A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast

Episode 20: Pledging, TATTOOS?! & Grieving within Disasters

July 15, 2021 Simon Doong and Lee Catoe Season 1 Episode 20
A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast
Episode 20: Pledging, TATTOOS?! & Grieving within Disasters
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A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast
Episode 20: Pledging, TATTOOS?! & Grieving within Disasters
Jul 15, 2021 Season 1 Episode 20
Simon Doong and Lee Catoe

Questions for the Week:

  • I was confirmed recently in my local Presbyterian Church and have become a member. Suddenly, I am on all of these email lists, being asked to help with things, and biggest of all - being asked how much money I pledge to give over the next year. I'm only in high school. I'd love to give, but honestly don't have much money. How much should I be giving? Are there suggestions for other ways I can contribute? 
  • What are your thoughts on tattoos? Can Christians have tattoos? What do you think about the use of Christian imagery in tattoos?

Special Guest:
Laurie Kraus, Director, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

Guest Question:
In the aftermath of natural disasters (or human caused disasters, such as mass shootings), how can I best walk alongside those affected in my community as they mourn, grieve, and try to move forward? Is there something specific that I can offer them as a person of faith?

Resource Roundup:

Show Notes Transcript

Questions for the Week:

  • I was confirmed recently in my local Presbyterian Church and have become a member. Suddenly, I am on all of these email lists, being asked to help with things, and biggest of all - being asked how much money I pledge to give over the next year. I'm only in high school. I'd love to give, but honestly don't have much money. How much should I be giving? Are there suggestions for other ways I can contribute? 
  • What are your thoughts on tattoos? Can Christians have tattoos? What do you think about the use of Christian imagery in tattoos?

Special Guest:
Laurie Kraus, Director, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

Guest Question:
In the aftermath of natural disasters (or human caused disasters, such as mass shootings), how can I best walk alongside those affected in my community as they mourn, grieve, and try to move forward? Is there something specific that I can offer them as a person of faith?

Resource Roundup:

Speaker 1:

Hello, and welcome to a matter of faith, a Frisbee podcast, the podcast, where we respond to your questions and comments on issues of faith, social justice, and church life. Don't be afraid to write in and ask your question because if it matters to you, it matters to us. And it just might be a matter of faith,

Speaker 2:

Whether it be faith in God, faith in others, or faith in yourself, we are brought to you by the Presbyterian peacemaking program and Unbound, the interactive journal on Christian social justice for the Presbyterian church USA. I am your host Lee Cato ,

Speaker 1:

And I'm your host Simon dune

Speaker 2:

Without further ado, let's dive into today's questions. Well, hello everybody. And welcome to the podcast this week, Simon, we just , um, experienced, I won't say celebrate cause I have a love, hate relationship with July the fourth, but we just experienced July the fourth and I hope, you know , your holiday was what's a good one.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Thanks Lee. It was restful. I'm very grateful for that. It was also very loud as there were a lot of fireworks, but I was grateful for the opportunity to , uh, take a little bit of a vacation as well and spend some time with friends and that's always restorative. So I'm grateful for that. How about you? Did you have a good independence day weekend?

Speaker 2:

It was good. You know, we're moving to DC. And so we went up there and closed up on everything. And so we are officially Washington DC residents and yeah, but we had to come back for our poor dog and he does not like fireworks and this, you know, this holiday really confirmed that he does not like fireworks at all. And they were really bad. Well, there was a lot of them this year and it was really loud and bless them. But we did confirm that he does not really like them whatsoever.

Speaker 3:

Well, I'm sorry that you had to, had to have that confirmed for you, but speaking of confirmation, let's get into today's questions.

Speaker 2:

We could have a cool ,

Speaker 3:

Yeah, we have a , a question about becoming a member of the Presbyterian church. So this question reads, I was confirmed recently in my local Presbyterian church and I've become a member. Suddenly. I am on all of these email lists being asked to help with things and biggest of all being asked how much money I pledged to give over the next year. I'm only in high school. I'd love to give, but honestly don't have much money. How much should I be giving? Are there other suggestions for ways I can contribute? What do you think Lee ?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'm not sure we should be asking high schoolers to give their money. Uh , they have a lot, they have a lot of other things they need to worry about. Um , high school is not always the fondness part of your life, but yeah, I , I , that, that question about tithing and offering and how that's kind of attached a membership is interesting because I do think in many ways we are kind of changing what it means to be a member of a church specifically now, and a time where a virtual worship has happening. And a lot of people are gaining members virtually, and that looks a little different, but also the membership , uh , lingo and the membership kind of culture of church, I think is kind of off putting, because that does, it's kind of a conditional relationship in some ways , uh, that if you're a member of a church, you are kind of required to, to kind of give of your talents or your time or to give of your finances and certain ways. And I think that's, in some ways, culturally, it's it, it's not very appealing to people, but also wrestle with the reality that, yeah, it takes money to kind of run a church, to keep the lights on and, and all those kinds of things. But I do think when we're, when we're talking about membership and we're more talking about money, it does kind of feel very transactional and , and I'm not sure that's how we, yeah, that's how we want to be. And , and with money comes leveraging power and with money comes, you know, all these capitalistic things. But other than that, I do think if we reframe what it means to be a part of a community or a part of the church to be a member of the community, what those expectations are, but also how do we cultivate people's , uh , talents and gifts to kind of be a part of that community and in ways that are life giving for both the person that's a part of the community and for the community as a whole. I think if it's a, yeah, this idea that a member means that you join and a part of that membership is that you give, I think that adds a lot of pressure and not everybody can give, but you can give in other ways. And that's a part of the other, other part of this question is yeah, of course, the gifts that you have or the talents that you have to find ways to integrate that into, into the community, I think is very important as well. But yeah, it's always rubbed me wrong about the membership language and the offering and need to investigate that more. What do you,

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think that, I think that it's good to tie . I think it's good to give, but I think that everyone should be able to set their own expectation and goals for what that looks like and to be flexible with it. I don't know if it always necessarily needs to be reported to, to others, if that makes sense, because then there's an expectation from others that you are giving X amount. And I, and of course that's not that information isn't being shared publicly, but still I think that, especially if you're in high school, you give, when you can, what you think is appropriate, that's fine. And like you said, Lee , there are other ways to give and to contribute your time, your talents, maybe there's something that you can help with that is, may seem very mundane, but it's very, it's just very helpful for getting things done. For example, setting up the tables for coffee fellowship. I mean, it's not a huge time commitment, but it's something that now none of your elder folks in your congregation have to do that. And that's something that you can do or you can help take them down. So there are different ways that you can give, and that's just within the church context, let alone if there's other activities that are going on with like another nonprofit or if there's a food pantry or other, just other activities. So I think that there's definitely other ways to become involved and that you should do it again, as you are able and interested, if you don't feel called to do it, you don't have to. And that's okay. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Not to feel pressured. And that goes on the church too. It's very overwhelming. When you get an email that is telling you everything that you can be a part of. And , and I know we say this a lot on the podcast, but it is true that young people are kind of seen as a , as a commodity to gain within a church and you want young people to be involved and all this kind of stuff. And so I do just want to be, I do want to say like, churches need to be wary of that. Like, and the idea of kind of, how do we consume young people in order to be productive. And that's also a part of like this capitalistic thinking. And I hope that young people just aren't looked at as a commodity because of the energy level. And because that people think that's, what's going to save the church and all this kind of stuff. But yeah, I think if a young person has gone through confirmation and they feel like they have time and they want to be involved in the church and by all means like, that's great, but I wouldn't want someone to feel pressured that that is something they want to do. And I see that sometimes I also see that sometimes people going into ministry, sometimes it's often pressured because they've always been involved in the church and maybe parents are member , uh, preachers or ministers. And how do we kind of cultivate where people are at and what people want to do. And let that also be a part of the church's call as a vocation instead of always catering it to, to kind of be in a vocation within the church specifically. So I didn't want to lift that up to you because I do see that happening sometimes. And I hope we can cultivate other ways to be, you know, a person of faith and different types of vocations and professions and things like that. Awesome. Yeah . So yeah, young people give, if you won't and if you can't, you can't, if you don't have the money, you just can't do it. Um, but yeah, so I think it's time to , um , go to our next question. And that's actually really funny because when we're recording this right now , uh, this, the week that we were recording this, I will be going to get a tattoo, well, addition of a tattoo and a couple of days, which just kind of tie this , this kind of a divine timing of this question that we got, because it is about tattoos. What are your thoughts on tattoos? Can Christians have tattoos? What about, what about tattoos and Christian imagery? What do you think about that? Simon?

Speaker 3:

I think that each person's body is their own and they can do with it, what they like in terms of if they want to get a tattoo, more power to them. I personally don't have any, but that's just me. That's fine. I think some tattoos are absolutely amazing. And I think some tattoos are really unattractive and unappealing looking and that's just my personal preference. It is that person's body. And I definitely think Christians can have tattoos. I know plenty of Christians with tattoos. Um, I don't think having a tattoo or not having a tattoo makes you more or less of a Christian. I think what really matters is just does that tattoo, what does that tattoo mean to you or to the person that has it? I think that's the main, the real main question in terms of Christian imagery and tattoos. That's really inter really interesting because I think one of the most common tattoos that you do see is usually a cross of some type used in some way, whether it be as its own tattoo or as part of a larger design. And sometimes it's meant in a very faith oriented way, but often it's sort of just being used as a, as a symbol on its own. And I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, but it is interesting to see the way that a religious symbol becomes something a little more mainstream through the use of something like tattoos.

Speaker 2:

Well, I have a lot of them , uh, to the dismay of many people like my family, but they've gotten used to it, but yeah, I totally agree. And it is our bodies. And we are always going to say that these are our bodies to, to kind of take care of and to, but to also be authentic in ourselves and express what we want to express and express things that are life giving to people. And sometimes that does mean tattoos. And sometimes that, that does mean an order to be able to express who you are or to kind of embody a memory or embody a person that will always be with you. It's now much easier to get them removed. Thankfully, because there are some people who, you know , decide to put names on their bodies and have significant others. And sometimes that doesn't last and then, but, but it has gotten a lot easier. So I do think, and agreeing with Simon that, you know, a lot of my tattoos, all of them have meaning and they all have a special meaning for me, like to the, to the onlooker, people are like, what does that, what is that? What does that mean? And I've never gotten a tattoo just for someone else just to how it looks. It's always been something for me. It's like this, this marks an occasion, this marks something in my life. This is a memory of someone or a time where I don't want to forget, like I have one , um, that signifies like when my dad had cancer and that was very scary. And it was something that really made us step back and be very grateful that, that he was going to be fine and that he was going to continue his life normally, thankfully, and I have one of the first dog I ever had, that was my close companion for many, for , uh , for a years. And , um, had to put him down suddenly and his name was radar. So I have a radar screen on my arm. I have one dedicated to my ordination. Um, one of my friends and I share one, I have a triangle on my arm to represent queerness. So it is , um , many things that, to the onlooker, you don't know what they mean to somebody, so we can judge people all day long about them. And I do think there still is a little stigma in the church, depending on where you're at, but I do think there is a stigma still, but when it comes to religious imagery, it's all about why . Um, my brother has a cross on his arm and memory of his best friend who got killed in a car wreck when he was in high school. But I do often notice that in some religious imagery, it is meant to kind of portray to another person that you are in some ways, very pious or I've seen some tattoos that really skewed the image of Jesus. So that's been really interesting to see, I do think when it comes to people can do what they want, but I do think it really does just depend on the person and what it means to them personally. It's really, it's , it's really weird, but I don't have any religious tattoos. And someone asked me a long time ago, would I ever, you know, get across or get Hebrew? I know a lot of people who have Hebrew on there are like Hebrew tattoos or Greek tattoos or things like that. And that means something to different people. But for me, that isn't something that I've always wanted to have on, and I don't necessarily know why, but I do think it does have to do something with the history of some of those images and how they can be skewed. And , um, for me, as a sacred thing, I , uh, I don't necessarily want an image that the cross for me is something that is not, that doesn't mean like the Sal , uh , very like salvation in a sense, like the cross for me represents an execution or a lynching, or it's a symbol that is not necessarily something I want on my body that I think for me, yeah, that's a complicated thing. And, and same goes with the Greek and Hebrew. So yeah, for me, it just really depends on the person. And again, people can do what they want, but this is a very interesting question to think about, especially as someone who has , um, who is an ordained minister, but has no, no , um, real want to have any kind of religious tattoo.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Yeah. I think one of the interesting parts or aspects to having a tattoo as someone who, who does not is when I see someone and I get to know them, or I'm going to them, I might say, Hey, I really like this. Can you tell me about it? And often there is a cool, interesting, personal story to it. And sometimes there isn't, sometimes the story is I was at the beach and there was a tattoo place on the boardwalk. And I went and I got this done and that's it. I it's like, okay, that's fine. You know, that is your as part of your story. And it will be on your body until you either get it removed or it will be on your body until you die. Right. Um, yeah. So I think that they're recognizing that tattoos can be part of portraying or communicating or representing someone's story and life experience. There's definitely some, some beauty and art and depth to that. And we shouldn't lose sight of that. Even if you, even, if you don't like tattoos for yourself, I think that there's definitely a lot to be learned there and that you can learn about others.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. It's always, somebody is always going to ask and I have a big geometric one for my ordination and someone always asks what it is and I kind of designed it myself. I love geometrics, but , uh , also , um, they kind of looked like flowers and I didn't want a flower tattoo, a traditional one. You know, you tell them the story about your ordination, that it actually , um , has a lot to do with Dolly Parton and her song, wild flowers. And that was always a song I held on to. And it's a song that says, like the main thing is wild flowers, don't care where they grow. And basically like, you know, she got out of her town and went kind of where the spirit took her. And she compared herself to a wildflower that no matter where she is, she's going to grow from something and that where she was, was kind of confining and she got out, but always remembers it. And so it's kinda like my life. And, and so that this whole tattoo is that. And when I tell people that they're just like, oh, I would have had no idea. That is what that meant . And the tattoo I'm getting in a couple of days, there'll be kind of like my goodbye tattoo to Nashville. Cause I've been here 10 years and it'll add to this geometric one, but yeah, it is all about like the story. And there people get such random things on themselves to remind them of someone or something. And I think that's really beautiful and it's not a new practice tattooing is as old as anything. And it's always meant to kind of embody something to turn like a memory or an idea, or the spirit of a person into something beautiful and attached to your, to your body. So, so yeah, I'm all about them joining us this week. We have a very special guest, the Reverend Dr . Laurie Krauss , who is the director of the Presbyterian disaster assistance and the Presbyterian mission agency. Lori , we are so grateful that you are with us today

Speaker 4:

With you. I'm happy to be with my friend Simon.

Speaker 2:

So Laura got a question and , and we're just gonna throw it out there to, you know , the , the question is, and the aftermath of natural disasters or human caused disasters, how can we best walk alongside those impacted in our communities as they mourn or grieve and try to move forward? Is there something specific that we can do to offer them as people of faith? That's

Speaker 4:

A really great and complicated question and it's going to, of course, therefore have a really complicated answer , um , that I hope will also be great, but , um, accompany mint is definitely the right thing rather than I like it, that your , your reader said accompany rather than do four , because the primary, I think the primary thing that we want to pay attention to when we enter into a community that's experienced a disaster , uh, or try to show up with people who have experienced a disaster is that this is their life and their story and not ours. And in similar ways that that we've talked about saviorism in other podcasts that you all have done in the recent months, we are here to honor someone else's story and , um, and come alongside them in ways that will be helpful in healing . Sometimes when I'm talking to folks about how to enter into a community that's experienced in disaster, I talk about the book of job . And I say that the best thing that job's friends did when they showed up for him after he lost his family and his children and his wife and his home and his businesses was that they sat in silence for seven days and they grieved with him. They gave him space to grieve and to, I assume, tell his story, to ask hard questions and , um, to be still where I think they went wrong was when the seven days were over and they started to try to fix him. They had lots of ideas about why, what happened to him happened to him and what he could do as a person with faith to repair what they believed had happened, which was that he had sinned and therefore the bad thing had happened to him and his family. So I think that one of the first things we need to do is we need to check our assumptions. All of us come to disaster or catastrophe or personal grief and loss with ideas about why it might've happened. And with a lot more questions than we have ideas. And I think the first thing we need to do when we're trying to come alongside someone else is to check our questions and our ideas. Some of those ideas may be good ones. Others of those ideas may be sort of rooted in bad theological patterns that we might've learned as children. I mean, even Psalm one says the lesson of those who walk in the way of righteousness and their path will be, and all that they do will be rewarded. The wicked are not. So, and then it goes into all these implications against the wicked and how their lives are going to collapse and be ruined, and they're going to suffer. And , um, you know, a lot of people carry that kind of , uh , of a sort of binary default, that if you're a good person, good things will happen to you. And if something bad has happened to you, there must be something wrong with you or you must've done something to deserve . And I think a lot of us, when we're challenged on that kind of belief, we doubt , we would say, we don't believe that anymore, but I have rarely met anyone who didn't have that kind of going on in the back of their head. They want to make meaning out of what's happened or, or try to figure out why it went wrong. And a lot, a lot of times that that defaults into I must've done something wrong or that community must've done something wrong. Walter Brighaman in the eighties, wrote a little book on the Psalms kind of a small commentary on the songs called the message of the songs. And in it, he talked about, instead of organizing the songs around songs of praise, corporate songs of praise , uh , laments , personal limits, corporate limits , that kind of thing. He said that he likes to think of the songs as kind of a community of faith way of orienting itself to the circumstances of life. And he sort of divided this up into three orientations, the first, a settled orientation, which is the kind of Psalm, one thing that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people or people who were in error. Uh , the second sort of set of orientations is a Psalms of disorientation, which include lament, which include anger, which include bargaining and, and all of those sort of stages of grief. And then the third is this is a new orientation, which only comes after you've been willing to live with the disorientation, or if you want to go back to Joe for a minute to sit in silence, job's friends kind of jumped into that, that Psalm one space of blaming and joke was willing to stay in the space of not knowing and being able to sort of hold intention that this terrible thing or series of things has happened. But I don't believe they were my fault. And I don't understand where God is, but I believe God is that's not a very comfortable place to be. So I think one of the things people of faith can do is when they show up is sort of to recognize and help folks hold that space and affirm with their questions and their anger and their are real and powerful and valid and to listen attentively and respectfully to that holy work of lament and not to try to manage it or explain it or to move people too quickly to a place of rev resolution. Well,

Speaker 3:

I had a question about, well, first of all, thanks so much for saying all of that, Laurie , and I appreciate that you talk about the term resolution, because I think that also when someone has experienced or is in the wake of, or the aftermath of a disaster, whether it be natural or human caused, there's grief is a process that you are in a different stage of the process at any given time of the day, even, and to get to a place of resolution. Sometimes I think that we always try to, like you were saying, rush to resolution, and I think it's also dangerous to think that we understand what resolution looks like for each individual person. And so I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about as, as we're walking, alongside folks, as people of faith, it's almost like you're guiding them through a tunnel, but neither of you knows where the destination is, and that can be kind of, that can be troubling as someone who just wants to help people. So what is , do you have any thoughts about that? I do

Speaker 4:

Simon . I think that's really a good, a good, a good place to go deeper with. First of all, I would say that our role is not to guide someone through their experience. And I know you didn't mean it that way, but I think a lot of times when we come in, we feel helpless. We feel overwhelmed, we feel horrified. It's hard to enter into a place that's experienced a huge natural disaster and not just feel desperate to do something, to help. It's even harder in a way to enter a space where there's been a human cost disaster, because the, in addition to the wreckage of human lives, there's also that both the horror and evil of the intentionality of causing pain or causing loss of life to someone and that, that that's a whole additional layer of , of trauma on top of the natural disaster, which after all, nobody, you know, applause to happen for you . I think again, the first thing for us to do is to be very aware of our own body and our own bodily reactions and to stay in a relaxed body because when we get in an unrelenting body, our , our default is reactivity rather than intentional response. And while sometimes our impulse to react maybe, and usually is well-intentioned and loving. What we do out of reactivity is more about how we want to make ourselves comfortable, how we want to get out of our distress slate of space or emotional space and less about the person that we're helping. I'm not, I'm not trying to suggest that we're not also trying to help, but in a lot of circumstances, and I'm sure you've been in some of them or heard people talk about them, our intention to help when it's reactive and when it's not done in a relaxed physical body for ourselves is really much more about us. Take, for example, when there's been an event and God forbid a child has died and people say, God wanted an angel. Well, okay. First of all, I don't believe that God gets angels that way or whatever do that. But trying to say that person's in a better place or God, must've had a , a reason for this. And we were in a circumstance once where I had a call from , uh , a person who had gone into a disaster site and the person who was sort of orienting them to the meeting, drew a flower on the board and said, you know, your life and this community was a beautiful flower. And then he scribbled the flower out and he said, but now you've had a disaster and that flower has been destroyed, but God will make a more beautiful flower. And he drew another flower. And the person who told me the story said that he had had this gut reaction of the flower we had was fine. We haven't even grieved the loss of our garden, let alone, are we ready to go on and say, God's going to make a more beautiful flower. We don't, we just don't know that. And even if it's a matter of faith for us to, to believe that God will make a more beautiful flower or that will together with God, make a more beautiful flower. That is so premature in the, in the beginning work of disaster. So when we're not guiding someone, but rather walking with them, let's go to Psalm 23 for a minute and say, you know, the, why walk through the valley of the shadow of death? I will fear no evil for you are with me. The soul of course, is addressing that to God. But in a very real way, we accompany people through the valley of the shadow. And the most important thing to do I think is to pace ourselves and to take our cues from the person who is in the valley, the person who has experienced the loss or the, or the crisis, and to let them tell the story at their own pace, to not ask a lot of intrusive questions. Um, you know, where were you when it happened? And were you scared? I think a more appropriate way to do it is to say, would it be helpful to you to talk about what happened? And if they say no, not really then say, how can I, how can I be with you right now? What would be helpful while I'm waiting ? And sometimes people need to talk about it. And sometimes people don't, and again, we have to check our own fiscal reactivity, and we have to check our impulse to ask questions, to understand more because when people have gone through a trauma and they haven't resolved that trauma yet for many people to re narrate that trauma over and over again is, is retraumatizing . It just embeds the harm that the trauma has caused them. I'm sure you've watched young adults be interviewed after a school shooting by folks by new spokes and seeing how these, these young adults go to this different place in their head as they're narrating what happened. And I just cringe every time that happens because there's no one there with them usually to support them. And most of the time, this is happening within a day, sometimes within minutes of, of the event and put them to be asked to narrate that event , uh , especially in , in an adolescent space, an adolescent body is just to intensify that trauma response. So for us, if we're there, if we happen to be there shortly after a loss , um, or shortly after a disaster, our main responsibility is to make sure they feel safe, to make sure that they're well listened to, and that they have the space. They need to begin to settle back into feeling, to feeling not at risk, to feeling not in danger as people move further. The first response, when we're, when we enter into a place of trauma or disaster is often a heroic one. We want to help people and everybody wants, you know, it's like, we're going to go and help people. That's a good instinct. That's a good , that's a loving faith filled human instinct. And sometimes that help needs to be tangible. People need shelter, they need food. They need to make sure that they're physically safe. Particularly in the case of , uh , of , uh , a mass violence event, they also need the safety of knowing they have, they have space to breathe, make sure that they know where their loved ones are connect with their loved ones. As people begin to move past a sort of heroic kind of grounding, initial, initial response, or reaction to the event, most communities, most individuals sort of go into that place of disorientation that I was talking about when we were talking about Rogan's book and that space of disorientation has a lot of icky feelings in it , anger, grief, questioning God, denying the presence of God, struggling to make sense of something that can't be made sense. And listening is really, really important then , and not turning away from negative expressions and not trying to explain those negative expressions away. Simon , you said something about sort of people having different places that they get to, and that resolution looks different for different people. And it does. And the timing of resolution is different for different people. And none of this is a competition of who's suffered the worst and who can recover the most quickly. So letting people take their own time and understanding that it's a very uneven process is really important to people who want to accompany folks after disaster. I think sometimes it's also important to remember that there are lots of events in our world that will trigger folks who are going through a disaster recovery period, whether from a human caused the van or from a natural disaster, the anniversary of the event, another similar event happening somewhere else, all of the sort of SEM , sensing things, the smells, the taste , the things that you see or hear. Um, those things can be triggering to someone who's experienced and who has not yet been able to resolve a traumatic experience and helping people to feel grounded. If it's someone you're close to paying attention, to checking in with people, when there's a, when there's a potential triggering event, I knew a congregation once that, that made a point of noting that they needed to hold a special worship service. When the person who had committed a mass shooting in their community was brought to trial. And then later when that person was sentenced and they, they literally actually held a special worship service so that people could gather because they knew that that, that all those marker events we don't even end like the first year after we don't call it an anniversary, we call it a marker event that those marker moments can be retraumatizing , or they can awaken a new place of reflection in the process of recovery. And , um , all of that can be really complex, which is why we have to keep listening and keep being emotionally present to folks .

Speaker 1:

[inaudible] well, thanks so much, Lori , for sharing your insight. And , uh , we actually want to transition to our resource Roundup segment of the show in which we highlight a relevant piece USA policy or resource, and Laura , you've actually, co-authored a book about a lot of these, a lot of these topics and a lot of these issues.

Speaker 3:

Uh, so would you like to tell folks about that a little bit?

Speaker 4:

Thanks Simon. I would, when I was a volunteer , when I was a pastor in south Florida and a volunteer with Presbyterian disaster assistance , um, I had the privilege of working with several colleagues as we had the privilege of walking alongside communities that had experienced the mass violence event. And I think I said earlier, when we were talking about the question, human costs has asked her isn't the same. It doesn't have the same effect. It's, it's, it's different, it's the same in some ways it's different than other ways. So in, in walking with, and trying to learn from communities that have experienced a mass shooting or another kind of mass violence event, or , or even a systemic event, like the Flint water prices , which, which was , um , a structural event that was human. Cause we noticed that there are lots of different kinds of things that communities can find helpful. So , uh, when we were trying to teach our other volunteers how to be with people and how human caused was different than natural disaster, we decided that it might be good to put a resource together. So the book is called recovering from unnatural disasters. And I had the privilege of writing it with two of my close friends and colleagues, Bruce Whistler , and David Hallen . Uh , also both pastors and the book kind of walks through the trajectory of unnatural disaster. Some of the things that I highlighted earlier when we were speaking from impact through, we don't even really like the word recovery, we didn't kind of get into it earlier, but we kind of think that when you get to a place where you say, I think I'm almost done with this, you're really in a place of wisdom and it's not the same as you were before, and it's not recovery exactly because you always carry the effects and the costs and the learnings from a trauma. And we want to honor that by saying, that's not the way you were before. That's a place of wisdom and it's a different kind of place of living. So we talk about that process. We talk about how for congregations and pastors and other spiritual leaders , um, there were different sorts of strategies that you use when you're in the impact phase. When you're in the disorientation phase, when you're starting to begin that turn toward recovery or turn toward healing and wisdom, which we call sort of a reorientation period or a recovering period. And , um, we have a lot of suggestions about liturgy as well. So we have suggested ways to put together sermons. We have a bunch of basically services that you can use in the immediate aftermath. And what kinds of sermons are helpful? What kinds of services are useful, vigils , meditative services. And essentially it's the kind of book that I wish I had had before I had a natural disaster in my community. And before I started to going into communities to be with people after, after traumatic events. So you can use it sort of on the fly. If you've had this kind of an experience or you came home , you can sort of careers it more slowly. We also have some sort of theological ideas, kind of some do's. And don'ts a little bit of which we also talked about earlier in the segment today, in addition to that book, which is pretty available, I think it's also on Amazon. Uh , sometimes Westminster John Knox actually allows it with Amazon for a free download after there's been a mass violence event . And otherwise it's pretty easy to get and not very expensive. But in addition to that, Presbyterian disaster assistance maintains its own website and relationship with the PCUSA website. And we have resources for trauma , uh , both video resources and reading resources. We have some of the short films that David Barnhart has done that , um, that deal with mass violence events and deal with interventions that people do during them and all of those resources, we keep curated and up to date on our websites . So I guess that's another place to go. And of course, we also have MPDA Presbyterian disaster assistance staff, and very highly trained volunteers who are there to walk with communities. So if a person is in a community that gets hit by such a disaster, they can call us or, or give us a shout out an email right away. And that's our privilege. And our, our work really in the Presbyterian mission agency is to walk with the communities and to try to support them as they do that work with folks.

Speaker 1:

This has been the matter of faith podcast brought to you by the Presbyterian peacemaking program and Unbound, if you would like to submit a question for discussion, you can do [email protected] , we look forward to hearing from you, see you next time, see you next time. Y'all

Speaker 3:

Hey, everyone. Simon says thank you for listening to episode 20 of a matter of faith at Presby podcast. And Simon also says, don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform.

Speaker 2:

Yeah . And episode 20. Uh , we want for people to give us some reviews, preferably 20 and preferably five star reviews. So don't forget to leave us a review. That's it? That's fine. All right.