Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury after War
From The New York Times -The Rev. Rita Nakashima Brock focuses on helping people whose actions in war have shaken their deeply held moral beliefs. By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN Published: January 11, 2013.
Rev. Rita Nakashima Brock’s writes about her father in her recent book“Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury after War.” Her co-author, Gabriella Lettini, is a theologian whose extended family includes veterans emotionally damaged by wartime experience. In the Soul Repair Center, Ms. Brock collaborates with the Rev. Herman Keizer Jr., who was an Army chaplain for 40 years.
Over the past three years, Ms. Brock and Ms. Lettini have spoken about moral injury and soul repair at the American Academy of Religion’s annual meeting and at denominational gatherings of Presbyterians and Unitarian Universalists.
Ms. Brock’s vision of spiritual therapy takes its inspiration from models as varied as early Christian rites of communal penitence after wartime and the Navajo ritual of purification in a sweat lodge. Her goal is to resist both finger-pointing at veterans and “premature forgiveness” for the blood they have shed.
What is essential, she said, is that a community participates with the veterans, reducing the shame and isolation associated with moral injury. “The attempt to regain entry requires accepting responsibility for what we have done,” she and Ms. Lettini write in “Soul Repair,” “but doing so may cost people their lives if they have to go back alone.”
“I don’t envision a world where a standing army isn’t necessary,” she said. “If that is the case, then whether or not I agree with an administration and the wars it chooses to fight, I feel that as a citizen, I have a responsibility to restore the people who’ve fought, to return them to our communities. It’s nothing wrong with them individually. It’s what we owe them as a society.