Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 67

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 1 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE Facing Spiritual Alienation and Disorientation In her description of traumatic aftermath, Herman notes that it is not uncommon for victims to lose trust in God.73 Trauma experts Courtois and Ford agree: “Disrupted spirituality is a hallmark of both direct and indirect trauma.”74 Psychology professor Janoff-Bulman recognizes the role of schemas in traumatic experience and recovery. According to her study, “we are biased towards assimilation [with old schemas] rather than accommodation [to new schemas].”75 But traumatic events rarely fit our schemas; thus, “the essence of trauma is the abrupt disintegration of one’s inner world.”76 Schematic disintegration wreaks havoc on survivors. For example, as a female survivor seeks to make sense of the interpersonal trauma of sexual abuse, her schema may exacerbate complex trauma and lead to what Tracy has identified as toxic shame.77 If she has accepted the common schema that says “good things come to good people, and bad things come to bad people,” then the trauma is interpreted through that schema: “I must be bad; I must have deserved it.” A practice of corporate lament seeks to redress such unhealthy schemas—by recognizing the depths of evil, the necessity to address pain to God, the victim’s dignity as a divine image bearer, and often—the victim’s innocence and rightful desire for vindication. In short, lament invites trauma victims to interpret traumatic experience through their covenant relationship with God in Jesus Christ, rather than through faulty schemas. Biblical lament does not passively accept traumatic experience (especially interpersonal trauma); it thrusts it toward God with all the strength indignant hurt can muster and cries, “Why?” Likewise, biblical lament rips the bandages away from the aftermath of traumatic experience, praying that Yahweh will notice, screaming, “How long O Lord?” Lament teaches the trauma survivor that his or her spiritual alienation and disorientation is never healed through “singing ‘til you mean it” or reciting religious platitudes like “God is in control; Glory to God!” Scazzero illustrates the absurdity of such behavior by pointing to the One who set the ultimate example for lamenting trauma: “when Jesus was on the cross, instead of crying, 73. Herman, Trauma and Recovery, 56. 74. Courtois and Ford, Treating Complex Traumatic Stress Disorders, 209. 75. Janoff-Bulman, Shattered Assumptions, 29–30. 76. Ibid., 63. 77. Tracy, Mending the Soul, 76. 66