Re: [xmca] Forgiveness

From: JAG (
Date: Sun Oct 22 2006 - 23:36:01 PDT

Maybe you are talking about multiple kinds. I understand the Amish, I
think - they live in a symbolic universe, in a community of worship
and practice that makes forgiveness not something to be questioned -
but something that is constitutive of life's meaning. This is, in turn
reinforced by boundaries between the community and the world of
alternate meanings and messages.

Something like this happened in the Holocaust when many of the very
orthodox were judged as "too accepting" and "too docile" as they were
living within a system of meanings that "transcended" the brutalizing
of communities - leading to the moral ambiguity of giving in when many
might resist. Some of he Rabbinic "Responsa" (judicial reactions to
issues relating to the clash between real conditions and biblical
injunction) have that character - not so much of forgoiveness but of
the sense of things that transcended "mere" conditions.

I am less able (and have known people who are less able) to deal with
forgiveness when it is less communal and more individual. Prof. Smorti
in Italy is studying the distinction between individualized and
communal responses to disaster and disruption.

Anyone living in New York during the 9/11 period has gone through this
- rituals of collectivity - places for candellight vigil, parks (such
as Union Square) became gathering places for collective mourning -
and, in not forgiveness, at least of a solidarity that had the
possibility of tramcending revenge.

 In the context of the current political situation I found the Amish
amazing, instructive - and offering an alternative way of being that
was at the same time strange and familiar.

The tearing down of the schoolhouse is particularly interesting in
this light - standing in interesting contrast to the back and forth of
constructing of memorials and other such symbols. In some way the
erasure of landmark stands in contrast to fetishizing it - and in that
contrast there is, perhaps. a great deal to be learned about the
possibilities of being human.

On 10/23/06, Mike Cole <> wrote:
> OK-- So here is another topic. Any help out there greatly appreciated.
> In my household the topic of forgiveness is a burning issue. There are a lot
> of sources.
> First, we have had a visit from a friend who has had a stroke and whose
> husband has left her
> and she is in deep pain.
> Second, we have been reading about the Amish parents in Pennsylvania who put
> aside, so far as
> we can tell, the unbelievable anger and pain they must have experienced, and
> have forgiven the man
> who killed their children, welcomed his wife into their community, and
> (again, so far as we can tell,
> for-given him his unforgivable (it would seem) trespasses.
> Third, there is fiction brewing locallly that involves a mother and daughter
> who are in conflict where the
> mother has transgressed the law seriously and the daughter is living with
> the consequences.
> So what does anyone on this amazing list of people have to counsel us about
> forgiveness, No eye for
> a tooth. What makes it possible? Legitimate? Forgivable, to forgive someone
> for causing unspeakable
> pain?
> This is all at the more or less personal/interpersonal level. I am well
> aware that there are macro versions of these
> questions that deserve all the attention we can give them, but up close and
> personal. --When is forgiveness possible
> and forgivable?
> Help please
> mike
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
xmca mailing list

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Nov 01 2006 - 01:00:15 PST