"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Theology and Trauma

I've been doing a lot of reading over the past three years in the study of trauma widely understood. Part of this has been motivated by trying to understand how Eastern Christians have reacted to and suffered the effects of such things as, inter alia, the Armenian genocide and other massacres by Ottoman Muslims, Ukrainian Greek-Catholic repression at the hands of Stalin from 1946 onwards--to say nothing of earlier divisions and events in the Church often thought to require some "healing of memories."

The study of trauma has really exploded in the last several years, and I have previously noted on here some of the scholars I have found especially useful--Jeffrey Prager, Charles Strozier, Vamik Volkan, and others.  But books linking reflections on trauma to Christianity are rather rare. Notably there is Marcus Pound's book from 2008, Theology, Psychoanalysis, and Trauma, which is useful though rather narrowly focused on Lacan.

Now, however, released just a couple of weeks ago, we have a new collection, wide-ranging in scope, but with several essays devoted to theology and trauma: Trauma and Transcendence: Suffering and the Limits of Theory, eds. Eric Boynton and Peter Capretto (Fordham UP, 2018), 344pp.

About this book the publisher tells us the following:
Trauma theory has become a burgeoning site of research in recent decades, often demanding interdisciplinary reflections on trauma as a phenomenon that defies disciplinary ownership. While this research has always been challenged by the temporal, affective, and corporeal dimensions of trauma itself, trauma theory now faces theoretical and methodological obstacles given its growing interdisciplinarity. Trauma and Transcendence gathers scholars in philosophy, theology, psychoanalysis, and social theory to engage the limits and prospects of trauma’s transcendence. This volume draws attention to the increasing challenge of deciding whether trauma’s unassimilable quality can be wielded as a defense of traumatic experience against reductionism, or whether it succumbs to a form of obscurantism.
Contributors: Eric Boynton, Peter Capretto, Tina Chanter, Vincenzo Di Nicola, Ronald Eyerman, Donna Orange, Shelly Rambo, Mary-Jane Rubenstein, Hilary Jerome Scarsella, Eric Severson, Marcia Mount Shoop, Robert D. Stolorow, George Yancy.

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