Monday, September 5, 2011

One wife and husband’s – particular – memorial for 9/11

The release of The Apostle Paul and Post-Traumatic Stress, From Woundedness to Wholeness comes at that time when so many of us turn our thoughts again to that September 11th and the image of those collapsing twin towers. It was not intended so, but perhaps it is well that our book comes at the time of the tenth anniversary of that great sorrow.

I was just entering college when the GIs from the “big” war were also. There was plenty of the post-traumatic to remark upon in the dorms, trust me. It was ten years later, however, when I was a young pastor, that I remember such traumas so clearly.  Denial had fallen away and a great variety of feelings found their way into expression. It may well be so today. Added to the flashbacks surfacing among the civilian television watchers are now added the veterans of the resultant wars. Equally sorrowing to us are those who have been caught up in terrors in so many ways in so many countries. Our book is but a small gesture towards healing, but hopefully a passage over troubled waters.

Ours could be seen as a unique book in some ways. It is co-authored by a man and woman. Frequently books on post-traumatic matters seem to reflect a rather exclusive male or (especially) female perspective. Our experiences are somewhat broader than most, as well; my wife was (is!) German, I am American. Our personal experiences with PTSD are also different; mine was in a civilian setting. Her experience is reflected in the dedication of the book:

                To my mother and grandmother,
who bent over me when the bombs began to fall.

This book is different from some also, in that it does not reflect some authors on-going suffering, Annelie and I are able to reflect back on a process of healing. There is no cure for the biological imprinting of traumas: but there is a healing process. In our thinking about young Saul, and the later Paul, we understand the movement away from woundedness.

Different, too, is that while both Annelie and I have worked as mental health counselors – and chaplains – our reflecting about the process of post-traumatic resolution is not solely as professionals. Our thoughts and feelings, as we meditated on Saul becoming Paul and then on to his later ministry, were that of participant observers.

The theme of the book is biographical. The theological implications we leave to the reader. In part we have chosen to write of Paul  because so many persons, particularly combat veterans, do not want to admit their post-traumatic stresses. To admit that would be “weak” or “mentally ill.” There is a need for a positive role model, and no one can regard Paul as weak! Mental stuff? You will be intrigued as you read about the great Apostle from the perspective of process.

There is just one more thing. If you get help from the book you are obligated to pass it on. And on. And on.

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