelity and Trust The loss of fidelity can arise from very different and unexpected occurrences: Switching identity causes a total and arbitrary change of the person or of the relationship. This happens in all cases of abuse in relationships: Suddenly, the caring parent switches to a demanding or boundary-crossing one (Fischer and Riedesser 2003, 117f.). It is difficult to combine the abusing person with the beloved one (Röhr 2010, 20), the one who should have initiated trust in the world with the most destructive person someone ever met. By contortion, the abusing person changes from being the strong parent to a weak and avaricious one, from the beloved person to a monster (Röhr 2010, 26), from a caring person to a narcissist. A situation of love and protection is perverted to a situation that causes panic and confusion (Rosenberg 2010, 46). Another form is to abandon someone and to leave him/her isolated (Kraemer 2003, 266), without protection or help. This makes trauma even worse (Röhr 2010, 32). If there is no witness, then there is nobody to believe, no one who can provide help. Retraumatization, or an intensification of the trauma, will follow. In this case, it can become much more difficult to overcome the trauma (Fischer and Riedesser 2003, 117f.). Infidelity signifies the total annihilation of the relationship and of the person.
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By infidelity, trust changes to distrust (Deusen and Courtois 2015, 31). In order to save the relationship, hypo-attachment (Deusen and Courtois 2015, 34) can follow; but also hyper-attachment—a form often not mentioned in literature: A child/abused person stays in a too strong solidarity with the menacing person. Sometimes children who have to decide whether to stay with a mother or father after divorce choose the unfaithful (difficult) parent—because the other parent is safe! A paradox, but a logical decision.
The Malignant Solution: To Take Over Responsibility/Guilt Infidelity leads, with a certain inner rigor, to introjected feelings of guilt (Kraemer 2003, 30ff.): “As I am bad, it is okay that nobody wants to stay with me! I am wrong.” By means of this self-reproach, the victim can guard his attachment-object; taking over responsibility and guilt is very effective in order to keep a positive image of the offender. The victim no longer sees the offender as the offender (Rosenberg 2010, 55) and regains a certain “control”: “as soon as I am acting right, everything will be fine” (Wulf 2014, 128ff.). By means of this strategy, the victim can keep the illusion of faithfulness, justice, and even unconditional love: “Though I was bad, I am still loved.” The bad consequence is double: (a) the victim loses trust in him/ herself and loses him/herself and (b) in the malignant relationship, reconciliation does not seem to be necessary. The situation, however, is characterized by an illusory hope, namely that it will become better if the victim changes his/her behavior, or if he/she fulfills all the wishes of the offender. “In the situation I consider, the inner exciting object is not egregiously bad or bad on a chronic basis; it is moderate in its destructiveness and seemingly arbitrary in its bestowal of approval and nurturance. So the inner ‘hopeful’ self remains hopeful, if only tenuously so” (Crastnopol 2015, 11). As long as the victim trusts in the offender’s goodness, he/she will be disappointed and re-traumatized. The traumatizing situation persists as long as the victim is in inner or outer contact with the offender; both can cause the same calamities
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if the offender does not change his mind. The trauma continues even in family histories and leads to transgenerational conflicts (Sorgedrager, 33ff. and 58ff.). In order to overcome the traumatizing relationship, the two persons involved first have to be split up. The next necessary step to reconciliation is to identify the aggressor—as otherwise, he might continue blaming the victim (Hirsch 2012, 39ff.). The traumatizing situation does not end unless the offender acknowledges that he is causing damage to his victim, and he or she declares him or herself guilty (Fischer and Riedesser 2003, 75). His challenge is to admit that he really needs forgiveness. Punishment is not enough if the offender does not take responsibility (Hirsch 2012, 32ff.). With regard to a traumatic injury, reconciliation takes time for both the offender and the victim. The victim needs time to deal with all dimensions of the traumatizing experience (Kapust 2012, 97; Röhr 2010, 107), and the offender needs time to understand the dimensions of the damages he has caused. If inner reconciliation does not take place, or if the offender does not admit his guilt, the longing for reconciliation can end in deception or even retraumatization (Lüdecke 2010b, 135). To overcome the trauma, the victim needs reconciliation, or at least to forgive: He/she must forgive in order to find a way out of the trauma and to regain an active role: He/she must become the designer of his/her future life (Kapust 2012, 107ff.). Nevertheless, a trauma leaves behind scars, suffering, and damage, which perhaps in this lifetime cannot be healed, compensated, or repaired. This open-endedness can hinder reconciliation.
Restoring Trustworthiness in Relationship The third promise of love is trustworthiness, or fidelity: “My love will last forever.” If fidelity is not guaranteed, the first two promises of love may not be true. Truth becomes in this respect a quality of love. True love warrants meaning. This is the basis for religiosity. On the other hand, one’s relationship to God protects faithfulness in human relationships. In God, every relationship is made safe insofar as fidelity is one of the main characteristics of God.
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Spirituality—Broken and Healing Trustworthiness The victim experiences untrustworthily persons. How can God, whose presence and personality cannot be experienced directly, be trustworthy? Moreover, the victim might feel shame and guilt; he/she thinks that God blames and condemns him/her (Richards et al. 2015, 92). It even seems that God has abandoned him/her, “because there was something wrong” with him/her (Deusen and Courtois 2015, 41). Trauma becomes a persisting reality (Rambo 2010, 2); the victim experiences “extreme loneliness, forsakenness, and abandonment”; it is like going through hell—the place, where Jesus went on Holy Saturday. In this moment, his spirit is “divine presence marked by absence”; “between passion and resurrection, there is no light, no life, and no words” (Rambo 2010, 13, 63). When Jesus went through suffering and death, he passed through all suffering and death of all time—and raised it from death. His “Spirit is the breath that gives rise to new forms of life forged though death” (Rambo 2010, 139). This is redemption from the state between death and life where the victim of trauma stays (Rambo 2010, 156). God’s trust is the basis for regaining hope and help (Jones 2009, 127ff.). Religious-based healing rituals can be the bridge to future life, especially confession as it is a process which relieves from guilt, shame, and self-blame (Walker et al. 2015b, 20; Richards et al. 2015, 93f.). Spiritual care can confirm trustworthiness by healing relationship. “Remaining, in love”—according to Rambo the main purpose on Holy Saturday (2010, 143ff.)—is the most important service in pastoral care.
Overcoming Trauma Walker, Courtois, and Aten maintain that “trauma is the suffering that does not go away” (Rambo 2010, 15). The question stays open whether “evidence-based practices” can heal from a trauma caused by broken relationships (Courtois 2015, 58). Relationship can hardly be operationalized. Furthermore, normal therapeutic techniques might be overwhelming for trauma-victims, especially for those with a complex
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trauma (Courtois 2015, 70). Without grace, trauma might indeed be unsurmountable. On the other hand, religion must not be used as a technical instrument for healing (as in Walker et al. 2015b); salvation does not seem to play a crucial role in trauma-literature. Salvation, however, is the resource, the human being cannot give to himself—it promises abundance of life and reconciliation.
The Specific Request in the Case of Micro-Trauma in Relationship By trauma in relationship, one’s emotional life becomes affected, one’s inner self is touched, and individuality gets suppressed. Trauma caused by isolation, shame, or loneliness, destroys the inner person. Behavioristic and cognitive training cannot heal these injuries. To overcome trauma, the traumatized person must learn to feel in a different way. Since feeling is stimulated and changed only in relationships, good relationships play a crucial role in overcoming trauma. As we saw, the triple promise is necessary to develop healthy feelings and trust in yourself and in the world. It confirms a person’s dignity, that is to say, his or her individual value. This is why the trauma in relationship so deeply destroys dignity; this is the reason why unconditional, selfless, all-embracing, and faithful love safeguards and restores human dignity. As this ideal love cannot be guaranteed by human beings, spirituality or religious bonding play a crucial role in healing trauma injuries.
Religious Resources God himself gives the three promises that serve as the ground upon which human life can flourish. The existence of the creature is guaranteed by the creator, God himself. Individuality is formed and totally accepted by God. Finally, insofar as God is faithful, the first two promises will be eternal. God alone is the one in whom one can absolutely trust; in his eyes, our existence is not arbitrary anymore; our individuality is precious as it is one ray of divine wisdom.
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Another religious resource is reconciliation, first and foremost the reconciliation with the adverse or cruel fate of trauma in order to gain the first grace of redemption, the abundance of life (John 10:10). This promise is not just an eschatological one, but begins when God’s grace touches the broken life in a way that the chapter of traumatic experience can be closed and a new life can start. This happens, when justice—often not guaranteed by law—is left to God! In him, reconciliation with the offender is possible, even if, in some cases, it remains one-sided. This would be too demanding in a purely ontological or cultural context (Schnell 2012, 156) as reconciliation needs different dimensions: It has to be put into effect interpersonally, intrapsychically, and metaphysically (Karger 2012, 15ff.). The last needs redemption which cannot be provided by men (Röhr 2010, 86). Only what is accepted can be relinquished (Röhr 2010, 105)—a statement which forms a certain parallel to the axiom of redemption.
A Question of Basic Attitude The religious resource operates via a human actor and mainly by a positive attitude that is characterized by hope, trust, and authenticity. Hope implies the trust of the therapist (or of others) in supporting the former traumatized person to find resources for healing. This trust is stimulated by a positive image of the human person, one that is motivated and guaranteed by faith. This trust leads to the divine promise of healing. The human being searches to escape its identity as victim by hoping that its inner personality can heal (Röhr 2010, 74). The other attitude is trust: Trusting in the client is crucial for healing a trauma that is caused by abusive relationships. But the therapist also has to be trustworthy. Otherwise, the client cannot regain the trust that he/she lost as a result of a previous trauma. The trust of the patient is necessary in order to surpass the trauma. Finally, religious resources must be an authentic part of the therapist’s personality. To restore the client’s humanity, the therapist must represent a fully loving humanity, such as was represented in the eleven essential traits discussed earlier in this article. The triple promise must
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be given by the whole personality of the therapist, a promise fully rooted in the divine promise and warranted by his grace in both—the therapist and the victim.
Bibliography Crastnopol, Margaret. 2015. Micro-Trauma: A Psychoanalytic Understanding of Cumulative Psychic Injury. New York and London: Routledge. Faure, Hendrik, Christel Lüdecke, and Ulrich Sachsse (eds.). 2010. Sucht— Bindung—Trauma. Psychotherapie von Sucht und Traumafolgen im neurobiologischen Kontext. Stuttgart: Schattauer. – Faure, Hendrik, Christel Lüdecke, and Ulrich Sachsse. 2010. Klinischer Alltag—verwirrende Klinik, 3–10. – Lüdecke, Christel. 2010a. Zusammenhänge zwischen Traumatisierung, Posttraumatischer Belastungsstörung und Suchterkrankung, 11–26. – Lüdecke, Christel. 2010b. Die integrative Behandlung, 125–140. – Lüdecke, Christel, and Ulrich Sachsse. 2010. Die therapeutische Beziehung in der Behandlung traumatisierter Suchtkranker, 141–174. Fischer, Gottfried and Peter Riedesser. 2003. Lehrbuch der Psychotraumatologie. München and Basel: Ernst Reinhardt. Fliss, Claudia and Ute Timmermann. 2008. Trauma und Traumafolgen. Erklärungsmodelle. In Handbuch Trauma und Dissoziation: Interdisziplinäre Kooperation für komplex traumatisierte Menschen, ed. Claudia Fliss and Claudia Igney, 72–97. Lengerich: Papst Science Publishers. Ford, Julian D. 2011. Neurobiologische und entwicklungspsychologische Forschung und ihre klinischen Implikationen. In Komplexe traumatische Belastungsstörungen und ihre Behandlung: Eine evidenzbasierte Anleitung, ed. Christine A. Courtois and Julian D. Ford, 51–80. Paderborn: Junfermann Verlag. Igney, Claudia. 2008. Täterstrategien und Täter-Opfer-Dynamiken. In Handbuch Trauma und Dissoziation. Interdisziplinäre Kooperation für komplex traumatisierte Menschen, ed. Claudia Fliss and Claudia Igney, 38–50. Lengerich: Papst Science Publishers. Jones, Serene. 2009. Trauma and Grace. Theology in a Ruptures World. Louisville: Westminster John Knox. Karger, André, ed. 2012. Vergessen, vergelten, vergeben, versöhnen? Weiterleben mit dem Trauma. Psychoanalytische Blätter. Band 30. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.
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– Hirsch, Mathias. 2012. Schuldanerkennung—Verzeihen—Versöhnen, 32–52. – Kapust, Antje. 2012. Aussöhnung mit der Fremdheit des Traumas, 97–113. – Karger, André. 2012. Verzeihung—Reconciliation—Versöhnung. Versuch der Differenzierung verschiedener Konzepte, 12–31. – Schnell, Martin W. 2012. Ethik der Erinnerung—Thesen zur Grundlegung, 149–160. Kraemer, Horst. 2003. Das Trauma der Gewalt. Wie Gewalt entsteht und sich auswirkt. Psychotraumata und ihre Behandlung. München: Kösel. Rambo, Shelly. 2010. Spirit and Trauma. A Theology of Remaining. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. Reddemann, Luise. 2008. Würde—Annäherung an einen vergessenen Wert in der Psychotherapie. Stuttgart: Klett Cotta. Röhr, Heinz-Peter. 2010. Missbrauch überleben. Heilung nach sexueller und emotionaler Gewalt. Mannheim: Patmos Rosenberg, Frank. 2010. Introjekt und Trauma. Eine Einführung in eine integrative psychoanalytische Traumabehandlung. Frankfurt a. Main: Brandes & Apsel. Sorgedrager, Dafnea B. Familienwahrheiten: Spurensuche in uns. Neustadt a. d. Aisch. Walker, Donald F., Christine A. Courtois, and Jamie D. Aten (eds.). 2015. Spiritually Oriented Psychotherapy for Trauma. Washington: American psychological association. – Aten, Jamie, Kari A. O’Grady, Glen Milstein, David Boan, Melissa A. Smigelsky, Alice Schruba, and Isaak Weaver. 2015. Providing Spiritual and Emotional Care in Response to Disaster, 189–210. – Courtois, Christine A. 2015. First, Do Not Harm: Ethics of Attending to Spiritual Issues in Trauma Treatment, 55–75. – Deusen, Stephanie van, and Christine A. Courtois. 2015. Spirituality, Religion, and Complex Developmental Trauma, 29–54. – Frawley-O’Dea, Mary Gail. 2015. God Images in Clinical Work with Sexual Abuse Survivors: A Relational Psychodynamic Paradigm, 169–188. – Richards, P. Scott, Randy K. Hardman, Troy Lea, and Michael E. Berrett. 2015. Religious and Spiritual Assessment of Trauma Survivors, 77–102. – Slattery, Jeanne M., and Crystal L. Park. 2015. Spirituality and Making Meaning: Implications for Therapy with Trauma Survivors, 127–146.
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– Walker, Donald F., Christine A. Courtois, and Jamie D. Aten. 2015a. Introduction, 3–13. – Walker, Donald F., Christine A. Courtois, and Jamie D. Aten. 2015b. Basics of Working on Spiritual Matters with Traumatized Individuals, 15–28. – Walker, Donald F., Kerry I. Mcgregor McGregor, David Quagliana, Rachel L. Stephens, and Katlin R. Knodel. 2015c. Understanding and Responding to Changes in Spirituality and Religion After Traumatic Events, 147–168. Wulf, Claudia Mariéle. 2011. Der Mensch—ein Phänomen. Eine phänomenologische, theologische und ethische Anthropologie. Vallendar: Patris. Wulf, Claudia Mariéle. 2014. Wenn das Ich zerbricht. Gedanken zum Psychotrauma für Betroffene und ihre Begleiter. Münster: LIT. Wurmser, Léon. 2007. Torment Me Bus Don’t Abandon Me. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. Wurmser, Léon. 2012. Mein Licht ist in deiner Hand. Betrachtungen eines Analytikers über Religion, Philosophie und Literatur. Eschborn: Klotz.
Part IV Testimony
Lived Religion and the Traumatic Impact of Sexual Abuse: The Sodalicio Case in Peru Rocio Figueroa Alvear and David Tombs
In recent years, disclosures of sexual abuse committed by priests, pastors or religious leaders against children and young adults have become a headline issue.1 Many different churches have been linked to clergy- perpetrated sexual abuse (CPSA), and allegations against the Catholic Church have been particularly severe.2 Although the problem of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church is not new, the willingness of so many victims to come forward and speak openly has been unprecedented. These disclosures have revealed the scale and severity of crimes that have long been kept hidden. Church sexual abuse crimes, and the institutional cover-ups that have often accompanied them, have been widely reported in Canada, R. F. Alvear (*) Good Shepherd College, Auckland, New Zealand e-mail: [email protected]
D. Tombs University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand e-mail: [email protected]
© The Author(s) 2019 R. R. Ganzevoort and S. Sremac (eds.), Trauma and Lived Religion, Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91872-3_8
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the USA, Ireland, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia and elsewhere. In Latin America, a number of communities and groups have faced serious allegations, and their leaders have been publicly denounced. Three cases have received particular attention: the Legionaries of Christ in Mexico (Berry and Renner 2004); the Karadima group in Chile (Monkeberg 2010); and the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (commonly known as Sodalicio) in Peru (Salinas 2015). These three communities were part of the birth and growth of new movements that occurred in Latin America following Vatican II. Each of these three new movements was heralded for its success in attracting new members, and yet the founder of each has subsequently been accused of serious sexual abuses. While all the members of the Legionaries of Christ and Karadima community are priests, the members of Sodalicio are mostly lay Catholics and the founder is a layperson. A guiding principle in the study of lived religion is that attention should be directed to the lived experience of religion and not just the formal doctrines. Invariably, this lived experience of religion is more varied than the ‘official version’ and also more fluid and complex. In practice, religious believers navigate their faith identities in a multiplicity of ways, and these are often in tension with the received orthodoxy. This chapter explores the traumatic impact of sexual abuse on lived religion through a case study of the Sodalicio Society in Peru. It draws on recent interviews with eight male survivors, who are now middle-aged and who were abused when they were younger. The Sodalicio case in Peru offers an interesting perspective to view the lived religion of both perpetrators and survivors. In terms of the perpetrators, there could hardly be a more egregious example of religious behaviour not matching official doctrine. Instead of following church teaching, abusers committed serious criminal acts and subsequently made every effort to cover it up with lies, threats and institutional complicity. However, instead of looking at perpetrators at any length, this chapter will focus on the experience of survivors. The first section will explain the background of the Sodalicio community. The second section offers an overview of existing literature on the spiritual consequences of CPSA. The third section explores the spiritual impact of psychological and spiritual
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abuse on eight former members of Sodalicio. The fourth section will argue that recent work identifying Christ’s own experience as a form of sexual abuse might offer a new vantage point to address the traumatic impact of sexual abuse.
Allegations Against the Leadership of Sodalicio Luis Fernando Figari founded Sodalicio in 1971 as a society of Apostolic Life within the Catholic Church.3 Sodalicio has a presence in schools and churches and runs retreat facilities and Youth Centres with communities in Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Italy and the USA. Although their members are mostly lay Catholics, the society also includes clergy. In 2010, the journalist Pedro Salinas, a former Sodalicio member, accused Figari of physical, psychological and sexual abuse. In late 2010, Figari resigned as superior of Sodalicio ‘for health reasons’ and was sent to Rome. This was the same year that the cause of beatification of Germán Doig, vicar general and number two within the organization, was suspended. Doig himself had died in 2001. The following year, the Peruvian newspaper Diario 16 published testimonies accusing Germán Doig of sexual abuse (Pighi 2016). Despite the publicity around these allegations in February 2011, Sodalicio took years before they offered reasonable support to the victims, and this was only initiated after strong criticism of Sodalicio in the press. In October 2015, Salinas published the book Mitad monjes, mitad soldados. Lo que el Sodalicio no quiere que sepas (Half Soldiers, Half Monks: What the Fellowship Does Not Want You to Know ), which he had written with the journalist Paola Ugaz. The book gathers thirty testimonies of abuse committed by the founder, Luis Fernando Figari, and other leaders of the organization, over an almost thirty-year period. Of these testimonies, five narrate episodes of sexual abuse, and three accuse the founder Figari as the perpetrator. According to his book, three men lodged complaints in 2011 with the Peruvian church tribunal alleging Figari sexually abused them when they were minors. The three presented their cases to the Vatican and the Court of Lima in
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2011, but were still waiting for the Vatican’s response when the book was published. In response to the book, Sodalicio finally announced that the Vatican had already launched an investigation to Figari six months earlier, in April 2015, and admitted that the sexual abuse allegations against its founder and other senior members were ‘plausible’. In an online video, Sodalicio’s current leader, Alessandro Moroni, apologized to victims. Moroni acknowledged that the victims had ‘received no satisfactory reply’ from the group for years and declared that the Society considered Figari guilty of the allegations of abuse against him and therefore a persona non-grata in the Society. At this point, Sodalicio hired experts to offer psychological assistance to victims and initiate a review of the allegations. To this end, Sodalicio appointed a special commission that included lawyers, a psychiatrist and a Peruvian bishop. They interviewed more than fifty former members of Sodalicio who denounced physical, psychological and sexual abuse. On the 16 April 2016, the commission published a ten-page report in which they explained the abuses and the factors that enabled the sexual abuse within Sodalicio. The commission affirms that ‘the damage was perpetrated in a situation in which the superiors assumed a “dominant position” asking for perfect and absolute obedience achieved by the practice of extreme discipline. (…) This way of exercising power was an attempt to destroy their individual will’. Although there were complaints and denunciations, says the report, the leaders failed to act, covering up the abuses in a ‘complicit silence’ over many years (Comisión de Ética para la Justicia y la Reconciliación 2016). Despite the damning judgement offered by the commission, because the abuse was perpetrated over 25 years ago, the statute of limitations makes it impossible for Figari to be prosecuted by civil authorities today. Meanwhile, the canon law case against Figari has been complicated by his status as a layman rather than a priest. After a long period of delay and silence, the Vatican ruled in January 2017 that Figari should not be allowed to return to Peru, but refused to expel him from the Society. In January 2018, in the lead up to the Papal visit to Chile and Peru, Pope Francis announced that an Apostolic Commissioner has been appointed to oversee the administration of Sodalicio.
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To help inform a better understanding of the experiences and needs of the survivors, the authors undertook semi-structured interviews with eight former members of Sodalicio who had been subjected to physical, psychological and sexual abuse (Figueroa and Tombs 2016). The men are now all middle-aged and had suffered abuses within Sodalicio when they were younger (14–18 years old). Six of the eight interviewees had featured in the Salinas book, and the new interviews provided the opportunity to explore the psychological impact of the abuse further and investigate the consequences for their sense of faith and their relationship with God. The transcription of the interviews was anonymized to maintain the confidentiality of the participants, but all six of the interviewees who had featured in the Salinas book gave permission for the same pseudonym to be reused to maintain continuity. The interviews involved an open-questioning technique. The general line of questioning was on both the short-term and long-term impact of sexual abuse. At the same time, we asked about how sexual abuse might have consequences or not for a sense of faith, religious identity and sense of self. The participants in this research identified four accused perpetrators of sexual abuse: Luis Fernando Figari, founder of Sodalicio; Germán Doig, General Vicar, second of the Institution (now deceased); a former superior of Sodalicio and member of its General Council (not able to be named); and Jeffery Daniels, former member of Sodalicio and close friend of Germán Doig.
Sexual Abuse and Spiritual Impacts Farrell and Taylor (2000, 54) identify different elements that are commonly involved in CPSA of children and young adults: [CPSA involves] the physical and psychological betrayal of a child by any person in a position of power and trust who is formally authorized to perform the rites of an organized religion. The abuse involves the traumatic sexualisation of the child via the use of force or the threat of force, or even coercion, for the self-gratification of the perpetrating cleric. Implicit
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within the abuse is the child’s inability to give informed consent due to the inequality that exists within this relationship. The perpetrator propels the child to “keep the secret” and to remain silent. The long-term implications for the abused is a legacy of erosion and stigmatization of the child’s well being creating theological and existential conflict, whilst challenging the victim’s religious faith, spiritual identity and any concept that they have of God.
The abuse of spiritual power by the perpetrator is often a key feature of sexual abuse committed by clergy or consecrated people. In the case of CPSA, the sexual abuse usually involves the use of spiritual power to seduce a minor. The priest or the pastor represents the voice and the love of God for the community. As Fogler affirms: ‘the community understands that his decisions stem from the depth of his spiritual connection’ (Fogler et al. 2008b, 307). CPSA shares many of the same long-term implications as any other sexual abuse, including psychological, sexual and behavioural problems in adults (Fater and Mullaney 2000, 290). These long-term effects can produce various disorders, such as: anxiety, low self-esteem, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (Garnefski and Arends 1998, 105). Besides the psychological consequences, there are often spiritual consequences of sexual abuse that differ from victim to victim. Murray-Swank and Pargament (2005) have studied spiritual aspects of sexual abuse. They conclude that some victims turn to spiritual practices to aid their recovery, while others experience intense spiritual struggles (Murray-Swank and Pargament 2005, 201). Thus, for some survivors, religious and spiritual resources provide helpful tools to cope with the abuses. Religion can provide support and resilience in survivors and, in the longer term, may even help promote post-traumatic growth. However, for others, the turn to religion and spirituality may be less helpful. In some cases, it can promote harmful tendencies to self-blame, which can deepen the traumatic impacts of abuse. Religious outlooks that foreground a harsh and judgemental God are therefore less likely to help a healthy recovery. An important feature in CPSA is that many survivors begin to view the institution as a desecrated place. McLaughlin demonstrated with data that ‘victims see priests as connected to the church, and victims
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were taught as children that the church is the place where you go to find God. The priest works in the church, and because the priest who abused them represents the church, the church has hurt them. Since they feel hurt by the church and they do not want to be re-victimized, they stay away from the church’ (McLaughlin 1994, 157). Another study confirms that the victim’s decline in trust is directed not only towards the perpetrator, but also towards the priesthood in general, and on to the wider church (Rossetti 1995, 1480). The reaction of the wider church community can also profoundly affect the victims. The victim may become the scapegoat of the community (Ganzevoort 2003, 3). The survivor may feel re-victimized by the experience of rumour and scandal (Mertes 2010). Different studies have found that sexual abuse also damages the survivor’s faith in God. The first impact can be that ‘a survivor may question God’s benevolence’ (Fogler et al. 2008a, 340). Some victims not only have a crisis of faith, but even question the existence of God (McLaughlin 1994, 157). Rossetti (1995) found that Catholic victims of clergy-child sexual abuse experience a profound loss of spirituality. Many survivors transfer their negative feelings towards the perpetrator onto God. Such feelings include anger, mistrust and alienation (GanjeFling and McCarthy 1996, 254). Pargament affirms that the spiritual consequences can take three different forms: ‘struggles with the divine (e.g., feelings of anger, abandonment, or fear in relation to God), interpersonal struggles (e.g. religious tension and conflict with family, church members and leaders, denomination), and intrapsychic struggles (e.g. religious doubts, questions about dogma, conflicts between thoughts, feelings, and behaviours)’ (Pargament 2008, 404). Survivors of CPSA may find themselves struggling with all three—‘the divine, the religious community, and internal conflicts and confusion’ (Pargament 2008, 404). In many cases, there is a traumatic sense of betrayal (Durà-Vilà et al. 2013, 38). Wells also affirms that ‘clergy sexual abuse is a trauma that denudes the soul of the basic sense of trust that is so needed in the quest for spirituality. Contamination of the sacred rituals is the result of the one who pledges his faith to God, only to be betrayed by his representative through sexual abuse’ (Wells 2003, 211).
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Interviews with Former Members of Sodalicio As noted above, the leadership of Sodalicio is laymen, and so it might be misleading to discuss it in relation to ‘clergy perpetrated sexual abuse’ (CPSA). Nonetheless, many of the institutional elements associated with CPSA, including hierarchies of power and expectations around spiritual authority and obedience, were also significant in Sodalicio. It is not surprising that many of the issues identified in the literature on the impact of CPSA are also expressed in the interviews with Sodalicio members. Two of these will be discussed further in this section: first, feelings of betrayal and lack of trust; and second, the damage to faith.
a) Feelings of Betrayal and Lack of Trust Santiago Santiago had described his experience of sexual abuse to Salinas: When Figari tried to sodomize Santiago he had difficulties with the penetration. In that moment, with the coolness of a surgeon, he went to his night table, opened the drawer and took out a Vaseline jar to continue the ritual. “The most strange thing is that when he was penetrating me he asked me to masturbate. And the weirdest thing: after that he asked me to go to mass”. (Salinas 2015, 165) It was not the only time that it happened. (…) It was always in the same room. I remember the night table, the lights, how the bedroom was organized, the pictures, I remember his mother walking in there”. (Figari´s mother lived with him)
The interview allowed us to ask about his feelings after the abuse, and he explained: Consciousness came little by little. I felt like a storm. Everything was moving around me. I was isolated. (…) I realized that I had been cheated.
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Sexual abuse destroys the most inner part of yourself. (…) If someone [a stranger] rapes you it is totally different. (…) I think that our case is the worst thing that they can do. I think I am at my most traumatic central point: I don’t trust people.
Santiago said that Figari promised him that he would gain paranormal powers if he obeyed him. He was a young boy, and he was curious about paranormal powers: ‘I wanted to levitate’, he recounts. At the same time, Figari was his spiritual director, and Santiago trusted him. He believes that sexual abuse by someone you know is totally different from a rape by a stranger, because ‘sexual abuse destroys the most inner part of yourself ’. What was this destroyed inner part? Santiago says that the most traumatic point was he ceased to trust people: ‘I don’t trust people ’. This is betrayal trauma: the fact that someone who is trusted as a spiritual guide betrays you. For Santiago, the sexual abuse itself was not the most traumatic point. The most traumatic point was being wounded in his ‘most inner part ’, the most vulnerable dimension.
Tomás During the sessions of spiritual direction Germán asked him to remove my clothes for yoga and perform exercises of yoga in which we transmitted energy one to another. Once he asked me to stay absolutely naked, he hugged me and he began kissing me and he said ‘don’t worry, I love you in Christ, as a friend, this is absolutely natural’. This continued for three months. In another occasion he asked me to penetrate him. Other times he asked me to masturbate myself till he ejaculated and he said: ‘it is not a sin, I am your superior and you have to trust in me. ‘This is a spiritual path. It is just for some who are elected, it is not for all’. (Salinas 2015, 197) Germán Doig ended the relationship before I went to S. Bartolo, he never gave me an explanation. (…) I had loss after loss. Germán Doig was a loss for me; he split with me without explanation. As when you have a boyfriend, with someone that you are in love. But I blocked everything. I had a sense of loss.
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Now I feel sorry, sadness. (…) I think that it is so painful to think that the people you trusted betrayed you and that that is why I cannot feel anything against him.
Tomás feels sadness and a sense of loss. Germán Doig was his friend, his spiritual father, his superior and then he split from the relationship without giving Tomás any explanation: ‘Germán Doig was a loss for me; he split with me without explanation’. Tomás has blocked any negative feelings against Doig because it is too “painful to think that the people you trusted betrayed you ”:
Juan It was very common in Sodalicio to caress each other hand to hand, and hug each other and remain hugged. With one sodalite I didn’t have anything sexual but I caressed him and hugged. We didn’t touch each other, we just hugged. When Figari found out, he came out of his room and he took a stick 15 cm long. He put it upright on the sofa and he said: “sit on the stick”. I freaked out. I said to myself: he knows what is better, he is my spiritual director and I sat and I remained sat. Then he said: “look at the Cross, look how you make God suffer because of the way you are”. To be honest I forgot this incident for many years. It broke my trust.4 I realized in my late 40’s what he had done with the stick up my ass. I understood that I was a victim. Sodalicio destroyed my faith in humanity. Even until now, I always expect the worst from everybody. It is horrible to have a relationship with me. After the abuse, Juan immediately felt that his trust had been broken. A sense of trust is necessary for relationships with others and also for spirituality. Juan had lost this connection: ‘Sodalicio destroyed my faith in humanity’.
b) Damage to Faith According to Pargament, when a clerical figure violates his or her ordination, responsibility and privilege as a representative of God in a human relationship, it is as if God has committed the violation
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(Pargament 2008, 403). We wanted to explore and examine if the same dynamics occurred for consecrated religious members. In the interview, we asked: Did the abuse have any impact on your religious faith and your sense of God? Tomás answered: Catastrophic. When I understood that I was cheated, I lost my faith. Now I have left God on stand-by. It is too much for me to handle. ... At the beginning, I abandoned the faith. (…) Now when I pass near a church and I see the Blessed Sacrament I feel God. He has not left me. But now my relationship with God is on an orange light, on stand-by. It gives me too much pain and sadness to feel that he abandoned me and just to ponder the possibility that he failed me is unbearable”.
Before the abuse, Tomás recalls his spiritual experience: ‘As a child I had two drivers on my faith: my home and my parish life. I had a very intense experience. I felt God very close to me. I felt like I was protected’. The experience of abuse made Tomás loose his childhood innocence and his strong faith and at the same time left him with a profound spiritual struggle that he was not able to handle: ‘my relationship with God is on an orange light, on stand-by ’. Today, he prefers not having a relationship with God, and he wishes to leave this relationship on stand-by, because the thought that God could have failed him is too painful. He still feels God, but the thought that God could have abandoned him makes him sad. José Enrique affirms: They have snatched our faith with a clerical penis. They have robbed my life’s project, my essence and that is the greatest violence that can exist.
The image used by Jose Enrique is strong: a clerical penis. He appears to be speaking metaphorically but it is interesting that the word clerical is associated here with an act of violence that robbed José Enrique’s faith. He considers that the most damaging violence perpetrated against him was the stealing of the meaning of his life, ‘his life’s project ’.
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Xavier states: Yes. I’m not religious because of the abuse. And not only because of the abuse, but also because of the cover-up and the corruption of the Church. It has had a huge impact on my religious life. If God exists, why did he send this trial to a little kid? What kind of psychopath is God that would put a child in a sexual trial at 14 years with a person that doubled his age? It does not make any sense. It has no sense. Yes. The abuse has had an impact on my religiousness, or on my lack of religiousness.
The sexual abuse has caused fundamental theological problems for Xavier. How can a good God allow such terrible evil and suffering in his name? It doesn’t make sense, argues Xavier. Xavier has been abused by a representative of God and makes the association between God and the one who committed the abuse in the name of God: ‘what kind of psychopath is God?’ He also expresses profound anger against the people who protected the perpetrators. This generated a deep disbelief in the Church and a general mistrust of religious institutions. One of the surprising aspects of the interviews is that only two of the participants reported a real relationship with God during their time at Sodalicio. Both of these participants had a connection with God before entering Sodalicio, and the abuse caused them serious spiritual damage. None of the other participants felt a personal relationship with God before or during their time at Sodalicio. They were members of Sodalicio for other reasons. Juan affirmed: ‘The only reason I accepted the faith was because of the moral authority who told me that it was true. That was an intellectual reason. I never had a religious experience, a mystical experience ’. José stated: ‘I didn’t have a particular interest in religion; it was rather for the intellectual side, it was more an intellectual path than a practical commitment ’. Santiago also affirmed: ‘I have never been a very religious person ’. Their motives for continuing in Sodalicio were the strong sense of community that they found and the charisma of the leaders. They didn’t mention any real religious motivations. In analysing the religious impact of sexual abuse, we have to understand that Sodalicio didn’t offer
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any real spiritual experience of God for the participants of this research. It was more about loyalty to the institution and the overall ideological principals of Sodalicio. Those initiates who were not religious before joining Sodalicio did not report feelings of abandonment by God or feelings of anger towards God after the events. However, it is important to note that this did not mean that the event did not impact their lives. In fact, all of those participants now report that an institutional religious life is no longer possible for them.
Identification with Christ In the light of the above, it is clear that sexual abuses by people in positions of religious authority can have a profound and traumatic impact on those who are abused, and this can include negative consequences for religious faith and spiritual outlook. However, there is also need to consider how spirituality might provide a significant resource for resilience and healing and perhaps even for post-traumatic growth. The DSM-IV (1994) was a breakthrough because it acknowledged that distressing religious and spiritual experiences could be non-pathological in nature. This opened a new comprehension of spiritual crises that they could be part of a normal spiritual life. Pargament argues that social studies and health professionals have largely ignored the spiritual dimension of trauma and more research is necessary (Pargament et al. 2008). Durà-Vilà et al. (2013) conducted a qualitative study with nuns who were victims of CPSA and found that in some cases spirituality was not just part of the problem, but also part of the solution. Durà-Vilà et al. found that some of the nuns ‘felt that Jesus was with them while they were being abused, and was himself undergoing the abuse as well’. Other nuns felt that Jesus was a victim with them. One said: ‘I felt I was very much a victim and I felt Jesus very much a victim too (…) It was not just me being a victim, I felt that somebody else [Jesus] was a victim too, we were both going through this awful experience’ (Durà-Vilà et al. 2013, 38). Their recognition of Jesus as a victim gave them a sense of support and helped them to connect their own experiences of abuse to the experiences of others. The passion of Christ involved many similar
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characteristics to those that they were facing: betrayal, abandonment, humiliation and loneliness. It is not clear to what extent, if any, the nuns identified the abuse to which Jesus was subjected as involving a clearly sexual element. If they did, they did not explicitly name it in the interviews, but this is hardly surprising. Sexual abuse is associated with such strong taboos and stigmas that open and frank discussion is often difficult. Furthermore, religious sensitivities can make it hard to even raise the question of sexual abuse in relation to Jesus’ own experiences, without it seeming to be offensive. It is hardly surprising that the nuns stopped short of naming the abuse of Jesus as sexual, even if they made that connection in their own minds. A reluctance to name Christ as victim of sexual abuse is in keeping with a long-standing ambivalence to the cross and crucifixion in Christian memory. On the one hand, the Christian tradition echoes the ancient writers who describe crucifixion as a most vile and shameful death. Paul uses the word ‘scandal’ (stumbling-block) to describe the cross (1 Cor. 1.23) and emphasizes that his message rests on a scandalous claim. It is quite common to find Christian writings that give lip service to the shameful and scandalous character of crucifixion, but it is very rare for the scandal to be named as sexual abuse or sexual violence. The memory of sexual abuse is too traumatic for Christians to have persevered in an explicit form. A partial memory persists, but in a largely hidden and unspoken form. It is recalled in the language and imagery commonly used to describe the pain, shame and desolation of the cross, but not explicitly articulated. Roman crucifixions included enforced stripping, naked exposure and public humiliation. A careful reading of the passion narratives shows that stripping and naked exposure of Jesus are explicitly attested as a feature of his crucifixion. Although this has not been named as sexual abuse, there can be little doubt that it should be recognized as such (Tombs 1999, 2009, 2017). The Australian priest Michael Trainor has recently published a study of the passion narratives which gives attention to the different perspectives on sexual abuse in the different gospel narratives. Trainor argues that each gospel attests to Jesus as a victim of abuse in its own way.
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He argues that physical and sexual abuses are expressed most clearly in Mark and Matthew. In comparison, Luke shifts attention to Jesus’ dignity in a situation of abuse, and John’s emphasis is on Jesus’ glory despite the abuse. The treatments are each different, but abuse forms a common background to each account. Trainor writes: As I hear the passion narratives, the attempt by the religious and civic leaders to victimise, dehumanise and eradicate any sense of Jesus’ social identity leads them to abuse him physically and sexually. That such abuse was part and parcel of the Roman instrument of crucifixion and the convicted one’s public humiliation is well documented. (Trainor 2014, 254)
One reason that Jesus’ experience is not more widely named as sexual abuse is probably that many people initially see the traditional church teaching that Jesus was ‘without sin’ as irreconcilable with the idea that he was victim of sexual abuse. However, when there is an opportunity to discuss this idea further, people often change their mind. The Christian confession is that Jesus as the incarnation of God was fully human, as well as fully divine. As a human being, Jesus would have been as vulnerable as anybody else to Roman mistreatment, flogging, mockery and crucifixion. His divine status did not, and could not, mean that sexual abuse was impossible for his historical experience. Furthermore, the hidden assumption in such a reaction seems to be that if Jesus had been a victim of sexual abuse, it would have undermined his moral or theological standing. This suggests outdated and misinformed thinking on sexual abuse. It is widely acknowledged that victims should not be blamed or stigmatized for the abuses to which they are subjected. Indeed, acknowledging that Jesus was a victim of sexual abuse could provide a powerful opportunity for exposing and challenging such mistaken thinking. Some might argue that because the naked body can have different meanings in different cultural contexts, it would be premature to name the naked exposure of Jesus as a form of sexual humiliation or sexual abuse, without further attention to the meaning and significance that forced nudity would have had in the society of the day. Initial caution is appropriate if anachronism is to be avoided. Modern sensibilities
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should not be projected back onto the first century in an uncritical way. However, further investigation of cultural context confirms and reinforces rather than questions the grounds for describing what happened in terms of sexual abuse. The exposure of Jesus’ body was not a voluntary act of undressing, but was an enforced act of being stripped against his wishes. Cultural attitudes towards voluntary nudity vary widely, but involuntary nakedness and public exposure are invariably seen in negative terms. Furthermore, the cultural outlooks of both Romans and Jews in first-century Palestine suggest that sensitivity over Jesus’ enforced nakedness was at least as great, if not even greater, as it would be in any society today. Ancient Judaism was particularly sensitive to any display of public nakedness and saw nakedness as a cause of shame. The most straightforward reading of the story of Noah in Gen. 9.20–27 is that Noah got drunk, fell asleep and was seen while naked by his son Ham. Some interpreters suggest that there are strong indicators that the text is euphemistic, and understand Ham’s guilt when he ‘saw the nakedness of his father’ as a reference to a physical sexual act. This might be implied in Gen. 9.24, which reads ‘When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him’. In either reading, the link between nakedness and shame is very strong. If seeing a person’s nakedness can serve as a euphemism for a sexual act, the Noah story would highlight the extent to which forced sexual exposure was seen shameful in Ancient Judaism. Alternatively, if the more straightforward reading is correct, and Ham simply saw his father exposed, the story still serves to underline how shocking the public display of a naked male body would have been in Jewish society. Romans’ attitudes to nakedness were a bit more complicated. Roman men were normally comfortable with nudity at the gym or bathhouse, where they disrobed and exercised or relaxed in the company of their peers. However, it would be a mistake to extrapolate from these examples that Roman society saw no significance in being naked. On the contrary, Roman attitudes to the body and sexuality were governed by strict patriarchal rules of honour and notions of control (Hallett and Skinner 1997).
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A man’s honour rested in his ability to be master of his own body, as well as the bodies of members of his family, and the bodies of slaves or other members of the household. Roman honour and manliness were associated with control and invulnerability, whereas vulnerability was associated with shame and gendered as feminine. Thus, a man would guard the sanctity of his own body, and of the bodies of those in the family, from any threat of external violation (Williams 1999). If he was unable to do this, he risked losing his standing and honour amongst his peers. Voluntary nudity at the bathhouse or gym presented no threat to Roman honour, but enforced naked exposure was a devastating blow to honour, status and sense of manliness. By inflicting such humiliation through crucifixion, the Romans made clear that they saw the executed man as utterly without worth (Tombs 2017). It was because naked exposure was invested with so much symbolic meaning that it was so commonly used as a punishment by the Romans and by others in the Ancient World. To recognize this element in the passion narratives and to name it as sexual abuse is not to project back into history a gender reading that would have made no sense at the time, but simply to use the modern terminology to acknowledge the reality and deliberate intention in what was happening. This memory is both referenced and disguised in talk of ‘the scandal of the cross’ or the ‘shame of the cross’. Many Christians are familiar with the scholarly consensus that Jesus was crucified naked. At some point or other, they have heard mention of it in a sermon or elsewhere. The memory of the nakedness has been preserved, but not dwelt upon or addressed. It is known, but very rarely discussed. It is not new to say that Jesus was crucified naked, but to name this as ‘sexual abuse’ comes to many people as a shock. This terminology allows the long submerged traumatic memory at the heart of Christianity to be recognized clearly for what it was. There are enormous sensitivities to be addressed if the traumatic memory of the cross is to be confronted more honestly or explicitly. There will need to be careful conversation, within the churches, and within theology and biblical studies, as to how this acknowledgement is done and why it is important. Responses to CPSA provide a relevant
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context for these discussions (Tombs 2011), but CPSA is not the only area where it is important. There is increasing awareness of conflict-related sexual violence against both men and women (Eriksson-Baaz and Stern 2013; Ganzevoort and Sremac 2016). This offers another context to which this recognition is highly relevant (Tombs 2009, 2014).
Conclusion The damage caused by institutional sexual abuse is often traumatic and profound. This is frequently heightened when perpetrators have a religious standing and authority. Even though Figari and other consecrated lay leaders were not technically clergy, they shared a similar institutional role. Despite the clear need for a deeper understanding of the impact of sexual abuse on religious faith, relatively little work has been done in this area so far, especially in relation to men and boys. Enquiries of this sort are challenging to undertake, but are vital for a better understanding of the destructive consequences and long-term legacies of these abuses. Recognition of different spiritual consequences should be included alongside attention to physical and psychological consequences. Understanding how the physical, psychological and spiritual often occur together, and can magnify each other, needs to be part of a holistic pastoral response to these traumatic experiences. The interviewees with former Sodalicio members were not intended to support wide-ranging claims about how all victims of abuse are likely to feel. Instead, they offer a focussed insight into the experiences of one small group and help identify further questions for investigation on trauma and lived religion. One area of particular interest that emerges with regard to the spiritual impact of the abuse is what spiritual resources are available to promote post-traumatic resilience and growth. Recent works arguing for acknowledgement of Jesus as a victim of sexual abuse may have an important role in these discussions. More explicit acknowledgement of abusive elements in the mistreatment of Jesus, including his experience of sexual abuse, can help the churches to confront the silences and evasions that currently distort their collective
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memories. Recognition of Jesus as a victim of sexual abuse might offer a powerful and transformative resource to help survivors address feelings of isolation or shame. It also has enormous potential to challenge the stigmas and taboos on sexual violence that remain influential in many churches.
Notes 1. Sexual abuse against children has been defined as ‘the involvement of immature children in sexual activities that they do not fully understand and in which they are unable to give a genuine consent and which violate social taboos of family roles’ (Helfer and Kempe 1976, 60). 2. There is now an extensive body of academic, media and social policy literature, documenting sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. Of course, CPSA abuse existed in the past: sexual abuse within the Catholic Church has always been a problem (Farrel and Taylor 2000, 55–56). They noted, following Sipe (1995), that in the Didaché, the oldest book of the Catholic tradition, the priests were commanded not to seduce young boys. Specifically, the Didaché noted: ‘Thou don’t seduce young boys’ (Anonymous, s.I, n. 2). 3. A sodalitium (or in English ‘sodality’) in this context refers to a group or confraternity within the church that is established for a specific purpose. 4. Although Figari was privately abusing young members of Sodalicio, at the same time he publicly expressed a strong condemnation against any homosexual behaviour, and Juan’s punishment appears to reflect this.
Bibliography American Psychiatric Association. 1994. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association. American Psychiatric Association. 2013. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association. Anónimo, Didaché, in Livingstone, E.A. 2013. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Berry, J., and G. Renner. 2004. Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II. New York: Free Press. Comisión de Ética para la Justicia y Reconciliación, Informe Final (16 April 2016). Retrieved from http://comisionetica.org/blog/2016/04/16/ informe-final/. Durà-Vilà, G., R. Littlewood, and G. Leavey. 2013. Integration of Sexual Trauma in a Religious Narrative. Transformation, Resolution and Growth among Contemplative Nuns. Transcultural Psychiatry 50 (1): 21–46. Eriksson-Baaz, M., and M. Stern. 2013. Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War? Perceptions, Prescriptions, Problems in the Congo and Beyond. London: Zed Books. Farrell, D.P., and M. Taylor. 1997. Survivors of Sexual Abuse by Clergy. Paper Presented at Fifth European Congress of Psychology, Dublin, Ireland. Farrell, D.P., and M. Taylor. 2000. Sexual Abuse by Clergy and the Implications for survivors. Changes—An International Journal of Psychology and Psychotherapy 17 (1): 52–59. Fater, K., and J.A. Mullaney. 2000. The Lived Experience of Adult Male Survivors Who Allege Childhood Sexual Abuse by Clergy. Issues in Mental Health Nursing 21: 281–295. Figueroa R., and D. Tombs. 2016. Listening to Male Survivors of Church Sexual Abuse. Voices from Survivors of Sodalicio Abuses in Peru, Centre for Theology and Public Issues, University of Otago. Available at: https://ourarchive. otago.ac.nz/handle/10523/7052. Fogler, J., J. Shiperd, S. Clarke, J. Jensen, and E. Rowe. 2008a. The Impact of Clergy-Perpetrated Sexual Abuse: The Role of Gender, Development and Posttraumatic Stress. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse 17 (3–4): 329–358. Fogler, J., J. Shiperd, E. Rowe, J. Jensen, and S. Clarke. 2008b. Theoretical Foundation for Understanding Clergy-Perpetrated Sexual Abuse. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse 17 (3–4): 301–328. Ganje-Fling, M., and P. McCarthy. 1996. Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Client Spiritual Development: Counseling Implications. Journal of Counseling and Development 74 (3): 253–259. Ganzevoort, R. 2003. Violence Within the Church. Paper for the 2nd International NOSTER Conference, 21st January, Soesterberg, NL. Ganzevoort, R., and S. Sremac. 2016. Masculinity, Spirituality, and Male Wartime Sexual Trauma. In Interdisciplinary Handbook of Trauma and Culture, ed. Y. Ataria, et al., 339–351. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International.
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Garnefski, N., and E. Arends. 1998. Sexual Abuse and Adolescent Maladjustment: Differences Between Male and Female Victims. Journal of Adolescence 21: 99–107. Hallett, J., and M. Skinner, eds. 1997. Roman Sexualities. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Helfer, R., and C. Kempe. 1976. Child Abuse & Neglect: The Family and the Community. Cambridge: Ballinger. McLaughlin, B. 1994. Devastated Spirituality: The Impact of Clergy Sexual Abuse on the Survivor’s Relationship with God and the Church. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 1 (2): 145–158. Mertes, K. 2010. Declaración en el Congreso eclesial ecuménico en Munich [Declaration at the Ecclesiastic ecumenical Congress in Munich], 14 May 2010. Available at: http://www.muenster.de/~angergun/klausmertes.pdf. Monkeberg, M.O. 2010. Karadima el señor de los infiernos. Santiago: Random House Mondadori. Murray-Swank, N., and K. Pargament. 2005. God Where Are You? Evaluating a Spiritually-Integrated Intervention for Sexual Abuse. Mental Health Religion & Culture 8 (3): 191–203. Pargament, K., Murray-Swank N., and Mahoney. 2008. Problem and Solution: The Spiritual Dimension of Clergy Sexual Abuse and its Impact on Survivors. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse 17 (3–4): 397–420. Pighi P. El Sodalicio, el grupo religioso internacional que enfrenta acusaciones por abusos sexuales en Peru, 14 March 2016, BBC. Available at: http:// www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias/2016/03/160105_america_latina_peru_ sodalicios_denuncias_abuso_sexual_ppb. Rossetti, S. 1995. The Impact of Child Sexual Abuse on Attitudes Toward God and the Catholic Church. Child Abuse and Neglect 19 (12): 1469–1481. Salinas P. 2015. Mitad Monjes, mitad soldados [Half Monks, Half Soldiers]. Lima: Planeta. Sipe, R. 1995. Sex, Priests, and Power—Anatomy of Crisis. London: Cassell. Tombs, D. 1999. Crucifixion, State Terror, and Sexual Abuse. Union Seminary Quarterly Review 53 (Autumn): 89–108. Available at: http://hdl.handle. net/10523/6067. ———. 2009. Prisoner Abuse: From Abu Ghraib to the Passion of the Christ. In Religions and the Politics of Peace and Conflict, ed. Linda Hogan and Dylan Lehrke, 179–205. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Theological Monograph Series.
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———. 2011. Unspeakable Abuse and Forgiveness. Doctrine and Life 61 (6): 15–27. ———. 2014. Silent No More: Sexual Violence in Conflict as a Challenge to the Worldwide Church. Acta Theologica 34 (2): 142–160. http://dx.doi. org/10.4314/actat.v34i2.9. ———. 2017. ‘Lived Religion and the Intolerance of the Cross’. In Lived Religion and Politics of (In)tolerance. Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Changes, ed. Ruard Ganzevoort, and Srdjan Sremac, 63–83. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Trainor, M. 2014. Body of Jesus and Sexual Abuse: How the Gospel Passion Narrative Informs a Pastoral Approach. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock. Wells, K. 2003. A Needs Assessment Regarding the Nature and Impact of Clergy Sexual Abuse Conducted by the Interfaith Sexual Trauma Institute. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 10 (2–3): 201–217. Williams, C. 1999. Roman Homosexuality: Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Feeding the Hungry Spirits: A Socially Engaged Buddhist Response to the Distortion of Trauma Jürgen Jian Lembke and Julianne Funk
Introduction The testimonial art by the Auschwitz survivor, Marian Kołodziej, gives us visual imagery of life inside the infamous concentration camp. His hundreds of drawings in the collection Labyrinth portray thousands of disfigured beings inhabiting the camp, who may be best described as hungry spirits and cruel insatiable demons. The latter wear Nazi uniforms with J. J. Lembke (*) Association Via Integralis, Basel, Switzerland e-mail: [email protected]
J. J. Lembke Glassman-Lassalle Zen Lineage, Edlibach, Switzerland J. Funk University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland J. Funk Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), Athens, Greece © The Author(s) 2019 R. R. Ganzevoort and S. Sremac (eds.), Trauma and Lived Religion, Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91872-3_9
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the SS skull on their caps, and KAPOs are represented with huge bellies. The inmates are mere skeletons with haunted faces. Despite this differentiation, however, Kołodziej testifies to the ambiguity of guilt as shown in ‘die Walze ’, picturing the inmates enacting their captors’ punishment upon each other. On the occasion that some inmates of the camp escaped, the Nazi officers forced their prisoners to strip naked and run in a wide circle until the escapees were caught or they themselves dropped from exhaustion. Those who fell would be trampled by the others, hence the title, meaning ‘the steamroller’. Despite being forced to participate, Kołodziej felt personally guilty to continue running, even over the others’ bodies. Traumatic experiences like this may be one reason why Kołodziej was locked in silence for most of his life until he finally found a way to express his experiences through art (Fig. 1). While it is widely known that the effects of trauma reach beyond the receiver and moment of the impact, being passed down through generations as with descendants of the Holocaust,1 these effects are often challenging to accurately perceive and when we do, they may seem confusingly disconnected from the actual experience. This may be because, in most if
Fig. 1 Testimonial art by Marian Kołodziej untitled (Kołodziej 2009, p. 175)
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not all cases, trauma is accompanied by an all-encompassing distortion. Trauma distorts the healthy person physically, mentally, and spiritually to a degree that no words can express the horror and injustice. The pre-traumatic state is no longer relevant. The distortion caused by traumatic events occurs on an individual as well as collective/societal level: It strips the individual, the community, and the shared reality of what is considered ‘normal’. And because the coping mechanisms often perpetuate the situation, the suffering can continue for decades, festering like a wound. This chapter seeks to describe this distortion as a psychological and physiological phenomenon, as a lens through which to consider a particular experience of trauma and healing, also related to Auschwitz, though individual religiosity. It brings together two unexpected and unlikely elements, a personal story of traumatic distortion reverberating out from the Holocaust and a unique healing response from socially engaged Buddhism. The latter example of lived religion brings a practice, Bearing Witness Retreats, and a diverse group of participants into the camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau. Organized by the Zen Peacemakers, the retreats open spaces to recall traumatic events, allowing the unspeakable to be voiced, heard, and acknowledged. Confession and ritual are means to safely and meaningfully remember personal and social connections, not only for those called ‘victims’, but also ‘perpetrators’. This chapter bears witness to Jürgen Jian Lembke’s experience of this retreat as a German, which includes a Buddhist ritual, the Gate of Sweet Nectar, which takes seriously the damage of violence by welcoming and feeding the hungry spirits, those stuck within the distortion of trauma: e.g., the ghosts of genocide, marginalization, and our own shadows. This example of ‘religion-as-lived’ (McGuire 2008, p. 15) intertwines a specific Zen Buddhist worldview with a personal expression arising from a particular ancestry and story as well as an individual commitment to take responsibility.
Trauma Takes Its Toll In his groundbreaking book, The Body Keeps the Score (2014), psychiatrist van der Kolk explains in both breadth and detail the physiology of trauma. He posits that the experience of trauma ‘results in a
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fundamental reorganization of the way mind and brain manage perceptions. It changes not only how we think and what we think about, but also our very capacity to think’ (2014, p. 21). Through this rewiring of brain circuits that are crucial for basic functioning as social beings, trauma actually ‘drives us to the edge of comprehension, cutting us off from language based on common experience or an imaginable past’ (ibid., p. 43). It is therefore natural to not speak of the horrors we have suffered. It is as if we respond by banishing these experiences from consciousness—as psychiatrist Herman expresses it—as if ‘[c]ertain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud’ (1992, p. 1). Many carry the heavy load of their unbearable experience in silence (Bar-On 1989), like being wrapped in an impermeable cloak. A person who suffered trauma nevertheless incorporates the experience. Van der Kolk (2014) explains how trauma affects bodily structures through disrupting the sensitive brain circuits, which causes the organism to function in a chronic state of emergency. Everyday, non-threatening sensations trigger the sufferer to relive the trauma, he says, bringing the past event into the present without warning or a capacity to respond differently than in the initial encounter. The random provocation undermines a stable and safe existence as an entity. Individuals who were exposed to trauma are faced with the fact that nothing is as before. The self-image may become like a shattered mirror containing countless fragments of a ‘me’ that now often feels dissociated and untrustworthy, a nobody. The individual experiences alienation from the social self, causing further alienation from the family, friends, and community, who in turn struggle to deal with the consequences. Trauma distorts relations with self and society, such that the capacity for trust, autonomy, initiative, competence, identity, and intimacy are devastated (Herman 1992). Thus, distortion demands a toll from everyone involved. Everyone— victim, spectator, and perpetrator—is thrown into that abyss of distortion. Victims react to traumatic events: ‘They are attacking our villages? But we are neighbors!’ (We Are All Neighbors 1993) or ‘They’re treating us like criminals, sending us to concentration camps? But we were German war heroes in World War One!’ (Lowe 2012). Spectators who witness excessive violence in the media often remain in denial. Crimes
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may be ascribed to ancient, ethnic, or tribal hatreds or outsiders may condescendingly assume that ‘they don’t know any better’. The perpetrators start with insults, disassociating the disliked other from the human race through naming them cockroaches or lice. When such derogations dominate social perception, behaving accordingly to this distorted view is only a logical next step—e.g., to weed them out, crush them, or exterminate them with pesticide. The horror of the Nazis’ industrialized murder or the mass slaughter by machete committed by the Hutu in Rwanda is so beyond what we consider to be normal behavior that one distorted but common response is to deny their very occurrence. Another is to dehumanize the ones who committed the crimes, building a high wall between ‘we, the decent human beings’ and ‘those horrible monsters’. It is very challenging to deal with trauma’s ambiguity and complexity; thus, we tend to simplify the situation the closer we get to it. Quite naturally, we call those who suffered the act of violence, rape, killing, loss, dehumanization, suppression, expulsion, etc., ‘victims’, and those who carried out the acts ‘perpetrators’. However, by separating people into such opposing categories, the ground for future violence is prepared, since it is just this lack of ‘their’ humanity that could allow ‘us’, in turn, to get rid of (kill) them. This distorted perception makes it increasingly challenging to find a common understanding of what happened since each side claims one particular reality of the events, which often contain opposite valuations of who was ‘victim’ and ‘perpetrator’ (Burton 2015). Untreated, these effects are likely to persist for the rest of the person’s life or, in the case of society, for generations. The person or group may be overwhelmed, paralyzed, silenced, but also simultaneously urgently in need to free itself from the horrific event that persists within the body. As Herman expresses it, ‘Atrocities … refuse to be buried… [there are] ghosts who refuse to rest in their graves until their stories are told’ (Herman 1992, p. 1). This dialectic—to tell or remain silenced—is central to the experience of trauma: Desires for acknowledgement and forgetting coexist, according to psychologist Bar-On (1989, p. 325). Herman promotes ‘[r]emembering and telling the truth about terrible events [because these] are prerequisites both for the restoration of the social order and for the healing of individual victims’ (1992, p. 1).
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However, healing must allow the survivor to safely revisit and reconstruct the affected parts of the self (not only physiological and neurological, but also psychic, spiritual, etc.), which also may have the capacity to restore connections with the community (Herman 1992; van der Kolk 2014). The sketches of long-silenced Marian Kołodziej from his experiences in Auschwitz are neither art nor pictures, but ‘words locked in drawings’ which seek to honor ‘those who have vanished in ashes’ (Tomaszewski 2011). Within the Buddhist and Hindu traditions, the term karma is often used to refer to the continuous flow of actions and their consequences, a factual relationship between cause and effect with an open outcome. (Sogyal Rinpoche 1996). (In the west, it is sometimes misleadingly applied to argue a predetermined outcome due to ones (mis)deeds.) In the context of the lived religious experience of Bearing Witness Retreats at Auschwitz/Birkenau, the concept of karma is implicitly helpful to take the seemingly endless cycle that led to the trauma of the Holocaust and its aftermath into consideration. It may be more useful to contain and transform rather than explain or face all the facets of what occurred there, thereby contributing to realigning what has been distorted. As such, a Bearing Witness Retreat can be a safe container for healing, although this effect may not be an intention of either the Zen Peacemakers or the participants.
Zen Peacemaking as a Response to Trauma and Suffering In 1996, Bernie Tetsugen Glassman, an American Zen Buddhist Master with Jewish roots, founded the Zen Peacemakers as part of the movement called (Socially) Engaged Buddhism, with the vision of gathering like-minded, socially engaged individuals to serve the socially marginalized and neglected. The group’s activities and programs, including Bearing Witness Retreats, focus on reaching out to all who share these goals in an attempt to improve the living conditions of all, beyond the often-narrow boundaries of one’s ‘own’ group, religious or otherwise.2 Foundational to the Zen Peacemakers’ work3 are the Three Tenets,
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which were designed to unite central Buddhist teachings with concrete ways of acting responsibly in society. They are ‘interbeing’4 terms, mutually dependent on each other, although each one represents a specific quality or attitude. These three tenets are to be understood and applied as different aspects of a holistic contribution to the cessation of suffering and healing of trauma. Not knowing is practiced by valuing the attitude of restraining preconceived knowledge, opinions, stereotypes, etc. Not knowing is a state of mind in which one tries to perceive reality anew time after time. The first tenet can also be aligned to the first of the Buddhist three treasures: Buddha, a term for the absolute, which cannot be known. Bearing witness is practiced by experiencing whatever one encounters in an all-embracing manner. Every single cell of one’s being contributes to bearing, holding, or incorporating what is witnessed, not rejecting anything. The second tenet may remind one of the second of the three treasures, Dharma, which refers to the diversity of all things. As part of this world, we constantly act and react. Loving action is practiced by learning to act out of not knowing and bearing witness, with an open heart, appreciation, and benevolence. Nourishing actions from these grounds determines the color of one’s deeds and the way of interacting with one another, thus influencing karmic effects to the good. The third tenet refers also to the third treasure, the Sangha, which represents the Buddhist community as well as the phenomenal world.
Bearing Witness Retreats Bearing Witness Retreats are interfaith events in places where collective trauma has occurred. They provide a way of entering and experiencing a sphere that is often treated with hesitance or fear and allow space for memories without suppression or denial. The retreats seek to actualize the Three Tenets in locations where some of the most violent acts in recent human history occurred. These sites are places many cannot face because of the horror they represent. Glassman says ‘[t]here is no language for Auschwitz, no words. There are many who shun Auschwitz and say no one should ever go back there, it should be left
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to the dead. The words, the cries, the forms haven’t been invented to deal with Auschwitz’ (1998, p. 9). And yet he also asserts that something still must be done. Auschwitz, Srebrenica, Rwanda, Wounded Knee are the traumatic stories and the suffering that occurred on these sites deserve our attention, our remembrance, honor, grief. Therefore, a retreat brings together a group who intends to observe, listen, participate, experience with not-knowing, to bear witness—to learn, ingest, and carry it with them—and to respond compassionately in whatever way presents itself. The annual Auschwitz Retreat gathers not only Jews and Zen Peacemakers, but ‘everyone – people from different countries, backgrounds, and ethnic origins speaking different languages, people with different memories’. As Glassman expresses his intention: ‘Hitler and Nazi Germany had been determined to stamp out differences. … I was determined to bring people from different religions and nationalities to the very place where diversity had once been condemned to a terrible grave. There we would bear witness to our differences. Out of that, a healing would arise’ (1998, p. 5). This diversity is fully present in the daily religious services—Jewish, Christian, Buddhist—as well as through following spontaneous personal impulses such as singing, dancing, or mourning. As such, Bearing Witness Retreats can be considered lived religious practice since for each participant the experience is a unique mix of various traditional religious elements and personal expressions based upon individual backgrounds. This ‘subjectively grounded and potentially creative place for religious experience and expression’ can be distinguished from the ‘prescribed religion of institutionally defined beliefs and practices’ (McGuire 2008, p. 12). The retreat provides a group with a shared embodied experience; the unique religious expression arising from the retreat allows participants together to ‘construct their religious worlds’ and ‘intersubjective reality’ (ibid.) in response to the trauma being witnessed. Psychologist Weingarten claims that ‘Voice depends on witnessing’ (2000, p. 392); moving from silence to expression of trauma necessitates the listener, the one who hears and thereby values what has been experienced. But witnesses, like those who experienced the original trauma, struggle to bring what they have witnessed into language.
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‘Witnessing fractures language in ways that mirror the fracturing of language experienced by those whose experience is witnessed’ (Weingarten 2000, p. 393). Witnesses must struggle with that which they witness, but also the process of representing it themselves, because witnesses are often compelled and/or committed to render and thereby acknowledge what they witness, despite the difficulty. Bringing words to witness brings power to heal. Glassman says that healing arose from voicing the memories of the past, engaging them, being heard. He notes about the very first Auschwitz Retreat that while participants told their many different and difficult stories, they expressed a common ‘secrecy surrounding the past’ (1998, p. 29). Confession is another name for this truth telling, which is an important cornerstone to help rebuild what has been torn down by trauma. Victims and perpetrators can be released from paralyzing secrets through finding words to express significant realities and by being heard and acknowledged. This allows reintegration of one’s own fragmented parts and opens space to connect with the alienated community. And even though the trauma will remain a reality, the process may help to diminish the distortion. Numerous testimonies of retreat participants (Battke 2015) present what Glassman expressed in regard to this integrating capacity, ‘The horror of the death camp didn’t go away for one minute. [But w]e were becoming a family, a very large family that included not just us but all the inhabitants of Auschwitz’ (1998, p. 30). An additional lived religious resource for healing comes through ritual, which can affect the individual and community levels and even the spiritual realm. Schirch explains how ritual has the capacity to ‘penetrate, integrate, and communicate between different parts of the brain and body’ (2005, p. 106), during which the brain physically changes— it creates new pathways connecting different parts—increasing a person’s adaptability to new experiences and development of new ways of thinking. She notes that with increased neurological connections in the brain, humans are able to solve more complex or paradoxical problems, which reminds us of the need to get beyond ‘victim’ and ‘perpetrator’ and to consider the complexity of traumatic events. Chemically as well, certain types of ritual can stimulate endorphins that relieve pain, a common effect of trauma. One Buddhist ritual, the Gate of Sweet Nectar,
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plays an important role in Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreats and also in the personal story of healing to follow.
The Gate of Sweet Nectar—Feeding the Hungry Spirits The Gate of Sweet Nectar5 (Japanese: Kan Ro Mon) is ‘the signature liturgy of the Zen Peacemakers for feeding all the unsatisfied aspects of oneself and society’ (Zen Peacemaker Order, n.d., Glossary ) and is an essential part of Bearing Witness Retreats. ‘The ceremony is a profound plea that goes to the root of Buddhism itself, which is to save all sentient beings, understanding that we are all the Buddha and we… all suffer. It is through this acknowledgement that all hungry spirits are liberated’. (Zen Peacemakers Sangha, Lage Landen, n.d.) Rather than the natural human instinct to separate oneself from suffering, the ceremony purposefully comes into contact with suffering. ‘[C]oming to terms with the reality of suffering, arising from greed, hatred, and delusion’ (Zen Peacemaker Order, n.d., Gate of Sweet Nectar, para. 1) is necessary to fulfilling the Zen Peacemaker vow to save all beings from suffering. The ritual calls these ‘hungry spirits’ to gather around and share in a meal to nourish and bring peace (Zen Peacemaker Order, n.d., Gate of Sweet Nectar). Hungry ghosts or spirits are found throughout Asian religions to representing suffering beings. Many traditions picture them with human-like bodies which are distorted to express their insatiability: Their enormous appetites are represented by bulging bellies while their tiny mouths and/or long, thin necks depict their incapacity to satisfy their needs. They may be the spirits of the greedy, dishonest or unhappy departed or neglected or deserted ancestors, or they may be, in psychological terms, our own shadows that haunt us. The ritual is physically construed with participants seated in a circle with an altar in the middle, upon which offerings to the hungry spirits are placed: water, sweets, candles, incense, bread, and other offerings like flowers and personal objects. The ceremony begins with a sung invitation to the lost and neglected spirits6:
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Calling out to hungry hearts Everywhere through endless time, You who wander, you who thirst, I offer you this bodhi mind. Calling out to hungry spirits, Everywhere through endless time, Calling out to hungry hearts All the lost and the left behind, Gather round and share this meal, Your joy and your sorrow I make it mine.
This is an invocation to the discontent and suffering in the spiritual and psychical realms, the power of which should not be underestimated. Jungian analytical psychology explains healing as a mysterious process arising from making unconscious aspects of one’s self-conscious, of recognizing also non-desirable elements as parts of ourselves (Sanford 1977). Also invited to the ceremony are the ‘Five Buddha Families’, who represent the basic emotions causing suffering and who teach accordingly how to be freed from pain and hunger. Realization or acceptance of these basic needs can transform them into wisdom (Lewis 2010), which provides the metaphysical nourishment, in complement to the ritual’s food offering, to nourish the physical body. The food is offered to satisfy and liberate the hungry spirits from suffering. While the objects on the altar are raised in offering, the group recites, over and over: ‘NO MAKU SAN MAN DA BO TA NAN BAN: Being one with Buddhas I turn the water wheel7 of compassion’. Compassion is the Buddhist response to suffering, ‘the empathetic wish’ to see others freed just as I wish for myself (Dalai Lama, n.d., para. 1). The liturgy here seeks to expand the small food offering to be big enough to feed all the hungry ghosts assembled, including ‘the awakened parts of each of [the participants]’ (Glassman 2010, para. 4). And, likewise, referring to the third Zen Peacemaker tenet of loving action: ‘[w]e ask how we can make our service to the world big enough to feed as many unmet needs as possible in ourselves and in others’ (Glassman 2010, para. 4).
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After providing for physical and metaphysical nourishment, the ritual reaches its climax. Creating a great mass of sound with voices and instruments—whistling, bells, drums, gongs, etc.—the participants celebrate, announcing ‘Now I have raised the Bodhi Mind!’ and proclaim themselves Buddhas. The Bodhi, or enlightened Mind, perceives the true nature of things, including understanding the causes of suffering and the realization that suffering is not necessary. ‘I am the Buddhas and they are me!’ refers to awakening to the reality of oneness. As such, this ritual calls into existence and enacts the desired, transformed state (Schirch 2005): liberation from suffering here and now. The ritual closes like it opens, with song: This is our life, The length of our days. Day and night We meditate upon it.
The force of this closing mantra is its simple clarity, reminiscent of the Christian Ash Wednesday admonition that believers ‘[r]emember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return’. For a Buddhist, enlightenment is not a different state of being or a future goal: ‘Buddha nature pervades the whole universe, existing right here right now’ (Gate of Sweet Nectar liturgy). Encapsulating the ritual’s intention, the closing dedication highlights the Zen Peacemaker approach to trauma and suffering: Let us forever remember the causes of suffering. Let us forever believe in the end to suffering. May we always have the courage to bear witness; To see ourselves as Other and Other as ourselves. May penetrating light dispel the darkness of ignorance. Let all karma be resolved and the mind flower bloom in eternal spring. May we all ascend to enlightenment, great peace and love And let us vow to feed all hungry spirits together.
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According to Glassman, ‘Remembering is the opposite of dismembering. Spiritual awakening is making one or making whole. As we re-member, we invite in the parts of ourselves that we don’t want to acknowledge. We invite in the people who society has forgotten and we share the best meal we can share’ (2010, para. 8). He seeks to reconnect the sufferer (whom we think of as victim) with the bystanders, who make up the vast majority of society, and of course ‘perpetrators’, the ultimate challenge. Reconnecting is an essential part of the healing process (Herman 1992). It counteracts the distortion of trauma by not accepting the new situation as normal, but calling all to accountability—to really see/hear/smell/taste/feel what is before oneself without preconceptions and judgments—to see the other as ourselves and vice versa, to allow light to drive out ignorance, greed, and anger, in order to bear witness and respond with the most humane act.
A German Tale: From Rejection of Identity to Bearing Witness8 Many participants experienced the Bearing Witness Retreats at Auschwitz/Birkenau in the course of the past twenty years. Pearls of Ash and Awe (Battke 2015) contains moving testimonies of individuals who share insights on what brought them to this place. For Jürgen Jian Lembke, the Auschwitz Retreat helped him to complete the circle of his journey from disintegration of his German identity to wholeness. As it is Lembke’s own story, it is told in the first person. The story begins long before participation in the Auschwitz Retreat, but goes back to my birth in Fribourg, Switzerland, to a Swiss mother and a German father, making me German by nationality. From the age of seven, when I entered school in a Swiss Alpine village, I was bullied by my classmates, called a ‘Nazi Pig’, ‘dirty German’, and occasionally attacked physically. Soon I was afraid to go to school. Some relief came when my grandfather accompanied me to school, but I still did not understand what a Nazi was nor what it had to do with me. At home,
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I was given only a little information: I figured out that the Nazis, who were Germans, had done bad things and my classmates were reacting to my clearly German first and last name. The more I learned about the Nazis, the more I disliked being German. When we moved to another part of Switzerland, the problem with my schoolmates was solved, but not that of being German. My Swiss mother did not change this constellation since at that time Swiss women who married foreigners automatically lost their rights as citizens. In my teens, I read about the Second World War in historical novels, fascinated by the heroic and desperate Jews annihilated by murderous SS troops in the concentration camps. Learning about the conditions in these camps brought up a young memory of an old, frail woman who once entered my parents’ store, asking grimly for my father. Upon introducing himself, she produced a packet of aluminum foil with a rotten chicken, eaten by maggots, and cursed him and my family to eat what she had had to eat in the camp. In retrospect, I see she was not crazy, as my mother had said, but rather like a hungry spirit attempting to undo the past misery by cursing any German. During my youth and young adulthood, I underwent different stages of rejecting my relationship to the German people, including dissociation, condemning their deeds, siding with Jewish victims, and idealizing the Zionist movement. At the age of 14, I gained Swiss citizenship and happily set aside my German identity and these past experiences of association with Nazis. However, through spiritual searching, continuous Zen practice and engagement in peace activities as an adult, my attitude gradually changed. Through spiritual practice, I began realizing the connectedness of life, my longing for peace and my own connection with my German descendants.
Becoming a Zen Peacemaker and Integrating German Identity As an adult, I began to re-engage and integrate my German identity, especially through my involvement with the Zen Peacemakers. In 1996, with my teacher, Niklaus Brantschen, I participated in the
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establishment of the Zen Peacemaker movement in Switzerland (later called the Lassalle-Friedensbewegung ) and then became a member of the Zen Peacemaker Order. Here, I learned about the Three Tenets, though I was already actively practicing the Gate of Sweet Nectar with the wish to relieve suffering. However, I understood peacemaking more as peace-aching—painful longing, rather than something realizable. Through others’ testimonies and through Zen meditation, I gained a deeper sense of my family’s history around WWII, especially my father’s traumatic experience of poverty in Germany during and after the war. These were key to re-incorporating my Germanness. Like other third generations after a traumatic experience such as the Holocaust, I sought to penetrate my family’s silence. Born in 1939 at the beginning of the war, my father’s earliest memories were the total destruction of his home by Allied bombs and the shameful experience of impoverishment and likely having to steal to survive. However, this trauma was ‘illegitimate’: He was not entitled to speak of this suffering because it was the Germans’ ‘rightful punishment’. Only in later adulthood was he open to share these memories. And then there was my grandfather—my escort to school—who had joined the Nazi Party and paramilitary SA unit. He had indicated to me the necessity of joining the party in order to run his hairdresser business. While this excuse was widely used in that time of mutual suspicion, it also seemed likely that my grandfather would also have denounced the Nazi’s targets. In finding these sparse tidbits of information, I began to understand that being ‘German’ included suffering as well as the perpetration of horrific inhumanity. As I integrated my German identity into myself, especially through practicing Zazen, a striking thing happened. While sitting in meditation, I not only saw images of the dead in the war, but also experienced the consequences of these deeds as if I had done them myself. I had the very real sensation of being a Nazi perpetrator; I became conscious of his heart—his motivations, attitudes, and emotions—including his feelings of guilt. There was no distinction, no barriers, between he and myself: It was not my empathy for his reality as if we were separate. This radical occurrence naturally had a great impact upon me and influenced my later experience at Auschwitz.
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Alongside this process and spiritual practice, I began engaging with places of suffering (e.g., visiting a slum in Manila to learn about the poverty caused by the global chain of production) as well as Peace Camps in Switzerland.9 Through encountering Israeli Jews at Peace Camps, I learned how their experience of the Holocaust concretely influences their current situation. One Israeli settler, who had never before met a German, was angry to have them at the Peace Camp, even as organizers, since Germans for him were associated only with the attempt to extinguish his people, the Jews. Interacting with him and other Israelis there, I realized how important it was for a ‘victim’ to hear the ‘perpetrator’ tell what had happened. Hearing him, I felt an impulse to meet that need: to speak these truths as a confession on behalf of all Germans in hopes of counteracting the historic trauma, even though I did not yet have the words. Taking responsibility where it is usually denied can be powerful, but is only legitimate with certain actors, according to the narratives of victimization. As such, my German identity seemed to present not only the guilt of crimes but also an opportunity for healing. After wanting to escape my German roots for so long, this insight again forced me to face the atrocities of the German people as deeds myself and all Germans must integrate and transform.
Bearing Witness at Auschwitz Thus, I went to the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps motivated to face this place as a German, to see the camp, to bear witness to the suffering, the cruelty, and immeasurable trauma of this site. And in fact, it was impossible not to bear witness there. The horror of the camp is vivid even fifty years after its closure, empty of the masses who ‘lived’ there. My senses were assaulted with the distorted reality of that past time. When I entered the Auschwitz/Birkenau complex for the retreat, thousands of shoes, suitcases, glasses, mounds of clothes, and piles of hair met me, immediately indicating the complete abnormality of what had happened there. The Nazi propaganda called their victims lice. I bore witness at the ruined gas chambers where Jews, Roma, Poles, and many others were, in line with this logic, killed with pesticide. I observed the
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meticulous deliberation of the operation at the camp’s ‘sauna’ where new arrivals not selected for immediate extermination had to undergo a strict regime of dehumanization before entering the camp. First, all personal belongings—everything reminding a person of who she/he was—were taken away: clothes, jewelry, photographs, etc. Then, one had to strip naked, have one’s hair shaved, be showered, and disinfected. Finally, one received the camp uniform and, most significantly, a number, which became the sole personal identifier accepted by the camp authorities. After our informational tour, we experienced the next days in various parts of the camps in large and small groups. We would bear witness to the realities of each place—for example, at the women’s barracks someone would provide background information about who had stayed there and under what conditions—and then we would commemorate those who suffered there in silence and also with words, song, prayers, and tears. It was important to be present and as attentive as possible. Naturally, some were overwhelmed. In our morning small group Council sessions, we had space to share with each other this witnessing: our observations, feelings, reflections and associations, stories, etc. Another element of the retreat was sitting in meditation in a large circle together on the Selection Ramp, the place where over one million people’s futures were decided, either for execution or the hardship of the camps. At this site, we took turns reciting the names of the captives. Some participants brought candles to commemorate family members or friends who died there. The lists of victims reflected the Nazis’ thoroughness by including family and first names, birthday, town of origin, ethnic group, and, of course, their allotted numbers. This reminded me of Marian Kolodziej’s drawings, which so often included this tattooed number for each person he portrayed. I wondered whether these individuals remembered their own names after such a degradation of their human dignity. When my turn came to read names from the lists as we sat on the Selection Ramp, I followed an impulse to add a phrase. I called out the number on the list in German, followed by the line ‘l honor your real name’ and then the family and first name. So I read: ‘Nummer zwanzigtausenddreihunderteinundachzig (20381), ich ehre deinen wahren
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Namen, Kutner Jakob. Nummer zwanzigtausendzweihundertzweiundsechzig (20262), ich ehre deinen wahren Namen Dabrovski Marian ’. As I continued to read the names, my initial hesitation gave way to greater resolve, pronouncing what this list of the dead meant not only to me, but what I would like it to mean for my German compatriots. I meant it to be a clear statement: ‘yes, we gave you this number, we treated you inhumanly and killed you, but now I honor your name and your life as it should have been’. I echo Glassman, who wrote: We were not doing this [retreat] for ourselves, … or for the sake of our experience or understanding, not even for our own grief. We were doing this for the souls left at Auschwitz, cut off from life quickly and abruptly, unable to find rest. Our retreat was for the sake of those souls, to help bring them to rest. In Zen practice we say that we do our sitting meditation not for ourselves but for the world. At Auschwitz we sat around the tracks for the living and also for the dead. Wherever we were – seated around the railroad tracks, penetrating the gloom inside the barracks, looking down at the ruins of death chambers, examining the ruins that extended as far as the eye could see – we were accompanied by the souls of Auschwitz. (Glassman 1998, p. 27)
On one of the last days of the retreat, I wanted to make contact, as one of German heritage, with one of the many groups of Jewish young people I had observed making short visits to the camps, often wrapped in Star of David flags. However, despite my intention, there were none at that time, so instead I went up the main watchtower to bear witness to the view from this vantage point of Nazi power and control. It was a moment in which everything was so present. I could easily imagine a soldier being able to detach himself from all that was happening on the ground far below at the same time as having a perfect view to observe everything taking place in the camp, including the beauty of the birch trees and surrounding countryside as presented to me on that November day. Each day at the Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreat, we had the opportunity to participate in a religious service according to the Jewish, Buddhist, or Christian traditions, usually in one of the barracks. Later that particular day, I chose instead to conduct my own ritual on the
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Field of Ashes, a place for the disposal of those cremated at the camp. At this site, I recited the Jewish Kaddish, or funeral rite, in German followed by performing the Gate of Sweet Nectar. I wanted to offer the chocolate and bread I had brought as well as myself to the hungry ghosts in that place. This ritual, performed on this mass grave at sunset, calling all these discontented ghosts and demons was utterly terrifying. But it also had a liberating consequence. At the end of the ritual, I had the image of those ghosts disappearing into the light of the sunset. Perhaps these were souls of the dead of Auschwitz, or perhaps it was my own guilt about the Nazis’ acts that was being released. Either way, this release created new room inside myself in place of being paralyzed by guilt or the fear of touching trauma. Reflecting upon these experiences, I can see that the retreat brought clarity that the Holocaust is related to me: to deal with this history includes also dealing with my Germanness. Wanting to deny my nationality in my youth, even though it was an instinctive response to learning about the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany, was not so different than how many at that time claimed they did not know what was happening. I needed to grow up in order to take responsibility. We often observe generalizations such as ‘the Jews are like this’, ‘the Germans did that’, or today, ‘Israelis are doing such and such’. This is a typical point of departure toward dehumanizing the other. I am convinced that acknowledging what one’s own people have done is a most powerful contribution not only to restoring a sufferer’s dignity, but also to laying the foundation for the descendants of violators to join the community again through this purifying process as I myself experienced. Only then may we bear witness to even new aspects of suffering. Then, it might be possible, for example, that my father could hear ‘Yes, we demonized the whole German people for what the Nazis did. We razed your hometown and you went hungry when you were just a small child. And even if your elders did bad things, you don’t have to be silenced in your trauma. We acknowledge that you suffered’. The need to be heard in one’s trauma is tantamount to healing. While it was and still is important to find words related to the above experiences, the confession contained in my testimony should not be perceived as a plea for forgiveness or a way to gain redemption. Confession
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and apology, while welcomed by many, also raise a new dilemma for the receiver, who then may be considered responsible to respond. To bear witness ever deeper widens my understanding yet also leaves questions unanswered—held within the realm of not-knowing.
Conclusion Social psychologist Kelman (2004) claims that a change of identity is needed to bring relational reconciliation: An internalized transformation of how we see ourselves and other is necessary for healing our relationships with ourselves and others. Lembke’s German identity underwent many changes during his life. Initially, it was something negative, associated with Nazis and evil acts, which were not surprisingly rejected, subsumed under a Swiss identity by gaining citizenship, joining the army, etc. Later, as a faith-based Zen peacemaker, it was again reworked through meditation, personal interactions, and events such as the Bearing Witness Retreat at Auschwitz and practicing the Gate of Sweet Nectar ritual. In her book on ritual and symbol in peacebuilding, Schirch explains how ‘[r]itual transforms identity by offering a humanizing space. Because identity is defined in context, perceptions of identity change according to both physical and relational situations’ (2005, p. 126). This is evident in the retreat that brought its participants, including Lembke, to a ritualized space—the camp—and provided a wealth of symbols and rituals as well as relationships in which to experience these things. The personal ritual on the Field of Ashes and the symbolic visit to the Nazi watchtower are specific examples of Lembke’s own lived religious rituals that aided the transformation of his identity from German as guilty to German who actively seeks peace with those who suffered. This can be seen as a type of third-generational healing. He learned to integrate the specific past and present of Auschwitz without the filters of guilt, denial, rationalization, or accusation—to accept every aspect of that reality, in Zen Peacemaker terms, by not knowing and by bearing witness. The action, the next step, was not avoiding confrontation or forgetting in order to concede that ‘we are brothers and sisters after
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all’. According to Lembke, loving action in this context is, among other things, nurturing a spirit of goodwill and acceptance of all realities. Remembering contributes to the healing process if this is done with unmasked, accurate stories. Not-remembering risks being caught in denial or the never-ending competition of ‘who suffered most?’, which tends to poison future generations with hatred. With the last lines of the Buddhist Meta Sutra in mind—‘may all beings be free’—the hope expressed here is that by finding ways to come together and share experiences and practices, we grow more apt to reconcile. As such, this chapter is a case study of lived religion in its focus on ‘religion-as practiced’ as a complement to its consideration of ‘religion-as-preached’, to use McGuire’s (2008) distinction. Such religious practice is not particularly concerned with orthodoxy, but rather eclectically combines spiritual and ritual elements that are both meaningful and efficacious (ibid., p. 137) in addressing the context of Auschwitz’s trauma and bringing healing.
Notes 1. The standard Hebrew term for the murder of European Jews in the mid-twentieth century is Shoah, or destruction. 2. For a history of the Zen Peacemakers and the Bearing Witness Retreats, see Glassman (1998). 3. See the Zen Peacemakers’ Website for more information: http://zenpeacemakers.org/zpo-rule 4. ‘Interbeing’ is Thich Nhat Hanh’s term, indicating how each phenomenon is deeply connected with all things. 5. The Gate of Sweet Nectar ceremony is said to have come from the Buddha in response to a disciple who suffered over the great trials his mother experienced in her afterlife. He asked his teacher if there was anything he could do to assist her. The Buddha gave fragments of what is now the Gate of Sweet Nectar ritual, bringing together ancient Sanskrit ‘spells’ as well as the provision of food to relieve this suffering (Glassman 2010). 6. ‘Bernie’s Chalisa’, by Krishna Das: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=bLx0Dtuxj-k
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7. The water wheel of compassion is likely a reference to the Buddhist dharma wheel, or the continuation of the teaching (dharma) (Harderwijk, n.d., Symbols for the Buddha ). 8. Some of the following story has been published in Battke (2015, p. 192). 9. Organized by Katharinawerk, a Swiss secular institute devoted to peace and reconciliation work.
References Bar-On, Dan. 1989. Legacy of Silence: Encounters with Children of the Third Reich. London: Harvard University Press. Battke, Katleen. 2015. Pearls of Ash & Awe. 20 Years of Bearing Witness in Auschwitz with Bernie Glassman & Zen Peacemakers. Berlin: Edition Steinrich. Burton, John. 2015. Conflict and Communication. In The Contemporary Conflict Resolution Reader, ed. Tom Woodhouse, Hugh Miall, Oliver Ramsbotham, and Christopher Mitchell. Cambridge: Polity. Glassman, Bernie. 1998. Bearing Witness. A Zen Master’s Lessons in Making Peace. London: Blue Rider Press. Glassman, Bernie. 2010. Zen Buddhism and Obon: Feeding the Hungry Spirits. HuffPost, 14 July. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bernie-glassman/ zen-buddhism-and-oban-fee_b_644860.html. Harderwijk, Rudy. n.d. General Buddhist Symbols. A View on Buddhism. http://viewonbuddhism.org/general_symbols_buddhism.html. Herman, Judith. 1992. Trauma and Recovery. New York: Basic Books. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. n.d. Training the Mind, Verse 2. http://www.dalailama.com/teachings/training-the-mind/verse-2. Kelman, Herbert C. 2004. Reconciliation as Identity Change. A SocialPsychological Perspective. In From Conflict Resolution to Reconciliation, ed. Yaacov Bar-Siman-Tov. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kołodziej, Marian. 2009. The Labyrinths Passing 2, Baltic Sea Cultural Centre / Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum / Franciscan Order in Harmeze, Gdansk. Lewis, Linda V. 2010. The Five Buddha Families. Elephant Journal, 6 May. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/05/the-five-buddha-familieslinda-v-lewis/.
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Lowe, Keith. 2012. Savage Continent, Europe in the Aftermath of World War II. London: Penguin. McGuire, Meredith B. 2008. Lived Religion. Faith and Practice in Everyday Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rinpoche, Sogyal. 1996. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. New York: Harper Collins. Sanford, John A. 1977. Healing and Wholeness. New York: Paulist Press. Schirch, Lisa. 2005. Ritual and Symbol in Peacebuilding. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press. Tomaszewski, Irene. 2011. The Labyrinth: The Testimony of Marian Kołodziej. Cosmopolitan Review 3 (3). http://cosmopolitanreview.com/ the-labyrinth/. van der Kolk, Bessel. 2014. The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma. London: Penguin. We Are All Neighbors. 1993. DVD, Disappearing World Series, Sarajevo. Directed by Debbie Christie and Tone Bringa. Weingarten, Kathy. 2000. Witnessing, Wonder, and Hope. Family Process 39 (4): 389–402. Zen Peacemaker Order. n.d. Gate of Sweet Nectar. http://zenpeacemakers.org/ gate-of-sweet-nectar-2/. Zen Peacemaker Order. n.d. Glossary. http://zenpeacemakers.org/glossary/. Zen Peacemakers Sangha, Lage Landen. n.d. Bernie Glassman in België. http:// zenpeacemakers.nl/bernie-en-eve-belgie/.
Part V Ritual
Remembering for Healing: Liturgical Communities of Reconciliation Provide Space for Trauma Armand Léon van Ommen
One of the focal points of religion as it is expressed in practice is the liturgical gathering of the religious community. A religious person who is traumatized is likely to attend these gatherings. In this chapter, we search for the place of trauma in the liturgy. It is sometimes claimed that liturgy has a hard time addressing suffering but instead focuses on happiness (e.g., Balentine 1993; Billman and Migliore 1999; Meyer 1993; Swinton 2007; Wolterstorff 1987, 1988). In my previous research, on which I will build in this chapter, I showed that the liturgical experience of the participants is more nuanced than that (van Ommen 2017). Many do feel acknowledged in their situation of suffering. However, often these feelings are because the participants in worship make the connection with the liturgy themselves rather than the liturgy making the connection explicitly. Yet, insofar liturgy is formational, it is important to address the darker sides of life. Storm Swain asserts in Trauma A. L. van Ommen (*) Department of Divinity and Religious Studies, Aberdeen University, Aberdeen, UK e-mail: [email protected]
© The Author(s) 2019 R. R. Ganzevoort and S. Sremac (eds.), Trauma and Lived Religion, Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91872-3_10
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and Transformation that people whose worldview includes suffering are more resilient in dealing with traumatic events than people whose worldview is pretty much ‘God takes care of me so nothing bad can happen’ (Swain 2011, p. 7). This statement is backed up by various studies in psychology of religion (e.g., Pargament 1997, 1998; Park 2005). So the question how liturgy makes space for the reality of suffering, including trauma, and for those affected by this reality is pertinent. Liturgy can provide a safe space for people to remember and narrate traumatic experiences. This chapter first establishes the centrality of the concept of remembrance in liturgical and trauma theory. Secondly, an overview of the theories of Storm Swain, Miroslav Volf, and Robert Schreiter will show their interrelatedness and how remembrance is part of their theories. Thirdly, a view on liturgy from the lived experiences of suffering and trauma shows the potential for liturgy to incorporate stories and experiences of trauma. Again, it will become clear how remembering is key to liturgy. Finally, an argument for liturgical communities of remembrance will be developed. The presupposition of this chapter is that an important locus of lived religion is the liturgy or worship service. Therefore, this chapter is written from a liturgical and pastoral point of view. Hence, the question that I would like to address is formulated liturgically and pastorally: How can liturgy, as an expression of Christian lived religion, provide a welcoming environment for people affected by trauma? The authors with whom I engage in this essay primarily (Storm Swain, Miroslav Volf, and Robert Schreiter) are theologians, each of them writing from the experience of or engagement with trauma. Their writings include the disciplinary perspectives of psychology and trauma studies as well as theology.
Remembrance as Key Concept in Liturgical and Trauma Theory Liturgy, and its expression in worship services, is bound up with remembrance. Christian liturgy always refers back to God as creator of the world, as redeemer of the people of Israel out of Egypt and later out
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of exile, and to Jesus as the risen Christ. Furthermore, Christian liturgy remembers the Holy Spirit as being present in the community and in the lives of the believers. It also looks forward by remembering God’s promise that one day God will renew the heavens and the earth. In short, liturgy is an act of remembrance (Lange 2010, p. 6; Morrill 2000, p. 114ff; Saliers 1994, Chapter 1). However, worship does more than remembering God and God’s actions. It also includes (remembers) the lives and actions of its participants and performers and their subjective experiences. Liturgy connects the narrative of God with the stories of the people. In theological terms, liturgy is a relational activity in which God and people meet (cf. Immink 2011, p. 8). In this meeting, both the story of God and the stories of the people are remembered (note the central place of remembrance in narrative theory and in narrative liturgical theory, see Allman 2000; Anderson and Foley 1998; Bearden and Olsen 2005; Bohlmeijer 2007; Dalferth 2007; Gibaut 2001; Sykes 1983; L. van Ommen 2015). Also in the literature on trauma, remembrance and memory play significant parts. In the discipline of trauma studies, the word is admittedly often used differently than in liturgical studies. Nevertheless, the notion of memory in trauma studies is closely related to the role of remembrance in a theological sense of the word. Trauma studies tend to focus on the role of memory in relation to (mental) health issues and the question of healing. The twentieth century has seen an intense debate on the question whether memories of trauma are suppressed or not, and what the effects are on (sometimes seemingly unexplainable) mental health issues and the possibility of healing. Richard McNally (2005) points out how this debate has influenced not only discussions in the study of trauma but also clinical psychology and even politics. The centrality of remembrance for the recovery of trauma is pointed to by Judith Herman. She argues that recovery of trauma proceeds through three discernible stages, even though different in form or shape every time. In the second stage, remembrance and mourning are key (Herman 1992, pp. 175–195).
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Theories of Pastoral Care, Remembrance, and Reconciliation Several writers have illuminated the concept of trauma from a theological perspective. Firstly, we will engage with the work of Storm Swain on pastoral care after a communal traumatic event. Secondly, we will highlight some important points Miroslav Volf makes with regard to remembering and trauma. Finally, Robert Schreiter helps to see how reconciliation shows its light on dynamics after trauma. Storm Swain writes in the aftermath of 9/11. She worked as a chaplain on Ground Zero for several months, while the bodies of those who died were recovered. Afterward Swain interviewed a number of chaplains who worked there as well. Interacting with these stories, Swain develops a pastoral model on the basis of Trinitarian theology and by creatively integrating D. W. Winnicot’s influential trauma theory which includes the moments of holding, suffering, and transforming. Swain connects these moments with the view of God as Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, and Life-giver. These names for God come from Jim Cotter’s paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer, which is included in A New Zealand Prayerbook—He Karakia Mihinare O Aotearoa (Church of the Province of New Zealand 1989, p. 181). Thus, Swain’s theory is connected to public liturgy, even though Swain does not make this connection herself. Important to note is the dynamic aspect of Swain’s pastoral model, which stems from the central place she gives to relationality. According to Swain, a focus on relationality calls for a dynamic active ethical relation to the world, a relationality as not just being but as becoming, where being and doing are caught up in active relationship, where in a relation of love we become what we are, the image of God. This relational reframing is a shift from a seemingly static and perhaps historical role to a relational function of being and doing in relationship. Hence, God the Earth-maker becomes earth-making, and so forth. (Swain 2011, pp. 14–15)
When we relate this important remark to the context of liturgy, we can see liturgy functioning in a perspective of lived religion. First of all, that
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liturgy is also called upon to have a ‘dynamic active ethical relation to the world.’ In other words, the relational nature of God, and humankind made in God’s image, makes an ethical claim on liturgy to relate to the world in its suffering. How does liturgy care for participants affected by trauma? Secondly, the words ‘dynamic’ and ‘active’ urge liturgy not to be static but to respond to its surroundings in ever fresh ways. That is not to say that worship services should revel in the newest liturgical fashion of the day. It does say that tradition (and traditional liturgies) should come to life ever anew in response to the events and the people to which it ministers. Swain relates earth-making to Winnicot’s process of holding (Swain 2011, Chapter 2). Earth-making in theological perspective includes creation and creating as both an action in the past and an eschatological reality, with Jesus as the ‘new Adam’ in between. Swain understands creating as making space to live. This relates to Winnicot’s view of the psychological development of children through his object relations theory. When a child is raised in a ‘good enough’ (Winnicot’s phrase) environment, the environment creates space for the child to mature. In Winnicot’s thought that environment is primarily a loving relationship with the mother (Swain 2011, pp. 28–35). Holding means providing space for the child to develop and explore, within the context of a loving relationship with the mother (or other caregivers). As a pastoral method, holding is about creating space by building the pastoral relationship. This includes a ministry of presence on trauma sites—a presence that needs to be empathic. Swain points out that ‘this method of creating space, this ministry of presence, is both about the space we hold between us and the other as pastoral persons, and within ourselves’ (Swain 2011, p. 65). Different processes of holding are going on in the pastoral encounter: holding the other in holding the relationship and so ‘the space between us,’ and holding of oneself as pastoral caregiver. Viewed from a liturgical point of view, the question arises how the worshiping community can hold those who experience trauma, and how the community itself can be held. To the latter question the answer needs to be found in the nature of the worshiping community, that is, they are called and held by God as supreme Earth-maker and Caregiver. Also, the people making up the community can hold each
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other. For an answer to the first question, we will return to the issue in the final section of this chapter. The next moment in the pastoral model is pain-bearing or suffering. Pain-bearing in theological perspective includes the suffering of God, which includes but is not limited to the suffering of Christ on the cross. Pain-bearing can only begin after the first step of holding with the pained person in solidarity, thereby breaking through the isolation that suffering impinges on the sufferer, even in ‘being alone together’ silently (Swain 2011, p. 97). Yet, pain-bearing is a step beyond holding because it enters the pain of the other, and thereby, it enters one’s own pain (Swain 2011, p. 89). While in the first stage silence is the only appropriate response, in a next stage pain-bearing searches for a language to articulate the pain. Liturgy has a rich potential to be pain-bearing although it is questionable whether it does. In liturgical and ritual studies, an interest in silence is rising (Holsappel-Brons 2010; Mitchell 2008) and also in Western societies people attend more to silence to break away from the clamor of everyday life, hence the increased interest in things like mindfulness or retreats. Is it possible for liturgy to hold in silent solidarity with traumatized people? It is, but communities and its liturgical leaders need to learn to ‘work’ with silence. It is also possible for liturgy to enter the pain of the other and learn to express suffering. However, studies show that the rich biblical resources for liturgy that enter and articulate pain are often neglected or underrepresented in, for example, lectionaries (Billman and Migliore 1999; Meyer 1993). A remarkable feature of Winnicot’s view of pain is his positive evaluation of it. Trying to become invulnerable to pain is a defense mechanism which is not healthy. Swain summarizes: ‘Suffering denotes a sense of integrity of the self, the feeling of “I AM,” and “I am in my body,” without disintegrating or depersonalizing but the self suffers in relation to traumas that the environment offers up and learns to accept and integrate’ (Swain 2011, p. 130). So through allowing suffering to enter oneself (or one’s self ), the person is most in touch with oneself and is most truly oneself. The parallel with liturgy, even if liturgy is not a person as such, is challenging. Liturgy that does not attend to suffering (and we saw in the introduction that many criticize liturgies for not doing so) is not true to its deepest self. Indeed, theologically one has to say that
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suffering is at the core of the liturgy as it remembers and celebrates the God-story in which suffering has a prominent place. Also, liturgically it is arguable that the Eucharist is central. The Eucharist is that ritual in the liturgy which is centered on the suffering and transformative resurrection of Christ, remembered by eating bread and drinking wine that becomes to the partakers the body and blood of Christ. The third moment in Swain’s pastoral model is ‘life-giving’ or ‘transforming.’ Even in the midst of disaster it is possible to find signs of life and hope. Transformation does not deny the trauma but somehow the traumatic events are transformed and life beyond suffering germinates. Writing about the experiences of chaplains at Ground Zero, Swain explains that ‘the sense of God’s presence and mystical presence of those dead in the destruction of Ground Zero transformed a traumatizing space into a sacred space’ (Swain 2011, p. 150). Community has a vital role in life-giving. In the face of the traumatic disaster of 9/11, chaplains from different faith traditions and those working to recover the bodies found each other in a common cause. In this community is mutual understanding and mutual giving and receiving. This community crosses all faith borders and sometimes the chaplains felt much more supported by the ad hoc community of Ground Zero than by their own churches (Swain 2011, pp. 152–165). For our purposes, it is important to note this, as we ask how liturgical communities can make space for trauma. With regard to Winnicot’s contribution to trauma theory and transformation, it is important to note his positive view of aggression, not unlike his positive view of pain. Swain explains: ‘The unconscious destruction that is always going on is not about destroying the external with which you are angry, but about destroying the internal image of the other as you have created it’ (Swain 2011, p. 168). From here, it becomes possible to find new meaning exactly because an internal image has been destroyed. In order to be healthy, however, this meaning needs to be discovered rather than imposed. Applying this to pastoral method, Swain notes that it is important to ‘read [signs of life] out of each situation and not read into it, which is why theological principles like “forgiveness” cannot be imposed, but a turning once again to the objects of our anger to regain connection with them is a transformation
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that has a life of its own and in its own time’ (Swain 2011, p. 173). Again this emphasizes the necessity of being true to oneself, including experiences of suffering and trauma, as we saw with pain-bearing above. Winnicot’s theory challenges the liturgical community with its worship services to be true to oneself and be honest about the reality that faces the community. This point is strongly affirmed by Volf, to whom we will turn shortly. The pastoral application of life-giving and transforming is subtle, as it cannot be manufactured but is rather discovered. Yet, the conditions in which life can be found can be created (Swain 2011, p. 177). Robert Schreiter’s moments in the process of reconciliation affirm this point, and they correspond roughly to the three moments of earth-making, pain-bearing, and life-giving as we will see below. But before turning to the work of Schreiter, we will interact with Volf ’s views on trauma and remembrance. In The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World, Miroslav Volf writes from his own traumatic experiences of psychological abuse in the former Yugoslavian military. He was suspect and was interrogated about his political view—whether he was communist enough and not too Western. The question to which Volf searches an answer is: ‘How does one seeking to love the wrongdoer remember the wrongdoing rightly?’ (Volf 2006, p. 17). ‘Rightly’ is a key word. Volf ’s question stems from the Christian ethical imperative to love your neighbor. Crucial to the question and to Volf ’s answer, therefore, is love. Trauma, if not repressed, will be remembered (McNally 2005). For the Christian, remembering must be done rightly. The imperative to remember rightly is necessary because memory is always distorted. Without the requirement to remember rightly and so to love the neighbor, the memory will most probably be distorted such that the wrongdoer will be remembered to be worse than he or she is. But doing so is paying an act of injustice with a new act of injustice. Remembering rightly means in the first place not to give into this inclination of our memory. In other words, we need to be honest about what has happened. Remembering untruthfully deepens the conflict, whereas remembering truthfully is a first step toward reconciliation (Volf 2006, p. 56). Because memory itself can have positive effects
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but can also cause more violence, memory itself needs to be redeemed (Volf 2006, p. 34). Memory needs an ethical framework. Volf finds this in the Christian story, most clearly in the stories of the Exodus and Christ’s Passion. Truthfulness about what happened contributes to healing. Healing comes by integrating memories, by assigning meaning to them within our life-story (Volf 2006, p. 76). When the memories are void of meaning, we live in the hope that our identity is ultimately not defined by the wrongs we have suffered, i.e., by the relationships with our wrongdoers but by our relationship with God. The frameworks of the Exodus and the Passion share a number of characteristics of sacred memory (Volf 2006, pp. 96–102). Firstly, sacred memory shapes identity. These are not mere historical facts, but events into which those who commemorate are drawn in. It shapes rituals and liturgies. Secondly, sacred memory is collective, so community has a key role. Thirdly, sacred memory remembers not only the past, but also the future. It is forward looking. Finally, sacred memories remember the main actor of the event, i.e., God. Volf summarizes: ‘Whatever we do we always act in a framework comprised of at least four components: a sense of (1) who we are, (2) where we belong, (3) what we expect, and (4) what, or who, we ultimately trust’ (Volf 2006, p. 102). Moving from Volf ’s rich insights into remembering to liturgy, it is not difficult to see how liturgy is really about these four components of sacred memory. To start with the last component, liturgy, or its expression in worship, is a core practice of the Christian community. It reveals, therefore, the ultimate commitment of the liturgical community, which ultimately puts its trust in God. Trust in God forms the foundation on which the three other components find their place. Firstly, trusting God as a basis for who we are reveals who we are: human beings, part of God’s creation, loved by God, but also alienated from God and then reconciled with God. In the liturgy, this becomes most clear in the celebration of Holy Communion. Here, suffering is remembered and resurrection hoped for. Here, the members of the community are most clearly seen to be in ‘spiritual union with Christ’ (Volf 2006, p. 98) by the physical signs of bread and wine. Secondly, trusting God and who we are shows that we belong to a sacred community. Memory is always communal—sacred memory requires sacred
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communities. The bond between the two is so strong that Volf can write: ‘Take the community away and sacred memory disappears; take the sacred memory away and the community disintegrates’ (Volf 2006, p. 100; see also A.L. van Ommen 2015). Finally, by trusting God our stories become integrated into God’s story. That story is one of hope, of judgment of wrongdoing, and of reconciliation. Liturgical remembrance points to our ultimate commitment, to who we are, where we belong, and what we hope for. The framework is well explained by the stories of the Exodus and Passion. These stories are also (part of ) the core content of the liturgical celebration. However, as Volf critically remarks, the mere fact of remembering the death and resurrection of Christ does not mean that we remember rightly. Volf asks whether liturgies teach us how to remember (Volf 2006, pp. 127–128). To this, we need to add the question what we remember when we rehearse the story of Exodus and Passion. Quite some worshipers miss attention to the dark side of life, blaming liturgy for being overly optimistic. Telling the story of Christ’s suffering does not mean that liturgy enters the pain of the participants (cf. pain-bearing, the second movement in Swain’s pastoral model). For example, if Christ’s suffering is seen exclusively as atonement for sins (sin understood here as personal wrongdoing), it even does not remember that story rightly, for Christ came to give life to the full (John 10:10) which includes much more than forgiveness of personal wrongdoing. For liturgy to remember rightly, it has to enter both the suffering of Christ in all its aspects and effects and the pain of its participants. It requires liturgical and pastoral awareness of those who lead the worship services to attend to and care for those who are traumatized. So the question what we remember in liturgy needs to find an answer in two directions: the suffering of Christ and the suffering of the world, including the suffering of participants and traumatized people (van Ommen 2017). Volf ’s insights in trauma and remembering rightly are notably similar to the underlying concepts in Robert Schreiter’s work on reconciliation. Schreiter writes in two small books his deep insights into processes of reconciliation. The first book, Reconciliation: Mission and Ministry in a Changing Social Order, is set in the context of trauma because of violence and war (Schreiter 1992). The insights are broader applicable to
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other traumatizing events as well as to suffering in general. Schreiter makes these applications clearer and easier to make in his second book, The Ministry of Reconciliation: Spirituality and Strategies (Schreiter 1998). An important point to mark, before discussing some other issues, is Schreiter’s claim that reconciliation is not an event that individuals or communities can do, but rather a disposition, a spirituality. A brief overview of some main issues in Schreiter’s work will make clear why he makes this claim. Here, we highlight the issues that relate most plainly to the purposes of the present chapter. As said, remarkable in Schreiter’s work is the parallel with Volf ’s views on memory, remembrance, and forgiveness. Both see trauma as an event (or series of events) that destroys the victim’s identity. Crucial to healing, therefore, is how the event is remembered, and, even more important, how the relationship to the wrongdoer is remembered. The suffering is not denied, nor forgotten, but faced squarely. Yet, ‘the memory of it is transformed and remembered in a different way…’ (Schreiter 1998, p. 99). Trauma tries to determine its victim’s identity and destroys humanity. But trauma does not have the right to do so. Forgiveness and reconciliation are means to regain humanity. Forgiveness does not mean saying ‘everything is all right.’ Forgiveness means to let the victimizer have no power to keep controlling one’s memory and identity. As Volf points out, a person’s identity may be shaped by the traumatic event, but fundamentally the sufferer needs to find her identity in God. Schreiter puts it as follows: That a victim can forgive is a sign that the victim has arrived at a place where one is freed of the deed’s capacity to dominate and direct one’s life. By that is not meant that the trauma no longer has any effect on the victim. The disappearance of death of a loved one, the experience of torture, and other human rights violations create effects that cannot be erased. Forgiveness means that the balance of power has passed from the traumatic event to the victim. The victim chooses the direction of the future, and does not follow the trajectory laid out by the traumatic event. (Schreiter 1998, p. 59)
The traumatizer tells the victim a false story about the victim’s self [Schreiter calls this the narrative of the lie (Schreiter 1992, p. 34)]; God
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tells the true story about who the victim is. Forgiveness means to let one’s identity be shaped by another story—the story of God—and not by the traumatizer’s story (Schreiter 1998, pp. 55–68). One can see why for Schreiter, like Volf, truthfulness is key. First of all, truthfulness counters the narrative of the lie. Secondly, the truth about the trauma exposes the traumatizer. Thirdly, truth-telling is an act of resistance to wrongdoing and to being negated. When suffering or trauma is not acknowledged, the sufferer is further isolated and violated and injustice is doubled (Schreiter 1992, pp. 34–37; Volf 2006, p. 29). So forgiveness and reconciliation do not deny the traumatic event or its consequences, let alone denying the guilt on the part of the wrongdoer. Through truth-telling and finding one’s identity in the story of God rather than in the destructive narrative of the lie, the power balance shifts and one can slowly begin to enter the process toward forgiveness and reconciliation, which will help healing. This use of memory and this way of remembering are healing. Like Swain and Volf, who already alluded to the role of the community, Schreiter highlights the communal aspect of reconciliation and explains how communities can become agents in the process of reconciliation. Schreiter is fully aware, like Volf, that the process toward reconciliation is a most difficult one. It cannot be imposed upon the individual (here the lived religion’s focus on the individual is helpful (see Luther 1992). Because the process is so difficult, it is important that reconciliation becomes part of the community’s disposition. When reconciliation is part of a community’s spirituality, the community will be able to work on reconciliation when it is needed. If they have not been trained by way of incorporating reconciliation into their communal spirituality, they will not be able to do the work on reconciliation when needed. Schreiter outlines four ‘steps’ in the process of reconciliation, which the community can practice as a way of living. The first step is to accompany the traumatized person(s) with patience and care. The second step is to provide a hospitable environment, marked by trust, kindness, and safety. These two steps create a welcoming space for the traumatized person. The third step in the process of reconciliation is being reconnected. Violence, trauma, and suffering in general isolate.
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They isolate the victim from the community and from one’s true self. Therefore, the process of reconnecting is a most important one in the process of reconciliation. The urge to remember truthfully and rightly shows its relevance also in this step. For the victims to reconnect to who they truly are means to remember their identity as shaped in their relation to God. The fourth step is commissioning, which has to do with creatively imagining new directions in life. For example, sometimes those who have been offended start to work with other offended people. Communities can actively work on the first two steps, thereby creating the conditions in which the third and fourth steps might happen (Schreiter 1998, pp. 87–96; see also van Ommen 2017). Schreiter points out several aspects of reconciliation which fit well with the theories of Swain and Volf. First of all, a most important contribution is Schreiter’s point that reconciliation is not a one-off moment but requires nothing less than a spirituality or disposition marked by reconciliation. Furthermore, forgiving and remembering the trauma rightly help to use memory for healing one’s identity. Finally, community is key in Schreiter’s views. The community is actively involved in the four steps of the reconciliation process. How these aspects work out for liturgy is the subject of the next section, in which we also try to integrate the theories of Swain, Volf, and Schreiter.
Toward Liturgical Communities of Careful Remembrance The question of this chapter is: How can liturgy, as an expression of Christian lived religion, provide a welcoming environment for people affected by trauma? We have reviewed aspects of the theories of Swain, Volf, and Schreiter. At several points, we have made the transition from the authors’ theories to liturgy. In this section, we return to these points and address questions that have not been answered so far. Thus, we hope to draw the contours of a coherent answer to the question how liturgy can create space for and hold out with traumatized people.
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The Cycle of Remembering for Healing The similarities between the theories of Swain, Volf, and Schreiter are notable. Remembering proves to be a key concept for all three of them and is engaged with in detail by Volf. All three authors stress the indispensable role of communities when dealing with trauma. Even remembering, a seemingly private act, is highly influenced by the community. Moreover, the community has collective memories. Finally, the similarities between Swain’s pastoral model and Schreiter’s steps of reconciliation are worth noting. Figure 1 shows the interrelatedness of the theories of Volf, Swain, and Schreiter. Note that community is not visualized in the figure, but is presupposed because it is the actor of the various parts of the circle. On the basis of Swain, we claimed that liturgy should have a ‘dynamic active ethical relation to the world’ (Swain 2011, p. 14). Volf states that the ethical requirement is to love the neighbor as oneself. In the context of relating to a victimizer, this becomes a requirement to remember rightly, even with the aim of reconciliation. The four steps of the process of reconciliation as sketched by Schreiter are a first practical way of
Fig. 1 Cycle of remembering for healing
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shaping the ‘ethical relation.’ We titled the cycle not just the ‘cycle of remembrance’ or the ‘cycle of reconciliation,’ but the ‘cycle of remembering for healing.’ Reconciliation implies remembrance and healing, but Schreiter calls his spirituality one of reconciliation because of the context of war and violence he writes from. For our purposes, in which trauma takes center stage, whether that trauma is caused by war and violence or not, it is perhaps helpful to make explicit that remembrance is central to the process and that healing is the outcome hoped for. The process of reconciliation, with remembrance at the heart of it, is deliberately sketched as a circular process. First of all, because those who are healed and reconnected and commissioned, who have gone through the four stages outlined by Schreiter, might become people who accompany others and create a hospitable environment for others who are traumatized. Secondly, the healing process is not always as linear as the model suggests. Perhaps traumatized people will sometimes move on to a next step, but then return to a previous one, before moving on again. Moreover, accompaniment and hospitality will be foundational throughout the process. Finally, when we think of remembering rightly in the liturgy, the circular pattern is affirmed, as liturgy itself has a repetitive character.
The Role of the Community: For Better or Worse We need to stress the role of the community in trying to provide welcoming spaces for traumatized people. The role of the community is given in the context of public liturgy, for liturgy is by definition celebrated by a community. Moreover, human beings are relational per definition. At various points in this chapter, we have seen the explicit role of the community and what the community does. We have seen that the community acknowledges God as their ultimate basis of trust already by celebrating the liturgy. This informs who they are, where they belong, and what they expect (Volf ). The community plays a vital part in how trauma is remembered, and especially, how the relation to the traumatizer is remembered. Furthermore, the community can be actively involved in the first two steps in the process of reconciliation as outlined by Schreiter.
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However, Swain demonstrated that some chaplains at the traumatic site of Ground Zero felt not supported by their own communities. Why was the community not able to provide the support those chaplains needed? Attending to trauma as Schreiter proposes has to do with a spirituality, a disposition of the whole community. The community needs to work on such a spirituality over time. Were the communities that were not supporting their chaplains lacking a spirituality of reconciliation? Swain’s point brings us to an important note made by Schreiter: The church has no automatic right to be an agent of reconciliation. Where it has, the right is derived from the God as mediator of divine grace. But all too often the church has been part of the problem itself, in which case it cannot be the mediator. Schreiter finds it therefore more healthy not to speak about the church as ‘minister of reconciliation,’ but of local communities where reconciliation is ingrained in the community’s spirituality (Schreiter 1992, pp. 64–69). This is a helpful note to describe reality and to be honest about the churches’ shameful involvement in inflicting trauma. That is also part of lived religion. Nevertheless, the ideal should be for all churches to be communities marked by a spirituality of reconciliation, practicing the cycle of remembering for healing. Not only is this the ideal Christians should have, this is the very calling the church has from the God it worships.
Liturgical Remembering At the heart of the cycle of remembering for healing is a twofold remembering. On the one hand, the trauma needs to be remembered. Volf has made an important contribution to what it means to remember a traumatic event, and how a Christian perspective on remembering looks like. Remembering must be done rightly, framed by the ethical imperative to love your neighbor. Remembering rightly, not aimed at revenge but at reconciliation, however difficult, is the best way to healing, Volf asserts. Such remembering is painful, confronting the victim not only with the memories of the traumatic event but also with the human inclination to make the victimizer seem worse than he or she is.
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The community can play an important part by accompanying the traumatized person and by creating hospitable places, zones of safety for the sufferer to enter the pain. On the other hand, the liturgical community of reconciliation will also remember God. It will remember God as Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, and Live-giver. The ethical imperative to remember rightly serves as a constant reminder that we need to remember God for who God is. Liturgies that revel in the Christian message of hope without exploring the depths of suffering, on its own part and on the part of God, are mistaken. Worshiping communities that confess the atoning death of Jesus on the cross attend to God’s suffering, but if they do not explore what it means to live life to the full, which includes healing and reconciliation, they need to broaden their memory. In every liturgy, at least one traumatized person is present(ed): the crucified Christ, who was isolated and deserted by his best friends, who was humiliated, who saw his identity being narrated by narratives of lie (Schreiter), who experienced violence to the point of death. Liturgy does not lack an identification figure for traumatized people. But how does the community remember and present this figure and how does it foster identification with traumatized people?1 By remembering trauma and by remembering God, the community will remember and shape its own identity. Swain notes that entering the pain of the other implies entering one’s own pain. Therefore, the questions ‘Who is my neighbor?’ and ‘Who is God?’ in a real sense are asking: ‘Who am I?’ The answers to the first two questions reveal and shape the identity of the community itself. When the community remembers truthfully, it will find pain within its own household. There will be members of the community that go through periods of suffering and there will be members that have been or are affected by trauma. Moreover, the community describes itself theologically as a body, Christ being its head. Therefore, the trauma of the crucifixion, in which all trauma and suffering are taken up, is part of the community’s very being. Thus, in theory worshiping communities will remember and narrate suffering as a matter of fact. Whether this is true in practice is a question that can only be answered by the communities themselves. Where it is not, the reality of a suffering world and traumatized
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‘neighbors’ urges the community to become true to itself by entering the pain of the traumatized and of itself. Liturgical communities have a number of resources in store for engaging the cycle of remembering and healing. We have referred to some of them already. First of all, churches have the language of lament. Studies have shown that this language is fully biblical and therefore at the core of the communities’ resources, yet it is underutilized (e.g., Balentine 1993; Billman and Migliore 1999; Brueggemann 1977, 1986; Meyer 1993; Swinton 2007). Secondly, liturgy recalls the story of God in relation to people. That story is bound up with suffering from its very beginning (Fretheim 1984). The climax comes in the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Thirdly, Swain’s pastoral model builds upon a creative paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer. The prayer contains several images of justice, guilt, forgiveness, and hope. Finally, the community has its rituals (Schreiter 1998, pp. 92–93). The primary rituals of the church are that of baptism and the Eucharist. But it has more rituals of reconciliation, and it can be creative in thinking about other rituals.
Conclusion Can liturgy provide a welcoming space for traumatized people? Yes it can, even though it often fails to do so. The present chapter has outlined how communities can become places where trauma can be remembered and narrated, and where eventually healing may take place. The steps of reconciliation as outlined by Schreiter prove to be a framework through which the process of remembering and healing might take place. We integrated these steps with the three moments in the pastoral model of Swain, in which she deals with Winnicot’s trauma theory. The names of the three steps are taken from a paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer, in which God is called Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, and Live-giver. We have put these steps and moments in a cycle of remembering and healing. At the heart of this cycle is remembering of trauma and of God. By remembering these, the community will remember who they are themselves. By actively remembering and working on these steps in the cycle,
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especially the steps of accompanying and providing hospitality, the community can create a space for and hold out with traumatized people, in the hope that transformation will take place.
Note 1. Dirk Lange argues that the Eucharist as an act of remembrance points not so much to the cross as well as to the sharing of a meal. This is a non-violent remembrance. Lange refers to the Didache where the cross is not mentioned but the meal is. Lange’s concern is that remembering the cross perpetuates the violence and even turns violence into something sacred. While this concern may be right, the point I would like to stress in the present chapter is that Christian communities can run the risk of not remembering truthfully when the trauma of Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion is not entered. Pain-bearing involves entering the trauma. Lange’s point shows that through the trauma transformation is possible. His point fits the latter two stages of reconnecting and commissioning in the cycle of remembering and healing, whereas remembering the trauma fits especially the first two stages (Lange 2010, pp. 10–11).
Bibliography Allman, M.J. 2000. Eucharist, Ritual & Narrative: Formation of Individual and Communal Moral Character. Journal of Ritual Studies 14 (1): 60–68. Anderson, H., and E. Foley. 1998. Mighty Stories, Dangerous Rituals: Weaving Together the Human and Divine. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Balentine, S.E. 1993. Prayer in the Hebrew Bible: The Drama of Divine-Human Dialogue. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. Bearden, R.O., and R.K. Olsen. 2005. Narrative Prayer, Identity and Community. Asbury Theological Journal 60 (1): 55–66. Billman, K.D., and D.L. Migliore. 1999. Rachel’s Cry: Prayer of Lament and Rebirth of Hope. Eugine: Wipf and Stock Publishers. Bohlmeijer, E. 2007. De verhalen die we leven: Narratieve psychologie als methode. Amsterdam: Boom. Brueggemann, W. 1977. Formfulness of Grief. Interpretation 31 (3): 263–275.
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Brueggemann, W. 1986. The Costly Loss of Lament. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 36: 57–71. Church of the Province of New Zealand. 1989. A New Zealand Prayerbook— He Karakia Mihinare O Aotearoa. Auckland: Collins. Dalferth, I.U. 2007. Glaube als Gedächtnisstiftung. Zeitschrift Für Theologie Und Kirche 104 (1): 59–83. Fretheim, T.E. 1984. The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective. Philadelphia: Fortress Press. Gibaut, J.S.H. 2001. The Narrative Nature of Liturgy. Theoforum 32 (3): 341–365. Herman, J. 1992. Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror. New York: Basic Books. Holsappel-Brons, J. 2010. Ruimte voor Stilte. Stiltecentra in Nederland als speelveld van traditie en vernieuwing. Groningen: Instituut voor Liturgische en Rituele Studies; Tilburg: Instituut voor Christelijk Cultureel Erfgoed. Immink, F.G. 2011. Het heilige gebeurt: Praktijk, theologie en traditie van de protestantse kerkdienst. Zoetermeer: Boekencentrum. Lange, D.G. 2010. Trauma Recalled: Liturgy, Disruption, and Theology. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. Luther, H. 1992. Religion und Alltag: Bausteine zu einer Praktische Theologie des Subjects. Stuttgart: Radius Verlag. McNally, R.J. 2005. Remembering Trauma. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. Meyer, L. 1993. A Lack of Laments in the Church’s Use of the Psalter. Lutheran Quarterly 7 (1): 67–78. Mitchell, N. 2008. Elected Silence. Worship 82 (6): 543–555. Morrill, B.T. 2000. Anamnesis as Dangerous Memory: Political and Liturgical Theology in Dialogue. Collegeville, MN: Pueblo Books. Pargament, K.I. 1997. The Psychology of Religion and Coping: Theory, Research, Practice, 1st ed. New York: The Guilford Press. Pargament, K.I. 1998. Patterns of Positive and Negative Religious Coping with Major Life Stressors. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 37 (4): 710–724. Park, C.L. 2005. Religion as a Meaning-Making Framework in Coping with Life Stress. Journal of Social Issues 61 (4): 707–729. Saliers, D.E. 1994. Worship as Theology: Foretaste of Glory Divine. Nashville: Abingdon Press. Schreiter, R.J. 1992. Reconciliation: Mission and Ministry in a Changing Social Order. Maryknoll, NY and Cambridge, MA: Orbis Books.
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Schreiter, R.J. 1998. The Ministry of Reconciliation: Spirituality & Strategies. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. Swain, S. 2011. Trauma and Transformation at Ground Zero: A Pastoral Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. Swinton, J. 2007. Raging with Compassion: Pastoral Responses to the Problem of Evil. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing. Sykes, S.W. 1983. Story and Eucharist. Interpretation 37 (4): 365–376. van Ommen, A.L. 2015. Anglican Liturgy and Community: The Influence of the Experience of Community on the Experience of Liturgy as a Challenge for Liturgical Renewal and Formation. Studia Liturgica 45 (2): 221–234. van Ommen, L. 2015. A Narrative Understanding of Anglican Liturgy in Times of Suffering: The Narrative Approach of Ruard Ganzevoort Applied to Common Worship. Questions Liturgiques/Studies in Liturgy 96 (1–2): 64–81. van Ommen, A.L. 2017. Suffering in Worship: Anglican Liturgy in Relation to Stories of Suffering People. London: Routledge. Volf, M. 2006. The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World. Grand Rapids and Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing. Wolterstorff, N. 1987. Lament for a Son. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing. Wolterstorff, N. 1988. Liturgy, Justice, and Tears. Worship 62 (5): 386–403.
Victimization via Ritualization: Christian Communion and Sexual Abuse Hilary Jerome Scarsella
The problem I wish to address came to my attention as I listened to Mennonite survivors of sexualized violence tell their stories1 of sexual abuse. The intersection of sexualized violence with religious thought and practice is a primary focus of my research, but it is through my work with Into Account—an organization that does solidarity work with survivors of sexualized violence in Christian contexts—that I have had the opportunity to hear Mennonite survivors speak at length about their experiences of sexual abuse with respect to Mennonite thought and practice.2 Frequently, Mennonite survivors of this violence describe participation in their church’s communion services as increasing their vulnerability to abuse before or while they were being abused, causing retraumatization after experiences of abuse, or both. In particular, given that the vast majority of Christian communities and theologies— including Mennonite communities and theologies—hope for communion to be a practice that nourishes well-being, these accounts are H. J. Scarsella (*) Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA e-mail: [email protected]
© The Author(s) 2019 R. R. Ganzevoort and S. Sremac (eds.), Trauma and Lived Religion, Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91872-3_11
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of utmost concern. In this essay, I reflect on the dubious relationship between sexual abuse and participation in Christian communion suggested by Mennonite sexual abuse survivors’ testimony. The proper starting place is survivors’ testimony itself. It is survivors’ tellings of their own experiences that spark the need for reflection on this subject, and it is to the survivors I engage that my reflection is accountable. Below are two glimpses into my many conversations with Mennonite survivors of sexualized violence that suggest a fraught relationship between cycles of abuse and participation in communion. Each glimpse is my own retelling of a story I received from a specific individual, and each resembles testimony I hear from many.3 First glimpse: When I was a junior in high school, 16 or 17 years old, I went to church on Sunday mornings looking for answers. I was being abused, emotionally, sexually, verbally. At the time, I didn’t know what to call it. I didn’t know what to do about it. I knew that it was killing me, and I was afraid. I walked into the sanctuary silently pleading for guidance, and while almost nothing of the average Sunday service was useful to me, communion became strikingly relevant. Here was the story of an innocent person, Jesus, who decided to silently endure bodily mutilation as well as emotional and spiritual anguish in order to demonstrate love for his enemies. Rather than retaliate or strive to protect himself, he let himself be murdered for the sake of the unjust. This, the liturgy said, was love, the kind of love Christian followers who take the bread and cup are instructed to emulate. Taking communion was described as a recommitment to following the way of Jesus’ suffering love, and so it became a ritual of accepting the pain I was taking into my body from my abusers. It provided me with strength and resolve to keep quiet and endure. It made sure I had no way to escape.
Second glimpse: They say, “The body of Christ, for you” and then expect me to put this man’s body into my mouth. The message is that somehow, my body is better off if it is filled up by his. Letting them put that bread in my mouth felt like practice for the next time the person abusing me put his
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penis in my mouth. Wanting to scream and run away, instead I would go numb, take the bread and the wine and then try as hard as I could to forget that it happened.
Not all survivors of sexual abuse, or even all Mennonite survivors of sexual abuse, will affirm that their experience is reflected here. No story of surviving abuse is the same as another. Nonetheless, testimony that the act of participating in communion strengthened the grip of abuse on its victims or exacerbated survivors’ traumatic suffering warrants critical attention. Broad, ecumenical attention is likewise warranted, because Mennonites are not alone in narrating stories of victimization and survival in which communion participation exacerbates the systemic and personalized harm of sexual abuse. The widespread nature of the problem and the systemic relevance of heeding Mennonite accounts of it are reinforced by the work of several religious scholars who themselves recognize communion participation as exacerbatory of sexualized violence and trauma. Theologian Serene Jones begins her book Trauma and Grace with a narrative of a survivor of sexual abuse who is traumatically triggered by participating in communion (Jones 2009, pp. 3–8). While Jones does not speak to the precise nature of the relationship between communion, sexualized violence, and the traumatic suffering such violence provokes, the foundation of her theological treatment of trauma is built on a narrative that suggests such a connection does exist. Theologians Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker assert such a connection more explicitly by sustaining an in-depth critique of various traditional forms of communion as theologically problematic in light of sexual abuse (Brock and Parker 2001). Thus, while the framework I construct for thinking the relationship between sexual abuse and communion participation is focused on Mennonite practices of communion and is accountable specifically to Mennonite survivors of sexual abuse, it bears relevance for both academic and ecclesial treatments of the subject beyond the Mennonite context. I treat Mennonite survivors’ testimony as fundamentally truthful. That is, I assume that the testimonies I have described reveal something actual about both Mennonite survivors’ experience and Mennonite communion practice. Survivors’ testimonies cannot be dismissed as
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delusions conjured by the traumatized. And, to regard Mennonite survivors’ testimony as truthful, one must at minimum grant that a relationship between communion participation and systems of sexualized violence does, in fact, exist, and that this relationship has the potential to exacerbate harm. Treating the truthfulness of survivors’ testimony and the reality of a precarious relationship between communion participation and sexual abuse as axiomatic leads me to take up two primary tasks. The first task is to articulate a theoretical foundation that both validates and illuminates the truthfulness of Mennonite survivors’ testimony. In a certain sense, survivors’ testimony stands on its own and is an end in itself. It does not need the accompaniment of critical reflection or theory to express itself or deserve authority. The testimony of the survivors I engage is not missing anything. And yet, cultural, theological, and more broadly intellectual biases routinely undermine the authority of survivors’ testimony and obscure the insights it offers. There is value, then, in undergirding the truthfulness of survivors’ testimony through the lens of critical reflection. Articulating a theoretical framework that validates Mennonite survivors’ testimony, makes the truth it expresses visible, and demonstrates its significance for human thought and living, is an exercise that hopes to enable and urge hearers of survivors’ testimony to become witnesses4 to the truth it carries. I find ritual theorist Catherine Bell’s concept of ritualization to be a useful foundation for this task. Starting from the assumption that Mennonite communion participation does have the potential to exacerbate the harm of sexualized violence, the question that immediately presents itself is, how? Bell’s thought illuminates ritual as an arena in which vulnerability to victimization can be especially at stake, and this framework enables me to theorize the potential for communion participation to exacerbate the harm of sexualized violence. Namely, I argue that it does so by inviting participants to embody the acceptance of victimization and therefore constitute themselves as willing victims of unjust harm. While vulnerability to victimization is increased throughout the worshiping community when this happens, the framework I construct acknowledges that participating in communion can be particularly
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devastating for those who are being abused at the time of participation. For, as the survivors whose stories launched this chapter testify, the ritual can become an arena in which the one harmed submits to the pain of abuse inflicted on their5 body and psyche, an arena in which one accepts, recreates, and lives into the role of victim. After constructing a theoretical framework that undergirds Mennonite survivors’ testimony, the second task of this essay will be to give critically reflective voice to at least some of Mennonite survivors’ concrete experiences of participation in communion. This will entail a treatment of select dynamics of Mennonite communion practice in light of Mennonite survivors’ testimony, making use of the critical lens I construct. The point here is not to offer a singular or definitive interpretation of Mennonite communion practice. Communion is a rich, textured, multivalent ritual that cannot be reduced to any single reading, no matter the truthfulness or weight of that reading. The point is also not merely to apply theory to practice, as if theory accounts for the fullness and diversity of practice. The point, rather, is to critically express Mennonite survivors’ experiences of communion participation with respect to the concreteness of that experience. The actual harm survivors incur is, after all, not theoretical or abstract. It is embodied and particular. Critically tracing the truthfulness of survivors’ testimony therefore requires a tracing of the actual acts, movements, words, and relationships from which that testimony rises. This tracing will lead us ultimately to consider the ethical challenges Mennonite survivors’ testimony presents to Mennonites specifically, Christian communities of faith broadly, and scholars interested in religion, ritual, or sexualized violence. The work of this essay—affirming and tracing the truthfulness of Mennonite testimony in order to understand how it is that participation in communion can exacerbate the harm of sexual abuse—is, in earnest, simply laying the foundation for a question of much greater urgency: What can be done—rather, what must be done—to guard against the propensity for communion participation to increase vulnerability to sexualized violence and trigger retraumatization among members of Christian communities of faith and practice?
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Theoretical Foundations The kind of theory that will lend intelligibility and critical support to Mennonite survivors’ sense that the suffering foisted upon them by sexual abuse was worsened and to some extent enabled by their participation in communion must be one that provides a framework for understanding how it is that communion participation might exacerbate the harm of sexual abuse. It must be a ritual theory that describes just how ritual participation is entwined with the social and psychological dimensions of ritual participants’ lives. And, it must do this in a manner that witnesses and validates the heart of Mennonite survivors’ testimony. Some theologians may prefer theories that maintain a concept of the liturgy in itself or of a liturgical essence that stands apart from its cultural construction and appropriation by ritual participants. This kind of theory, together with a conviction that the essence of the liturgy is good, would likely reason that when ritual participation results in harm, that harm ought to be traced to misinterpretation on the part of the participant and not to the liturgy itself. Such an approach succeeds in protecting the sanctity of religious ritual and posits an explanation for how the harm of sexual abuse is exacerbated through communion participation, but the conclusion that participants who are harmfully impacted by participation in religious ritual suffer merely due to their own misinterpretation is a sophisticated form of victim blaming. It turns survivors’ testimony into a weapon wielded to dismiss and invalidate survivors’ warnings that something is amiss in the broader practice of communion. In particular, since the harm in question is that of sexualized violence, we must be highly skeptical of any analytical paradigm that locates the source of harm in the one who is being harmed. We need a theoretical framework that traces the harm survivors have incurred to systems and practices that exist outside of survivors themselves. It will not work, however, to completely separate Mennonite survivors from that which causes them harm. Systemic violence and the practices through which it is propelled are exterior to individuals and yet take up residence within them, which means that the potential for
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communion participation to exacerbate the trauma of sexual abuse does not operate independently of the cultural and psychological dynamics of sexualized violence or the ways these impact and are impacted by particular individuals and communities. In other words, it is not only for ethical reasons that I turn away from theoretical approaches that think ritual in terms of a transcendental essence that is separable from culture and psychology. A theory capable of giving critical voice to Mennonite survivors’ testimony must be one in which the entwinement of ritual participation, culture, and psychology is as thorough and complex, as exterior and interior, as it is in the lives and bodies and psyches of those who suffer the harm of sexual abuse. Ritual participation, culture, and psychology can neither be collapsed in on one another nor held apart as entirely distinct. They must be treated as mutually constitutive. Catherine Bell, a religious studies scholar whose thought on ritual marked a conceptual turning point in the field, offers a theoretical framework that meets these basic criteria. Her work recognizes the entwinement of ritual and sociality as fundamental to ritual itself, and her framework holds promise for conceptualizing the relationship between communion participation and sexual abuse in a way that undergirds, and does not undermine, Mennonite survivors’ testimony. Understanding Bell’s treatment of ritual—what it is, the kind of power that it wields, and how that power works—is a helpful starting place for describing the potential impact of communion for those vulnerable to abuse. Speaking to what ritual is, Bell prefers the term ritualization to ritual, because ritualization implies generative action, participation, and a process in motion. For Bell, ritual is not an independent, objective, static entity. It is a particular kind of embodied, social process. What qualifies any particular process as ritualization instead of some other kind of social process is that ritualization both mimics and strategically differentiates itself from routine social action. For example, Christian communion is a process of ritualization because it is grounded in the routine, daily practice of eating a meal and is also differentiated from a routine meal in that it provides less food than is needed for physiological sustenance, takes place outside one’s home, office, or restaurant of choice, is shared with a community not typically
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present for daily meals, and so on. Through Bell’s lens, communion as ritual is not the presence of bread and wine or the content of any particular liturgical text. It is the social interaction that takes place within a particular, strategically determined frame (Bell 1992, p. 90). The power of ritual, then, is not the power of strict social control. Ritual does not stand outside of the social body and tower over it, and so cannot wield absolute power over participants like a puppet master manipulating dolls. Rather, in Bell’s formulation, ritualization does its work by itself functioning as a negotiation of power relations. Any given process of ritualization presents participants with particular arrangements of social power. In communion, for example, those who officiate, those who participate, and those who cannot participate tend to be identified by markers like ordination status, gender, church membership, or age, and this differentiation of roles according to social position constructs specific relations of social power between each group. Such power relations are not proposed to participants as concepts for participants to reason about. By nature of ritualization being social process, the arrangements of social power proposed by any given instance of ritualization are offered through an invitation for participants to themselves embody the proposed dynamics of social power in their ritual participation. As they do so, participants both constitute and are constituted by the social relations they take on and enact. Bell suggests this is precisely where the power of ritualization lies: This structured and structuring environment that the participants have created and with which they interact inevitably nuances the disposition of schemes that each agent repossesses as a practical knowledge of the world. Relationships of power are drawn from the social body and then reappropriated by the social body as experience. Specific relations of domination and subordination are generated and orchestrated by the participants themselves simply by participating. Within the intricacies of this objectification and embodiment lies the ability of ritualization to create social bodies in the image of relationships of power, social bodies that are these very relationships of power. (Bell 1992, p. 207)
To embody particular social relations is to literally take on their form and thus become that which is embodied. In that becoming, as
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participants are shaped by the relations they embody, they simultaneously reconstruct the social body accordingly. All the while, ritual participants remain agents who may consent to or resist the invitation of a ritual process to embody a particular set of social relations. Central to ritual processes that strategically construct specific arrangements of social power “are concomitant processes of consent, resistance, and negotiated appropriation” (Bell 1992, p. 207). In other words, the result of a given process of ritualization is determined as much by the manner in which participants engage it as by its strategies for Foucauldian domination.6 Ritualization is shaped and constituted by agents’ consent to participation, their strategies of resistance to participation, and the ways in which participants appropriate what is ritually given to enable their own survival or flourishing. Whether and how participants consent or resist influences and is influenced by the cultural and psychological situations of individual participants and the ritual community as a whole. Bell’s concept of ritualization works well as a foundation for theorizing the potential for communion participation to exacerbate the harm of sexualized violence, because it understands religious ritual, culture, and psychology as mutually constitutive, offers a framework for making the connection between communion participation and sexual violence intelligible, and does so without attributing the cause of harm incurred through ritual participation strictly to personal failure on the part of those who are harmed. That ritual, culture, and psychology are mutually constitutive in Bell’s theory is evident in her primary claim that ritualization is a negotiation of social power relations. Sociality is inherently cultural and psychological. There can be no essence of ritual apart from culture and psychology if, as Bell proposes, ritual does not merely guide or facilitate appropriation and construction of social power relations but itself is this appropriation and construction. Bell’s theory, thus, resists blaming the victim. If communion is a negotiation of social power relations and that negotiation results in violent disempowerment for some participants, the ritual process of negotiation becomes suspect. The Christian ideal that communion nourishes the well-being of all—particularly those who suffer—becomes accountable to the cultural and psychological circumstances of the
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disempowered. In practical terms, this means that when ritual participants are experiencing an intensification of unjust suffering in connection with communion participation, the ritual community as a whole bears responsibility for adjusting the practice such that its power negotiations cease to exacerbate unjust harm, even as that harm is uniquely bound up in the cultural and psychological existence of the one harmed. Finally, Catherine Bell’s description of ritualization as “a strategic arena for the embodiment of power relations” provides a crucial lens through which to understand the capacity of Christian communion to play a role in perpetuating cycles of abuse (Bell 1992, p. 170). It suggests that the relationship between abuse and communion lies in their negotiations of power. Sexual abuse is a form of controlling, dominating, objectifying power that, in the contemporary Mennonite context and many others,7 tends to manipulate those harmed into sacrificing their own well-being for the sake of the perpetrator or to protect their family or community (Herman 1992). If communion negotiations of power result in participants taking on and embodying a social position marked by a disempowerment that resembles that which is imposed by sexual abuse, it makes sense that one’s vulnerability to sexual abuse and the suffering it imposes would rise. When such a communion negotiation results in participants taking on and embodying roles of victimhood, Bell’s theory suggests that participants quite literally become victims within the broader social matrix. When, in communion ritualization, participants embody the role of a willing victim to bodily, cultural and psychological trauma, and therefore constitute themselves as such, the capacity to resist like instances of victimization in daily life is severely weakened if not obliterated. And whenever any of this takes place, the larger gathered body, in turn, becomes reconstituted as one that exacerbates the systemic power dynamics involved in the victimization of those who, in the collective celebration of communion, become constituted as victims of unjust harm. The Mennonite survivors’ testimony to which this reflection is accountable suggests as much. In the first glimpse shared at the beginning of this chapter, the survivor says communion participation led her to see her own experience of unjust violence as parallel to that which Jesus endured. Understanding communion as a commitment to
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live as Jesus did, she consequently took on the role of one who, like Jesus, would quietly endure that harm and accept continued victimization rather than resist. The survivor who shared the second glimpse described taking bread and wine as practice for the next time the person abusing her would force his body on her. Her communion participation, then, seems to have functioned as practicing the role of abuse victim quite literally. In communion, she took on and embodied the role of one who does not have the power to decide what will and won’t be allowed into her body. Turning back to Mennonite survivors’ testimony also, however, suggests certain limitations in Bell’s theory for validating survivors’ accounts of communion participation and critically revealing how it is that participation might intensify the harm of sexual abuse. Namely, liturgical words appear to take on considerable significance in each of the two glimpses of Mennonite survivors’ testimony shared so far, and Bell does not address the ways that words—spoken, heard, or read— influence ritualization. In the testimony of the first survivor, the significance of embodied action in communion was given shape by a narrative of Jesus’ willingness to endure crucifixion. In the second, very specific words, “this is my body for you,” influence the manner in which the bread and cup are received. Bell briefly acknowledges theories of ritual that claim words to be “deeds that accomplish things” (Bell 1992, p. 111) as well as theories that take ritual to be a form of communication, but she dismisses both and positions herself alongside Bourdieu and those who criticize all attempts to analyze ritual in terms of linguistic content or communicative function. She notes (interestingly enough) that those who tend to persist in talking about ritual as communicative are working with significantly complex rituals, such as Christian communion. Bell’s central point is that “the use of language or a particular mode of speaking does not appear to be intrinsically necessary to ritual as such” (Bell 1992, p. 113). Here, I am in agreement with Bell. Words do not seem to be necessary for ritual to be ritual. Communion can be practiced in silence. Language is not the primary location of ritual’s power to function. The power of ritual qua ritual is located in the ways people constitute themselves in relationship via ritual action. However, when words are included in processes of ritualization, they matter.
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Because they appear to matter significantly in Mennonite sexual abuse survivors’ accounts of communion participation, we will need to adjust the framework Bell provides to account for the power of text and speech in ritualization. Jørgen Podemann Sørensen argues that words are included in ritual for the sake of ritual efficacy. In his thought, words connect the present ritual action with authoritative action in the past or future, therefore investing the present ritual action with the necessary authority to carry out its function. Sørensen concludes that “by appointing the [ritual] action the act that accomplishes the content of the text, the text makes itself part of the act; it acquires an illocutionary quality” (Sørensen 2014, p. 79). Simultaneously, the spoken or read text casts a role for the participant to embody within the context of ritual action. Drawing on Sørensen’s analysis, I contend that words affect processes of ritualization insofar as they contribute to the personal, relational, and social significance of particular ritual actions. This allows me to affirm Bell’s understanding of ritualization as the negotiation of power relationships via ritual action and adds simply that the significance of any particular action within the negotiation of power relationships can be meaningfully shaped by the words that frame that action via their cultural and psychological resonance. For example, imagine a process of ritualization in which one participant is invited to bow before another. A myriad of nonverbal social dynamics contribute to the significance this action will have for the negotiation of power among the participants. However, if the words “Bow to your master” frame the bowing action, the power relations participants are invited to embody and constitute are different than if the same action is framed by the words “Bow to acknowledge the beauty of your being present in the other before you.” The first positions the act of bowing within the framework of hierarchical relationships of domination and submission. The second frames the act of bowing as a gesture that establishes a relationship of interdependence and self-valuing love of the other. While the utterance of either phrase cannot guarantee that the participant will embody the relationships described, it increases the likelihood that the power negotiations embodied by participants (in terms of both their consent and resistance) will be shaped in response
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to the roles cast for them by the text. Analyzing the linguistic content of ritual, then, together with its cultural and psychological resonance in particular contexts, can offer insight into the implications of particular processes of ritualization for the social bodies that participate in them. I intentionally say that this kind of analysis can offer insight and that words can affect the significance of particular ritual actions, not that they necessarily do or must. Words become significant for the meaning of action insofar as those performing the action afford them that significance. Or, put differently, the content of ritualized speech must have significance to the participant in order to inform the significance of the participant’s action. As ethnographies of religious ritual have shown,8 and as religious practitioners have long known, not all participants listen to, register, or understand9 the words included in ritualization. In such cases, the ability of words to modify the meaning of ritual action is limited by the degree to which those words have failed to produce significance in the participant. Likewise, words taken to heart, consciously or otherwise, will have a greater impact on the meaning of actions that negotiate relationships of power via ritualization. The same spoken words can also impact the meaning of ritual actions differently for different participants depending on their cultural locations and individual experience. Thus, taking the linguistic content of ritualization into account is useful in understanding the function of a particular instance of ritualization only when it is considered in light of the manner in which that content is received and appropriated by participants within the context of that ritual action. Cultural and psychodynamic insight into sexualized violence and its impact on victims and survivors are therefore necessary not only for understanding how ritual action can exacerbate the harm of abuse, but also in order to grasp the role of language in influencing ritual action to take on the kind of significance that constitutes participants as victims of unjust harm. My intent in reaching toward theory has been to construct a theoretical foundation able to undergird and validate Mennonite sexual abuse survivors’ testimony that participating in their congregations’ communion practice increased their vulnerability to abuse and intensified their suffering. Bell’s concept of ritualization suggests that communion participation, like all ritual participation, impacts the ways participants
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relate to self, others, and society in that it invites participants to embody particular relations of power with respect to each. As participants consent to or resist the invitation, the actual power relations they embody through ritualization come to constitute both them and the social body within which they act. Bell’s theory points to the specific movements and embodiments involved in communion practice as the loci for the production of Mennonite survivors’ harm. Sørensen’s insight that the words offered within a process of ritualization heighten ritual authority and thereby increase ritual efficacy—the degree to which participants do become constituted by the power relations constructed in the ritual process—together with my emphasis that texts significantly shape the role participants are invited to embody in processes of ritualization, suggests that mapping the power relations embodied in communion practice requires attention to its linguistic content and the ways that content becomes significant to participants in light of their cultural and psychological positions. While by no means complete, my use of Bell and Sørensen weaves together a framework that can affirm Mennonite survivors’ testimony and also trace the source of their harm to specific dynamics of the ritual processes, and the entwinement of culture and psychology in those processes, in which they participated.
Survivors’ Testimony and Mennonite Communion Practice Because this chapter seeks to validate Mennonite survivors’ testimony, and because that testimony is given with respect to specific, concrete experiences of harm, my second task is to give critically reflective voice to Mennonite survivors’ concrete experiences of participation in communion. Critically tracing the actual acts, movements, words, and relationships from which Mennonite sexual abuse survivors’ testimony rises is essential for tracing the truthfulness of survivors’ testimony and the claim it makes on the communities in which they worship. I will treat just two elements of North American Mennonite10 communion practice with respect to North American Mennonite survivors’ testimony, the power relations embodied in survivors’ ritualization, and the
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relationship of the liturgical text to that embodiment. The two elements I will address are self-examination and confession, and the distribution of the bread and cup. Taking seriously the biblical injunction that community members ought to be reconciled with one another before participating in the rite, the process of preparation for communion historically involved church leaders visiting the homes of each member in the community to encourage reflection on the state of one’s relationships and to facilitate processes of reconciliation between those who were at odds. Only once actual reconciliation had a chance to unfold would the community come together to celebrate communion (Rempel 1998, p. 63). Now, in place of the former, extended process of self-reflection and interpersonal reconciliation, the Mennonite communion service itself begins with a liturgically directed, inward self-examination and confession. This, like its predecessor, is understood as an act that prepares participants to share the bread and cup. The Mennonite Minister’s Manual (MMM) explains that in the Mennonite perspective, “the transformation that occurs in communion is that of people and not of objects” (Rempel 1998, p. 60). The first step in this transformation is to acknowledge and become accountable for the degree to which one’s relationships with neighbor and God fail to reflect the love and will of the divine. One Mennonite sexual abuse survivor described her experience of participating in communion self-examination and confession this way: Confession of sin during worship was a real task of self-discipline. I thought about the times when I had been mad at [the perpetrator]. I thought about all the ways that I probably hadn’t been nice enough or caring enough. I thought maybe if I had been some perfect sort of loving he would have stopped. I felt sorry for being so focused on my needs and sorry for “allowing myself ” to be pessimistic about life instead of counting my blessings. This kind of prayer made me think that the answer to my problems was in becoming more selfless and more detached from my own needs. It sounds ridiculous to me now, but I think some part of me thought that if I could learn how to be completely focused on other people instead of myself I would eventually stop feeling the pain of my own experience. It made sense to me at that time that that was how God was trying to save me.
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Another survivor says: Now that I’ve had some time to get right with myself and get away from [her abuser] I get angry during confession, and I argue in my head with what is being said up front. Like, no, I do not need to work on being kinder to other people. I need to work on being kinder to myself. And, no, I am not a total failure. When God sees me, I’m not perfect, but I know God sees something good and strong, something that brings God joy. I’ll stand there while everyone else is confessing, but I won’t do that to myself anymore – accept being told I’m less than I am and beat myself down for not giving myself away to everyone around me. [During the litany] I usually don’t say the part we’re supposed to say. Or, sometimes, I whisper “I do not” before confessing the thing we’re supposed to confess.
In both accounts, Mennonite sexual abuse survivors suggest that participation in communion self-examination and confession moved them to become detached from their own needs and focused on fulfilling the needs of others. The second survivor also experienced this element of communion as somehow defining her as wholly corrupt before God. Both indicate that consent to the invitations of Mennonite self-examination and confession led them to actually relate to others according to the roles cast for them by the liturgy, and the second survivor describes her current participation as marked by active ritual resistance that helps her also resist ways of relating outside the ritual space to God, herself, and others that she has found harmful. The actual harm that excessively prioritizing others above oneself can cause for sexual abuse victims and survivors is extensively documented (Herman 1992). Considering the following excerpt from a litany of self-examination and confession offered in the MMM helps to reveal the critical connection between Mennonite survivors’ testimony and the processes of communion ritualization in which these Mennonite survivors participated: Before I take the body of the Lord, before I share his life in bread and wine, I recognize the sorry things within: these I lay down. The words of hope I often failed to give, the prayers of kindness buried in my pride, the signs of care I argued out of sight: these I lay down. (Silent prayer)
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The narrowness of vision and of mind, the need for other folk to serve my will, and every word and silence meant to hurt: these I lay down. (Silent prayer) (Rempel 1998, p. 73)
The text of the litany casts participants in the role of repentant sinners, and the nature of participants’ sinfulness is explained here through six examples. In each, holding in mind that the litany is meant to facilitate examination of oneself in relation to others and God, sin amounts to lack of care for others and implies failure to love and obey God. Sin is failing to give of oneself. It is holding concern for oneself over concern for others. It is a failure to emphasize what is positive over what is negative. Sin is pride, an absence of kindness, narrow-mindedness, self-assertion, and behavior that has imposed upon others. In essence, the character of sin as it is described here is prioritizing the self. Mennonite survivors’ testimony reflects a strong sense that what they were being led to confess during the litany was prioritizing themselves over others. By casting participants in the role of those whose prioritizing of self over others is sin, the litany determines participants as those who do sinfully prioritize themselves over others. The spaces left for silent prayer that come after each spoken section invite participants to remember and bring to mind the ways in which they have committed this sin, feel sorry for those times, lay down the need to continue such behavior, and resolve to lower the priority of themselves in the future. The testimony of both survivors reflects a sense that consenting to the invitation of the litany meant dismissing their needs in their relationships to God and others. For them, that meant dismissing their needs for respect, affirmation, safety, justice, and freedom from sexualized violence. To be cast in such a role becomes harmful when it is a role into which one does not actually fit. The identification of sin with prioritizing self over others makes the incorrect assumption that excessive, inappropriate priority of self is a primary sin common to all members of the community. While no one is entirely free of prioritizing themselves to another’s detriment, scholars have aptly argued that such self-priority is of particular prevalence in those who occupy social locations of safety and privilege. Self-abnegation tends to be a more significant disturbance in the lives of the socially and psychologically disempowered.11 A ritual
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process that casts all participants in the role of one whose central sin is self-priority fails to see, value, include, and be formed by the realities of those members of the community who struggle significantly with valuing themselves or being valued by others in the first place. All socialized to excessively prioritize others over themselves, including those vulnerable to and harmed by sexual abuse, are invited in this litany to take on a role that does not fit. The embodiment of this role happens subtly. It is, perhaps, most apparent in participants’ vocal participation. At the end of the litany, participants are invited by the leader to affirm their confession. Those who do so affirm against themselves, not only in the content of their speech but by the very fact of it, that they are the ones to whom the litany is addressed. In the same process, those whose identity is incorrectly determined by the litany are invited to embody disempowerment with relation to the leader of the litany and the broader ritual community. For, the power to identify oneself as oneself is denied. Since a serious part of what propels cycles of abuse is a perpetrator’s success in denying victims the authority to see themselves as worthy of better treatment, that denial can have devastating consequences with relation to sexual abuse. The nature of abuse forms those who experience it to feel that protecting themselves is wrong (Herman 1992, pp. 96–114). And, since resistance to systems of abuse requires sustained insistence on the priority of one’s own safety and well-being over and against the will and desires of the perpetrator, constituting oneself through ritual action as one who already ought always to prioritize oneself less rather than more diminishes victims’ access and potential victims’ to critical tools necessary for resistance. It is also significant to notice that this ritual act of self-examination, framed as a genuine opportunity for self-inspection, does not include an invitation for participants to discover or name qualities of the self that are worth affirming. The role cast for participants is characterized by a theological anthropology that is incomplete, even by Mennonites’ own theological standards, in that it does not invite participants to discover within themselves the imago dei (Confession of Faith 1995, p. 28). Participants who consent to and embody the role that is cast for them constitute themselves as persons not only prone to sinfully prioritizing themselves over others but also having nothing present within that
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warrants affirmation. The risk this poses to participants is particularly high for those vulnerable to sexual abuse. Without a secure knowledge of oneself as fundamentally worthy of love and respect (often partially or fully absent in people vulnerable to abuse and in those who have been abused), or in contexts where knowledge of oneself as worthy is culturally or personally under attack by others (including contexts of sexualized violence as well as the US culture of sexism, heterosexism, and racism more broadly), understanding one’s essential self as wholly characterized by sin further erodes one’s capacity to resist systems of abuse. Such systems feed on victims’ sense of fault, shame, and innate worthlessness to thrive. Both glimpses of Mennonite sexual abuse survivors’ testimony shared at the beginning of this chapter spoke of ingesting the bread and wine during communion as directly linked with the intensification of their suffering. Recall that the first survivor said taking communion functioned as a recommitment to quietly endure the abuse being perpetrated against her. The second survivor testified that not resisting the elements presented to her in communion was a way of practicing nonresistance to sexual assault. In both survivors’ testimonies, the significance of taking bread and wine into their bodies was shaped by what was said about Jesus during ritualization. Read through Sørensen’s lens, the ritual retelling of biblical narratives about Jesus during communion appoints the ritual action of sharing bread and wine an act that accomplishes the content of the story. Participants in communion are, through their action, given a role in the narrative that frames that action, and this heightens the likelihood that their own ritualization will take on corresponding significance. Considering the narratives included in communion ritualization in light of Mennonite survivors’ testimony makes visible the contours of the power negotiations they engage and embody in the ritual process of giving and receiving of bread and wine. The equation of Christian love with self-sacrifice in Mennonite communion narrations of Jesus’ crucifixion stands out as immediately suspect, especially given the problematic way in which the self-examination and confession invite those vulnerable to sexual abuse to sacrifice their own well-being for the sake of violent others. Womanist and feminist
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theologians who critique the identification of sin with self-priority have also given the definition of love in terms of self-sacrifice and redemptive suffering considerable attention, arguing persuasively that equating love with self-sacrifice and calling it redemptive are systemically sexist in a way that perpetuates violence against women. Consider the following excerpt from the MMM: O lamb of God, you shed your blood on the cross for us. Praised be your holy name for your grace and love. (Rempel 1998, p. 78)
Jesus’ nonresistance to violent, unjust abuse, and murder— crucifixion—is described here as love. Jesus’ violent self-sacrifice is also characterized as willing sacrifice for the sake of those who have not earned his love: In fulfillment of (God’s) will he gave himself up to death; he freely offered himself as a scapegoat for the sins of the world. (Rempel 1998, p. 93)
This excerpt of the narrative presents Jesus as freely willing to endure unjustly perpetrated violence for the sake of the sinfully unjust. There are certainly theological strategies for interpreting both this excerpt and the one above in ways that do not equate love with freely willed, violent self-sacrifice, but these are not built into the text and therefore do not necessarily inform the significance the text takes on for participants’ ritual action. That Jesus’ self-sacrificial suffering is also redemptive is made explicit: …We come before you in this remembrance of Jesus’ death with gratitude for your great redemption. (Rempel 1998, p. 76)
Many bring with them into communion ritualization a religious upbringing that perpetuates a sense that redemptive suffering does stand at the heart of Jesus’ crucifixion, and the myth of redemptive suffering is deployed in systemically sexist western cultures as a tool for persuading women to embrace, rather than resist, detrimental self-sacrifice. Because
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victims of sexual abuse are made to feel they must sacrifice their well-being to protect their perpetrator or loved ones, and because believing their sacrifice is effectively benefiting others is often a strategy that victims rely on to survive, the myth of redemptive suffering is foisted with great strength upon those who have been sexually abused.12 It is highly likely, then, that some communion participants—particularly women and those who are being abused—are primed to hear Mennonite communion narratives of Jesus’ suffering as affirmation that redemptive suffering is a Christian ideal and afford corresponding significance to their ritual action. Broadly speaking, Mennonite thought and practices emphasize Christian identity as discipleship, and communion is seen as an act that conforms the lives of participants to the normative life of Jesus. This, together with the sense that such conformity is ethically necessary and to a large extent possible, influences statements like the one below to bear a high degree of significance for participants’ ritual action: … In this Holy Supper, make us one with him that we might be steadfast in following him. (Rempel 1998, p. 76)
Mennonite communion invites participants to embody the role of a follower seeking to become like the Jesus of the text. For those who hear Jesus described in communion narratives as revelatory of God’s desire for the world in that he freely chose to endure bodily abuse to the point of death rather than protect himself, the role cast for them to embody is that of a follower seeking to become like this Jesus. That which they are invited to embody is the conformity of their own lives to willing, violent self-sacrifice endured for the benefit of the unjust. When participants identify this as the role cast for them, consent, and embody it in their ingestion of bread and wine, they constitute themselves precisely as willing victims. Such a person’s capacity to resist sexual abuse—which is unjust, traumatic, bodily harm perpetrated by persons undeserving of a victim’s willing sacrifice—is obliterated. One who is already a willing victim has little ground for resistance.13 The words of institution, spoken directly before participants are invited to receive the bread and cup, are themselves framed by this
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narrative. For those participants who hear the narrative of Jesus’ crucifixion as a call to embody the role of willing victims, “This is my body, for you” and “This is the cup of the new covenant in my blood” confirm it as an accurate interpretation of Jesus’ words according to the biblical account, therefore heightening the authority of the ritual action that is to follow. Among Mennonites, the process for receiving the bread and cup varies. While pastors of a variety of genders (most typically, women and men) often lead the ritual and offer the bread and wine, lay people periodically take on these roles as well. There is no uniformity when it comes to the precise manner in which the bread and wine are offered. Sometimes, participants are invited to walk forward to the front of the worship space to receive them. Some congregations invite the whole community to stand, form a circle, and pass the bread and wine to one another. Others set up tables in the worship space and invite participants to sit, share, and eat together in small groups. What I will highlight as noteworthy in each of these scenarios is, first, that participants physically stand up and move themselves to the place of reception of their own volition, and second, that the bread and wine are offered to participants within the context of community. In choosing if and when to stand and move to the place where bread and wine are offered, participants demonstrate with their bodies that they enter into the ritual action freely. In this movement, they embody and therefore constitute themselves as willing. Moving one’s own body to the place where the body of another (Jesus) is offered marks the bodies of participants as also conforming. It is Jesus’ normative, traumatized, broken, and poured-out body in the form of bread and wine that remains at the center of the ritual space while the bodies of participants make themselves into literal followers by walking toward it. For those for whom participation in communion results in the constitution of oneself as a willing victim, ingesting bread and wine is the culminating action. In this action, a participant merges their own body with what has taken on significance for them as the traumatized body of Jesus. In doing so, they mark their body as one that must likewise endure traumatic, unjust harm.
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Constituting oneself as a willing victim within the context of community has particular implications for those vulnerable to sexual abuse. One’s acceptance of the role of willing victim is simultaneously the act through which a participant affirms their connection to the locally gathered community and their participation in the body of Christ. As participants choose to rise and move and consent to the invitation to share the communion meal, they move not only toward the bread and wine that represent the body of Jesus, but physically toward one another as well. With their bodies, they model their connection to one another, affirming their literal internalization of the traumatized body of Jesus as the element they hold in common. One’s connection to community, in this case, becomes predicated on the participant’s agreement to be a willing victim of unjust traumatic harm. One’s constitution as willing victim and one’s commitment to endure traumatic harm are located socially. Simultaneously then, for Mennonite survivors of abuse, consent to the ritual action of communion forges the bonds of community and reinforces isolation. For, the community to which one belongs has determined itself as one that accepts and even wills victimhood for the participant. The transfer of bread and wine from the hands of one to another marks a betrayal that haunts the relationship. When recognized faith leaders offer the bread and wine to participants, a hierarchy that determines the recipient as vulnerable in relation to the community’s power may characterize the betrayal for the participant. When the bread and wine are offered from the hands of trusted laity, the betrayal may take on a more intimate valence. When a participant both receives the elements and then offers them to the next in line, she may constitute herself as an active contributor to the system that wills her and those like her harm. In each case, the participant’s sense of security and connection to others is achieved at a high cost.14 Understanding one’s connection to community as secured by one’s willingness to endure unjust traumatic suffering heightens vulnerability to abuse in that it equates resistance to abuse with dissolving the bonds of community. Mennonites who find themselves threatened by the harm of abuse often feel they must choose between protecting themselves and maintaining
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their place within the network of relationships that otherwise sustains them.
The Ethical Project Ahead To become witnesses to the theoretical and concrete truthfulness of Mennonite sexual abuse survivors’ testimony that participating in communion increased their vulnerability to abuse and exacerbated their harm is to open ourselves to the question: What can be done to stop this? Mennonites are exploring the possibility of adjusting their communion practice. I recently led a group of theologians, liturgists, sexual abuse survivors, ministers, and psychotherapists tasked with constructing a normative communion liturgy that would both maintain fidelity to the Mennonite tradition and encourage resistance, rather than vulnerability, to sexual abuse. Our work remains to be fully tested, but it appears so far to be a step in the right direction (Scarsella 2016). Since ritualization is entwined with culture, identifying and addressing ways that the theological and social dimensions of Mennonite fellowship exacerbate sexual abuse or fail to resist rape culture are also necessary. Here, there is critical need for attention and aid from multi-disciplinary scholarship. Mennonites, however, are by no means alone in bearing responsibility to reevaluate their communion practice and cultural dynamics in light of the capacity for each to exacerbate sexual abuse. The fact of Mennonite survivors’ testimony, together with the multiple ways that ecclesially diverse feminist religious scholars have posited connections between communion participation and sexualized violence, makes a claim on Christian practice generally. At the very least, it urges communities that practice communion to find out whether their practice is similarly impacting participants, and if so, how. Every Christian community in which participation in communion—the practice that is held as constitutive of the community itself—does exacerbate sexualized violence in the lives of participants absolutely must build resistance to the propensity for harm into their liturgical practice and community life. The ethical integrity of religious communities, the
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authenticity of the relationships that bind them, and the lives of many depend on it.
Notes 1. To speak of trauma survivors’ retellings of their experience as stories is not to suggest that such retellings are fictional, made up, or carry less weight than, say, a report. Rather, this language intends to reflect and respect that because trauma refers to experiences that resist smooth integration into memory and sociality, it can take multiple and diverse tellings to weave together an adequate picture of the truth to which such tellings together witness. Describing survivors’ testimony as story can only be a responsible manner of speaking if it functions as a reminder to listeners that the truth to be found in trauma narratives is not always a truth of correspondence, and nevertheless remains truth worthy of respect, attention, and understanding. 2. As both a Mennonite and a survivor of sexual violence myself, I have osmosed knowledge of Mennonites’ experiences with sexual abuse and religious practice through a variety of other sources as well, including friendships, ecclesial roles, and my own story of surviving abuse. 3. The individuals from whom these specific stories come gave their permission for these retellings, and those presented later in the chapter, to be anonymously included. They affirmed that what is printed here does, in fact, represent their testimony. 4. The sense of witnessing I have in mind is indebted to Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub’s treatment of it as an act that enables the unfolding of traumatic testimony and the truth to which it attests (Felman and Laub 1992). 5. Here and elsewhere, I use the singular they as a pronoun inclusive of a variety of genders. 6. I take Bell’s use of Foucauldian domination to simply intend power that subjectifies (influences subjectivity). That ritualization inherently involves strategies for domination, or forms of power that strategically influence participating subjects, does not preclude ritualization from promoting social justice and solidarity. The social results of any
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particular instance of ritualization depend on the specific power relations that a given ritual process invites participants to embody and the degree to which participants take on or resist them. 7. For an account of sexual abuse as it manifests for many North American Mennonites, see Carolyn Holderread Heggen’s Sexual Abuse in Christian Homes and Churches. By contrast, Shawn Copeland’s description of sexualized violence perpetrated against women enslaved in the USA during the era of chattel slavery suggests a high degree of resistance in survivors of sexual violence to prioritizing the perpetrator (Copeland 2010). 8. For an example, see sociologist Daniel B. Lee’s ethnographic study of the ritual called the “Kiss of Peace” in an Old Order Anabaptist fellowship. 9. By “understand,” I do not mean “grasp the intended significance.” I am referring to situations in which the participants literally cannot interpret what they hear due to a language barrier or insufficient sound system. 10. The specific ecclesial bodies to which the survivors I engage belong are Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada. The Mennonite Minister’s Manual to which I refer in this section is produced and used by both denominations jointly. 11. Jewish feminist theologian Judith Plaskow’s 1980 book Sex, Sin and Grace critically revealed this dynamic to pervade theologies of sin. The work of Christian and Jewish, feminist and womanist thinkers and practitioners has since collectively deepened our awareness of the gendered dynamics of sin in religious thought and practice. Valerie Saiving, Delores Williams, and Carol Lakey Hess are notable among the many who have spoken to the topic. Nearly each of the essays included Joanne Carlson Brown and Carole R. Bohn’s Christianity, Patriarchy and Abuse touches on the consequences of linking sin with priority of the self, especially for women. 12. Trauma expert Judith Herman explains that trauma is intensified by the sense that one does not have control over their own survival. Believing that one’s suffering serves a constructive purpose enables those stuck in situations of abuse to believe that they are choosing the best option—the option that benefits others—and are therefore in control of their well-being even as it erodes (Herman 1992, p. 103). 13. Ritualization is, of course, not the only factor determining the constitution of the persons who participate, but it can be a significant one.
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14. Trauma theorists describe one’s sense of security and connection as critical to trauma resistance, which means that a participant’s choice here is no choice at all (Herman 1992, pp. 196–213).
Bibliography Bell, Catherine. 1992. Ritual Theory. Ritual Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Brock, Rita Nakashima, and Rebecca Ann Parker. 2001. Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Brown, Joanne Carlson, and Carole R. Bohn. 1989. Christianity, Patriarchy, and Abuse: A Feminist Critique. New York: Pilgrim Press. Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective. 1995. Wichita, KS: Herald Press. Copeland, Shawn. 2010. Enfleshimg Freedom: Body, Race, and Being. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. Felman, Shoshana, and Dori Laub. 1992. Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History. New York: Routledge. Heggen, Carolyn Holderread. 1993. Sexual Abuse in Christian Homes and Churches. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press. Herman, Judith. 1992. Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror. New York: Basic Books. Jones, Serene. 2009. Trauma and Grace: Theology in a Ruptured World. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. Lakey Hess, Carol. 1997. Caretakers of Our Common House: Women’s Development in Communities of Faith. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press. Lee, Daniel B. 2014. Making It Look Right: Ritual as a Form of Communication. In Understanding Religious Ritual: Theoretical Approaches and Innovations, 1st ed., ed. John P. Hoffman, 115–135. New York: Routledge. Plaskow, Judith. 1980. Sex, Sin, and Grace: Women’s Experience and the Theologies of Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. Rempel, John. 1998. Minister’s Manual. Harrisonburg, VA: Faith & Life Press and Herald Press. Saiving, Valerie. 1979. The Human Situation: A Feminine View. In Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion, ed. Carol P. Christ, and Judith Plaskow, 25–42. San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins.
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Scarsella, Hilary Jerome. 2016, Summer. The Lord’s Supper: A Ritual of Harm or Healing? Leader 13 (4): 33–48. Menno Media. Sørensen, Jørgen Podemann. 2014. Ritual Texts: Language and Action in Ritual. In Understanding Religious Ritual: Theoretical Approaches and Innovations, 1st ed., ed. John P. Hoffman, 73–92. New York: Routledge. Williams, Delores. 1993. Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.
abandon 143, 146, 161, 165, 167, 168 abuse, emotional 114, 140 anthropology 78, 81, 86, 87 Aristotle 58, 62 Art Spiegelman 105, 106 attachment 50, 51, 53–55, 58, 65, 84, 114, 130, 142, 144 Auschwitz 9, 177, 179, 182–185, 189, 191, 192, 194–197 authentic 63, 139, 148, 249 autoethnography 78, 85 B
bearing witness 9, 37, 179, 182–184, 186, 189, 194, 196, 197 Bell, Catherine 228, 231–238, 249 betrayal 159, 161–163, 168, 247
BlackLivesMatter 18, 38 body 4–7, 26, 27, 30–32, 36, 38, 51, 53, 56, 58–60, 62, 74–76, 78, 80, 86, 88, 101, 115, 116, 133, 134, 170, 171, 219, 226, 229, 234, 246, 247 Bollas, Christopher 114, 118, 121 border crossing 86, 90 borderlands 78, 85 brain 5, 6, 49, 58–60, 65, 180, 185 Brock, Rita Nakashima 227 Buddhism 80, 186 engaged 179, 182 Butler, Judith 28–30, 33, 34, 36, 59 C
Casal del Marmo 45, 49, 63, 64 case study 8, 114, 122, 123, 156, 197
© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019 R. R. Ganzevoort and S. Sremac (eds.), Trauma and Lived Religion, Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91872-3
Central Intelligence Agency Detention and Interrogation Program 15, 17 Christian theological anthropology 30, 242 church 7, 8, 37, 38, 46, 47, 49, 55, 66, 86, 96–99, 101, 102, 104, 133, 143, 155–157, 160, 161, 166, 169, 171, 173, 218, 220, 225, 226, 232, 239 clergy perpetrated sexual abuse (CPSA) 155, 156, 159–162, 167, 171 Coleman, Simon 81 communion 10, 82, 211, 225–235, 237–240, 243, 245, 247, 248 communitas 82, 83 community 9, 17, 32, 34, 36–39, 77, 79, 80, 87, 120, 143, 156, 160, 161, 166, 179, 180, 182, 183, 185, 195, 203, 205, 207, 209–212, 214–220, 228, 231, 233, 234, 239, 242, 246–248 continuing bonds theory 84 crucifixion 45, 168, 169, 171, 219, 235, 243, 244, 246 Csordas, Thomas J. 86 D
dangerous memories 83, 84 desire 3, 7, 50, 52, 55, 56, 64, 65, 75–78, 80–82, 84, 85, 87, 89, 90, 119, 242, 245 dignity 8, 31, 34, 40, 65, 103, 133–136, 140, 141, 147, 169, 193, 195 dissociation 57, 76, 101, 117, 123, 137, 138, 190
double-bind situation 138 E
embodiment 2, 6, 7, 20, 21, 232, 234, 238, 239, 242 emergency shut-off 136 empathy 37, 47, 48, 64, 67, 96, 100, 103, 135, 191 emplotment 1–10 ethics 7, 89, 90, 206, 207, 211, 216, 218, 229, 231, 248 ethnographer 74, 79, 80, 85–90 ethnography 78, 79, 85–90 experience 2–10, 21, 29, 47, 48, 51–53, 56–59, 62, 65, 66, 75–81, 83–85, 87, 89, 90, 96, 103, 113, 115, 117–119, 121, 122, 129, 132–134, 136, 138, 140, 146, 156, 160, 165, 167, 169, 172, 178–180, 182, 184, 185, 191, 192, 195, 204, 213, 226, 229, 238, 239, 242 F
faith 117 Farley, Wendy 76, 81 Figari, Luis Fernando 157–159, 162, 163, 172 First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain, The 37 flashback, intrusive 114, 120, 122, 123 Fonagy, P. 55, 114 foot washing 45–47, 50, 55, 57 forgiveness 145, 195, 209, 212–214, 220 fragmentation 137
freedom 36, 99, 133, 134, 136, 241 Fulkerson, Mary McClintock 86, 87
introjection 138 J
Ganzevoort, R. Ruard 3, 21, 26, 47, 57, 75, 83, 87, 114, 161, 172 Glassman, Bernie 182–185, 187, 189, 194, 197 God representation 120, 121 Gordon, Rebecca 17, 19, 20, 22, 23, 27, 28 Graham, Mark 86 Guantanamo 36
Jesus 62, 146, 167–169, 171, 172, 205, 226, 234, 235, 243–247 Jones, J.W. 120 Jones, Serene 130, 132, 133, 137, 146, 227 Jonker, E.R. 114 K
Kołodziej, Marian 177, 178, 182 Kristeva, Julia 51
healing 5, 9, 32, 58, 59, 65, 88, 132, 133, 139, 142, 143, 146–148, 167, 179, 181–187, 189, 192, 195–197, 205, 211, 213–221 Helen Block Lewis 52, 64 Herman, Judith 53, 55–57, 180– 182, 189, 205, 234, 240, 242 Holocaust 95, 106, 178, 179, 182, 191, 192, 195 I
identity 2, 8, 33, 79–81, 90, 113, 131, 133, 135–139, 148, 159, 160, 169, 180, 189–192, 196, 211, 213–215, 219, 242, 245 imagination 119 in-between 79 individuality 133, 135, 138, 140– 142, 147 intervention, religious 122
language 1, 4, 7, 34, 75, 78, 81–85, 87, 95, 98, 103, 133, 168, 180, 184, 185, 208, 220, 235, 237 liminality 32, 82, 83 liturgy/liturgical 2, 4, 9, 10, 35, 186–188, 203–209, 211, 212, 215, 217, 219, 226, 230, 235, 239, 248 lived religion 2–6, 9, 19–22, 26, 29, 33, 57, 60, 75, 78, 79, 84, 85, 87, 89, 96, 113, 114, 117, 122, 156, 172, 179, 197, 204, 214, 218 M
Maundy Thursday 45, 50, 55 meaning 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 19, 22, 25, 46, 47, 75, 77, 80, 85, 88, 90,
113, 114, 118, 120, 122, 123, 132, 133 memorials 3, 78, 82–84, 87, 90 memory. See remembrance/ remembering Mennonite 225–231, 234, 235, 237–241, 243, 245–248 Metz, Johann Baptiste 8, 83 Meyer, Birgit 5 micro-trauma 130, 131, 134, 137, 147 moral injury 76, 89 mother, function of 117
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 8, 55, 160 powerlessness 75, 131, 134, 135, 138 practice counter- 31, 33 false 20, 26, 27 privation 140 Q
queer/queerness 79, 85, 86, 90 R
narrative 2–4, 8, 20, 22, 31, 36, 40, 47, 48, 56, 63, 66, 75, 103, 104, 122, 168, 171, 192, 205, 214, 219, 227, 235, 243, 244, 246 narrative studies 75 O
objectivity 120 object-relating 117 object relations theory 207 Olivier Ka 102 Orsi, A.Robert 3, 4 Ortiz, Dianna 31–33 P
Parker, Rebecca Ann 227 pastoral 8, 96, 122, 146, 172, 204, 206–209, 212, 216, 220 poetry 24, 36, 38, 61, 81 post-traumatic realities 2
reconciliation 144, 145, 147, 148, 196, 206, 210, 212–220, 239 religion function of 113 prophetic 3, 19, 20, 37, 38 religious coping 1, 2, 4, 179 religious taboo 7, 96 remembrance/remembering 9, 32, 84, 184, 189, 197, 204–206, 210–220, 244 resistance, critical movements of 33, 34 responsibility 16, 40, 90, 104, 133, 136, 144, 145, 164, 179, 192, 195, 234, 248 retraumatization 143, 145, 225, 229 ritual 4, 6, 9, 22, 45, 50, 55, 83, 179, 185–188, 194–197, 209, 226, 228–238, 240, 242–247 Gate of Sweet Nectar 9, 179, 185, 186, 188, 191, 195, 196 ritualization 10, 228, 231–238, 243, 244, 248 ritual theory 230
Index 257 S
sacred 2–4, 19, 26, 29, 30, 74, 75, 161, 209, 211, 212 sacrifice 243–245 safe 5, 134, 136, 139, 145, 180, 182 safe space 204 Salinas, Pedro 156, 157, 162, 163 Santino, Jack 78, 82, 83 scandal 96, 161, 168, 171 Scarry, Elaine 23 Schreiter, Robert 9, 204, 206, 210, 212–218, 220 self-confidence, loss of 131 sexual abuse 7, 8, 96, 131, 155–161, 163, 166, 168, 169, 172, 173, 225–227, 229–231, 234, 236, 239, 242, 243, 247, 248 sexual violence 10, 100, 172, 173, 233 Sodalicio 8, 156–159, 162, 166, 167, 172 Sørensen, Jørgen Podemann 236, 238, 243 space 4, 5, 9, 19, 31, 32, 35, 38, 97, 104, 133, 196, 240 speechlessness 56, 100 spirituality 8, 38, 60, 132, 133, 139, 142, 146, 147, 160, 161, 164, 167, 213–215, 217, 218 spontaneous shrines 78, 82, 83 spontaneous street memorials 73, 77, 78, 82 St. Thomas 62 stigma 48, 49, 51, 54, 57, 59, 63, 64, 67, 168, 173 Stoffels, Hijme 75 subjection 142 subjectivity 120
suffering 8, 9, 20, 22, 34, 59, 60, 76, 95, 103, 114, 139, 145, 146, 166, 179, 183, 184, 186–188, 191, 192, 195, 203, 204, 206–209, 211–214, 219, 220, 227, 230, 234, 237, 243–245, 247 Swain, Storm 9, 203, 204, 206–210, 212, 214–216, 218–220 T
Taylor, Mark Lewis 30–34, 36, 38 testimony 6, 8, 16, 24, 25, 32, 36, 40, 103, 133, 195, 226–231, 234, 235, 237, 238, 241, 243, 248 therapy 97, 122, 130, 134, 139, 141 Tomkins, Silvan 49–54 torture 3, 6, 16–33, 35, 36, 40, 141, 213 transformation 118 transformational object 8, 114, 118, 119, 121, 122 transitional experience 120, 121 transitional function 120 transitional object 8, 114, 119–123 transitional space 120 trauma 1, 2, 4–9, 18, 26, 48, 54–56, 67, 76, 78, 79, 81, 84, 85, 87– 90, 95, 100, 104, 113–118, 122, 124, 129, 130, 132–134, 138, 140–143, 145, 146, 148, 167, 178–181, 183–185, 191, 195, 204–207, 209, 210, 213, 214, 216–220 traumatizing 7, 8, 10, 47, 57, 129– 132, 135, 137, 139, 141, 144,
145, 147, 203, 209, 213–215, 217, 219, 246, 247 trust 62, 119, 135, 140, 141, 143, 144, 146–148, 161–164, 180, 211, 217 Turner, Victor 82 Tweed, Thomas A. 79, 80 U
United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence 15 V
van der Kolk, Bessel 4, 87, 179, 180, 182 van Ommen, A.L. (Léon) 9 victim 8, 9, 18, 23, 25, 31, 39, 54, 74, 96, 97, 100, 103, 104, 130–132, 135–138, 141, 144–146, 149, 158, 160, 161, 167–169, 181, 185, 192, 213, 215, 218, 227, 228, 233, 235, 237, 245, 247 Vignette: A Formation Story in Body and Blood and a Question 73–74 Vinicio Riva 49, 51, 63
visceral 4, 5, 50, 53, 55, 67, 75, 76, 78, 80, 81, 84–88, 90 Volf, Miroslav 9, 204, 206, 210–216, 218 W
Walsh, Michelle 4, 5, 7, 76, 80, 84–86 Welch, Sharon D. 83, 84 White, Nafis 17, 20 Wilcox, Melissa 85 wild devotion 75, 76, 78, 81, 84, 87, 90, 91 Winnicott, Donald W. 8, 114, 117, 119, 121 witness 9, 17, 20, 31, 38, 74, 87, 98, 104, 133, 139, 143, 179, 184, 185, 189, 192–195, 228, 248 world-sense 76, 80, 81, 84, 87, 90 worldview 81, 84, 87, 90, 113, 132, 179, 204 worship. See liturgy/liturgical Z
Zen Peacemakers 9, 179, 182, 184, 186, 190 Zubaydah, Abu 23, 24, 39, 40