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Soul repair: wounds of war

Soul repair: wounds of war

Rita Nakashima Brock’s work with moral injuries is featured in the New York Times.

On a drizzly Saturday afternoon in September 2005, the Rev. Rita Nakashima Brock awaited her instructions at a vast Washington rally against the Iraq war. The protest march, numbering more than 100,000, was the latest and among the largest events in her nearly 40 years of pacifist activism.

When an organizer placed Ms. Brock near the end of the procession, though, something instantly felt wrong. Around her she noticed many other clergy members, as well as war veterans and Gold Star Mothers. She could not rid herself of the sensation that people like her were outsiders even to the movement they supported.

“When you said you were a Christian, they thought you were a Jerry Falwell person,” Ms. Brock, 62, recalled. “I don’t think I ever said I was the daughter of a veteran. It was something I tried to forget from my life. It didn’t fit anywhere.”

That moment of painful clarity redirected Ms. Brock’s life and ministry. She has devoted the years since then to tending the spiritual wounds of warriors, seeking theological answers to the condition among veterans called “moral injury.” In her current position at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, she has begun the first program in the nation to develop a treatment that she terms “soul repair.”

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