Soul Repair Center Newsletter
Volume 2 Number 2
SOUL REPAIR SEMINARY CLASS OFFERED AT BRITE
By Naiomi Gonzalez
MDIV. Student, Brite Divinity School
Student in Class on Moral Injury
During the week of January 6-10, 18 students and 2 professors met to explore the following questions: What is moral injury? What causes moral injury?
How can individuals and congregations assist veterans struggling with the aftereffects of war? What responsibility does society have in ensuring the well-being of those we send to fight wars on our behalf? The class consisted students from different age groups, denominational lines, and cultures with a similar goal: finding ways in which we, as religious leaders, can support returning veterans and their families in the struggle to reintegrate into society.
Many of us were familiar with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and the havoc it wrecks on returning veterans and their families, but moral injury was wholly unfamiliar to us. We learned that moral injury, unlike PTSD, is not a psychological injury but instead a response to the moral ambiguities inherent in war. Moral injury results from acting or witnessing others act in ways that violates one’s “core moral beliefs.” Veterans struggling with moral injury may grapple with shame, depression, addiction, and suicidal thoughts. We not only read about moral injury, but we also listened to veterans candidly discuss the toll war and moral injury have had on their lives and the challenges of living in a society that is not always interested in recognizing the consequences war has on those sent to fight.
For some of the time, we divided into 3 smaller groups in order to brainstorm practical avenues of assisting veterans. These groups developed ideas for a veteran’s group that would provide a safe place for veterans to share their challenges and experiences, a retreat, and an example of how rituals (religious or secular) can provide a way for veterans to safely and concretely process their experiences.
Although the class only lasted forty hours, we were left with a distinct impression of how important it is to educate our congregations and our larger communities about moral injury and to provide practical ways to aid our veterans—many of whom may be friends, family, or members of our congregations.
Here are reflections from other students in the class:
“Words can not adequately describe the experience of the class on Soul Repair. It has been the most meaningful class experience of all the classes I have taken, including undergrad classes.”
“It’s hard for me to put into words the impact this class has had on my mindset about the military and how beneficial this class has and will continue to be for me and my ministry. It has been one of the most powerful, insightful, and moving courses I have ever taken and I will carry that experience and all that I have learned with me, while continuing to educate people on the effects of moral injury and soul repair.”
“This energizes my drive to seek and reproduce knowledge as much as, and may be more, than seeking a degree and practical skills.”
SOUL REPAIR MEETINGS
By Dan Daniel
MDIV. Student, Brite Divinity School
Student in Class on Moral Injury
One of the keys to recovery from moral injury is to talk about it, tell your story, and to think morally in order to process the injury. One of the projects that emerged from the class at Brite is the concept of a Soul Repair Meeting. Such Meetings would allow space for veterans, as well as their families and friends, to share and recover from moral injury. As a student of the class, I am coordinating the first of these Soul Repair Meeting groups on the campus of TCU on March 20, 2014 at 7 PM. The Meeting is a free and open conversation among veterans, family members, friends or interested parties. It is designed along a 12 step program model that allows for self- support and self-facilitation. The Meeting place is Scharbauer Hall/TCU Campus, Room 4015, 2855 S. University Dr. Ft Worth, Texas 76109. For information concerning the meeting contact Dan Daniel, email@example.com.
SOUL REPAIR ON THE ROAD
BEGINS MARCH 6-7 IN RALEIGH, NC
This March 6-7, a new group, the Carolina Soul Repair Coalition will host the first event in our new partnership program “Soul Repair on the Road.” You can register for the two-day jam-packed conference at http://www.quakerhouse.org. Rooms are available at the conference site, the North Raleigh Hilton at 800-445-8667 at the “Soul Repair” discount rate.
Featured speakers include:
· Rev. Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock, Founding Co-Director of Brite’s Soul Repair Center (www.soulrepair.org)
· Dr. William Gibson, VA Clinician from Rochester NY, who has presented at Center conferences in Fort Worth
· Col. Kimberly Olson (US Air Force, ret.), Founder and President of Grace After Fire (www.gracefterfire.org), who is another presenter at Center events
Workshops will offer a range of topics and feature some local experts in the Carolinas:
· W1. How to be a Welcoming Community to Vets – Bill Cantrell
· W2. Veterans Writing Their Way Back Home – Jeremy Berggren
· W3. Women Veterans – Kim Olson
· W4. Support military families – Greg Perkins
· W5. More About PTSD – Bill Gibson
· W6. Story-telling to Build Relationships Among Veterans and Civilians – Rita Brock
If you can’t attend yourself, be sure to help us spread the word to your friends in the Carolinas. We look forward to this outstanding beginning to our many events brewing in other places. Upcoming events include:
· Evanston, IL: March 19
Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary
Evening Lecture by Rita Brock
· Syracuse, NY: March 25
Syracuse University Campus Ministry
· Grand Rapids, MI: March 28-29
Hidden Wounds of War Conference – A Community Response
A Conference to: Promote the understanding of Traumatic Brain Injury, Post-Traumatic Stress Injury/Disorder and Moral Injury.
· San Diego, CA: July 10-11
Mission Gathering Church
· Berkeley, CA: July 25-26
Pacific School of Religion
· Montgomery, AL: September 9-11
First Christian Church
· Kansas City, KS: September 23
Resurrection Leadership Institute (this is a pre-conference workshop)
· Midland, TX: October 15-17
Bringing Them All The Way Home
More information coming soon at www.brite.edu/soulrepair.
· Boston, MA: Oct 31
Boston University School of Theology
SOUL REPAIR AT THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF RELIGION
Following an outstanding exploratory session at the 2013 meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), our proposal to form a new program group entitled Moral Injury and Recovery in Religion, Society, and Culture Group has been approved. Our first official meeting will take place at the 2014 AAR meeting in San Diego.
SOUL REPAIR AT ECUMENICAL ADVOCACY DAYS
Every year, thousands of Christians gather in Washington DC to learn about and work together on crucial issues of justice and human well-being. This year’s theme is “Resisting Violence, Building Peace.” Center Co-Director, Rita Brock, will speak about moral injury on Saturday night at a banquet hosted by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and on Sunday, she will co-lead a workshop with Chaplain Stephen Boyd of the United Church of Christ.
In mid April, Dr. Brock and Chaplain Boyd will team up again at the annual national retreat of the UCC and Unitarian Universalist chaplains, which will be in New Mexico.
PASTORAL THEOLOGY/CARE THINK-TANK FIRST MEETING
Chair of the Soul Repair National Advisory Board
Professor of Pastoral Theology & Pastoral Care, Brite Divinity School
The Soul Repair Think Tank, composed of pastoral theologians and scholars and practitioners in related fields who are Christians, Jews, and Muslims, gathered for its first meeting at Brite January 31-Feb 2. The group engaged the experience of the two co-directors, Rita Brock and Herm Keizer, and then turned its focus to the various projects that each of the 12 members will bring to the two years they will work together. Their works range widely. Some will deepen congregational readiness for understanding the harm arising from moral injury, and others will inform military chaplaincy and seminary courses. They also determined to make their interreligious conversations an explicit resource for their work across the next two meetings in the 2014-2015 academic year, and some of the projects will be interreligious in scope. The group is also exploring ways racial and gender differences inform experiences of moral injury and practices of healing. Members of the group are sharing resources and initiating conversations to enhance shared research interests.
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