Public conversation about the realities of trauma are now prevalent. This includes not only the #MeToo movement, but also the thousands of American veterans with significant trauma who have returned from recent American wars. Increasingly sophisticated studies of trauma’s biological and neurological effects show that traumatic responses are not due to “nerves” or “shell shock,” as combat trauma was often thought of during earlier conflicts. Rather, it is a real phenomenon with biological, psychological, and spiritual effects.
Shelly Rambo’s first book, Spirit and Remaining, explored how trauma could be a lens through which to read Mary’s encounter with the risen Jesus. In Resurrecting Wounds, she pushes her argument further by exploring how trauma reappears in the midst of new life—noting that even the resurrected Jesus has visible scars when he appears to the disciples in the Upper Room. Rambo skillfully examines how wounds are treated in Scripture, in historical thinkers such as Gregory of Nyssa and John Calvin, and in contemporary womanist theologians, in order to constructively explore how theologians might make sense of such wounds. The relevance of her project extends beyond the realm of academic theology, as Rambo explores the way of life with trauma and looks at how healers from outside the Christian tradition use ritual resources to help veterans heal.
Here, an interdisciplinary panel has responded to Rambo’s complex work. John Oliver, a national leader in efforts by the Veterans Administration to care for returning veterans, asks how Rambo’s theology applies to the veterans he has spent years counseling and ministering to. Dirk Lange’s response relates liturgical theology to trauma theory. Lange wonders what connections worship might offer to healing traumatic wounds and how trauma theory might help us understand the wounds of Jesus in a new way. Keri Day, works from the perspective of Womanist theology, asks about how to engage the ongoing reality of racial trauma. Day points to the dangers involved in forgiveness without transformation. Warren Kinghorn, a theologian and psychiatrist with extensive experience in dealing with traumatized veterans, presses Rambo about her account of the church’s role for a specifically Christian account transformation and healing.