Redemptive Trauma

Confession of a Defrocked Priest

Non-Fiction - Memoir
136 Pages
Reviewed on 07/05/2022
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Author Biography

A childhood immigrant from his native Scotland, David has spent a lifetime working alongside some of the most talented leaders across the Canadian landscape. From an early age, he learned that significant change only comes with impactful leadership.

In his work as a front-line health care worker, David has become a public advocate for the de-stigmatization of people suffering with mental health and addiction issues, and quickly learned the challenges (and opportunities) this presents when he himself is one of the examples. David holds both a Bachelor’s & Master’s degree from Huron University College at the Western University in London, ON, and is the author of Redemptive Trauma: Confession of a Defrocked Priest. For most of his adult life, David served as a street involved Pastor in Toronto and London. His major focuses of ministry were related to social outreach, restorative justice, and learning to wrestle with life and faith in the rapidly evolving social media age.

Today, David serves as a First Responder & Mental Health Specialist with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and the Toronto Community Crisis Service (TCCS).

    Book Review

Reviewed by Erin Nicole Cochran for Readers' Favorite

David Giffen’s Redemptive Trauma: Confession of a Defrocked Priest is beyond words, beyond faith. It's human flesh put into pages. The number of passages in this book that spoke to me and resonated is many. Not because I’ve experienced them all, but because chaos is so fundamentally ingrained that it is as though we expect to come across it in our lives. We sense it outside of ourselves, a door we might stumble headlong through. That door may be created out of edible gingerbread or hanging off its jamb and can lead to great things or lead us through a maze from which we never find our way out.

Giffen’s Redemptive Trauma opens the reader up in ways that you don’t see often, if ever. On page 78: “But if I am to boast in my weakness and kneel at the cross, I must lay down my secrets bare.” This is a taste of what readers will get when experiencing Giffen’s writing. Redemptive Trauma is a journey first written from the perspective of the author as a man, who then later gives us this complete visual understanding of what his childhood years were like as he later grew into the man he became. The suffering and the transmittal of pain from generation to generation appear as a mirror lifted up to the reader’s face. David flings wide the curtain of family dysfunction, love, and religion and we see what he sees. And it’s a sight you want to see. A man who breaks, but heals.

Philip Van Heusen

Parishioners often forget one vital piece of information concerning priests/pastors: they are human. As such, they struggle with the same issues that the parishioners do. In Redemptive Trauma: Confession of a Defrocked Priest, David Giffen shares his story. He was an Anglican priest for ten years, even while his mental health was a wreck. His upbringing had much to be desired. The various traumas he suffered combined and led him into situations that cost him his health, his family, his ministry, and everything else he had. This story is about a redemptive God who reached down and changed David through mercy and grace. It seems that ministers are held to a different standard than parishioners, and David was hung out to dry. However, God did not give up on David, and David is not giving up on God.

David Giffen has an addictive personality. Everything he does, he does with the zeal of an addict. This is true no matter if David is preaching or drinking. For most of his life, he refused to stop. David ignored the exit and warning signs. Instead, he drove straight ahead and off the washed-out bridge. If you think, “A book about a priest has to be boring,” you couldn’t be more wrong. This book is anything but boring. David was no stranger to sex and drugs. He did not live what is usually thought of as a godly life. His high school classmates would never have guessed that someone like him would become a priest. Yet, God has a sense of humor. He has perfected the skill of taking trash and making it into a beautiful piece of art. David’s life shows that God gives people second chances and more.

Luwi Nyakansaila

Redemptive Trauma: Confession of a Defrocked Priest by David Giffen is a memoir based on pivotal moments from the author's life. Giffen reflects on his mistakes and his journey of self-discovery and healing. He illustrates his story using examples based on traumatic moments in his life. The topics covered include love, family, religion, sexuality, and many more. These are broken down and discussed, and a lesson is drawn from each subject. The author's growth is the focus of this book, as he reflects on his life and the poor choices he sometimes made. He talks about his addictions and how they affected his life cumulatively until it all imploded. The book also covers issues of humanity, and how to treat each other as people regardless of our gender, religion, or preferences in life.

This heartfelt story touches your humanity and makes you reflect on your choices and how they can alter your being. Redemptive Trauma is therapeutic for accepting your true self and not letting people around you dictate your life. It is also about acknowledging your mistakes and not blaming others. The author bared all in this memoir: his brokenness and hope of becoming a better man and father to his son. He admits that his journey has not ended, but is a work in progress, which is relatable to everyone. Deep down we all wish to be the best version of ourselves, and this book will help you step back and analyze a decision before you finally make it. Pick up this book and read it today; it will open up a new way of life and help you create a happier and emotionally healthier you.

Pikasho Deka

Redemptive Trauma: Confession of a Defrocked Priest is the story of David Giffen, a former priest who was stripped of his ministry and terminated from his post after being found guilty of sexual misconduct in 2018. After being diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, David has worked tirelessly as a public advocate for the de-stigmatization of mental health and addiction issues. David succumbed to the vices of alcohol and drugs at an early age, landing him in unflattering situations. With years of self-destructive behavior under his belt, he found a vibrant and embracing community amongst the Anglican Churches of Canada. Now, looking back through his complex and quite often troubled past, David wants to face his demons head-on and overcome them once and for all.

An honest and authentic story of mistakes, regret, and the path to redemption, Redemptive Trauma is an inspiring read about the power of forgiveness and the act of letting go. David Giffen shares an unflinching glimpse into his life, holding nothing back as he eventually found his way back from the sins of the past through the help and support of his close friends and family. David's story deals with the ramifications of childhood trauma and how it impacts a person throughout his life, like a shadow that becomes increasingly difficult to shrug off. Everyone is prone to making mistakes, but it takes a lot of courage to own up to them and try to become a better person. Highly recommended.

Lois Henderson

David Giffen’s Redemptive Trauma: Confession of a Defrocked Priest is the memoir of a Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Victim. It tells the tale of how the author went from joining the priesthood at the age of 26 to becoming ultimately deprived of his ministry. Having experienced multiple adverse childhood experiences, Giffen’s downfall from a state of grace, by way of substance abuse, used to dull his ongoing emotional pain, can be seen as having been almost inevitable. How he has managed to recover from it, by way of an extensive amount of intentional psychotherapy, shows the innate strength of the man, despite his shortcomings.

The purpose of David Giffen’s Redemptive Trauma: Confession of a Defrocked Priest is an admirable one, namely to enable the reader to learn how to empathize with PTSD victims who are prone to experiencing multiple realities simultaneously. To have the bravery to confess to the average reader the nature of his experiences as a one-time priest, now defrocked, especially when there is so much criticism being leveled at the Roman Catholic Church for ostensibly harboring miscreants under the guise of the priesthood, is remarkable. Self-acceptance is the lesson that we can all heed here. No matter our crimes, we, in the western world at least, can seek redemption through coming clean by way of public confession. Redemptive Trauma is, therefore, an ennobling work that should bring hope to us all, for who has not gone astray in one direction or another, during our sojourn on earth?