Sites of Violence, Sites of Grace : Christian Nonviolence and the Traumatized Self
Cynthia Hess offers a thoughtful reconstruction of Christian nonviolence through an examination of both theological and theoretical works. She shows how contemporary understandings of violence and the human person challenge traditional views of nonviolence as pacifism and the refusal of military violence. Hess begins with an analysis of the extensive writings on nonviolence by John Howard Yoder, one of the foremost twentieth-century thinkers on this subject. She then seeks to deepen his view by probing the insights of trauma scholars who explore the powerful and lasting effects of traumatic violence on individuals and communities. These scholars often maintain that many survivors continue to hold the reality of traumatic violence within their bodies and minds, so that it becomes part of them as they move through time. In light of this claim, Hess argues that Christian nonviolence must move beyond pacifism to directly address the problem of internalized violence. In conversation with resources in Yoder's work as well as feminist theory and trauma studies, she analyzes an often-overlooked dimension of religious nonviolence: the creation of communities in which traumatized persons can survive and flourish. With its highly interdisciplinary character, this book presents a fresh perspective on Christian nonviolence that not only challenges traditional views but also reclaims the centrality of nonviolence for contemporary Christian theology and practice.
- Electronic book text | 178 pages
- 16 Dec 2008
- Lexington Books
- MD, United States
This work combines the nonviolence theory of Mennonite scholar John Howard Yoder and the work of trauma theorists. Hess effectively argues that Yoder is right in his claim that the Church should be a community that seeks to promote nonviolence in the world. . . . Using psychological theory, Hess argues that the Church can be a community that provides the resources for healing the traumatized self-an entity that can provide a community of equals where narratives can be shared, an important part of the healing process. . . . Recommended. Hess provides a valuable theoretical framework and concrete ways the church can move more consciously toward being a site of grace for those who have experienced trauma....Her theological approach to those who have experienced trauma is wholesome, deep and gentle (yet without sentimentality) compared with some theological approaches that offer spiritual platitudes and saddle trauma survivors with guilt for their symptoms.... Few books on trauma studies explore the theological and pastoral implications of trauma. This book does both, making it a welcome addition to the field . . . It clearly and insightfully details how Christian practices can help individuals re-narrate identities in light of the Christian story, and experience the acceptance and safety needed to integrate trauma. Hess skillfully both clarifies and challenges. Her crisp analysis of trauma provides readers with tools for understanding what is happening when really bad events interrupt their individual and collective lives. Her identification of trauma victims as sites of violence puts the church on notice. Christian non-violence cannot rest content with prophetic protest against military violence. It must form communities in which people can heal from traumas as well....--Marilyn McCord Adams, University of Oxford
About Cynthia Hess
Cynthia Hess holds a Ph.D. in theology from Yale University and has published articles on Anabaptist theology, peacebuilding, and religiously motivated terrorism. Currently, she is consulting study director for the Institute for Women's Policy Research in Washington, DC, where she conducts research on religion, feminism, and public policy.