The reasons that I seek to articulate a Trauma-Informed Ecclesiology are numerous. But here I want to attempt to explain why trauma is not a helpful framework in which to craft a Systematic theology, and yet is an incredibly generative conversation partner for ecclesiology.
If grace has the power to reshape the imagination, then theology is the language that both describes that power and evokes it in the lives of people by telling grace-filled stories of new imaginings. But just as the shattering effects of trauma are painfully particular to each person who suffers them, so the healing power of grace is specific to each imagination it soothes and heals. Recognizing this fact led me to abandon the project of writing a systematic theology of trauma and grace. Rather, what my own writings on trauma continue to seek is a glimpse of grace at work in the interstices of imagination. (22)
So while Jones is absolutely correct that it would be both pretentious and unreasonable to attempt a systematic theology of trauma, it is for many of these same reasons that I feel that a general sketch of a trauma-informed ecclesiology would be immensely generative for theological reflection. We must be able to do more than merely generate individualistic reflections on the relationship of specific individual and communal trauma. We must find ways to appropriate the deep wells of the Christian tradition for addressing questions about trauma and suffering, redemption and grace, our present reality and our eschatological horizon. And all of these reflections, the articulations that come from them, and the embodied life of grace and solidarity of hope and lament, must come from within the life of the church. Therefore, if we are to speak meaningfully to questions of trauma we must do so from within a robust ecclesiological ecosystem.
So in this sense I am seeking to explore the range of the Christian tradition in an interdisciplinary conversation with what we have learned thus far about the nature of trauma. I am attempting to make some sense of the world in its broken state, and in the context of deep theological reflection, to articulate a way for the church to live in the world as it is, in anticipation of the world as it one day will be.