Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lenten Journey (1/4): Did the Crucifixion cause Grief and Trauma?

Note: Post 1 of 4 in the Lenten series on healing the trauma of the crucifixion.

Grief and loss are both part of being alive. While grief and loss are parts of a natural life, they are often portrayed as something aberrant or strange. The message is that humans are supposed to be stoic and have control over their emotions – even to the point of transcending them. This is not a new concept. For example, there was a movement called Stoicism began around 300 BCE under the influence of Zeno of Citium, which argued for control over and indifference to emotions. Later, Aristotle argued “that reason’s control over emotion is what distinguishes men from women and children” (Greenspan, 66). This sexist assumption argues that men are better than women and children because they are able to control their emotions. This assumption continues today in a culture where men are to be the “strong oak” showing little emotion – especially grief. At the same time women can show emotions as long as they don’t show too many emotions and appear overly emotional or "hysterical." These negative assumptions about emotions truncate the healthy grieving process of both men and women. As Greenspan writes, “our emotional illiteracy as a species has less to do with our inability to subdue negative emotions than it does with our inability to authentically and mindfully feel them” (Greenspan, xii). Healing can only occur as we walk through grief. The simple yet profound truth is: “We need time and space to grieve" (Volkan & Zintl, 51). But what happens when grief remains unresolved? What would it mean for Christianity if the crucifixion of Jesus caused a grief and trauma in the memory of the Church that remains unresolved? That is the question that we will explore during Lent. Perhaps the crucifixion of Jesus led to an unresolved grief and trauma for the early disciples. And perhaps they passed that unresolved grief and trauma on to us. While we walk through Lent, we'll be walking through the emotional "stuff" surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus.

Click here to read part 2 in the series.

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