Practical Matters

Shelly Rambo
2012 unpublished
Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010. 200 pages. $25.00. In Spirit and Trauma, Shelly Rambo applies a lens of trauma to challenge and realign traditional theological notions of redemption, death, the cross, and resurrection. She finds these ideas to be of questionable utility for persons who have experienced tragic life-altering events and for whom life will never be the same again. For Rambo, the traditional linear redemptive narrative of new life (resurrection) triumphing over
more » ... triumphing over death, dangerously "gloss[es] over difficulty, casting it within a larger framework in which the new replaces the old, and in which good inevitably wins out over evil" (6). This does not speak to the realities of those who are suffering through trauma or living in the aftermath of a traumatic experience. Rather than triumphing over certain forms of loss, survivors of trauma realize that life as it once was can never be retrieved and find it difficult to envision the promise of life ahead. The inadequacy of traditional theology in addressing the needs of such trauma survivors provokes Rambo to seek to uncover a "middle discourse" that will "orient us differently to the death-life narrative at the heart of the Christian tradition" (8). To that end, she employs a lens of trauma to challenge the theology of radical redemptive suffering as traditionally understood in the cross-resurrection narrative. Rambo situates her study in the frame of trauma studies calling the study of trauma "the study of what remains" (15) from an experience that is beyond one's capability to explain, describe, or make sense of. Rambo posits a "lens of trauma" that negatively alters one's relationship to time, body, and word (18). Trauma distorts time because the traumatized tend to relive the experience repeatedly without successfully integrating it into his or her life narrative, alters the body because
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