Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Not Forgiveness

Because of my foolish human nature I suppose, because my nature is human not divine, there is the ongoing probability of my saying, writing, typing, thinking something stupid; ill-thought out, incompletely researched. Off the wall. Nevertheless ---

Years ago -- well it was May 1985, thirty years ago last month, wasn’t it -- there was great turmoil, a national brouhaha, over President Reagan’s visit, during his participation in a conference in Europe, to a cemetery in Bitburg, Germany where among the graves of 2,000 WW2 German war dead lie 49 soldiers of the Waffen SS. At the time, a priest friend of mine preached a simplistic absurdist sermon in which he chastised the objectors and said that it was time to forgive and move on. His remarks were skybalon, garbage, trite, trivial rubbish, painful and offensive in the extreme; because the German Holocaust in which the controversy centered, is beyond forgiveness by any but those who died in the gas ovens; and those who loved them; and those, every individual person in unborn generations for all time to come, who, like the Ethiopian eunuch of Acts 8 pondering Isaiah read “who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken away from the earth: because of the iniquities of my people he was led to death,” who will never be. (Isaiah 53:8, LXX). When, and only then, beyond countless generations to come, the last human being who never had a chance to live and love forgives Germany and the world for the Holocaust, the sin of that evil will be washed away. 

Likewise, in the courtroom last week, the survivors’ beautiful, gentle words of Jesuslike lovingkindness sobbing forgiveness to Dylann Storm Roof cannot forgive or absolve the evil that he has committed and therefore is, with the culture, society that gave him being. To think otherwise is, God bless them but nevertheless, a pitiable naiveté that makes a kindergarten Sunday School Bible story of Good Friday. Sin or evil that robs creation of its future is ultimately forgivable by Creator alone, knowledge of whom passeth human knowing. 

This morning I am touched by the Op-Ed that appears in the New York Times. Maybe the link below will open it. Her writing is, like eternal damnation of all who lived through the Holocaust and did nothing, more than an indictment of all of us who, as we continue life as usual after Charleston, become or indeed already are, always have been, and forever will be Dylann Storm Roof. All of us who believe that executing a man for his/our crime will satisfy justice, must lie on the gurney with him, sit in the chair next to his, stand on the same gallows, in order for absolution to come. For justice cannot truly be served in America today. Worse, forgiveness itself, very different from absolution, can only be spoken from the cross. 

Yet, fools, we wander on through the brambles, believing ourselves forgiven even for Charleston.


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