Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 64

LAMENT - Carlson Empowering the Survivor Judith Herman, a psychiatrist and trauma expert, claims “empowerment of the survivor”57 as the first principle of trauma recovery. From a different angle, Brueggemann, the Old Testament scholar, identifies biblical lament as the empowering of victims with their rightful privileges of covenant relationship. [The] absence of lament is the loss of genuine covenant interaction because the second party to the covenant (the petitioner) has become voiceless or has a voice that is permitted to speak only praise and doxology. . . . Since such a celebrative, consenti ng silence does not square with reality, covenant minus lament is finally a practice of denial, cover-up, and pretense. . . . Where there is lament, the believer is able to take initiative with God and so develop over against God the ego strength that is necessary for responsible faith. But where the capacity to initiate lament is absent . . . the outcome is a ‘False Self,’ bad faith which is based in fear and guilt and lived out as resentful or self-deceptive works of righteousness.58 From yet another angle, Steven R. Tracy’s biblical and psychological treatment of abuse identifies “the tragedy of powerlessness”59 resulting from interpersonal trauma that “deadens and destroys an individual’s emotions, hope, and sense of being alive.”60 Lament is especially suited to counteract such powerlessness, since it so vividly articulates and animates the emotions that trauma “deadens and destroys.” 57. Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery (New York: Basic Books, 1997), 133. 58. Walter Brueggemann, “The Costly Loss of Lament,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 11, no. 36 (1986): 60–61. In email correspondence with Dr. Brueggemann, he further clarifies, “[B]y against God, I mean the courage to stand in God’s presence and protest against God and to talk God out of some actions and into others. I think that is what goes on in some of the Psalms; see for example Psalm 44 and also Abraham in Genesis 18 and Moses in Exodus 32. There are hints of it in the parable Jesus tells about prayer in Luke 18. I think it requires a new kind of piety and a reformulation of God, but it is I think faithful to the Bible and to the Gospel” (email correspondence, May 12, 2014). 59. Tracy, Mending the Soul, 107. 60. Ibid., 108. 63