Healing the Unseen Wounds of War

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Recordings of lectures and discussions from After the Yellow Ribbon, a Nov. 11-12 conference at Duke Divinity School, are now available on iTunes U.

Combat veterans, pacifists, pastors, and military leaders gathered at the event to discuss how the church, the military, and academia can understand and begin to heal the unseen wounds of war.

Initiated by second-year M.T.S. student Logan Mehl-Laituri and sponsored by the Divinity student group Milites Christi, the conference featured lectures, panel discussions, and workshops led by active military, pacifist activists, local pastors, theologians, military chaplains, and students.

"The church needs to hear stories of war from combat veterans and allow them to share their experiences with a community that will truly listen," said Warren Kinghorn, assistant professor of psychiatry and pastoral and moral theology at the Divinity School, in highlighting the purpose of the conference during a panel discussion Saturday morning.

Kinghorn was one of several Duke Divinity faculty members who led discussions and workshops at the event, which started with an unveiling of a new icon of St. Martin of Tours and ended with a concert by Christian singer and songwriter Derek Webb.

Kilner delivers the keynote lectureLt. Col. Peter Kilner, a professor who teaches military ethics at West Point, gave the keynote address. He spoke about the hidden beauties of war, such as the comaraderie between soldiers, and argued that the moral uncertainty of war must be confronted before members of the military are called into active duty.

Discussions and workshops focused on such issues as post-traumatic stress disorder; the recognition of spiritual and moral trauma; resources for recovery; reframing the horrors of war in the context of Christ; and the necessity for the church, military, and academic communities to listen to the stories of combat veterans as a way to prompt confession and reconciliation.

“Healing begins with a recognition of trauma in the church," explained retired Army chaplain Col. Herman Keizer Jr. during a panel discussion, "in members of the military, and in society.”

All photos by Tyler Mahoney, M.Div. '12.