Dear Readers and Authors, we are pleased to announce a new issue of Theological Reflections: Eastern European Journal 21.2 (2023). The issue theme is "Doing and Living Theology in the Context of Trauma."
The historical tragedies of the 20th century — the two World Wars and the Holocaust — caused such deep wounds that European countries are still processing them. In addition to these tragedies, Ukrainian people experienced the Soviet occupation, the Holodomor, the Stalinist repressions, mass executions in Babyn Yar, and one of the biggest ecological disasters caused by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and gaining independence, the Ukrainian people have only begun to deal with their tragic past. However, the 21st century brought a new great woe: Russia's attack on Ukraine in 2014, occupation, and long war that turned more aggressive and large scale in 2022: tens of thousands of dead, wounded and missing, thousands of people who were captured and subjected to terrible torture, torment and rape of women, deportation of children, destroyed cities and a migration crisis. Despite the physical harm caused by rocket and artillery attacks, many people experience a constant fear of losing their families, homes, and steadiness of life. Trauma has become not only a fact of the past but also a part of the present existence for Ukrainian citizens within and outside Ukraine today. This context forces us to look differently at religious experience and the role of theology and faith communities in society in times of war.
Trauma is not a new phenomenon, but it was theoretically defined in the 20th century. Trauma theorization helps to find new methodological possibilities for theology, which allows the latter to offer its own ways of understanding and overcoming traumatic experiences. This issue of the journal focuses explicitly on this interdisciplinary domain. It contains some of the presentations of the 2023 Summer School of Theology, "Wounds of Our World: Doing and Living Theology in the Context of Trauma," organized by the Eastern European Institute of Theology. In particular, the presentations of Helen Painter, Keith White, and Esther Zimmerman are published in English and Ukrainian. Theologian Helen Painter, referring to biblical texts, describes the main harms caused by wars and demonstrates how the silencing of the victim's experience can suppress the call for justice and make the healing process impossible. Keith White, founder and chairman of the Child Theology Movement, shares his own research and experience of how the traumatic events of war negatively affect child development. The author describes five essential components of restoring a safe space where children can find acceptance and healing. In her article, Esther Zimmerman explains how trauma affects a child's growth and spiritual development. She also suggests practical approaches that parents and ministry leaders can employ to join their children in the spiritual journey, even in traumatic circumstances.
Besides the published conference contributions, this issue contains an article by Yevgeny Ustinovich (in English), in which the author examines the experience of first-century Christians traumatized by persecution, displacement, and other trials mentioned in the Epistle to Romans. He explores how this experience, as well as Paul’s counsel in dealing with trauma, can be useful in the context of Ukraine’s ongoing war for independence. In his article (in Ukrainian), Rostislav Tkachenko analyzes Boethius’ The Consolation of Philosophy from the perspective of post-traumatic theology. The author applies the contemporary hermeneutics of trauma to the philosophical and theological text and shows how, according to Boethius, processing traumatic experiences can broaden our positive experience of being and bring us closer to God. The article by Oleksandr Negrov, co-authored with Oleksandr Malov and Dina Polishchuk-Prokopchuk (in English), describes the leadership experience of Ukrainian Christian forced migrants due to Russia's aggressive war on Ukraine. Their research is based on actual data from surveys conducted by the Ukrainian Leadership Center between April and August 2022. The authors demonstrate that the experience of Ukrainian refugees can offer valuable lessons for existing models of leadership in challenging settings.
This issue also features an essay by Anatoliy Denysenko (in Ukrainian), in which the author addresses the experience of war in Ukraine through the lens of W. G. Sebald’s book on the traumas of World War II, On the Natural History of DestructionThis section continues with an inspiring essay (in English) by Ukrainian writer Nadiyka Gerbish on the importance of a community that nurtures Christ's love and supports the victims in times of horrific war, which only "magnifies personal angst and deepens societal trauma."
In addition, this issue contains eighteen reviews and commentaries on the newest and most relevant books in the theological community. The authors of the reviews are Oleksandr Brodetskyi, Andrii Shymanovych, Myroslava Mostepaniuk, Andriy Dudchenko, Daniel Kuchurian, Mahomed Rubanenko, Mykhailo Kozakov, Roman Soloviy, Mykola Zymomrya, Mariia Yakubovska, Fedir Stryzhachuk, Oksana Matlasevych, Denys Kondyuk, Oleh Demchuk, Andrii Kulyk, Yuriy Kryvoruchko, Viktoriia Veretennikova, Anatoliy Denysenko, and Igor Dimovski.
The texts of the Summer School of Theology 2023 presentations were translated into Ukrainian by Marychka Androshchuk.
The journal’s Editorial Board sincerely thanks the authors and translators for their hard work and hopes that these publications will be useful to our readers, encourage new interdisciplinary research, and help serve others more effectively in the face of adversity caused by the war.
Printed copies of 21.2 (2023) will be available in late January 2024. But as the number of printed copies is limited, you can pre-order now.
The price of this issue is 250 UAN. You can order it here https://forms.gle/hUNpU1wreVH3YagM8
Previous issues of Theological Reflections can be found at http://reflections.eeit-edu.info/