A Rape Survivor Now Ministers Body and Soul

[After the rape]…Church brought no relief. It made everything worse. Church, at least in the wake of tragedy, was the empty predictability of confession recited in unison, hymns sung by rote, sermons about the glorious soul and the sinful body and magical forgiveness. A favorite verse from Romans in her copy of the Good News Bible now sounded like a lie: “We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him.”

Only at home, alone with the secret of her rape, could Ms. [Marcia] Shoop find something to grasp for survival. “I felt Jesus so close,” she recalled in a recent interview. “It wasn’t the same Jesus I saw at church. It was this tiny, audible whisper that said, ”˜I know what happened. I understand.’ And it kept me alive, that frayed little thread.”

By now, more than a quarter of a century later, that thread has led Ms. Shoop, 43, to become a Presbyterian minister herself, one who has developed religious teachings aimed at repairing the rift between mind and body, soul and spirit. Born out of a survivor’s struggle, they form her variation on the broader field of “incarnational theology,” which focuses on the living, breathing, physical Jesus.

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