In the fall of 2013, an ad campaign from the Mumbai-based agency Taproot exploded in popularity on social media and was featured on a variety of news sites, particularly in India and the United States. The campaign, known as the Abused Goddess ads, depicted an iteration of the Goddess most accurately characterized as a Goddess-woman, a divine-human hybrid figure possessing both the divine power of shakti and the vulnerability of human women. Stylized in the “canonical” images of the Goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Durga, the Goddess-women were shown as bruised victims of domestic violence. The Abused Goddess ads precipitated and codified the contemporary depictions of the Goddess-woman whose later iterations appear in the work of numerous digital artists. In particular, the ads exemplify an aesthetic that harnesses the power of shame and the mingling of gazes to further a secular-humanist ethic at the expense of devotional experience.
The #MeToo hashtag and campaign raises important questions for Christian public theology. In 2017, a church sign at Gustavus Adolphus church in New York City connected Jesus with #MeToo through Jesus’ words ‘You did this to me too’ (Matthew 25:40). This church sign offers appropriate recognition of the theological solidarity of Jesus with #MeToo at a metaphorical level, but this article argues a more direct historical connection should also be made. It examines work by Tombs (1999), Heath (2011), Gafney (2013), and Trainor (2014) that go beyond theological solidarity to identify Jesus as a victim of sexual abuse in a more historical and literal sense. It concludes that naming Jesus as victim of sexual abuse is not just a matter of correcting the historical record but can also help churches to address the damage caused by victim blaming or shaming.
The theoretical model: ‘Narrative meaning making and integration of life events’ hypothesizes that life events such as falling ill may result in an ‘experience of contingency’. Through narrative meaning making, this experience may be eventually integrated into patients’ life stories, which, in turn, may enhance their quality of life. To contribute to our understanding of this existential dimension of falling ill and to further validate the theoretical model, we examined the relationships among the concepts assessed with the RE-LIFE questionnaire.
Two hypothesized mediation models were assessed using regression-based serial multiple mediation analysis. Model 1, assessing the influence of ‘experience of contingency’ on ‘acknowledging’, was significant and showed partial mediation by indirect influences through ‘negative impact on life goals’ and ‘existential meaning’. Model 2, assessing the influence of ‘experience of contingency’ on ‘quality of life’, was also significant, with a full mediation by the variables ‘negative impact on life goals’, ‘existential meaning’ and ‘acknowledging’. In conclusion, several hypothesized relationships within the theoretical model were confirmed. Narrative meaning making and integration significantly influence people’s self-evaluation of their quality of life.