Dr. Timothy Patitsas, Assistant Professor of Ethics at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology gives a very thought-provoking interview in Road to Emmaus #32, Winter 2013.
After trauma there can be no return to a category as neutral as “peace.” The opposite of war is not peace, but liturgy — the cognitive, bodily, totalizing act that steadily increases communion instead of cutting it.
(The Opposite of War Is Not Peace: Healing Trauma in The Iliad and in Orthodox Tradition)
Dr. Patitsas commends, as “our best thinker about war and the healing of the soul after war,” Jonathan Shay, M.D., Ph.D, who wrote Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character.
So what in the world are combat trauma, Achilles and liturgy doing hanging out in a singe interview, and wouldn’t “muddled” be more apt than “thought-provoking”?
Achilles in The Iliad went “berserking.” Dr. Shay thinks The Iliad with Achilles’ story was designed as therapy for post-traumatic stress, and Dr. Patitsas likens its recital to combat veterans in ancient Greece as a sort of liturgy.
I think Patisas deepens Shay’s understanding, but as I’ve not read Shay, I’ll sit lightly on that opinion. To second-guess me, though, you’ll need to subscribe to Road to Emmaus, as it’s not on the web.
One of the things Patitsas discusses is the Orthodox view of war, disagreeing with two Orthodox authors who impute to Orthodoxy a Just War theory. I find him quite convincing on that. He also discusses the ancient practice of soldiers being excommunicated for 3 years after killing in war, which he thinks was not punishment, but like “an eye for an eye,” a limit to keep Orthodox sufferers from having killed in war from excommunicating themselves permanently.
On Facebook recently, I saw within two minutes two instances of “interspecies love.” One was just too cute. The other was just too gross (it involves defense of a man charged with bestility), but came to me with commentary:
From Patrick Deneen:
“The attorneys claim that the statute deprives Romero of his ‘personal liberty and autonomy when it comes to private intimate activities.'”
Perhaps he has this precedent in mind:
“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life….”
Justice Anthony Kennedy, Planned Parenthood v. Casey
Despite my keen advocacy of religious freedom, I am dubious of laws that protect churches against protest, or make it an aggravator that some offense was committed within X feet of a church.
I found police parked in my church parking lot on a Sunday morning some years ago, busting a meth lab straight across the street. I in no way felt particular outrage that this had happened so near. I didn’t feel that I or my fellow parishioners were “particularly vulnerable to the evils of drug trafficking.” I by no means felt that the scrawny addict they were arresting deserved more years of prison because of his lab’s location. I would have thought it a bit hypocritical of government to feign such great solicitude for us.
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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)