A couple of weeks ago I went back to my hometown of Batesville, AR. The picture is of Emily and my Dad.
I just finished reading Miroslav Volf’s book: The End of Memory. Simply put, it is brilliant.Volf is now Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale University Divinity School and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. He has also been a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary.
You’re probably wondering what this book by a Croatian theologian has to do with this picture taken in the 2nd oldest town in Arkansas? (If you’re not wondering, you should probably stop reading.)Volf was once considered a national security threat in Yugoslavia. He was tortured and interrogated for months.
My parents didn’t get married until I was 3. My mom then 19 loaded me on a Greyhound bus and headed toward San Antonio, TX. My dad was in his early twenties and had strong doubts as to whether or not I was his son. He still does.My younger brother Brian was born when I was 5. I was sexually and physically abused for the next few years by family members and neighbors. Both of my parents used drugs and my dad had a problem with alcohol and his temper. I often found myself being beaten with whatever was handy. I still scratch at these wounds. Volf found himself confronted with his memories of abuse during the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal. He replayed the hours of interrogation and saw the faces of the perpetrators. In his book he talks about “remembering rightly”. Not adding anything to it. He said he found himself having imaginary conversations with his accusers. I have had more imaginary conversations with my dad than real ones. I cannot change what happenned to me. I will not forget it either. But, I would be repaying his mistakes with a double mistake of my own. To be honest, I am not sure what kind of relationship Emily with have with my dad, if any. I know that I will never leave them alone together. I know what little time they have been together has done great things for my soul. I watched them collect “rollie-pollies” and construct a habitat for them. All of Emily’s memories of my dad are positive. 100% It doesn’t change who he is. It doesn’t change what he’s done. I will remember a tyrant.
She will remember a “rollie-pollie” catching old man.
We’re both right.