Traumatic Experiences and the Role of Friendship in Healing A Theological Reading of Brian Keenan’s

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Roz Lawson


In this study of trauma and friendship, focused around Brian Keenan’s An Evil Cradling, I investigate the friendship between Brian Keenan and John McCarthy, who were imprisoned together as hostages in the late 1980s during the Lebanese Civil War, as described and celebrated within the text. Three recurring motifs of friendship — solidarity, prayer, and community — are used to identify the theological underpinnings of friendship. Drawing from the literature of trauma studies, particularly Shelly Rambo on ‘witnessing’ and ‘remaining’, I explore whether friendship as an embodied spiritual practice is a fitting response to trauma, itself an embodied experience. This, by extension, has important ramifications for communities of care like the church, especially when the Johannine Christ implores his disciples to ‘remain’ with each other, and invites Thomas to touch his bodily wounds. By acknowledging and ‘touching’ trauma, I find that close, interdependent friendship that avoids erasing wounds is paradoxically most able to help restore the wounded.

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Roz Lawson

Revd Roz Lawson graduated from the Scottish Baptist College in 2022 and is Assistant Chaplain at the University of Glasgow.