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Abstract

How Survivors of Abuse Relate to God

Grappling with theological issues raised by abuse, this book argues that the Church should be challenged, and ministered to, by survivors. Paying careful attention to her interviews with Christian women survivors, Shooter finds that through painful experiences of transformation they have surprisingly become potential agents of transformation for others. Shooter brings the survivors' narratives into dialogue with the story of Job and with medieval mystic Marguerite Porete's spirituality of 'annihilation'. Culminating in an engagement with contemporary feminist theology concerning power and powerlessness, there emerges a set of principles for authentic community spirituality which crosses boundaries with God, supports appropriate human boundaries and, crucially, listens attentively. Appealing to Church leaders, students, practitioners and practical theologians, this book offers a creative and ethical theological enquiry as well as some spiritual anchor points for survivors. 

Review by Dr Nicola Slee

‘In this remarkable text, Susan Shooter dives down into the wreck of the church's murky pastoral practice and theologies of domination in order to retrieve the submerged stories and wisdom of Christian survivors of abuse. Surfacing their stories, she brings them into dialogue with the book of Job and the medieval mystic, Margeurite Porete and constructs an inspiring account of “the authentic spirituality of the annihilated soul”. The result is a text of powerful witness and indictment, yet one which also offers “a slither of hope” in the capacity of survivors to discern God's timeless and transformative presence in their experience and to offer a largely unrecognised ministry of grace. This is an impressive work that deserves to be widely read. It should inform ministerial training and practice, as well as the conduct of qualitative research and feminist practical theology.’
Nicola Slee, The Queen's Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education, Birmingham, UK

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