Saturday, September 22, 2007

Forgive and Remember

Pearlie blogged about "Forgive, forget and reconcile": a fallacy? and offered some convincing evidence that it is problematic in real practice.

Here is an interesting abstract from Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy by Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt, David L. Weaver-Zercher (September 27, 2007, $24.95 cloth)

In fact, forgiveness is less a matter of "forgive and forget" than forgive and remember—remembering in ways that bring healing, as Miroslav Volf writes in Free of Charge. When we remember, we take the broken pieces of our lives—lives that have been dismembered by tragedy and injustice—and re-member them into something whole. Literally forgetting an egregious offense, personally or publicly, may not be possible, but all of us can and do make decisions about how we remember what we cannot forget.

For the Amish, gracious remembering involves habits nurtured by memories of Jesus forgiving his tormentors while hanging on a cross and of Dirk Willems returning to pull his enemy out of the icy water. When thirteen-year-old Marian said "shoot me first" in the schoolhouse, and when adults in her community walked over to the killer's family with words of grace a few hours after her death, they were acting on those habits. And just as surely, their actions at Nickel Mines will be recounted around Amish dinner tables for generations to come, creating and renewing memories about the power of faith to respond in the face of injustice—even violence—with grace.

In a world where faith often justifies and magnifies revenge, and in a nation where some Christians use scripture to fuel retaliation, the Amish response was indeed a surprise. Regardless of the details of the Nickel Mines story, one message rings clear: religion was not used to justify rage and revenge but to inspire goodness, forgiveness, and grace. And that is the big lesson for the rest of us regardless of our faith or nationality.

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4 Comments:

Blogger pearlie said...

Gracious remembering - I like that.

10:22 PM  
Anonymous blogpastor said...

We have so much to learn. What if George Bush courageously led the US to do as the Amish would have done after 9/11?

5:22 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi pearlie,

gracious remembering. We have always being taught to forgive and forget. How can we forget all these terrible things done to us? Most of us will try to suppress our memories but it will come out and bite us one day. It is better to redeem our memories.

1:57 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi blogpastor,

That's a thought but as the authors of the book are careful to point out, this type of forgiveness needs to be done in context.

1:59 AM  

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