Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 61

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 1 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE You have slain them in the day of your anger; you have slaughtered them without pity. As you summon to a feast day, so you summoned against me terrors on every side. In the day of the LORD’s anger no one escaped or survived; Those I cared for and reared, my enemy has destroyed. The book of Lamentations is “eminently suited [for sharing] experiences of suffering.”47 The historical backdrop of this text is “a very specific and traumatic type of loss and change that has befallen a community and left it shattered.”48 In 587 BC, Jerusalem was laid waste by the Babylonian armies. At no time do the laments depart from the factual realities of 2 Kings: the siege; the famine; the flight of the king; the looting of the temple; the burning of the temple, palace, and important buildings; the demolitions of the city walls; the slaughter of the leaders; the exile of the inhabitants; the expectation, then collapse of foreign help; Judah’s fickle political allies; the provincial status of Judah.49 Without diminishing the magnitude of this moment in history, it is appropriate to notice that this sequence of events corresponds closely to the experience of those traumatized by violent assault and sexual abuse: the sacred is profaned, identity is stripped, and expected helpers never come. Walter C. Kaiser writes, “[T]he worst that could happen anywhere to any nation, city, house of worship, or person, h appened here—earth’s loneliest moment of suffering.”50 Eugene H. Peterson provides further elaboration: It is impossible to overstate . . . the intensity or the complexity of the suffering that resulted. . . . Loss was total. Carnage was rampant. Cannibalism and sacrilege were twin horrors stalking the streets of 47. Ibid., 114–116. 48. Leslie C. Allen, A Liturgy of Grief: A Pastoral Commentary on Lamentations (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 4. 49. Peterson, Five Smooth Stones, 125. 50. Walter C. Kaiser Jr., A Biblical Approach to Personal Suffering (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1982), 13. 60