As I gather these book reviews I find two major
themes, trauma and dying, which become one, but which are
overcome by means of a book, in which the past may speak to
the future and with healing in its wings. If we feared dying
less, if we came to terms with it more truthfully, then would
we feel the need to wound, or be wounded, less?
Giuseppe Alberigo, Chiesa Santa e Peccatrice: Conversione della chiesa? Monastero di Bose: Edizioni Qiqajon, 1997.
The double monastery, of men and women, of Orthodox and Catholic, is a dream of the past and of the future. Bose, in northern Italy, near Biella, combines the best of the old and the new. This book, on its cover Mary Magdalen in her scarlet penitence before Christ, speaks of the Church's need for metanoia, not only of recognizing its past sins, but even of achieving its own conversion. Instead of concentrating upon the male figures amongst the disciples who manifested betrayal, denial and doubt, Judas, Peter and Thomas, it sees the Church through the figure of women, exemplified in Eve, Rahab, Tamara, and Madalen, and as exemplified likewise in the cities of Babylon and Jerusalem. It surveys Church History, concluding with the writings of Rahner, Congar, Balthasar, Ratzinger, Kung, Barth and the Nuremberg Principles. It speaks of the Church as the People of God, guided by the Holy Spirit.
The book concludes with appendices by the
ecclesiasts Jaeger, Meyer, Larrain Errazuris, Laszlo, Bea,
Elchinger and Lorscheider.
I'm a former psychotherapist who worked on a mobile
crisis unit. I did both crisis intervention and brief therapy
with victims of violent crimes. I did a lot of work with abuse
survivors and often used the Courage To Heal and the workbook.
In addition to providing you with this bibliography, I'd like
to volunteer to be a "listening ear" via E-mail for any type
of abuse survivors. I always looked upon my profession as my
ministry, and feel that it is very sacred to be a pastoral
role whenever possible.
From review at Amazon.com:
Ellen Bass and Laura Davis. The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse. Perennial, 1994. ISBN: 0060950668
'Based on the premise that "everyone wants to become whole," this book offers help and encouragement to women who were sexually abused in childhood. Through moving first person narratives, it illustrates how to come to terms with the past and work constructively towards the future. Along the way it describes the effects of sexual abuse, maps the stages survivors pass through, and offers practical guidance on dealing with self-defeating behaviors and building self-esteem. Supportive strategies are recommended to families, friends, and health-care professionals. The final "Resources for Healing" lists services and self-help programs and a bibliography. Compassionate and supportive.
There is a workbook based on the book that is very useful for survivors, and therapists who work with survivors. The book can also be obtained on tape.'
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett. Aurora Leigh and Other Poems. Ed. John Robert Glorney Bolton and Julia Bolton Holloway. Penguin. [EBB's epic/novel/poem, Aurora Leigh, brilliantly discusses sexual trauma, both childhood and adult, and recovery, in the character of Marian Erle.].
Our banker-theologian-Alcoholic-Anonymous contributes a truly fascinating review. I've been finding this argument true as well, that though poverty was thrust upon me malevolently its curse is a blessing. I long ago decided money itself is without meaning, its meaning only coming from what it can purchase, a kind of hollow language about things. Thanks.
James Buchan. Frozen Desire - An Inquiry into the Meaning of Money. Picador, 1997. ISBN: 0 330 36931 8. 320 pp. £7.99 paper.
"Frozen Desire" doesn't sound like quite the right title for review here and, indeed, some heads craned when I had to shout the name at the slightly deaf lady who presides over Olio Bookstore, Hastings, E. Sussex. So I quickly added the sub-title, "An Inquiry into the Meaning of Money". For James Buchan, descendant of the Scottish polymaths, former Financial Times writer and Whitbread Prize winner in the novel, has produced a series of meditations that lead one, as if through a wonderful museum, to his conclusion: meaning of money = frozen desire.
The 320 page pathway Buchan has constructed is well worth taking even though the destination is known. His raw material is roughly one part history, one part anecdote and one part motif criticism. It is this latter that may interest Godfriends. Chapter Three is entitled "Thirty Pieces of Silver".
"The implications of Christian poverty are very profound: for if the poor are the image of salvation, then the daily struggle to ward off poverty -- the whole worldly existence of accumulation and provision -- is merely a side-show to the true drama of life. In time, of course, that side-show will become so elaborate and various that it will gain its own self-evident authority and displace the other attractions of existence." That is how he begins an analysis of the "money" motif in the Synoptic Gospels.
Money, we have learned in Chapters One and Two, has an otherworldly quality that is hard to capture. It is, as he says, "diabolically hard to comprehend with words." But the point he makes, the way he makes it and the way he sums it up in the last chapter, "Money: a Valediction", is that Jesus would have us know money is fundamentally set against the Christian notion of "the Kingdom". Diabolical, indeed. "For in this flash of recognition," (he is talking here about Rembrandt's "Judas, Repentant, Returning the Thirty Pieces of Silver"), "the miller's boy, the Dutchman, saw into the marrow of history: that the divine in man is dead beyond all resurrection; that there is nothing left to us but a few coins on a dusty floor and our bestial natures; and that in every monetary transaction, wholesale and retail, Christ is re-crucified."
Whew! And that's before he writes the killer concluding paragraph to the chapter. Go buy this book.
Go buy it for its prescience too. At one point Buchan recites the familiar tale of the Dutch tulip bulb speculative bubble of the early 17th Century. He tells us an amusing story of how a sailor, "coming on a bulb of Semper Augustus, worth as much as an Amsterdam town house and garden, thought it was an onion and ate it with bread." Then he says, "There were wild speculations before the Dutch "tulpenhandel", for example in the stock of the Dutch East India Company in the first quarter of the century; and there have been countless since, from the railway shares in the 1840s to Florida real estate in the 1920's and Internet stocks in the 1990s." He might have added that last category yesterday.
Mr. Buchan is a highly educated man. In following the motif of money in literature he has chosen important works that reflect our changing attitudes: Cervantes' "Don Quixote" written at the height of the great silver inflation from the mines of the New World for example. William Langland's "The Vision of Piers Plowman" and Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" are also used - and much, much more. To his treatment of all these, and their treatment of money, he has brought much erudition, wit and, I suspect, originality of thought.
"Frozen Desire - An Inquiry into the Meaning of
Money" by James Buchan. Picador, 1997, 320 pgs. £7.99 paper.
Evelyn Eaton. I Send a Voice. Wheaton: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1990. ISBN 0-8356-0511-6 pbk. 178 pp.
I ask on the Juliansite that readers send me books or reviews in connection with Julian for this file.This book came to me from Kenneth Lott whom I encountered on Merton-L, who knew he was dying, and who here sends us a voice, through that of a woman, and through hers that of Native Americans, a cloud of witnesses across time and space, cancelling death.
It is a moving account by an elderly, now dead, writer of her friendship with Native Americans and of her participation with them in healing Spirit Quests. It is a New World version of Julian's medieval quest in her anchorhold for God. Both women courageously face their coming death, Julian living for many years after 1373 to tell the tale, Evelyn writing hers at the end of her life, Julian tells of her love for her even Christian, Evelyn of her respect for the wisdom of her neighbours. Both carry out Viktor Frankl's logotherapy for themselves and for others in the writing of their books.
For further examples of logotherapy by women see The
Life of Saint Teresa of Avila Written by Herself,
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh and Other Poems,
both in Penguin Classics, and the two stories in Oliveleaf, Martha's Supplication and An English Rose.
Isabel Fonseca, Bury Me Standing (New York: Viking, 1995)
Gypsies, the long-lost children of India, number about 12 million worldwide. In Europe, the 8 million Gypsies constitute its largest minority. Recent films like Tony Gatlif's Latcho Drom: A Musical History of the Gypsies from India to Spain (1994) and books like Isabel Fonseca's Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and their Journey (1996) will help ensure that the Gypsies do not again get lost -- outside the world's consciousness. Bury Me Standing -- the title comes from the Gypsy saying, Bury me standing, I've been on my knees all my life-- is a compassionate book about a marginalized and much-maligned people. Nonetheless, over the past seven centuries, the Gypsies have made many contributions to European folk music, dance, and lore. As the Cannes award-winning Latcho Drom shows, Flamenco dance is an outstanding example. When Isabel Fonseca, an American journalist and former assistant editor of the Times Literary Supplement, set out to write this book in 1991, she had in mind that the Gypsies were 'the New Jews of Eastern Europe.' After four years of field work that included living with Gypsy families in many European countries and researching library documents, she concluded that the Gypsies alongside with the Jews are ancient scapegoats.
Traditionally, Gypsies never kept any written records nor maintained an oral history. The research on their origin began with a systematic philological analysis of their language, Romani, which has been firmly established as a Sanskritic language. Words like dand, (tooth), mun, (mouth), lon, (salt), akha (eyes), khel (play) are identical with those in northwest Indian languages like Punjabi and Hindi. Fonseca does not comment on the close resemblance, presumably because of her unfamiliarity with these languages. She is also puzzled by the Gypsy habit of shaking head side-to-side to signify yes. This distinctive gesture alone suffices to pinpoint their India origin -- rendering all linguistic evidence redundant! If confirmation were needed, it would be readily provided by the Gypsy use of the bhairavi musical scale as well as the bol (the rhythmic syllables -- tak, dhin, dha -- imitating drum beats).
Current scholarly consensus is that the Gypsies are from the Dom group of tribes, still extant in India, making their living as wandering musicians, smiths, metalworkers, scavengers, and basketmakers. They migrated first from northwest India to Persia in 950 A.D. at the invitation of Shah Behram Gur. As recorded by the contemporary Persian historian Hamza, the Shah out of solicitude for his subjects, imported 12,000 musicians for their listening pleasure. The Dom, or the Rom, as the Gypsies came to call themselves, appeared in Europe first in 1300 A.D., fleeing from forcible Islamic conversions by the Turks. In Europe, ironically, they were accused of being advance spies for the Turks, and persecuted again. They were also mistaken as Egyptians, whence the folklore origin of the term Gypsy. Fonseca apparently is unaware of another etymology: Punjab-say -- from Punjab, which was what the earliest immigrants to Persia replied when asked where they have come from. By the time, they reached Byzantium, the locals heard Punjab-say as Jabsay, Gypsy. The locals took Gypsy to mean from Egypt, a country they had heard of.
The history of the Gypsies in Europe, gleaned, for the most part, from court- and church-records and from rare academic publications, is a horror--Europe's heart of darkness. One of the examples Fonseca cites is the 1783 dissertation published by Heinrich Grellman of Gottingen University. In his book, Grellman describes an event of the previous year in Hont county, Hungary: The case involved more than 150 Gypsies, forty-one of whom were tortured into confessions of cannibalism. Fifteen men were hanged, six broken on the wheel, two quartered, and eighteen women beheaded -- before an investigation ordered by the Hapsburg monarch Joseph II revealed that all of the supposed victims were still alive. During World War II, the Nazis exterminated 1.5 million Gypsies. At the Nuremberg trials, the Nazis' lawyers argued that the killing of the Gypsies was justified since they had been punished as criminals, not as a race. There was no one to speak for the Gypsies, and the international tribunal accepted this rationale. Ah, humanity.
However, although tyrants, bigots, and the misinformed have often stereotyped the Gypsies as congenital criminals, sociological studies show that the Gypsies commit crimes no more than others. A large-scale study cited by Fonseca: In Romania, which has the largest Gypsy population of any country, out of all criminal convictions that of the Gypsies total 11 percent. Their population in the country? Exactly 11 percent. (The Gypsies in Romania do not have equal access to the justice system. Their situation is worse than that of the Blacks and Hispanics in the U.S.A.)
In recent decades, a Gypsy intelligentsia has begun to emerge. Fonseca presents detailed profiles of several. Dr. Ian Hancock, an American Gypsy, and the author of The Pariah Syndrome, was instrumental in bringing about, in April 1994, the first-ever Congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., on the human-rights abuses of the Gypsies. After prolonged efforts, Hancock also succeeded in the Gypsy inclusion in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Gypsy inclusion had long been opposed by Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize winner! It was only after Wiesel's resignation, writes Fonseca, herself an American Jew, that one Gypsy was allowed onto the museum's 65-member council. (The council comprises Poles, Ukranians, Russians, and more than thirty Jews among others.)
Saip Jusuf is the author of one of the first Romani grammars and a principal leader in Skopje, Macedonia, which has the largest Gypsy settlement anywhere. Jusuf helped organize the first world Romany Congress in 1971 in London. The conference was financed in part by the Government of India, and at its urging the U.N. agreed first to recognize the Rom as a distinct ethnic group and several years later accorded voting rights to the International Romani Union. In an interview with the author, Jusuf, having converted from Islam to Hinduism, joyously displayed his new icon collection of Ganesha, Parvati, and Durga. Ramche Mustupha, a poet, showed his passport. Under citizenship it recorded Yugoslav; under nationality, Hindu. The lost children of India, having found their ancestral land, are very proud of its ancient civilization -- the oldest continuous civilization in the world -- Amaro Baro Thanh (Romani for our big land). Fonseca observed: Many of the young women, fed up with the baggy-bottomed Turkish trousers they were supposed to wear, have begun to wear saris. Unlike other beleaguered and marginalized minorities, the Rom are not seeking a homeland of their own, a Romanistan, in or outside India.
The Rom are resisting, as they always have, to
maintain the freedom for a life-style of their choosing. To
allow this to the Gypsies, Vaclav Havel, in Prague, said, is
the litmus test of a civil society. However, Havel's is a
lonely voice. All over Central and East Europe Death to
the Gypsies graffiti can be observed. Since the Velvet
Revolution in Czechoslavakia, twenty-eight Gypsies have been
murdered. Fonseca cites several specific cases of terrorism
against the Gypsies during the 90's. In February 1995, in
Oberwart, Austria, a town seventy-five miles south of Vienna,
four Gypsy men were murdered. A pipe bomb had been concealed
behind a sign that said, in Gothic tombstone lettering,
'Gypsies go back to India'; the bomb exploded in their faces
when they tried to take it down. The first response of the
Austrian police was to search the victims' own settlement for
weapons; 'Gypsies killed by own bomb,' the papers reported.
Oberwart, Austria, is in Burgenland, where the Gypsies have
been settled for three centuries. The resurging repression of
the Gypsies is Europe's continuing crime against humanity. At
the Nazi trials in Nuremberg, there was no one to speak on
behalf of the Gypsies. Now, the Gypsies have at least this
eloquent book exposing Europe's recrudescing genocidal threats
Viktor E. Frankl, M.D. The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy. New York: Vintage, 1986. xxvii+319. ISBN 0-394-74317-2.
Julian of Norwich's function to Margery Kempe of Lynn was that of 'soul doctor'. She helped Margery, in the face of contempt and ridicule, to find meaning, to find God, in the city of her soul. That was in the early fifteenth century. Both women wrote, and rewrote, major books, about their theology and their souls. In our own century, amidst the senseless cruelty of Auschwitz, Viktor Frankl tested his psychotherapeutic theories in praxis, and lived to tell the tale, partly because he, too, had a lost book to rewrite. Likewise did my friend, Dean Ernest Gordon of Princeton University Chapel, find that he and the other prisoners-of-war with him at the Bridge on the River Kwai had to re-establish meaning in their lives, teaching themselves Greek, challenging each other. I shall never forget a photograph he showed me of one British prisoner, a living skeleton, but with a smile on his face where one would least expect it, a photograph that had been buried underground from the Japanese, then later dug up, part of their recording of their tale.
I am dealing much these days, wrestling like Jacob with the Angel, with the problem of good and evil. I am encountering those who somewhere have had their code of meaning broken. They choose to become the oven stokers at Auschwitz, the priests who abuse altar boys, the Trustees of Trusts, and the Governors on Boards, who abscond with the cash of endowments for libraries, theological colleges, convents and schools, and while abusing children in their care. What has happened? Somehow at the top meaninglessness has entered, morality is lost. But in listening to these people excitedly tell me that Machiavelli had it right (I, as a professor emerita of literature know that Machiavelli was speaking, writing, whispering, tongue-in-cheek, letting freedom-loving Republican Florentines know what kinds of things demonic Medicean Princes wanted to hear, in order to preserve not Princes, but Republics), I realise that something has gone terribly ill. The more I study these men the more I am saddened, in a way filled with pity. They might get excited and turned on by evil. Goodness sends them shuddering away. Talking with them further, what emerges is that even some men of the cloth do not believe, do not really believe, in life after death, and therefore they want it all now, whatever the cost might be to others, including the widows and orphans they should protect. A bishop, whom I had trusted and revered, told me of seeing two people die, one a man in miserable poverty surrounded by his family, the other a woman of wealth in a room overlooking a garden and herself being tended by her gardeners, and he gave me those two experiences for his choice for wealth over poverty. Somewhere, somehow, the code of meaning had been shattered.
Satan tempted Christ in such a way that had Christ fallen, for the sleight of hand of stones seeming like bread, for the illusion of control over empires, for the suicide attempt from the Temple's pinnacle, for lies and utter meaninglessness, God's code would have been broken for us, the sacred alphabet of meaning smashed, in whose image we are made. We are all tempted. Our body's needs, our mind's needs, our soul's needs shape our lives. Viktor Frankl, however, takes issue with Freud's Pleasure Principle and with Adler's Power Principle and says there is a third Principle, the will-for-meaning, for a spiritual basis, and that is the one that gives happiness, not the other two; that is the one that can allow survival in concentration camps, not the other two. (Boethius had said the same, centuries earlier, in his Consolation of Philosophy, which he wrote in prison while awaiting execution, restoring meaning to his life and to ours.) It is also that principle, for meaning, for spirituality, for soul healing, that can bring recovery from alchoholism and drug addiction, which essentially are the other two Principles, for Pleasure and Power, having taken destructive charge over human lives, rendering them paradoxically miserable and impossible, without meaning or joy.
While that is Viktor Frankl's main argument for Logotherapy he also presents its cures of scrupulosity, obsessions and phobias, which he treats with humour, Julian's laughter, finding ways and means for the patient to undo bondage by jokingly flying into a contrary obsession (paradoxical intention) or to become 'de-reflected' from it. He describes treatment with Logotherapy for Psychosis, Clinical Depression, and Schizophrenia. If we were Edith Stein we might write a play in which Boethius, Julian and Viktor consult together on Margery's cure, who manifests most of these symptoms. And on our own. We can also see how Frankl's task of rewriting his destroyed book while in the concentration camp, mirrors that of Boethius, rewriting hurriedly the book he had planned to have written leisurely, Julian, revising hers in three versions, Westminster, when young, Paris, in her maturity, finally Amherst, when Archbishop Arundel was forbidding the laity to use the Bible in English translation, and she was seventy; Margery in her illiteracy struggling with an initial failure with her Book, written for her by her German daughter-in-law, from Gdansk of later Solidarity's fame, succeeding eventually in having it written by a team of priests; Sister Anna Maria Reynolds, C.P., with her war-tide M.A. and D.Phil. theses on Julian, then having their publication suppressed; and I in having my M.A. thesis in theology on Julian suppressed by ecclesiasts, in our recasting it as a critical edition, we all of us are carrying out Logotherapy, the healing of meaning, not so much for ourselves but for you.
The Survivors' Webring: Let the Truth Ring Out
the Truth Ring Out Net Ring
is owned by Julia Bolton Holloway
Join Let The Truth Ring Out
A very similar work is Viktor E. Frankl, Man's
Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy. My
copy at hand was sent me by Kate Lindemann, and is
the 1972 Pocket Books paperback edition of that originally
published by Beacon Press, 1959.
Mrs. Aeneas Gunn. The Little Black Princess of the Never-Never. Melbourne: Robinson & Mullens, 1947.
Sent to me by Carmel Miller in Australia, this
little paperback is not likely to be found today in bookstores
or libraries today. But it is a must for any anthropologist
studying Australian Aborigine culture, lost with the Lost
Generation. A brilliant housewife, Mrs Aeneas Gunn entered
into the lives of Aborigines, deeply respecting their culture,
making photographs of their artefacts, listening to their
teaching, and teaching these in turn to us.
Judith Lewis Herman, M.D. Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Terror to Political Terror. New York: HarperCollins Publishing, 1992.
I open this book and within its pages is inserted: 'Julia, With love and prayers and healing Olive Leaves. Jeannette'. We have prayed together, sleeplessly, the same Gethsemane. I am most grateful for this parcel of healing books and olive leaves.
I find in it a book marker at page 190, at the part that says:
'Genuine contrition in a perpetrator is a rare miracle. Fortunately the survivor does not need to wait for it. Her healing depends on the discovery of restorative love in her own life; it does not require that this love be extended by the perpetrator. Once the survivor has mourned the traumatic event, she may be surprised to discover how uninteresting the perpetrator has become to her and how little concern she feels for his fate. She may even feel sorrow and compassion for him, but this disengaged feeling is not the same as forgiveness'.
This book begins by speaking of the 'unspeakable', in Latin, nefas. Of things so terrible they may not be uttered. Yet demand to be proclaimed as equally as they are denied. The book also notes this is true of societies as it is of individuals. Trauma denies its history but there can be no present, no future, until the past is understood. She notes the history of this study, first with that of hysteria in Republican anti-clerical late nineteenth-century France, then shell-shock with the wars from WWI to Vietnam, finally, with women's liberation, the trauma of sexual, domestic violence. She relates all three as one aetiology. Indeed Freud initially truthfully understood and taught that such mental illness was caused by premature sexual experience, by incest, in his Aetiology of Hysteria. But he came to deny his own findings, inventing psychoanalysis. 'Shell-shock' supposed a physical cause from the concussion of artillery, but Vietnam veterans demanded a proper study of the permanent post trauma stress disorders they experience in direct proportion to their exposure to combat violence. Then it was discovered women shared that experience, within families, and likewise suffered from PTSD. Several of the writers speak of this as the 'death-instinct', Freud, or the 'death imprint', Robert Jay Lifton, the thanatos aspect that annihilates eros. [Perhaps we can substitute caritas foreros, the monastic context seeing eros as about self, caritas as about all.] Freud even spoke of a 'daemonic force at work', unleashed in trauma victims. In combat and disaster this may be survivor guilt, in rape, the victim's perception of guilt for the act, a severe crisis of conscience.
On page 158 she describes 'The immense importance of sharing information in the immediate aftermath of the trauma [as] illustrated by the experience of a team of Norwegian psychologists who took part in a rescue effort after a disaster at sea. Survivors of a capsized offshore oil rig were briefly counseled by a mental health team after their resuce and given a one page fact sheet on post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition to listing the most common symptoms, the fact sheet offered two practical recommendations. Survivors were advised, first, to talk with others about their experience in spite of a predictable temptation to withdraw, and second, to avoid using alcohol for control of their symptoms. One year after the disaster the survivors were contacted for follow-up interviews. Many of the men still carried in their wallets the fact sheet that they had been given on the day of their rescue, now tattered from many readings and rereadings'.
The victim of trauma, of abuse, ceases to be the victim with PTSD when regaining control, through logotherapy, through overcoming the thanatos aspect, the helplesness, the humiliation, the terror, the annihilation, through naming what has happened to and then within herself, through taking charge. The survivor of atrocity in every age and every culture asks 'Why?' This meaninglessness needs meaning, not exorcism but integration, wholeness restored, the testimony no longer being ignominy but dignity. On page 189 it is noted that violence and revenge carried out by a victim, for instance, a combat veteran who committed an atrocity, does not reduce PTSD, instead it greatly worsens its severity. Equally the quest for forgiveness is frustrated. Page 190, 'True forgiveness cannot be granted until the perpetrator has sought and earned it through confession, repentance and restitution'. Since this is impossibly rare it is essential that the victim grieve and mourn what is lost. Healing comes with reconnectedness, often through educating against abuse, one Vietnam veteran directing a shelter and rehabilitation centre for persons like himself, speaking of the sense in this work of ' interconnectedness of human souls'. Herman ends her book with an image about the commonality of souls, in which one's own troubles are 'as a drop of rain in the sea', drawn from the writing of a survivor of terrible childhood abuse. It is an image found also in Marguerite Porete's Mirror of Simple Souls.
The book's notes present a copious bibliography.
Timothy Holme. Benedetta or The Perception of Joy. Ed. Bianca Holme. Verona: Privately Printed, 1990.
Don Renzo, who is a priest in Verona and who visited the Casa di San Sergio in Settignano of padre Barsotti, sent me this book. On its cover is an appealing drawing in sanguine of a young woman. Within its pages is her story, and that of the young Englishman who was drawn to that portrait, seeing it in a church in Italy, and who felt compelled to write this book, not knowing when he began that he himself would also die young. His Italian wife has edited it and had the work printed.
Benedetta was studying medicine at the University of Milan when she began to realize her symptoms were interfering with her ability to pass her examinations. The only case she diagnosed was her own, as neurofibromatosis, Recklinghausen's Disease, affecting the nerves along which tumours grow, causing great pain and paralysis. She became deaf and blind. With the help of her mother, her family and her friends, Benedetta continued her medical studies as long as possible, then, as she became more and more bedridden and subjected to surgery, found around her bedside a vast circle of visitors to whom she offered consolation and joy. In her signed conversations and in her dictated letters she was writing out a theology close to Therese of Lisieux's, to Julian of Norwich's, and to Christ's.
This book has two purposes, to help Benedetta's cause for beatification and canonization, and, far more important, to help those who, like its subject, its author and, indeed, everyone of us, has to come face to face with our dying. In this it can be a companion to the studies by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. We have books like The Joy of Cooking, The Joy of Sex, we also need The Joy of Dying. Julian was able to survive her 1373 'dying' and to tell us of it herself.
Benedetta blesses the lives of those who continue,
after her death, to tell others about her 'Holy Dying'. It is
a brave book one reads with cleansing tears. And with a
prayer, too, for the soul of its selfless scribe, the English
Timothy Holmes who revered and so well understood the Italian
Benedetta Bianchi Porro whom he never met.
Mario Alighiero Manacorda. Storia dell'Educazione. Roma: Newton & Compton, 1997.
A small, cheap, beautiful paperback book for railroad station reading, surveying all of western education and literacy acquisition, from ancient Egypt, through Greece and Rome, the Christian centuries, the Enlightenment, to today. It ends with the United Nations continuing the 'Rights of Man', but it notes that throughout time education and the acquisition of literacy, especially in settings of gender apartheid, has also been associated with non-consensual sexual violence, with pedophilia.
Perhaps we should turn now to the United Nations and
the European Parliament to study this fact, to understand it,
and to eliminate it, through healing the chain of violence
through time. Perhaps we need what was said in Nicaragua by
Jesuits, 'Forgiveness is Our Revenge'. But that that
forgiveness must come with a concommittant education
unravelling violent injustice, turning it into mercy and
justice, the Hebrew hesed and zadok.
Danielle Dwyer reviews
Thomas Mooren. On the Border - The Otherness of God and the Multiplicity of the Religions: The Intercultural Dialogue from an Anthropological Perspective as an Inquiry into the Theology of Religions. Trans. from German, Peter G. Pandimakil (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang European University Studies, XXIII/500, 1994). 210 pp.
The author of this study is a theologian and an anthropologist who teaches as a full-time professor in the field of Missiology and Interreligious Dialogue at Saint Paul University in Ottawa, Canada; furthermore, he is also an active member of the European Academy for Sciences and Arts. Thomas Mooren was born in Dortmund-Kurl, Germany, in 1947. After basic studies in Theology, he pursued the specialization in Theology of Religions, Orientalistics, Anthropology and Malayology in Paris, Cairo, and Cologne and defended his theological dissertation at the Institut Catholique, in Paris in 1979.
In the Preface, Mooren says that this book has grown out of his travels; he has taught in three continents, in Europe (Munster and Rome), in North America (Washington and Ottawa), and in South East Asia (North Sumatra and Trichur, India). His travels have also taken him from the sweat-lodges of the Ojibwas in Northern Ontario, Canada, to the abodes of the ancestors of the Nias in Northern Sumatra.
The author is passionate in his belief that the future of theology is closely connected with the global challenge facing the world religions. We are at a turning point of the history of faith where, Mooren argues, we urgently need new categories, that is new images of thought, a new exercise of freedom.
This is an exciting book and reflects the author's mode of being which is reflected in the attitude in which the self places itself below all the other things. Notwithstanding the fact that the love towards one's fellow-beings emerges from such a domain, the self is here at the bottom of all things where everything is at home and where all things are joined together in a world. In other words, Mooren takes up here the fundamental issue of the indispensability to designate the center, understood here also as the border by name. He argues that a genuine pluralism would be impossible without a specific name. The center therefore is the essential criteria which is fundamental to determine either the respective singularity of the religions or their mutual relationship, that is the interconnectedness between them.
The author has divided his text into two parts: Part I: THE INTERCULTURAL DIALOGUE: HOW TO UNDERTAND THE OTHER? which is divided into sections: 1.Parodies of understanding; 2.From the victim's perspective; 3.The 'master's point of view; 4.The cognitive dimension of the process of understanding; 5.The practical dimension of the process of understanding. Part II: THE FEATURES OF A THEOLOGY OF RELIGIONS, with the following sections: 1.A turn in the history of belief and the theology of religions; 2.Co-constitution and otherness; 3.Co-constitution and de-territorialization; 4.De-territorialization: Interiority and praxis; 5.Co-constitution and the claim to absoluteness: the problem; 6.Absoluteness and history; 7.Perspectives for an inter-religious dialogue; 8.Do we still require mission? 9.Conclusion: The cross as nil-territory. These two sections are accompanied by a short bibliography and sixty-five pages of notes which I find to be the heart of this rich book interspersed with philosophical reflections which are meant to enrich the discussion.
The question emerging from Mooren's understanding of a christian theology of religions asks what model must be employed to determine the relationship to non-christian religions in which the otherness of the other is preserved. Mooren states that to talk about a religion in isolation is no longer possible. What then is the task of the theology of religions? Does it consist in interpreting the non-Christian religions as steps, phases or contributions in the light of Christianity? Has one from the theological side conceded the maximum to the non-Christian religions by acknowledging them as anonymous Christians (Karl Rahner)? This study explores how one shall liberate the religion of the other from anonymity and how one shall leave the other with his/her name.
This is the crucial point. Mooren conceives therefore of a theology of religions in terms of the images of co-constitution and de- territorialization, where it becomes possible that the other is no more defined in reference to me alone, but rather, the participants of the process receive from each other their identities, they co-constitute, and the one lets the other keep his name. Indeed, Mooren argues that my name becomes possible only by preserving the other's name. "His otherness, his being a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Muslim, etc., would enable my being a Christian and vice versa". What is implied in the condition for becoming oneself is given by the imperative to embark upon an exodic process, to de-territorialize.
Mooren however warns that his use of the "exodus formula" differs considerably from the ethnocentric biblical account of Israel's exodus under Moses. Rather, exodus is understood by our author as the challenge put to Abraham to go forth from the land of his kinsfolk and from the house of his father (Gn 12,1). Although in the final analysis it is here also a question of land and posssession (Gn 12,1; 15,5, etc.), Mooren suggests that the gesture of Abraham, of the emigrant, is existentially significant as a symbolic act, that is "existential sharing understood as the standing-on-the-border". Furthermore Mooren adds that this use of the exodus formula is above all less stained with blood and less dominated with the right of the more powerful than it is the case with Moses of the exodus. We should not forget says Mooren that God has told Abraham "Know for certain that your descendants shall be aliens in a land not their own" (Gn 15,13). Mooren's argument that God cannot be identified with a single territory alone implies that de-territorialization is a theological journey into the space. What is involved is not a journey into a lost land but first and foremost a radical modification in one's perception of the given territories, in such a manner that the space journey does not alter our earth, but rather provides a new vision of it. Viewed from a new perspective, it itself undergoes change.
A conversion, an inner conversion is what I understand here to be the main prerequisite if one if to embark on this journey. This is the link I choose to make with Miroslav Volf's book, Exclusion & Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (1999), a "book which seeks to explicate what divine self-donation may mean for the construction of identity and for the relationship with the other under the condition of enmity." [Miroslav Volf is a Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Connecticut; a native Croatian, he writes out of his own firsthand experience of teaching in Croatia during the war in former Yugoslavia.]
Not everyone of course will agree with Mooren's perspective. I for one regret that in Mooren's otherwise excellent book he does not enter into conversation with feminist theological literature. Miroslav Volf however is thoroughly familiar with feminist theological literature. This might just be an occasion for dialogue if anyone is willing to continue the discussion begun with Mooren. Everything is at home and everything is joined in a world.
This book then is a lived experience which does not
lack in emotion and passion.
Henri J. A. Nouwen. The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society. New York: Doubleday, 1979.
In this book Henri Nouwen presents four persons: the first a confused, likeable, self-indulging young man of the nuclear age, living only the present moment, in despair of a future; the second a group of young people rejecting the world of their fathers, seeking inwardness, for whom Nouwen creates a young contemplative Messiah for a minister; the third describing a seminarian's visit to a dying patient whom he fails; the fourth is the wounded healer, amongst the poor, as Messiah. Nouwen describes ministers as becoming lonely, unwanted; yet advocates their listening to God, that they may heal. Perhaps a better title than it is a book, it has an important message about ministry for all of us.
Simone Martini, Pieta`, © Giusti Beccocci, Firenze
Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in her Own Words. Compiled by Some of her Friends. Santa Fe: Ocean Tree Book, 1991.
Our own century as much as Julian's has been peopled by brave women who renounced all to follow Christ. One being Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Another, Peace Pilgrim. Peace Pilgrim gave up everything except practical clothing, a notebook and pen, and toothbrush, walking throughout America. She simply vowed: 'I shall remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until I am given shelter and fasting until I am given food'. That stark and simple commitment spoke volumes and Peace Pilgrim's integrity inspired all who met her and who learned of her. She was killed instantly in 1981 in a car crash.
Julian chose the life of prayer and writing in an enclosed space looking on a church's altar in Norwich, people with their troubles coming to her for wise counsel. Mother Teresa chose to live and work among the dying poor of Calcutta. Peace Pilgrim chose not isolation in an anchorhold, nor poverty in a teeming city, but simplicity amidst opulence. Each woman, in so doing, learned happiness and are still, past their life spans, recalled with joy, sending their voices into eons of the future.
I particularly treasure this book, inscribed as it
is 'To Julia, All our love! Flower and Jonathan, Onelove',
from my daughter-in-law and my youngest son, who has taken as
his name a phrase from Julian. For both of them Peace Pilgrim
is an American ideal, an American Julian. Nor do we really
know Julian's name.
Rainbow Spirit Elders. Rainbow Spirit Theology: Towards an Australian Aboriginal Theology. Blackburn, Victoria: Harper Collins Australia, 1997.
Well worth obtaining, reading, contemplating, living. Discusses Aboriginal Dreamtime, our living contact with our ancestors in this time that is more real than that of clocks and our mortal bodies; the Creator Spirit God who has eyes, nose but no mouth having already spoken the Word that creates all; and of the need to value not Joshua's conquering of indigenous people with bloodshed, but indigenous Melchisadek's gift as priest king of bread and wine to nomadic Abraham. That then becomes Judaism's Sabbath Eve Blessing of Bread and Wine, Christianity's Eucharist.
Speaks as well of the need to heal a culturally abused peoples, of many languages, whose spirituality was deliberately destroyed through the policy of the Lost Generation.
Lenore Terr, M.D. Too Scared to Cry: How Trauma Affects Children . . . And Ultimately Us All. New York: Harper, 1990.
This book takes a case-study of schoolchildren in California subjected to kidnapping, their school bus literally buried in a grave with themselves incarcerated in it, then their own acting to achieve freedom. It traces the effect of this damage to their psyches. Sometimes the writer distances herself from her topic with humour, but what she writes about is the killing of the soul.
On page 321 Terr discusses the way trauma games
continue down generations. One just wonders if secret rituals,
as amongst tribal witchdoctors and in Lodges, might not be
likewise the inducing of trauma to change brain chemistry, to
fit their initiands to a 'leader' code, by death imprinting.
On page 322 Terr discusses how places rather than persons seem
to hold memories of trauma, as in the haunting of houses. And
she ends by hopefulness concerning the treating of traumatized
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