Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence
True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth
Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence
By Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.
Part 130: Healing - A Christian Calling
We are called to express love and forgiveness. This alone can help heal many wounds, including the deep wounds that arise from being treated as "unworthy" by people who gain their own sense of self-esteem over and against other people. Often, the most deeply wounded are those who have been victims of scapegoating. Many have rejected God, either because they have internalized their status as scapegoats and believe they are unworthy of God's love, or because they do not believe that a loving God would fail to protect them.
Specifically, what can we do to help heal? We can listen, which shows that we care. We can also respectfully offer what help we can. Further, we can help heal with respectful, appropriate touch, such as when Simon Wiesenthal let a dying, confessing Nazi hold Wiesenthal's hand (p. 00). The greatest healing, which is not always possible, is to help people understand that they matter to God. While only God can fully heal the soul, we are called to help, and our life experiences provide valuable tools. To varying degrees (some much more than others), we have all been wounded by life. We have all experienced loss, and we have all experienced the crushing feelings associated with humiliation. Also, we know what it feels like to be wounded (intentionally or unintentionally) by family, friends, strangers, and life itself, and we have tried to develop coping strategies to make the most of our lives. These experiences help us empathize with other wounded people, even if their pain is far deeper than what we have experienced.
Our empathy makes it possible for us to connect with wounded people intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually, which in turn helps us heal other wounded individuals holistically.
How can we help heal those who cannot speak, such as people who cannot express their feelings or voiceless animals? Sometimes, we can help heal through mere presence or touch. Sometimes, we can help heal from afar, by mobilizing efforts to change the conditions that wound them. Also many people believe that prayer can help heal, by directing God's healing energy towards them.
Whatever we do to reconcile God's Creation is a healing ministry.
Consequently, healing often involves being a peacemaker. Next week, we will begin a series of essays on peacemaking.
1. Scaruffi, Piero. Wars and Genocides of the 20th Century
2. The Greek here can also be translated to them (i.e., the priests), which makes more sense to me. The RSV is distinctive in using "the people" here.
3. I thank Vasu Murti for this observation.
4. See, for example, Animal Place. The Emotional World of Farm Animals.
Vacaville, CA, 2003; Robbins, John. The Food Revolution. Berkeley, CA:
Conari Press, 2001, pp. 153-164; "Shnookey". "New Piglet. I'm in trouble"
[and subsequent discussion]. Farm Life Forum - Gardenweb
Hurley, Blythe; Bernheim, Erica; and Mesaros, Angela. Where We Once Were:
Stories of Childhood.
http://www.keepgoing.org/issue19_demands/where_we_once_were.html; Lush, Tamara. "Cakes, shakes, and livestock". St. Petersburg Times 2/28/02
5. Bailie, Gil. The Gospel of John [audiotape series]. Glen Ellen, CA: The Cornerstone Forum, undated.
6. Girard, René. The Scapegoat. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986, pp. 165-183.
7. For insightful commentary, see Alison, James. Faith beyond Resentment: Fragments Catholic and Gay. New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 2001, pp. 3-26.
Go on to
Part 131: Peacemaking: Violence and the Churches
Return to Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence
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All Creatures Guide to Kingdom Living includes such subjects as: life, heaven, earth, peace, justice, Bible study, discussion, commentary, God, Christ, Christian, Jewish, Jesus, Holy Spirit, vegetarian, vegetarianism, vegan, veganism, cruelty free, love, compassion, lifestyle, Bible, recipes, sermons, stories, animals, animal rights, Judeo Christian, health, ethical, environment, living, meditation, perfection, prolife, pro life, pro-life, abortion, capital punishment, war, hunting, fishing, trapping, farm, farming, factory, fur, meat, milk, dairy, slaughter, cattle, beef, pork, chicken, poultry, hens, battery, debeaking