REDEMPTIVE TRAUMA: Confessions of a Defrocked Priest by David Giffen charms, edifies, transcends. The memoir explores painful yet vital and timeless subject matter with honesty and skill. For anyone who has ever spent time contemplating or wanting to understand why so much sexual misconduct seems to underlie church edifices and men of the cloth, this is an important book to read. Giffen details how he originally came to God seeking safe harbor from a chaotic childhood, and how subsequent mental health issues spiraling out of PTSD leftover from abuse eventually led to bad behavior and the author’s defrocking downfall…en route to what God promises all of His children: salvation. Deliverance from evil is not promised only to victims, after all; perpetrators have always been part of God’s Kingdom as well, and no one is defined only by their sins. During years of ministry, Giffen helped the Anglican Church make great strides in LGBT inclusion along with social restorative justice, reaching out to communities long marginalized. The material that holds religion accountable for perpetuating unhealthy, restrictive views about human sexuality in general are fascinating reading, as is the author’s motivation to journey from self-medicating alcoholism towards a healthier adulthood because this is about more than just saving his own soul.
Having become a father, there is the next generation to think about and the narrator would like to ensure that his son experiences a much sounder, safer childhood than he himself had. There are however a few issues of concern regarding this book. For one thing, though thoroughly describing events from childhood makes a clear link between being abused and potentially becoming an abuser, when later acknowledging being found guilty of sexual misconduct as an adult, this portion of the story is quickly breezed over with hardly any detail, and the author sums up those events with the all too familiar excuse often offered by offenders, i.e. the victim ‘wanted to be there.’ Even if that is true, it does not justify sexually taking advantage of someone when one is in a position of power. In support of true restorative justice and healing for the victim, adequate attention to their side of the story is notably absent. Additionally, jumps in timeframe throughout the book are confusing at certain points. Still, this is a worthwhile read. Extra intriguing is the Afterword written by an individual who has known the author along with his birth family for decades, was there in person for most of the stories contained within this book, and holds a different perspective on them while deeply caring for all involved.
Told from the point of view of a passionate soul with a frank yet addictive personality and a wounded past, REDEMPTIVE TRAUMA: Confessions of a Defrocked Priest by David Giffen shines.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader