Re: Reconciliation

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Link?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 8:18 AM
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This or this. They were talking about it again this morning on NPR, but not the same story as the second link - more a general 20 Years Past interview with a government official about the reconciliation process.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 8:22 AM
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This piece (shared by about half the people here in the other place) about a Senegalese peacekeeper with the UN is an impressive story about the difference one person made in trying to keep people alive and seems useful to read alongside the reconciliation stuff to be reminded of exactly how widespread and horrific these actions are.

I don't have any actual experience with restorative justice work but have several friends who work on it (within foster care and related fields, mostly) and I think it's great.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 8:31 AM
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Justice can only be achieved by paying expensive professionals to argue. That is the definition of justice.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 8:40 AM
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I was trying to read up on the African World War, but I couldn't really follow what was going on from wikipedia.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 8:51 AM
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I can guarantee that none of these people is Middle-Eastern.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 8:55 AM
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I really don't think I have it in me to forgive someone for hacking my family to death with a machete.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:00 AM
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Nor should you!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:02 AM
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6: Yes, the notion of forgiving your enemies is completely foreign to the Middle East. The notion never occurred to any of the spiritual leaders from that region.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:04 AM
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Well, there was the one guy who got himself killed for suggesting it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:07 AM
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Back when everyone was pushing me to forgive my ex and ex best friend, I spent about four months reading everything I could on forgiveness. The religion-based arguments didn't help me. Nor did most of what I found about how it would be good for me. I finally found a great textbook on forgiveness. After reading that I decided it wasn't for me. I came to a great sense of peace about not forgiving those fuckers, and everyone who wanted me to could fuck themselves. So my process worked!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:10 AM
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10: As I've said before, there's a reason Standpipe has a blog.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:11 AM
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And the people I could maybe have forgiven didn't even kill my family.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:11 AM
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When I teach about the genocide, I often show this Frontline documentary.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:11 AM
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@11: Sounds like you're ready to move on to the next step: revenge!


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:12 AM
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7: Surely there are a million experts studying this, but it almost seems that these seemingly overwhelming losses and traumas would be so awful that going through the process of forgiveness could hardly make it any worse. I've often wondered whether it's harder with smaller things and whether the level of intimacy in the pre-trauma relationship matters, so whether it's harder to forgive the neighbor who took a machete to your family than a stranger who did. (That might just be my own bias because that's how things work for me.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:12 AM
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I read this one quote about how the person who wants revenge is the person who feels powerless in the situation. I was too proud to think of myself as powerless, so from then on, I wasn't interested in revenge.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:14 AM
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IMX, forgiving the dead is easier than forgiving the living, and indeed forgiving is good for one. This suggests a course of action.


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:15 AM
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Mostly, forgiveness seems like a lazy cop-out. I can understand not wanting to carry the burden of anger for all your life, but extending forgiveness is a step too far, and in cases where it was someone else who was hurt or killed, it's not even really yours to extend. Time to kill Christ all over again.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:16 AM
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I've also started teaching the first article mentioned here, and I highly recommend it. It's gated, but I can e-mail it to anyone interested.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:18 AM
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Really, that textbook was great. It broke down forgiveness into understandable parts. There's a difference between forbearance (doesn't bother you in the first place) and forgiveness. Low forbearance, low forgiveness is a recipe for a miserable life. But I have sky high forbearance and no forgiveness, so I figured I was OK on that front.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:18 AM
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A friend of mine suggested looking at forgiveness in its financial sense. You no longer expect the other guy to "make it better". That works. You don't have to forget, you don't have to trust, you can even take revenge if the mood strikes. It's all good.


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:20 AM
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there's a reason Standpipe has a blog

But if you didn't mean 9 as a genuine counterexample, what did you mean?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:21 AM
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The best thing in there was a list of seven (?) conditions when forgiveness becomes likely. I don't remember them all, but one was sincere remorse from the other person. Another was "an intervening justice event", so they got theirs in some fashion and misery balanced out. The last factor is that betrayal is the least likely thing to be forgiven. Not one thing on the list had been met in my case, and I closed that book with all sorts of satisfaction that my work on this was over.

There is also some law review stuff saying that not-forgiving is evidence of a moral stand. I liked that too.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:22 AM
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20: Yes, please! I miss reading SIGNS. I was going to say on the reading thread that the worst thing about having to read from what's new on the public library shelves rather than the university library means I've gone almost entirely to popular non-fiction and have probably been dumbed-down as a result.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:27 AM
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Christian forgiveness is (at least on some theories) linked to a radical egalitarianism -- God loves the guy who wielded the machete too, just as much as he loves you. That's a godly concept that's almost, but not quite, humanly incomprehensible; a goal, not something that's supposed to be easy.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:32 AM
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Another explanation I saw for Christian forgiveness was that God's grace existed in the world, so when you forgave, you didn't have to generate that yourself, but could tap into the already existing source. Not helpful to me, but interesting.

If I remember right, that piece said that mercy is getting forgiveness that you deserve and grace is getting forgiveness that you don't deserve.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:39 AM
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This New Inquiry piece has a different view of the Rwandan reconciliation tableaus - basically, that these are for the most part women who were raped during the genocide, and that the material conditions and politics of this "reconciliation" aren't as straightforward as they sound.

I have no background that would give me insight into any of this, but I found it interesting that, as the piece points out, rape is not actually mentioned very much in this reconciliation process even though it was such a systematic part of the genocide.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:44 AM
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23: Oh, you got my meaning right. 12 is just one of those inside (my head) jokes.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:56 AM
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Haven't read anything, but 'reconciliation' in these contexts does not necessarily equate to 'forgiveness'. It's a process of reaching an explicit accommodation between antagonized parties that's more satisfying--emotionally or otherwise--than the default state of antagonism and/or non-engagement would be.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:00 AM
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28: I would have been far more receptive to that piece if he'd ever actually established any of the facts about the specific women pictured. Instead it was mostly him making assumptions about what they must have gone through; and while he's right to raise the issue of rape with respect to the genocide, I don't think projecting it onto those specific people without any evidence is the right way to go about it.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:05 AM
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I do wonder how much of this in places like Rwanda is effectively a matter of necessity: you won't have a functional society unless most victims agree to move on.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:08 AM
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31: Well, he doesn't actually make assumptions about any specific one of the women pictured, and he's not really in a position to establish the facts of what happened to them. The standard you're proposing would require not raising the issue in the absence of someone reporting on it from Rwanda, and while such reporting would be ideal, it's pretty challenging to arrange.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:10 AM
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"forgiveness seems like a lazy cop-out"

I'm currently "mad" at a former friend for dating my ex-girlfriend after we broke up without talking to me about it first. I don't particularly *feel* mad at him at this point (dating someone else, I was the breaker-upper, passage of time, etc.), but despite that, and despite pressure from our mutual friends to forget about it, I still feel obligated to be mad at him just so he doesn't get the idea that what he did was OK.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:14 AM
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So, I'm teaching on this next week. To state the obvious: there are a lot of people involved in the genocide in one way or another. There are a lot of post-genocide 'projects' funded by various NGOs and foreign governments. Many of these do specifically target reconciliation as a goal, and there are many Rwandans who were themselves targeted by, or lost loved ones in, the genocide and have found forgiveness a useful way to deal with rebuilding their lives. There are also a lot of people who reject the concept of forgiveness. And the commitment of the Rwandan government to a project of reconciliation is very, very uneven. The gacaca court system (this is what I am actually teaching on next week - Phil Clark's book) did focus on reconciliation, but victims have complained of being forced to put on a facade of forgiveness while they live in communities largely made up of perpetrators of the genocide.

Meanwhile, the government has sharply limited the political consequences of reconciliation, since the memory of the genocide serves as justification for the minority-governed single party state. Politically, reconciliation means that ethnicity is off limits as a topic for discussion, and that criticizing the Tutsi-dominated character of the government--or indeed, anything about the government--may land you in jail.


Posted by: Sarabeth | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:20 AM
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I still feel obligated to be mad at him just so he doesn't get the idea that what he did was OK

For the good of mankind! Very noble of you, really.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:21 AM
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What's not OK about somebody dating somebody you broke up with some time ago?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:32 AM
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35: That's helpful context, thanks.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:34 AM
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God loves the guy who wielded the machete too, just as much as he loves you. That's a godly concept that's almost, but not quite, humanly incomprehensible; a goal, not something that's supposed to be easy

This isn't too hard for me to understand (practice is a whole different matter ...and it would be an even more different matter, if I was forgiving someone for killing my family, as opposed to forgiving someone for not being amused by my comments).

What I do have a hard time with is reconciling God's unconditional love of humans and eternal damnation.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:35 AM
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39 last -- Destroying things with fire is a kind of love? I mean, I love flamethrowers. (The real answer is that the radical equality theory is pretty much irreconcilable with eternal damnation, which is why liberal mainstream Christians aren't so big on the EdDamn anymore).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:39 AM
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s/b EtDamn.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:39 AM
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34: Have they forgiven you for thinking you have some say over the romantic life of someone you broke up with?


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:41 AM
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34: you aren't my fourth-year college roommate, are you ?

39.last: it's all easy to reconcile if none of it exists.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:43 AM
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for thinking you have some say over the romantic life of someone you broke up with

People like to get all absolutist about this, but he did say "without talking to me about it first," which means he thinks of it as a courtesy, which, come on, is legitimate, just given the potential for awkwardness if you're all still part of the same social circle. I'm assuming (generously, perhaps) that he doesn't think he could have said "No, I forbid it."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:44 AM
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I'm wondering what fraction of Christians are "liberal mainstream", then. My parents are politically liberal by US standards, and would be mainstream Christians by local standards, but I guess they aren't "liberal mainstream Christians". My dad is especially into the whole damnation thing. Thinks everyone owes a lot to God and the guy is well within his rights to send one to hell if one isn't sufficiently grateful.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:47 AM
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I am a little confused about who broke up with the Rwandan Genocide and who started dating it?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:49 AM
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Did you mean "mainline" not "mainstream"?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:51 AM
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Yes, mainline.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:52 AM
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Mainstream is a little slippery, because what's mainstream is so regional. "Mainline" is, AFAIK, a term of art meaning, roughly, Protestant but not evangelical. Lutheran Methodist Congregationialist Episcopalian and so on, and I think there's a lot of downplaying damnation in that category.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:52 AM
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47: that means they live in the Philly suburbs, right?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:52 AM
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44: It's the "first" part that looks like asking for permission. Awkwardness can be avoided just by letting the ex know before going into a situation where it might be an issue, and I assume it's still the case that relationships sometimes come into being without a clear "will you be my SO?" sort of decision point. At worst, any lack of courtesy in not making timely disclosure seems less problematic than carrying a grudge that you weren't told when you thought you should have been, at least absent other aggravating circumstances.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:52 AM
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Ah, wikipedia says mainstream is a synonym for mainline. I just hadn't ever heard it.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:52 AM
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39: The new Pope agrees.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:56 AM
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The existence of Hell is where I personally draw the line at finding other people's beliefs offensive.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:58 AM
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54: How do you stand being in Texas?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 11:00 AM
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53: After reading that article I was all ready to convert to Catholicism (from Jewish-athiesm) but it turns out those quotes aren't real! http://www.revangelicalmovement.com/blog1/2014/1/2/sorry-pope-francis-didnt-say-that.html


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 11:04 AM
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That article is fake, but the sentiments aren't that far off from what Pope Francis has actually been saying.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 11:08 AM
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I was indeed duped. If peep still wants to convert, then can find a Jesuit-influenced parish grounded in the theology of Karl Rahner.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 11:12 AM
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I found Rahner to be the most painful theology I've ever read. Maybe we can start a Karl Rahner Unfogged reading group going now that we're all done with Heidegger.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 11:21 AM
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But at least I read Rahner with that crazy leisure suit wearing radical death of God theologian so there's that. Still a painful slog though.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 11:24 AM
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58: Upon reflection, I realized that if I converted my true motive would be revenge against my mother for bringing me into this cruel world, so the truly Christian act would be to forgive her and remain Jewish.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 11:25 AM
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I'm one of the people here who actually grew up as a liberal protestant. I never heard this expression, Mainline, until I was an adult. My association with the term is to the commuter trains from NYC. The implication is that people like that are prosperous, upper-middle class professionals and managers.

Here in the upper Midwest there may be a similar dynamic but the spread would be different. The Presbyterian Church has as many, if not more prominent members as the Episcopalian, which is less present here.

I was raised as a Presbyterian, at the time of my catechism in an earnest lower-middle-class congregation. My study of the Westminster Catechism there was far more rigorous than was typical even then, in the mid-sixties. Several years later we transferred to a congregation in the more prosperous suburb we had moved to, although we were actually less prosperous than we had been. Kids there were not taught systematically at all, and had no idea of basic concepts such as salvation by grace. Sunday school teachers talked about whatever they liked.

I very, very seldom meet another Protestant of my generation, let alone younger who has much if any idea of the history of their denomination, why and on what issues it came into existence, how it differs from others, etc. No familiarity with the bible either. That phrase of Orwell's: "more familiar with the internal combustion engine than the bible" would still be apropos, with some suitable current substitution for the former--computer games, maybe.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 11:41 AM
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crazy leisure suit wearing radical death of God theologian

Has some used him as a character in a novel yet? It seems like someone should.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 11:50 AM
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If anyone wants a very God-filled perspective on forgiveness form a survivor of the genocide, this woman is an industry at this point: http://www.immaculee.com/.
She has a memoir which is a combination of her extremely harrowing story of surviving the genocide and Catholic evangelism.


Posted by: Sarabeth | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 11:54 AM
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63 Not to my knowledge and I've just googled around and not found anything. Kotsko would know I'm sure. But you're right he would make a great character in a novel.

I heard stories of him being involved in drunken brawls with other professors over intellectual disagreements. Or his sleeping with their wives. Maybe both, it was before my time.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 12:10 PM
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60, 63: Thomas J. J. Altizer, no doubt.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 12:12 PM
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No hard feelings toward the ex, and if the friend had come to me and said "Sorry bro, I'm in love", or anything along those lines, I would have given them my blessing. I would also trade not being mad at the friend for the ex not being mad at me, despite the cost to society of letting him off the hook.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 12:14 PM
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54: How do you stand being in Texas?

I have lots of acquaintances with totally offensive religious and political views. But my friends are kosher.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 12:19 PM
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62: My association with the term is to the commuter trains from NYC.

One possible derivation of the term is from the towns on the commuter line west of Philly, which tended to be well-to-do and Protestant.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 12:21 PM
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I very, very seldom meet another Protestant of my generation, let alone younger who has much if any idea of the history of their denomination, why and on what issues it came into existence, how it differs from others, etc. No familiarity with the bible either.

Somehow my childhood church's weird existence in a conservative conference (Missouri Conference) of a very liberal church (United Church of Christ), along with its very German roots, led to all of those things being very important. Two years of 2.5 hours a week of confirmation classes.

We're talking late 19th century on though, for the history. Very much a Germans-in-America history.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 12:22 PM
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66 Awesome pic! He still had that same jacket when I was taking his classes in the early 90s.

He gave me a copy of his first book The Gospel of Christian Atheism, I should have asked him to sign it. He had this infectious apocalyptic dialectical writing style. I recommend his Total Presence on the parables of Jesus but at the time I was pretty much taken with everything he did.

We used to have these strange chance encounters where we'd bump into each other on campus and he'd ask me some kind koan-like theological question that would start a short back and forth with us standing almost nose to nose. Really strange and wonderful. I remember once him saying in response to some answer I'd given that "You mean to say that the Apostolic succession is built upon a foundation of eternal damnation!"Then he'd cackle, turn on his heels and walk off. Strange and wonderful.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 12:35 PM
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70:

I've converted to Judaism many years since, but the UCC, what I've seen of it even in a little town in Wis., is the most appealing Prot. denomination to me now.

But doesn't it have several roots, German Calvinists being only one of them? Some Puritan descent, I believe.

And the Obama's congregation with Rev. Wrighte was UCC.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 1:01 PM
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Or are the German roots Pietist, the Teutonic equivalent to Methodism?


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 1:04 PM
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70: I didn't know you were raised in the UCC. The black queer Bap/ti-Meth/o-Cos/tal (per the pastor's description) church I take the girls to joined the UCC a few years ago. It hasn't been a totally smooth fit, but both sides locally appreciate each other, I think.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 1:05 PM
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70/72/74: My mother's church is/was UCC, too (tense confusion because she doesn't attend since she got sick). I like to tell folks that they're one notch more "conservative" than UU. They're very big tent liberal, with a non-literal interpretation of the Bible (lots of discussion of allegory). They've got at least some Puritan influence, but they borrow from just about everywhere, really. My father's family moved frequently and picked churches based on local flavor rather than denomination, alternating between Methodist, Presbyterian, and Congregationalist.
Mom's church took up collections to help a non-member physician rebuild when his women's clinic a few lots up the street was destroyed by arson (abortion wars). They've also been running same-sex commitment ceremonies for decades. IIRC, they were early to ordain women, African-Americans, and openly gay ministers.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 1:20 PM
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despite the cost to society of letting him off the hook

Stay strong, dz. Yield no ground! I support you!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 1:32 PM
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I know I always bring this up, but I think the Greensboro, NC, Truth and Reconciliation story is an interesting and important one.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 1:42 PM
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victims have complained of being forced to put on a facade of forgiveness

This is late cause I was in class all day, but I met several Rwandans who felt this way about the reconcilation process. And some more who it seemed did but wouldn't/couldn't admit it.

I'm sure that like anything so big and terribly difficult, there are nearly infinite ways for individual mileages to vary.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 1:48 PM
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11: You forgave yourself your inability to forgive.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 5:26 PM
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But doesn't it have several roots, German Calvinists being only one of them?

The UCC does, yeah. I meant my particular home church, which was pretty invested in its German identity.

74: The first lesbian I knowingly met was at a UCC regional youth event. She was a pastor! That blew conservative rural mind! (Of course there were lots of others, I just didn't know it. Like - cliché of clichés - my elementary school gym teacher.)


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 5:56 PM
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As a non-forgiver, my admiration for Megan grew two sizes today.


Posted by: antipodestrian | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 8:18 PM
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I've been told that UCC stands for "Unitarians Considering Christ."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 8:39 PM
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82: Precisely! It's like UU but Christian, no?

(I was sort-of dating a UU girl at the end of high school and my super-Catholic dad awkwardly joked to her about how people used to joke that Unitarians believed in at most one god and she immediately responded that "Nowadays it's more like at LEAST one!" and I don't think he was encouraged.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 8:41 PM
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Some of the forgiveness-pushers were on this very site.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:56 PM
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And I haven't forgotten.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:56 PM
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I think forgiveness is great. But IME, you can't force it, only gently encourage it and wait for it to happen. And I've experienced forgiveness as a letting-go, which is really not the same as how it's popularly conceived of, as a clock-reset or do-over. You don't get to do it over, and nothing is ever the same. That's an infantile fantasy, and unfortunately both people who want to forgive and people who seek forgiveness are often stuck in the fantasy and disappointed by the reality. On the other hand, you really can drop the blame and non-acceptance. It's a luxury, of course -- you have to feel safe for forgiveness to be a healthy, productive thing to do. I totes agree with Messily that mileages vary. But when you can drop something, it frees you up.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:28 PM
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But IME, you can't force it, only gently encourage it and wait for it to happen.

EXACTLY.


Posted by: OPINIONATED ORGASMIC MEDITATOR | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:37 PM
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62.4 But surely the Episcopalians you meet can tell you about Henry VIII, establishment in Virginia, inroads in New England, and all the rest.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:53 PM
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A pictorial history of the four traditions (Congregational, Christian, Evangelical, and Reformed) leading to the formation of the UCC, in one hand-drawn chart. A much longer history is available here. Presumably Blume's midwest church with German roots would have been part of the Evangelical&Reformed side of the UCC, while I grew up in a church from the Congregational side.

And yes, ydnew, you recall correctly in 75. This list of UCC firsts includes the three you mention, in 1785, 1853, and 1972 (for first African-American ordained pastor, first woman ordained pastor, and first openly gay man ordained pastor, respectively). One "first" that I hadn't known about until now was the UCC role in the 1959 "airwaves are public property" case - Everett Parker was a neighbor of ours and a member of my church when I was growing up.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 12:03 AM
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82, 83: Ironic, considering that a bunch of the early Unitarian churches split off from the Congregationalists in the early 1800s (timeline here). The first Unitarian church in Boston seems to have been formerly Anglican, though. It's all one big complicated family history if you go back far enough.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 12:21 AM
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That pictoral history in 89 is really fantastic, a great piece of graphic information.

The extent to which the history of the Episcopal church in the US is basically "the church of aspirational WASPs" is pretty interesting. Outside Virginia and parts of the south, there were very very few Episcopalians in the US immediately after the revolution. Then in the 19th century it somehow became an elite denomination in New York/New England, so that people who weren't at all born Anglican (eg JP Morgan) ended up as Anglicans. Now it's a church for weird liberals, gays, people who like fancy ritual but not too much anti-sex preaching, decrepit WASPs and their failing kids, surprisingly large number of black people, Nigerian immigrants, and, still, Virginians.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 12:40 AM
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Now it's a church for weird liberals, gays, people who like fancy ritual but not too much anti-sex preaching, decrepit WASPs and their failing kids, surprisingly large number of black people

That's basically the sociological profile of the Church of England. Expand the WASP category to "posh reactionary farmers" and "vaguely civic minded City types" and you've got it.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 1:03 AM
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Now it's a church for weird liberals, gays, people who like fancy ritual but not too much anti-sex preaching, decrepit WASPs and their failing kids, surprisingly large number of black people, Nigerian immigrants, and, still, Virginians.

Also Athabascans in the Interior of Alaska. The history of the various churches in Alaska is fascinating: in the late nineteenth century they explicitly divided up regions of the state among themselves for missionary purposes, so even today each region has one or two dominant churches that have little or no presence elsewhere in the state. (Plus all the churches for white people, of course, but who cares about them?)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 1:16 AM
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So the Episcopalians got the Interior, where they were led by the incredibly impressive missionary Hudson Stuck, who among other feats organized the first successful ascent of Denali. He let his Athabascan friend Walter Harper be the first to actually set foot on the summit. Due in large part to Stuck's influence, the Episcopalians were also among the missionaries most tolerant of retaining some elements of traditional Native culture. Meanwhile, the Presbyterians on the North Slope and the Quakers (!) in the Northwest Arctic were among the least tolerant of traditional practices.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 1:23 AM
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My father's parents were Episcopalians, I think, in Kirkcaldy, which is quite a weird thing really. (And meant they didn't go to the Gordon Brown's father's kirk.) My mother's family were split between Irish Catholicism and various forms of Communism, which is pretty typical for Coatbridge.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 2:40 AM
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My mother's family were split between Irish Catholicism and various forms of Communism, which is pretty typical for Coatbridge.

Hahah. Glasgow, too. My Dad went from one to the other.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 4:14 AM
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This seems like the thread where I ought to out myself as an Anglican (Episcopal) priest.

Forgiveness (and the issues of forgiveness on a societal scale) are my area of academic interest, but I have no coherent thoughts at the moment - which I will blame on jet lag.

I highly recommend Wiesenthal's book "The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness" for a survey of various takes on forgiveness. Megan's comments made me think of this, but I would recommend it more generally to those who are curious about exploring the idea of forgiveness across traditions.


Posted by: parodie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 4:21 AM
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people who like fancy ritual but not too much anti-sex preaching

As my (Presbyterian) sister puts it (probably not originally), "Catholic Lite™: All the Ceremony, None of the Guilt".


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 4:34 AM
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97. I thought you'd outed yourself before. Your perspective would be very interesting if you had time to elaborate. You could pick a fight with Nworb Werdna and we could lay bets on the outcome.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 4:36 AM
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This seems like the thread where I ought to out myself as an Anglican (Episcopal) priest.

Just like my granddad! Don't worry, I don't think you're my granddad.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 4:37 AM
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So I am not alone in having Anglican priests in my ancestry. We live and learn.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 4:42 AM
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The extent to which the history of the Episcopal church in the US is basically "the church of aspirational WASPs" is pretty interesting.

An unexpectedly good source on this history is Nicholas Lemann's The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy. It comes up on the context of the role of the Episcopalian "Saint Grottlesex" schools (St. Pauls, Groton, and Middlesex) as feeders for Harvard (which is itself not historically associated with the Episcopal Church, but rather the Congregationalists). Lemann calls the Northeastern WASP Establishment of the late 19th and early 20th centuries "the Episcopacy".


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 4:43 AM
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99 - I think I have too, but I also figured that most people would not remember a random lurker.

Something I find interesting about forgiveness is that there are two distinct and not strongly correlated things that are part of the process: victim forgives, and perpetrator acknowledges guilt/receives forgiveness. Both are hard emotional; each can happen independently from the other. As the restorative justice and reconciliation movements have shown us, it is of course particularly powerful when these things both happen and are each acknowledged by the other.

But: forgiveness is not a simple one-time cure-all but an on-going choice; "forgive and forget" is nonsense (see previous point); I think we (western christian societies) often use "forgiveness" as a way to try to brush aside difficult and painful situations we don't know how to handle.

Question I am wrestling with these days (or ought to be): can people who are connected to but not directly involved with the original mis-deed meaningfully ask for forgiveness from a wronged group? Can they meaningfully offer forgiveness? (e.g. churches who plucked children from their homes and stuck them in residential schools)


Posted by: parodie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 4:50 AM
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102: my dad went to Groton, because children of Episcopal clergy got free tuition. It sounds like it was pretty weird being poor there (priest + homemaker + four kids = not much cash); the first christmas after he arrived the only thing he asked for at Christmas was a plaid cummerbund.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 5:01 AM
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A thoughtful, detailed, and moving discussion by a Mennonite of their 'reflex to forgive'.

I am very pro forgiveness. But I bet revenge would be fun too...our society doesn't really allow you to wreak it in its most satisfying forms.

Believing in heaven and the afterlife must make it easier for religious people to forgive.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 5:58 AM
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I also figured that most people would not remember a random lurker.

I am always amazed by how much the folks here really pay attention to and remember. Swans, this lot.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 6:08 AM
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|| Not quite on topic, but probably the best chance I'll ever get to post this. I love it when you think up a dumb joke, Google it, and find someone else has already made an elaborate video out of it. |>


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 6:17 AM
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The black queer Bap/ti-Meth/o-Cos/tal (per the pastor's description) church I take the girls to joined the UCC a few years ago. It hasn't been a totally smooth fit, but both sides locally appreciate each other, I think.

Insert curate's egg joke here.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 6:20 AM
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"Saint Grottlesex"

That's a porn name if there ever was one. Obviously St. Grottosex would be better, though.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 6:43 AM
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Great, there's already 2 active threads I can't follow from work; is the game to see if they all can be blocked?


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 6:52 AM
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Through every Grottlesex, fillage, and porn!


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 8:48 AM
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I have forgiven someone privately, though not directly to the person involved, who died some years ago. I was the target of bullying from third through eighth grade in school, and the guy in question was the main ringleader of the bullies in the first few years of that. He moved away for a couple of years when I was in sixth grade, and moved back for eighth. The first time he seriously got on my case in eighth grade, I challenged him to a fight, and although he kicked my ass, he mostly left me alone after that.

He was in an nontraditional learning program in high school, until he got kicked out for nearly starting a race riot at the regular high school (fortunately, he was stopped before anyone got hurt). There were several kids in my science class who knew him from the program (they took lab science classes with us at the regular high school), and we talked about it as a class immediately following the incident. Some of them talked about him somewhat sympathetically (without having any sympathy for what he had just done), noting that he had been doing well in the program up to that point. I couldn't relate to those feelings at all, because of how much he had hurt me. Even a few years later, talking about him to friends in college, I found myself physically shaking with fear and anger at what he had done to me.

But over time, those feelings faded. I gained some perspective, and realized that he had just been a kid at the time. A kid with a rough, unstable home life, and at least a semi-abusive father. A rather stocky kid who may have started leading the bullying to avoid becoming the target of bullies himself over his weight. His sister turned out to be a fairly nice person who worked in a local bank, and I would run into her there from time to time, until I moved away. I would hear little bits about him sometimes from my friends and family. I realized that I was on a path to career success, and he wasn't. Rather than feeling schadenfreude over that, I found that I was feeling sorry for him. Eventually, there came a day when I realized that the anger and the fear were all gone, and all that was left was the pity.

I never got to speak to him as an adult. If I had, I don't know how the conversation would have gone. I don't know if he would have wanted my forgiveness or my pity, or if he would have seen those as further humiliations. But for whatever it's worth, I do forgive him, and I hope that his soul was finally able to find some peace.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 12:28 PM
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