Thursday, October 05, 2006

Revolutionary Forgiveness - Persisting in Integrity

During these days of confusion and peril -
  • the fog of war obscured even more by various "State(s) of Denial," (Woodward ought give me a little something for that one)
  • dumbed silence bordering on callousness on the issues facing the continent of Africa - Darfur, AIDS, etc.
  • the rush to rehab for any who screw up in public - or, for those whose secret violations are exposed (a little lesson for all who IM or email - if you type it and hit "send", it exists beyond you), and then you play the blame game (I don't know former Congressman Foley, but, O my, once busted, the litany of excuses comes straight out of the CYA playbook - "I'm an alcoholic, I was molested by my preacher as a child, I'm gay," - you have so got to be kidding me).
  • the continual lesson never learned that "it's not the crime that'll get you, it's the cover up," something Speaker Hastert seems to be having trouble with
  • Oh, and the ole standby that the Speaker is now employing, "The Democrats and the Clintons are out to get me," (see the following article here, and, of course, my recent post "Blame Bill, Everybody Else Does," newly revised with KO's special commentary ) - which, if true, means that Bill Clinton and his cronies made Mark Foley write sexually suggestive IM's to Congressional pages - wow, that's power!
  • So, yes, I'm being a bit cynical (Who? Me?), but seriously, how can we ignore the dailyness of what has become the truest of all nightmares - violence in our schools. How many times have we seen this? And isn't it true that when we have, there are two thoughts going through our heads all at once? - first, "What in God's name is this world coming to?" and two, "Thank God it wasn't my kids' school."
And with all the violence and politics and fear that pervades our culture, it is easy to miss the utter profundity of what is happening these days in a small Amish conclave in Pennsylvania. We dismiss their culture as being too simple, not in touch, unrealistic, unenlightened -

But have you been listening to these people since their world was violated by a mad man with a gun? Have you been sensitive to the revolutionary witness these simple people are offering to the world?

The media is caught between curiosity, confusion and consternation at the consistent message of this community that they forgive the man who brutally murdered their daughters (I should get a few points for the alliteration).

The curiosity arises from seeing how these "religious" folks are going to act when the "real" world collides with theirs.

The confusion stems from the consistency that what they say they believe they are enacting.

And the consternation flows from the judgment that their faithfulness reflects back on those of us who can't believe they are actually forgiving this man because we know we wouldn't if he had killed our children.

So, how are they doing it?

How are these people not only able to forgive, but actually doing it from the moment they discovered that their world was never again to be the same?

Easy folks, it really is. They are able to forgive in this moment because they know no other way to be. Forgiveness and reconciliation is practiced at the foundations of their communal life. It is a part of their every day.

It doesn't rise up when something awful happens, it just is.

And from these simple people, we find a sophistication of their theology that is woven into ours, but too often rings hollow as church rhetoric and not integrated into our very being -

they are able to forgive this tormented soul who robbed them of their most precious gift because they practice forgiveness.

It's just that simple.

It is revolutionary.

It is radical.

As radical as a man on a cross who offered forgiveness to the very ones nailing him to it.

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