PTCS March 16, 2014


David Hayward shared the above cartoon, about coping with post-traumatic church syndrome. It is a real condition. And for victims of abuse, a punching bag – whether literal or metaphorical – can play a crucial role in the healing process.

But we also need to be careful. This is one of the reasons abuse victims have been known to turn into abusers themselves. If you generalize from the man who beat you to all fathers or all men, from the women who betrayed you to all women, from the church that bullied you to all churches, there is at best unhealthy stereotyping and at worst a perpetration of abuse, as you may find yourself treating the innocent as though they were guilty by association.

But perhaps gods are a safe exception to this rule? If there are false idols, those are surely appropriate punching bags. And if there is a real God that transcends all things, that God can handle a few punches. Indeed, one of the things that makes the mythology of incarnation such a powerful symbol in Christianity is its depiction of a God who not only can take our punches, but who did do so, and who provides an example of being stronger than the abusers, not by making them victims of worse abuse as payback (although alas, some do think of God in such terms), but by demonstrating love, forgiveness, and strength of character that refuses to allow abusers to gain the ultimate victory, which is making their victims like they are.


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  • But we also have to be careful not to tell those who were emotionally beat up not to vent their anger as long as it is not done in the same way. Anger, angry expression and such is not a bad thing. Those who like to always prefer to stay IN the system are bothered by those who break out.

    Actually, the God of the Old Testament does not take punches well. He was a mean ass. That there are flavors of Christianity that ignore that god, is a good think. But many Christianities, even those with the mythology of incarnation, still embrace imagery from that evil Yahweh.

    Hey James:
    I encouraged David to get a way to collect $1 (voluntarily) from anyone borrowing his drawings to decorate their site. Would you contribute or do you think such a thing would flop? After all, people will look at the cartoon on your site, and not click to see David’s because they already saw it.

    • I realize that there is a trade-off when sharing things from other bloggers, whether words or images. I doubt that anyone who makes a point of visiting David’s site regularly will fail to do so because they will assume that everything he has that is new was mentioned by me.

      If something that I write about one of his cartoons gets circulated to people who do not yet know his work, it is my expectation that any who think the cartoon is really good or interesting will click through to see more of the same.

      This isn’t to say that he could not or should not ask for donations.

      • Oh, I think sharing his cartoons is great.
        I was just daydreaming of how to raise more money for the chap.