When we say we forgive, do we mean we are forgiving a person or forgiving something a person did? Jaques Derrida used this question to describe what he meant when he talked about forgiving the unforgettable. He was speaking in post-Apartheid South Africa. Read More
I hope to come back and comment on this. My morning read had me mashing some things up.
Demonstrating his own openness to continual revision, Derrida coined a new sign – hospitality – by synthesizing the words “hospitality” and “hostility.” Noting that both come from the same root word, the French hote – which can mean host, guest or stranger – he suggests that authentic hospitality necessitates hostility toward the person or idea one welcomes. Otherwise, acts of hosting are nothing more than exchanges of entertainment among friends. (Changing Signs of Truth, Downing, Kindle, loc 1843)
Then Jesus said to the person who had invited him, “When you host a lunch or dinner, don’t invite your friends, your brothers and sisters, your relatives, or rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return and that will be your reward. Instead, when you give a banquet, invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind. (Luke 14:12-13, CEB)
All the tax collectors and sinners were gathering around Jesus to listen to him. The Pharisees and legal experts were grumbling, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1-2, CEB)
Recently Marty Duren called on the media to stop using church to describe Westboro Baptist Church. He took a bit of flack for suggesting what was and is gong on inside the Topeka compound as more than simple aberrations that could be counted as minor, or tertiary distinctions but instead a cult. I read his initial piece and he has since added two follow-up posts (first and second) containing a documentary on the group.
I finished watching the clips and can only comment that if one must follow their vision of God, then I would rightly pass as an atheist. My friend Tripp Fuller contends, “God has to be at least as nice as Jesus.” There is nothing nice about the contorted way Scripture is used to damn every human being living outside their compound.
The BBC reporter who provided the interviews for the documentary concluded that the people hurt the most are those inside the group. I agree. If you are given to prayer, maybe you would appeal to the plentiful mercy of God on behalf of the children and young people whose days include a steady diet of hating other human beings.
We bundle a number of actions together with forgiveness making it a contingent action. How do I forgive if the offending person does not ask? What role do remorse, repentance, and restitution play in forgiveness? We tend to practice forgiveness as a secondary act rather than a primary act. Jesus’ words from the cross seem to make forgiveness an initiatory act that may be practiced apart from the contingent features we often add – “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”
I had hoped to post my sermon from Sunday. We were out of CD’s. I forgive our “sound guy” for not informing us we needed to buy more. In lieu of the audio I offer a portion of the text I wrote out as a guide. Full disclosure here. I write something of a manuscript each week. But, only rarely do I read the manuscript when delivering the sermon. In fact, I can only think of once where I read from the manuscript for more than a quoted source – this past Sunday. Read More
Who is in your family tree? When I first read the word “genealogy” in the context of philosophy it took me a bit to overcome my default understanding of the term. Nuanced rightly, genealogy simply invites the reader to look up the line be it a family tree or a developing philosophy. When I read Luke 15:5-10 for this week’s Revised Common Lectionary passage I wonder about the genealogy of forgiveness as I include 15:1-4.
More than two years after my first real reading pf Derrida, I still reflect on his contention there is no forgiveness if there is an unforgivable. In other words, if there is something we will not forgive then there is no forgiveness for anything. We, Christians, generally retreat to the initiation of forgiveness in the “repentance” of the offending party. That is, we often consider forgiveness only after we look for its stipulated ground – repentance. I often wonder if this is not a means to divert our attention away from just how difficult it is for us to be formed to forgive. If I can turn the gaze to the offender, then I need not consider the act of forgiveness until my offender makes the “first move.”