Feminist Trauma Theologies

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With contributions from a diverse team of scholars, Feminist Trauma Theologies is an essential resource for all thinkers and practitioners who are trying to navigate the current conversations around theology, suffering, and feminism.



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Published 28 February 2020
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EAN13 9780334058731
Language English

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Feminist Trauma Theologies
Body, Scripture and Church in Critical Perspective
Edited by Karen O’Donnell and Katie Cross
© Editor and Contributors 2020 Published in 2020 by SCM Press Editorial office 3rd Floor, Invicta House, 108–114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG, UK www.scmpress.co.uk SCM Press is an imprint of Hymns Ancient and Modern Ltd (a registered charity)
Hymns Ancient and Modern® is a registered trademark of Hymns Ancient and Modern Ltd 13A Hellesdon Park Road, Norwich, Norfolk NR6 5DR, UK All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher, SCM Press. The Editors and Contributors have asserted their right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the Authors of this Work 978 0 334 05872 4 British Library Cataloguing in Publication data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Typeset by Regent Typesetting Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd
This book is dedicated to our mothers – Christine and Marie – who showed us what it means to be compassionate, brave and strong.
The survivor who has achieved commonality with others can rest from her labors. Her recovery is accomplished; all that remains before her is her life. (Judith Herman,Trauma and Recovery: TheAftermath of Violence)
List of Contributors Acknowledgements Foreword by Shelly Rambo Introduction How to Read This Volume
Method in Feminist Trauma Theologies 1. The Voices of the Marys: Towards a Method in Feminist Trauma Theologies Karen O’Donnell 2. ‘I Have the Power in My Body to Make People Sin’: The Trauma of Purity Culture and the Concept of ‘Body Theodicy’ Katie Cross
Feminist Trauma Theologies: Violence against Women 3. Belief: A Practice of Resistance to the Alchemy of Reality into Incoherence Hilary Jerome Scarsella 4. Body Remember: Reflecting Theologically on the Experience of Domestic Abuse through the Poetry of Kim Moore Manon Ceridwen James 5. ‘I Breathe Him in with Every Breath I Take’: Framing Domestic Victimization as Trauma and Coercive Control in Feminist Trauma Theologies Alistair McFadyen 6. Reading Gomer with Questions: A Trauma-informed Feminist Study of How the Experience of Intimate Partner Violence and the Presence of Religious Belief Shape the Reading of Hosea 2.2–23 Kirsi Cobb 7. Violating Women in the Name of God: Legacies of Remembered Violence Rosie Andrious
Feminist Trauma Theologies: Christian Communities and Trauma 8. Women in the Pulpit: A History of Oppression and Perseverance Leah Robinson 9. The Precarious Position of Indian Christian Women in Cinema and Everyday Life Sonia Soans 10. Broken or Superpowered? Traumatized People, Toxic Doublethink and the Healing Potential of Evangelical Christian Communities Natalie Collins
Feminist Trauma Theologies: Post-Traumatic Remaking 11. The Changing Self: Forming and Reforming theImago Deiin Survivors of Domestic Abuse Ally Moder 12. Losing a Child: A Father’s Methodological Plight Santiago Piñón 13. The Trauma of Mothers: Motherhood, Violent Crime and the Christian Motif of Forgiveness Esther McIntosh
List of Contributors
Rosie Andriousis currently a Research Associate within the Theology and Religious Studies Department at King’s College, London. She previously worked as a chaplain and was Head of Spiritual and Pastoral Care in one of the largest NHS trusts in London. She completed her PhD under the supervision of Professor Joan Taylor at King’s College, London, and was also awarded the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice from the King’s Learning Institute. Prior to her ordination in the Church of England in 2001, she read theology as an undergraduate at King’s where she also completed a postgraduate masters in biblical studies. Previously she worked as a part-time lecturer at KCL and a Mental Health Chaplain for the South London and Maundsley NHS Trust. Her research interests include gender studies, women in early Christianity, martyrdom literature and representation of violence. She has published in the areas of biblical studies, contemporary spirituality and chaplaincy.
Kirsi Cobbis Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Cliff College in Derbyshire, UK. Her research focuses on biblical hermeneutics as well as Old Testament studies, with a particular interest in women’s studies. Her recent research projects centre on the presentation and interpretation of women, especially in the Old Testament, exploring ways to read their stories in more empowering ways. Her most recent publication, ‘When Irony Bites Back: A Deconstructive Reading of the Midwives’ Excuse in Exodus 1:19’ (in I. Fischer, ed.,Gender Agenda Matters, Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2015) was in part based on her PhD research (2012; forthcoming), which focused on the narrative portrayal of Miriam in Exodus 2, 15 and Numbers 12.
Natalie Collinsa gender justice specialist. She set up Spark ( is www.sparkequip.org) and works to enable individuals and organizations to prevent and respond to male violence against women. She is also the Creator and Director of DAY (www.dayprogramme.org), an innovative youth domestic abuse and exploitation education programme. Natalie organizes Project 3:28 (www.project328.info), co-founded the UK Christian Feminist Network (www.christianfeministnetwork.com), blogs and tweets as God Loves Women and has written a book about Christians and domestic abuse, entitledOut of Control: Couples, Conflict and the Capacity for Change(SPCK, 2019). She speaks and writes on understanding and ending gender injustice nationally and internationally.
Katie Cross is Christ’s College Teaching Fellow in Practical Theology at the University of Aberdeen. She is (in official terms) the first woman to teach for Christ’s College since its foundation in 1843. Her work and teaching are centred on theologies of trauma, suffering and disaster. Katie’s PhD research was a theological engagement with issues of trauma and suffering in an increasingly non-religious UK context, and involved a qualitative study of the Sunday Assembly, a ‘godless’ congregation. A monograph based on this research, entitledThe Sunday Assembly and Theologies of Suffering, will be published by Routledge in 2020.
Manon Ceridwen Jamesis the Director of Formation for Licensed Ministry for the St Padarn’s Institute, Church in Wales. Her poetry has appeared in several publications, includingPoetry Wales andEnvoi. She gained her PhD investigating the role that religion plays in the identity of Welsh women in 2015, and her research has been published in two edited collections of feminist theological qualitative research (The Faith Lives of Women and GirlsandResearching Female Faith, both published by Routledge), and her bookWomen, Identity and Religion in Wales: Theology, Poetry, Storywas published in 2018 by the University of Wales Press.
Al McFadyenSenior Lecturer in Systematic Theology at the University of Leeds, while also a part- is time (unpaid) operational officer in West Yorkshire Police. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of either organization. His theological work is focused on theological anthropology and the doctrine of sin. He attempts to triangulate secular with theological thought in relation to concrete human situations where humanity is at risk. He has also published on religion and policing. His main publications areThe Call to Personhood (Cambridge University Press, 1990) andBound to Sin: Abuse, Holocaust and the Christian Doctrine of Sin(Cambridge University Press, 2000). In 2014, he was awarded an MBE for services to policing and the community.
Esther McIntoshis currently Subject Director for Theology and Religious Studies and Senior Lecturer in Religion, Philosophy and Ethics at York St John University. She is a feminist theologian and John Macmurray scholar engaged in interdisciplinary research that focuses on definitions of personhood and community, the ethics of personal relations, gender justice and the use of social media by religious communities. Representative publications include:John Macmurray’s Religious Philosophy: What it Means to be a Person(Ashgate and Routledge, 2011); ‘Belonging without Believing: Church as Community in an Age of Digital Media’,International Journal of Public Theology9:2 (2015); ‘“I Met God, She’s Black”: Racial, Gender and Sexual Equalities in Public Theology’, in S. Kim and K. Day (eds),A Companion to Public Theology(Brill, 2017). In addition, she is currently engaged in a CUF-funded project exploring chaplaincy support for trans and non-binary staff and students in Anglican foundation universities.
Ally Modera feminist practical theologian whose interdisciplinary work centres on theological, is spiritual and psychological understandings of trauma, mental health and human flourishing. She holds a PhD in practical theology and teaches in this field at multiple universities, in addition to speaking globally on women in leadership and ending violence against women and girls. Through her published articles and popular blogs, she also provides free faith-based resources for survivors of domestic abuse to heal. Ally brings two decades of pastoral ministry to her work as a speaker, author and consultant, and is available atwww.allymoder.com.
Karen O’Donnellis the Coordinator of the Centre for Contemporary Spirituality and Programme Leader in the MA in Christian Spirituality at Sarum College, Salisbury. Karen received her PhD at the University of Exeter and is the Secretary for the Society for the Study of Theology. Her research interests are at the intersection of bodies and theologies. Karen is a feminist, constructive theologian and has published on Mariology, sacramental theology, and theologies of reproductive loss. She has previously published work on trauma inBroken Bodies: The Eucharist, Mary and the Body in Trauma Theology (SCM Press, 2018).
Santiago Piñón is Christian University. His latestan Associate Professor of Religion at Texas publication, ‘The Box and the Dark Night of the Soul: An Autoethnography from the Force of Losing a Child in the Delivery Room’ (Online Journal of Healthcare Ethics), addresses healthcare professionals who care for the parents who have lost a child. Dr Piñón is an advocate for gender equality in his courses by bringing to light how men contribute to the oppression of women. He is the father of a 12-year-old who became part of the family seven years ago, father of 5-year-old triplets, and father of twins who died shortly after being born (11 October 2009).
Shelly Rambois Associate Professor of Theology at Boston University School of Theology. Her research and teaching interests focus on religious responses to suffering, trauma and violence. She is author of Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining(Westminster John Knox, 2010),Wounds: Resurrecting Living in the Afterlife of Trauma(Baylor University Press, 2017) and a co-edited volume with Stephanie Arel,Post-Traumatic Public Theology(Palgrave MacMillan, 2016).
Leah E. Robinson serves as Associate Professor of Religion and Practical Theology at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina, USA. She has previously held posts of University Teacher in Practical Theology and Peacebuilding at Glasgow University as well as Lecturer in Practical Theology at the University of Edinburgh. Her most recent book isEmbodied Peacebuilding: Reconciliation as Practical Theology(Peter Lang, 2015). She is currently researching oppressive theological practices for her forthcoming book,From Slavery to Westboro Baptist: Practical Theology as Oppression(Jessica Kingsley, 2020).
Hilary Jerome Scarsellais Visiting Assistant Professor of Theology and Ethics at Memphis Theological Seminary and a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Louisville Institute. Currently, she is working on a book that grapples with the theological dimensions of contemporary discourse on the problem and promise of belief in the context of sexual violence. Recent publications can be found in the journalReligion Compass, Fordham University Press’sTrauma and Transcendenceand in Palgrave MacMillan’sTrauma and Lived Religion.
Sonia Soanswas awarded her PhD from Manchester Metropolitan University. Her primary training is in the field of psychology. A practising Anglican, she has been involved deeply in church life. Her research interests include the intersections between gender, society, violence and media. She is currently working as an Assistant Professor in Bangalore, India.
We have a great number of acknowledgements to offer at the beginning of this book. An edited volume is, invariably, the work of a whole team of people. While our names are on the front cover, we know very well that this book is as much the product of the brilliant scholars who wrote essays for the volume, as it is a product of our tenacity and imagination. We are so incredibly grateful to all our contributors: Hilary Scarsella, Manon Ceridwen James, Al McFadyen, Kirsi Cobb, Leah Robinson, Sonia Soans, Natalie Collins, Rosie Andrious, Ally Moder, Santiago Piñón and Esther McIntosh. We are also grateful to Penny Cowell Doe and Sanjee Perera, who both wanted to write chapters for this book but for various reasons were not able to do so. We are most grateful to Shelly Rambo who generously provided a Foreword that far exceeded our expectations. Shelly has outlined a trajectory in feminist trauma theologies that situates this book so clearly in a developing pathway and an ongoing conversation. Her Foreword lends a perspective to this book that we would not have been able to articulate alone. Moreover, she was able to write this Foreword at a particularly busy time and we appreciate it so much. We are grateful to SCM Press, and especially David Shervington, for believing that this project was important and for committing energy and resources to seeing it come to fruition. We also want to acknowledge the key role a publisher like SCM Press plays in producing a book that is aimed at both academy and church. We are very grateful that SCM Press is committed to working at this vital intersection. We must also acknowledge that the seeds for this project were planted in a whisky-fuelled conversation at the annual conference of the Society for the Study of Theology in 2018. So we are grateful to SST for being a place where a diverse range of academics can meet, discuss theology and make plans for brilliant books over a few drinks. Cheers! I, Karen, have a few offers of thanks of my own to make too. First, I am so thankful that I got to work on this project with Katie Cross. Not only is Katie a brilliant theologian and a compassionate and innovative thinker, but she has also become a great friend. We have worked very hard on this volume together and working with Katie has been an absolute pleasure. I am also very grateful to my colleagues at Sarum College who have given me both encouragement and space to complete this project. With particular thanks to James Woodward – who can always be relied upon for a glass of wine and a word of encouragement – and also Jayme Reaves who has lent her biblical expertise to this book and kept me excited about this project. I am thankful, as well, to my students – past and present – who have been so enthusiastic in learning about both feminist theology and trauma theology and who keep my thinking fresh. Finally, I am very grateful to my friends and family who have done their best to keep looking interested in this project over the last two years! With particular thanks to Sarah, Amanda, Harriet and Kristen, who are the most persistent women; to my mother – Marie – who is a constant source of encouragement; and to James – who longs for a book on a cheerful subject matter but is my favourite nonetheless. I, Katie, would like to thank my co-editor and friend Karen O’Donnell for suggesting that we put this book together, and for being a joy to collaborate with. Karen’s commitment to theology in places of pain is inspirational: hers is the work that truly matters. Her kindness (and brilliant organizational skills!) have created not only this book but a supportive and sustaining network of scholars. Thank you, Karen – I am so proud to be your friend. I am indebted to the exceptionally brave band of women whose stories of purity culture appear in Chapter 2 of this book. They openly and generously shared their lives and their traumas with me; I hope that I have done their stories justice. My heartfelt thanks to my colleagues at the University of Aberdeen for their wisdom and counsel, and to friends and family who have loved me through this project (and beyond!) In particular, my dad, Nicos Scholarios, for his patience and wisdom, and my brothers, Andrew and Peter Scholarios, for the colour and laughter they bring to my life! Special thanks to my husband Peter Cross, for his love, compassion and dedication to making a difference. This book is for our mothers. For my mum, Christine – you have wrestled with and resisted damaging theologies throughout your whole life. Your compassion, your love and your fierce, inclusive faith inspire me to action in every day of mine. Thank you for all you do for other women, and thank you for all you’ve done for me.