FOREWORD


“Dr. Manuel Rauchholz: On Anthropology, Trauma, and Understanding Our World”

11.2.2021  |  Season 3  |  Episode 6




SHOW NOTES

Dr. Fellipe do Vale and Dr. Madison Pierce interview Dr. Manuel Rauchholz, who is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Intercultural Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Manuel has been teaching at TEDS for three years, and he also is an alumnus. He completed a ThM under Paul Hiebert at TEDS before going on to doctoral work in cultural anthropology at Heidelberg University.

The episode begins with Manuel sharing the fascinating trajectory his life has taken, beginning with his birth in Germany, through to his family’s missions work in Micronesia (especially the island of Chuuk), and followed by stretches of time in Illinois, Germany, and Japan. Manuel brings his cultural expertise and curiosity to his work, and in the episode, he emphasizes the importance of a careful and detailed understanding of human communities, both in their beauty and in the difficult things one encounters therein. Such a practice enriches seminaries and churches, for it is a way to become “all things to all people,” maintains Manuel, and doing so demonstrates love and self-giving to those communities. Manuel himself has exhibited this nuanced anthropological work in his studies on human trafficking in small island communities, and concludes with some recommendations for how Christians can be agents of good in such spaces.

Along the way, listeners will discover…

  • Why Manuel thinks his wife is more German than he is
  • Some of the challenges of being a cultural anthropologist, especially since people, unlike books, do not stay in one place
  • How theologians, pastors, and ministers can learn from the study of culture

To learn more about Dr. Manuel Rauchholz, visit his faculty page, read one of his publications in journals like the Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, watch his recent interview on abuse and the church with the Koinonia network, or better yet, come study with him at TEDS!

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Transcript

[THEME MUSIC BEGINS]

Fellipe do Vale
[00:00:00] Yeah. Yeah. I get asked all the time how to say my name. And I just kind of am ok with the Anglicized version of it, which is for better or for worse.

Manuel Rauchholz
Okay. And that would be?

do Vale
Fuh-lee-pay dough-veil, yeah.

Rauchholz
Fuh-lee-pay.

do Vale
Yeah.

Rauchholz
How would you say it in Portuguese?

do Vale
In Portuguese? Feh-lee-pay dough-vah-lee.

Rauchholz
Feh-lee-pay dough-vah-lee. Feh-lee-pay dough-vah-lee. 

do Vale
Yeah. Which is—yeah, you have great pronunciation! That’s pretty good! But I had one time somebody say to me, “Can I just call you ‘Phil’?” [LAUGHS] And I was like, “…no.” [LAUGHTER] “At least try.”

Fellipe do Vale
[00:00:00]

[THEME MUSIC ENDS]

do Vale
Welcome to Foreword: A TEDS Faculty Podcast. I’m Fellipe do Vale.

Pierce
And I’m Madison Pierce.

do Vale
Today, we have the privilege of interviewing Dr. Manuel Rauchholz, who is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Intercultural Studies here at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Well, we’re going to find out that Manuel has been in a lot of different places throughout his life, but for a portion of that time, he was a ThM student here where he…before completing further graduate work at the University of Heidelberg where he studied cultural anthropology—and then he has been here for…how many years now?

Rauchholz
Three years.

do Vale
So he’s been with us at TEDS for three years. It’s a pleasure to have you with us.

Rauchholz
Thank you for having me.

Pierce
Yeah, that’s wonderful…which means that neither of us had you as a professor. You would have come since then.

do Vale
That’s right.

Pierce
So that’s one of the special things—I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you since I’ve been here on faculty. So we’ll give our audience an opportunity to do that too. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where did you grow up and how did you get back here to TEDS?

Rauchholz
Well, I was born in 1972 in Germany. My parents were working as missionaries at that time in Micronesia—It’s a small island region in the Western Pacific, basically between the Philippines and Hawaii, but still north of the equator. My mother’s American and my dad is German, and so they were on a visit—of what they call a “furlough” in Germany—when I was born. I have three older sisters and a younger brother. So being raised…I was only basically born in Germany. All of my siblings were not born in Germany—they were born in Micronesia. So growing up as a child, you know, I kind of always envied that I had a place of birth in Germany and they had these more exotic islands where they were born. But, so I spent most of my childhood years in Micronesia in the islands of Chuuk. They are famously known today as a “dive spot”—one of the premiere dive spots today because the Japanese Navy had one of their main hubs there during World War II and the Americans took revenge on Pearl Harbor and threw down probably ten times the amount of bombs that the Japanese did on Pearl Harbor. And so there are all of these wrecks lying…scattered throughout the lagoon that people like to come visit just to go in for a dive.

Pierce
Wow.

Rauchholz
Yeah, so that’s…these small islands are where I grew up. I spent my first five years there, then my dad continued his studies at Wheaton College, so I did kindergarten and first grade in Glen Ellyn, and then did second grade in Germany, then we went back to Micronesia, where I went to grades 3-7, and then moved on to Japan, went to a German school there, transitioned to the German school system, back to Germany for two years, and then back to Japan for the final three years of high school. And so I think I changed schools seven times until graduation from thirteenth grade—so in the German academic high school system, we had a thirteen-year system. So how did I get to know TEDS? So as I was a student of theology in Germany, I was always planning from the beginning to study abroad overseas for at least one year, and there are two ways to do that: either through a scholarship program, some exchange programs, or also through what I might call a German pell grant—so funding from the German government, because they really want to encourage students to go overseas. And so in this process I was at Tübingen, and that’s where I became acquainted with Paul Hiebert—not him personally, but some of his writings. And I thought “Okay, where is he right now? Well, he’s at Trinity!” Because I always had an interest in anthropology and he was a theologian and an anthropologist, I thought that might be interesting just to study with him for a while. And so I actually turned down a full scholarship at Princeton Seminary for a year and came to Trinity instead.

do Vale
Take that, Princeton! [LAUGHTER]

Rauchholz
[00:05:03] Well, Princeton’s a good school, I mean, you know, it’s a great school, but there would have not been anything considerably different studying theology there than from studying theology in Tübingen or Heidelberg, right? So the unique component, thing, I was looking for was engaging with a theologian who was also anthropologically-versed. Because I found studying theology in Germany, while there are many great and fascinating and brilliant theologians, one thing I find theology there lacks until today is that it’s kind of developed in its own cocoon, right, where people assume that the theology they’re doing is universal and is applicable to all humankind. But I thought that many of the questions they were asking were not questions I would ever ask, not people in Japan would ever ask, or people in the Pacific would ever ask. So these were like irrelevant questions, but I was forced to deal with them, which is ok as a student. But I thought that if I could have some independence from that way of thinking and kind of develop some of my own questions and seek answers to some of the questions that I have and find people that are willing to engage with me with the questions that I have. And I think that is what I found here at Trinity with Paul Hiebert and the missions department, and I think that is also where anthropology brought a different perspective into the picture for me as a graduate student at the time.

Pierce
Yeah! Oh, that’s fascinating.

do Vale
Yeah, that’s lovely. It sounds like your upbringing, your family, your experiences, shaped quite a bit of how…the direction you wanted to take your studies. And I imagine, I mean, you still have quite an international family at the moment. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your current ministries and your family?

Rauchholz
Yeah, so my wife Mihamm is a native South Korean. Her parents moved to Germany in the 1970’s, her dad in particular to study theology in Münster, and the mom came through an exchange program as a military nurse—so she was a ranked officer and worked at a military hospital in Germany. So the husband said, “Oh, Germany’s good in theology—I’m a theologian, pastor—I can do graduate work here.” So my wife is ethnically Korean, but actually spent more years in Germany in her childhood and later on in life than I have. [LAUGHTER]

Pierce
[LAUGHS] That’s a fun fact!

Rauchholz
She’s culturally more German and maybe feels overall more comfortable in a German setting than I probably do, but she’s ethnically Korean. And so we often get to hear this when we’re in South Korea or elsewhere: her friends tell her, “You’re so German, but your husband, you know, we kind of get along better with him.” [LAUGHTER] Yeah, but so she spent most of her childhood in Germany, then the family moved back to South Korea, and then the father maintained, or had her and her sister maintain, speaking German at home because he didn’t want them to lose the language. And so they, then, after completing their college education in South Korea, they came to Germany for graduate studies, both in theology, and then did their PhDs—at Tübingen, my wife, and then her sister at Heidelberg. And so yeah, we’re a multiethnic family, basically, but looks can deceive—or be deceiving—because culturally, I would position myself closer to the Asian context, or Pacific, while she might be situated in the more European context.

do Vale
It’s worth getting to know people, it sounds like.

Pierce
Absolutely.

Rauchholz
Yes, it’s worth getting to know people and to look beyond just the outward appearance.

Pierce
Yeah. I wonder…you’ve already painted a really excellent picture and helped us to understand what kind of led you toward anthropology. I wonder if you could say a little bit more about how your experience led you to your particular work, because most of your work has been focusing on Micronesia, so what kind of led you to make those choices?

Rauchholz
That’s a good question. So first of all, the choice to go back to Micronesia—some questions can be answered quite simply. So on the one hand, I had to think of actually doing research in Russia. I had been to Russia in the 1990’s after the fall of communism, and I thought, “This would be a very exciting place to do ethnographic fieldwork.” But then I had an accident—you know, I had to then make sure that I still finished my studies within a certain time frame, because I had to take semesters off for the healing process. In the meantime, I got involved with Mihamm, got married, etc., so then I realized, “Okay, it’s going to take too much time for me to go to Russia,” even though my wife and I were really open when we decided to go there. But, step one would be learning Russian and step two would probably be learning another ethnic minority language. And so, given all of these time constraints, I figured in the end, “Okay, it might be valuable to just go back to Micronesia and do my field work there for my doctoral dissertation, because I speak the language—it used to be my first language as a kid growing up—and going deeper into one ethnic group will also help you translate all of that, once you learn, to other societies.” So some people might view that as, “Oh, he just did his studies in one ethnic group,” and see that as a negative. But there’s also a positive to this. Paul Hiebert once said, you know, “You can look at many societies on a shallow level, or you could just dig very deeply, and then from there, you get a different perspective that you can then translate to other social and cultural contexts.” So basically, that is the approach guiding those decisions, and second, the nice thing about us in Micronesia is we’re dealing with, in a way, a kind of laboratory-type situation—smaller populations; geographically limited to smaller spaces. So, if you want to study politics, it’s easy because you can just get in a car or walk ten minutes and you’ll be at the governor’s office; you walk another two minutes, you’re at the Department of Education. So all of these government offices are basically in a very, very small microcosm, so the pathways to different people are relatively short, because people are highly mobile. Half the population of Micronesia lives overseas—in the U.S., Hawaii, and Guam—but nevertheless, you can actually dig in quite deep and get a very broad and deep view of many aspects of what it means to be human, a Christian, a politician, a mother, father, child—kind of almost like a laboratory situation. So that’s I think one reason why I have chosen to just focus on one ethnic group—or, not just one ethnic group, but one region. And a second component is probably—this ties into some of your questions, you know, “Why anthropology?” “Why this region?”—as an anthropologist, I remember a convention I was attending in 2012 in Portland, Oregon, where we as Pacific anthropologists invited citizens from the Pacific who lived in the Western U.S. to just join our academic conference. And so we had what they call a “brown bag lunch” where we kind of met with representatives from Samoa, Fiji, Micronesia and different parts of the Pacific, and it was interesting to listen to the people ask—and question the anthropologists and ask them—“Guys, where are you? I mean, you’re doing all of this research on our ethnic groups. You kind of see where the troubles are economically, politically—all of the social ills—but your idea of reverse-anthropology, or of supporting the community that nurtured your academic career is interpreted as ‘I sent them back a copy of my book and it’s in their library where the termites are eating them,’ but how are you, with your knowledge and your expertise, helping our societies and our communities develop?” So I thought, “Okay, well that’s a very valid point.” You know, in America, in Germany, in Europe, we have tons of sociologists, anthropologists, that study our culture, that study the economy so we can make projections, plan—develop our society. But in many of these places—more remote places—a cultural anthropologist might be the only social scientist who is on deck. And so, then, of course with time, I was in contact, of course, with people in government and church that have asked, “Can you come back and help us in education and get more involved?” Yeah, so that’s kind of what’s pretty much kept me more connected. And then it’s also about people you—I would probably also argue I feel very much at home there. It’s the place I grew up. I felt very comfortable in Europe, I would say, but then after going back and working there professionally, that just added a different layer of connectivity, I would say—you know, to the people and to the places. Yeah, so I hope that answered that question.

Pierce
Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Yeah, that was fascinating.

do Vale
[00:14:35] Absolutely. I love what you said, that it seems as though your vision for anthropology has a goal that it must be geared toward. You know, you study the people and the things that they’re doing, but you do it with a view—to help them somehow, or to provide, cast light, on the ins and outs of the community and what makes it so valuable and special and distinct. And I find that incredibly valuable, not just for me, but for our community here at TEDS, which leads me to want to ask—I think it’s wonderful that we have an anthropologist on faculty, but what do you think that your discipline and your research can contribute to a place like this—a seminary where we’re training pastors and theologians and counselors? What is it that your discipline can offer to this particular community, and how does it enrich it? Because surely, it does.

Rauchholz
I think the main contribution is really in its anthropocentric focus. So in theology, we learn to study God—the word of God, how God thinks about Himself, about humans, etc., etc., and how He is active in this world through history and time. We look at the effects of Christianity and church history, etc., etc., but in cultural anthropology, it’s really about incarnation, to be honest. So, the one principle—guiding principle—in cultural anthropology is the “going native” principle, or, you know, to participate in other enthic groups’, in social groups’, livelihood—and kind of become, as much as you can, one of them. And anthropologists may not be happy if I mention this, but basically, we have that modeled in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, right? Where Paul in his theology says, “I have become a Greek for the Greek, I have become a Jew for the Jews, and I’ve become everything for everyone.” So…and part of that process of immersing yourself into a community that is not your native community, and trying to—and this is the second point—trying to understand who these people are; why they do what they do…to not just say the Kantian way, “There’s an absolute form of reason and everything that does not fit that logic is unreasonable.” No! There is a clear sense of reasoning, logic, behind the decisions people make. It’s just that their decisions are being guided by different principles, different values, and different expectations and perspectives they have on their life and what they would like to see as an outcome for their life. And this is something that I thought when I was studying theology in Germany was kind of on the weak side, where I think anthropology can make a contribution to theologians to start thinking outside of their own box, and in a way, be Christlike and try and model incarnation. And that often gets lost when we are kind of confined to our ivory tower of theology—the books, the libraries—we lose contact to the people. And so I think this would be the main contribution. So if I want to write a book in theology, I go to my library and I start pulling out books. If I want to write a book in cultural anthropology, I have to find people, pull them out of wherever they are, but then they might not be there where I expect them to be in the community. So I plan some projects—“Okay, I’m going to meet these people,” “Oh, Grandma was missing her grandchildren; she flew off to the U.S.” So, all of these things…it’s a highly mobile set of data you’re dealing with—that is alive. So that’s the part that I really enjoy about it, but it involves more work, and it involves the component of death to yourself—giving up of yourself. So this is I think something that people often overlook, but when you immerse yourself in a different culture and try and live with people, live amongst people that are different from yourself, in order to really feel comfortable, and for them to feel comfortable in your presence, you have to give up some of your own nationalistic thinking, your own ideologies, and it’s a painful process—because it’s what you identify yourself, with things you’re proud of. You know, I’m Korean…you know, part of what we’ve become as a nation…or German, you know, or American—you know, many Americans I experience saying, in Micronesia, “If they only did things the way we do them in America, they would be as wealthy as we are, they’d be as educated as we are, etc., etc.” But is that really the goal that people have locally? This is the contribution of anthropology, is to begin with that step of trying to understand. And that prose of understanding is achieved best through immersion, and that immersion process includes losing part of yourself, and that’s painful. Just my teenage daughter recently said, “It’s really painful for me now going back to Germany because I’ve become so different from living in different places now, but in order to feel really comfortable here, and embedded, I’m going to have to give up some things that I’ve worked hard to become, or some things that I value, but they’re not really valued in the German context—for communication, for example, or vise-versa.” So it is very challenging, but I think it is a necessary process for growth and to increase understanding between the church, the nations, people amongst each other…yeah.

Pierce
[00:20:21] You highlighted, Fellipe, the way that Manuel’s experience with the Micronesian people allowed him to shed light on the beauty, but it’s also the case that a lot of your work is focused on some of the more difficult aspects of Micronesian culture—including trafficking and exploitation, or sexual violence. Could you tell us a little bit about some of the themes in your work? I don’t know if “themes” is the best way of putting that, but…

Rauchholz
Yeah. “Themes” is a good way to put it. So I think every society has values that kind of guide people’s decision making that are, like, primary values that guide people’s decision making. And I forgot who mentioned this, but every unguarded—it might have been Bonneville—but every unguarded strength quickly becomes a weakness. And so, in communities like Micronesia where one of the principles of family life is being of one mind, being of one heart, working together, having everything together, sharing things together—if I use the Chuukese term it’s like using everything together. So it can be a wonderful experience if you cannot pay for your education but the whole family puts together the money and sends off their brightest mind to college because they share everything together. Same for an African community—I encountered an African theologian who was questioned by his German counterparts, “Why are you driving such a shabby car? You’re earning a professor’s salary here now, etc., etc.” And he says, “There’s one thing you don’t understand. My whole family did not eat meat—I’m talking twenty or thirty people in my extended family—they would only eat meat once a week in Kenya. They’re taxi drivers, they’re day-laborers, etc., and when they saw the potential I had, they said, ‘Okay, we’ve got to get this guy through.’ So they cut the meat off their menu for the three or four years I went to college. That’s what got me this scholarship to come to Germany and get a PhD scholarship. Now what I am doing is I am helping my brothers, my cousin’s kids, go to school—high school, college, etc. So I’m just giving back and showing my gratitude to the rest of my family.” And in America, everything is, you know, by the time a kid turns 18, get out of the house, you start paying…you don’t get any tax deductibles for your kids when they’re 17…or turn 17 that year, you know, etc. It’s like a whole different view on family [LAUGHS]. But it also points me to the weakness, namely, if you have everything together, there are certain boundaries that people might not be as mindful to keep, or that are more easily transgressed—based on the hierarchy and obligations to people to share everything together. So it might begin with wife-sharing. If my…and let’s say the pre-Christian forms of Micronesian culture—“If my wife is not available, then maybe her sister will be available.” But that’s a model of sharing that has been built into the culture, and the reasoning, “Because I, as a husband, man, would not want another male to come in between the family of the wife”—they wouldn’t be very encouraging of that because they would like the families to stay together. So you also share your spouses. So I have friends that said, “A young woman gets married and tells her best friend who was hierarchically at the same level, says, ‘My husband is your husband, in case you ever…’—you know, she was still single…like a 22 year old or 23 year old—‘…if you ever need a guy, you don’t have to go somewhere else. Here, my husband is available.’ But then on the other hand, you will see some families where those that are better off in the hierarchy, higher up, they will collect a group of younger couples into a household—in the U.S., or Guam, or wherever they might be living, or back home—and then this might provide opportunity for the male who is higher up in the hierarchy to access the younger females sexually. Or, many, many nations face this, that governments are slow to pay out their Pell grant to their students, or thier college support. So you have all of these female students going to college—they may be working at McDonalds in Guam, right? And so they can’t pay their bills; they talk to the manager: “Hey, can I get some money up front? Can I get my advance pay or something?” So then it accumulates in debt and there’s a death in the family and they have to provide because they’re working—they’re going to provide all of this, but then eventually, the McDonald’s manager will say, “Hey, can you pay me back the $1,000?” “Oh, no! I can’t!” “Well then we’ll have to figure something out for how you can repay.” So then you see, “Hey, I have some friends. Maybe you can help me out with my friends.” And the next thing you know is this girl who is going to college in Guam is having sex with the friends of the McDonald’s manager who’s collecting money for it and he’s trafficking his own employees. Or the same thing is happening at a university in Papua New Guinea—Goroka—where the business people who have money come to the university because they want the more educated women. The college students, the males, they won’t have access, but then they’ll start paying them because they’ll know the government is late in making these payments. And they can’t send money from their relatives, the internet is not working, etc., backing system—you know, it’s a very rural country. So that creates these pools of dependent—or women, for example, that are in trouble—and so then the business community takes advantage of that. And then the college guys—they don’t have access to the college girls because they’re trafficked upwards, so they, then, go to the high school. And the thing is they’re in college, so then they’re the attractive guys up there. So there are other ways where, for example, maybe intimate violence, or violence against members of the same family, might not be viewed as being as bad because these boundaries of abuse of a body and use of a body—these boundaries might be broader or narrower. So when do you call the “use” of a body “abuse”? And we have to be very self critical here in America, too, because if you work for an employer, we say, “They own you because they’re paying for your time. How much of your time do they buy?” You know, you’re working 100 hours a week—do you still see your children? Do you still have dinner time with them? And we forget that we are, in essence, “bought,” or our time is “bought.” And our mind, our intellectual abilities, our social skills, are being used, maybe not in our homes, but elsewhere for the purpose of money. I’ll give an example. I had an employee in Micronesia who was waiting for a meeting, he was walking down the island path, and we had already made face contact. And then an uncle was coming down the path, they met on the path, and then he looks up one more time, turns around, and leaves. This is at 2:00 in the afternoon, we’re planning to have a meeting, he’s our employee, we had face contact, who owns who? Who controls a human being? Who can tell a person what to do and who does that person belong to and how are their allegiances structured? Is it the well-being of the family or the individual? And in this case, it’s a conflict, he has to make a decision: “Do I obey my uncle who I always belong to, or do I obey my employer and my fellow employees who are waiting for me to have this meeting right now?” And so the uncle just couldn’t find another young man to go fishing with him, so he said, “We’re going fishing.” And so “goodbye!” Off he went! And so in the same way, if an uncle will say to a daughter or to a boy, “You’re going to do this, you’re going to do that,” and then it’s for the greater wellbeing of the family, then it’s for the greater wellbeing of the family. And so people might instill that sense of achievement in these people. And if that’s the only way you were raised—there’s a nice book out, Modern Babylon?—it was written in the 90’s, a researcher doing research amongst children in Thailand that are being trafficked out of their homes. And so there’s that Buddhist tradition, and Confucian tradition, where you’re always obligated to your parents. You always owe them for having birthed you. Whoever came first before you is above you, they birthed you, and you owe your life to them. So if you’re a 2, or 3, or 4 year old, and the family says, “Okay, you’re going to go off with this man, or with this boy, or with that person,” you’re just going to do what the family expects of you and the money you will get in return, it’s contributing to the better whole of the family. So if that’s how you were socialized in your mindset, you know, that is the only…it will make you feel good. But there’s a difference with kids that are actually kidnapped—taken out of their homes, etc.—and then exploited in that regard. But, so, these are the kind of things I also try and look at, is the darker side of the human condition, of society, and why people do what they do, and try to understand the cultural mechanisms or the values that actually drive this type of behavior. Because it’s easy for someone to come in and say, “We have human rights. And your government’s trying those, but I don’t see it happening here in the community.” And so for me as an anthropologist, it’s not my job to come in and start prosecuting people, but it’s to try and understand first. What is driving this type of behavior? What is the mindset behind it? And what can we do to actually effect some kind of change for the wellbeing of these children? There was a case of one missionary who was approached by the leadership of the island community because they said “The man who is in line to be chief has been sexually violating boy and girl children,” and if he could talk to the family and just ask them…to tell them to stop. One of the elders in the family of the abuser basically said, “For you guys in the West, this is such an important issue, but for us, it’s not.” This was a man of the church saying that. So there are aspects of every culture where maybe the value of a child, the body of a child, is valued differently. And if we look back into our own history, we’ll find we don’t have to look far—just look at the history of racism in America. There’s a different value attached to different types of bodies, people of different ethnic groups, pay scales, etc., etc. So it’s just a matter of scaling—how do we scale these things?

do Vale
[00:32:10] Wow that is so… so much of what you said I find so interesting. It’s interesting, I’ve read a bit about Pitcairn. It was one of those islands—similar sort of situation. But I find it so interesting, people who study places like that, places like you study, because you’re studying things that are unquestionably dark and difficult, but also a darkness which is complex—that requires nuance to understand. And the temptation, I think, when people who are not within that world—often, the temptation might be to just build a wall between being in that world and being outside of it. And like you said, “You have human rights!” What’s your recommendation for those of us who might never get the privilege of going to Micronesia in order not to build walls of separation, but to understand the complexity of the darkness, to appreciate it—let’s actually be agents of good. Do you have any ways that you’ve attempted to do that? Any ways the church can be agents of good in that direction as well?

Rauchholz
Yeah. So if I speak for the case of Chuuk, I’d probably…you’ll probably see that the main agents of good are people coming out of the church. We have what we call there the “Chuuk Women’s Council.” These are women from the Catholic and Protestant churches leading women in both denominations that are providing safe houses, refuge, and trying to raise the awareness that violence against a spouse or a child should not be the main way to resolve a conflict or an argument. The problem is that if you look at the history of these activities, a lot of their work they’ve had to do outside of the church. Why is that? Because a lot of the funding that came for these types of programs came from the United States or other United Nations programs that exclude religion. But if religion is the only force that can actually effect change, when you exclude that force—so they have to end up doing that work, but outside of the church. They’re actually leading women even in their church, of the Catholic and Protestant church, but they’re doing it kind of on the outside, so then people in the church will say, “Well, you’re just doing this because you’re getting these grants,” so it’s about the money, then, in the end, but not about the content. And that’s something very difficult to explain to people in America who have kind of polarized religion and state and freedom and some of these themes, so my argument would be if you are dead serious about reducing violence—spousal, whatever—you need to work with any partner who shares the same values and wants this form of violence to end. Collaboration is needed, regardless if you’re a Muslim, a Christian, or whatever. If we can share that same goal in trying to make this world a better place, a more humane place, then it is important that we work together. And that doesn’t mean that I am giving up my faith or being disrespectful to the faith of the other, but the Christian faith, or religion, is a very powerful tool—for people who experience violence and overcoming trauma. And it can also be a tool in prevention, because people then realize, “Wait a minute, I’m responsible to a God up in heaven or someone else. If I have a child, I’ll be accountable not to my peers, but there’s a God above me who says, ‘Hey, if you deceive or harm this child, it might be better for a millstone to be hung around your neck and thrown into the sea.’” So there’s that element of teaching that can also come from the Christian faith to actually resolve and counter some of these attitudes that are in any kind of community. So I’ll give an example, because people think, “Okay, this type of violence is happening anywhere in the world, but not in our backyard.” There was a nice study done out of University of the Nazarine in San Diego—they did a study on trafficking in San Diego that came out a couple of years ago, and they found that only 10% of the victims if you’re looking in San Diego County, which is bordered to Mexico—90% of the victims are Americans. Only 10% are from Mexico or from elsewhere. And it’s an over $800 million a year industry just in San Diego county alone. So if you take those numbers from San Diego County and then you just extrapolate them on the state of Texas—the numbers are ten fold. You’re looking at an $8 billion business around sex trafficking in Texas.

do Vale
8 billion dollars!?

Rauchholz
Yeah! That’s if you take the numbers of the study in San Diego, San Diego County, and assume that you can just map them onto the state of Texas, for example. So that shows you that nobody’s really safe. And many churches might think, “It’s not happening among us,” but the way modern technology is being used, it’s very easy to control people that way and access boy and girl children, just to get back to the issue of human trafficking, right? So it’s a very sad thing, but it’s the reality of life we often don’t see but that is out there. And I would say that in the U.S., like 90% of the initiatives providing services to victims of trafficking would be faith-based. So the government has little involvement making the prosecution, but not in the actual work revolving around helping victims.

Pierce
Yeah. Wow.

do Vale
Well, I could listen to you talk all day. And I wish you were around when I was a student, because I probably would have taken all of your classes. But as we like to say here, that’s just the Foreword. If you’d like to learn more about Dr. Rauchholz, have a look at some of his publications in journals like the Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology. You can watch a recent interview that he did with the Koinonea Network, or better yet, you can just come and study with him and take various of his intercultural studies courses with him at TEDS, and I’m sure they’re incredibly stimulating. I wish I could take one myself.

Pierce
Yeah, same.

do Vale
Finally, we want to take a moment to thank our sedulous producer, Curtis Pierce; our sagacious graduate assistant, Lauren Januzik, and last but not least, to thank all of you listeners and viewers for joining us. I’m Fellipe do Vale.

Pierce
And I’m Madison Pierce. Thank you, Manuel, and thank you, everyone.

Rauchholz
You’re welcome.

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Outro
Foreword is a podcast hosted by faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. The views expressed by the hosts and guests of Foreword do not necessarily represent the views of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. You can subscribe to our newest episodes on your preferred podcast app or at forewordpodcast.com. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook @forewordpodcast to get updates and additional links to content. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is located 25 miles north of Chicago, with extension sites across the country and online. Trinity educates men and women to engage in God’s redemptive work in the world by cultivating academic excellence, Christian faithfulness, and lifelong learning. You can find more information at teds.edu.

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