Healing the Wounds of War: Soul Repair

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Rebecca Parker

Dear Starr King Friend,

In this season of prayers for peace, I write to share news with you about the compassionate, groundbreaking work of Starr King’s professor, Dr. Gabriella Lettini. In her new book, Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury after War (Beacon Press 2012), which she co-authored with Rita Nakashima Brock, Dr. Lettini explores an ancient but unaddressed wound of war-moral injury-and its effect on veterans, their families, and their communities. Soul Repair tells the stories of four veterans of wars from Vietnam to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lettini and Brock show how, for many veterans, recovering from moral injury requires a renewed sense of life purpose and service. “Veterans with moral injury have souls in anguish,” they write, “[They] experience their feelings as a profound spiritual crisis that has changed them.”

Soul Repair bookReviewers praise Soul Repair for its groundbreaking exploration of the spiritual and community processes that have helped veterans learn to live with their experiences of moral injury. Publishers Weekly, in their review of the book, praised the authors’ “eloquent and unflinching discourse on war’s problematic moral core.” Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars, calls Soul Repair “An eloquent, deeply human reminder that war is not just what takes place on a distant battlefield. It is something that casts a shadow over the lives of those who took part for decades afterward.” Author Amir Soltani (Zahra’s Paradise) says “Soul Repair is stunning, just beautiful. Riveting. This is not just a breakthrough book; it is a breakthrough moment… It restores balance and reclaims life.”

With Soul Repair co-author Rita Nakashima Brock, Dr. Lettini organized the Truth Commission on Conscience in War, which held a public hearing at the Riverside Church in New York in March 2010. You can listen to the riveting public testimony that is posted at www.conscienceinwar.org/category/video/. Drs. Lettini and Brock’s leadership on veterans’ issues has led to the opening of the Soul Repair Center, funded with a generous grant by the Lilly Foundations. The Center is located at the Brite Divinity School in Texas and codirected by Dr. Brock. Its aim is to foster education on moral injury in different areas of the country. I serve on the Advisory Board and represented Starr King at the opening of the Center last month. We look forward to on-going collaboration in this important work.

Gabriella Lettini

Gabriella Lettini

Starr King is proud of its part in supporting research on how the wounds of war can be healed; and we celebrate the leadership of Professor Gabriella Lettini. Dr. Lettini is Dean of Faculty and Aurelia Henry Reinhardt Director of Studies in Public Ministry and Professor of Theological Ethics. A native of Torino, Italy, Lettini earned her M.Div. at the Waldensian Theological Seminary in Rome, Italy and her Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary in New York. She is an ordained minister of the Waldensian Church, a Christian movement that originated in France and Italy in the 12th century. She also identifies theologically as Unitarian Universalist. Dr. Lettini directs Starr King’s Master of Arts in Social Change (MASC) program, a two-year degree program that prepares religious leaders for social change work, grounded in ethics, spirituality, and theological reflection. Her courses at Starr King include “Allergy to the Other“, offered this spring, which focuses on contemporary theological and ethical perspectives on diversity, “Ethics in Film”, “Sources for a Liberating Ethical Imagination“, and the “Rome Immersion“. Honoring the legacy of Aurelia Henry Reinhardt, Dr. Lettini’s courses and writings address women’s issues and feminist/womanist perspectives. In 2006, she was one of the founders of the certificate in Women’s Studies in Religion at the Graduate Theological Union and has continued to be a leader in its work. Dr. Lettini co-chairs the Transformative Scholarship and Pedagogy Group of the American Academy of Religion and writes for the Huffington Post on contemporary religious issues. A film buff, Dr. Lettini is a member of Interfilm (http://www.interfilmnorthamerica.org/) and has been in the Ecumenical Jury of several international film festivals.

I recommend the book Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury after War to you, and thank Professor Lettini for work that helps all of us understand how we can help heal the wounds of war.

In grace and gratitude,
Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker  President and Professor of Theologyrparker@sksm.edu

P.S. You can order a copy of Soul Repair for yourself or as a holiday gift for family, friends or colleagues, through Beacon Press or Amazon.com. To learn more about the book, you can read this press release from Beacon Press.

P.P.S   Applications are currently being received for Fall 2013 admissions to the MASC program. Contact Admissions Director Becky Leyser (bleyser@sksm.edu) for information on applying. Watch our MASC video for more about the program.