Mar 07, 2001
When two groups of scientists announced in mid-February that they had finished mapping the human genome, scientists, politicians and journalists paid rapt attention. The human genetic code has been deciphered! We are on our way at last to obeying scientifically the old Delphic oracle: Know thyself!
Sometime in the 14th century an English woman we know as Julian came to the Church of St. Julian and St. Edward in Conisford at Norwich, where, in a manner of speaking, she was voluntarily “buried alive.” As a priest performed the ceremonies of the burial office, Julian took up residence as an anchoress in a small apartment attached to the church. She was now dead to the world, but not completely so. She had access to the church as well as a “world-side window” that allowed her to receive and counsel visitors.
Riders for God: The Story of a Christian Motorcycle Gang by Rich Remsberg
Our oldest son went cold turkey in an inner-city detox center. He had been an alcoholic and an abuser of other drugs for 14 years. After he had gone through some ten days of delirium tremens and withdrawal, the executive of the center, a charismatic and a recovering alcoholic, told him, “You’ve got to find a new playpen and a new set of playmates or you can’t stay sober.”
How can hope be sustained when traumatic memories of conflict or oppression haunt a person or group? This question has become central in a course I am teaching with an African-American colleague. In “Remembrance and Reconciliation,” we are examining the legacies of racism and racial division in South Africa and the U.S. Not surprisingly, our discussions quickly focused on issues of despair and hope. Traumatic events and the remembrance of them can transform optimism into despair and occlude any sense of hope for a different and better future.