Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

2/20/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Forgiveness means reconciliation, a coming together again. Without this, no man can love his enemies

Forgiveness in the rough and tumble of life is a complicated matter, and though we may utter the correct platitudes about forgiving our neighbor, oftentimes, depending on the offense, we harbor a residue of anger toward, and distrust of, those we have supposedly forgiven.  Of all that I read about forgiveness, it was a sermon by the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that made the most realistic case for the possibilities of forgiveness. What Nietzsche had idealized - forgetfulness - Dr. King looked directly in the face: "Certainly one can never forget, if that means erasing it totally from his mind. But when we forgive, we forget in the sense that the evil deed is no longer a mental block impeding a new relationship."

Dr. King's words and example can help us imagine a different kind of culture, a culture of forgiveness, where a real or perceived evil act 'no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship.' If Dr. King could successfully inject this attitude into such a volatile moment in our history, then a culture of forgiveness is still possible.

Dr. King's words and example can help us imagine a different kind of culture, a culture of forgiveness, where a real or perceived evil act "no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship." If Dr. King could successfully inject this attitude into such a volatile moment in our history, then a culture of forgiveness is still possible.

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/20/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: culture, forgiveness, healing, peace, Dr Martin Luther King Jr., Mercy, Love, culture of forgiveness, Deal W. Hudson


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - The philosopher Frederich Nietzsche wrote that true forgiveness required complete forgetfulness.  Being the son, grandson, and great grandson of Lutheran ministers, Nietzsche was well-versed both in Scripture and the fundamentals of Christian theology.  When I first read that passage, while in graduate school, I thought the atheist got forgiveness exactly right, but now I realize that only God can truly forgive and forget.

Forgiveness in the rough and tumble of life is a complicated matter, and though we may utter the correct platitudes about forgiving our neighbor, oftentimes, depending on the offense, we harbor a residue of anger toward, and distrust of, those we have supposedly forgiven. 

Of all that I read about forgiveness, it was a sermon by the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that made the most realistic case for the possibilities of forgiveness. What Nietzsche had idealized - forgetfulness - Dr. King looked directly in the face:

"Certainly one can never forget, if that means erasing it totally from his mind. But when we forgive, we forget in the sense that the evil deed is no longer a mental block impeding a new relationship."

Dr. King, of course, spoke from the kind of experience that makes his remarks all the more remarkable and authoritative. His achievement of rallying support for civil rights without channeling more than a century of pent up anger, and desire for revenge, looks more and more remarkable from the distance of nearly 50 years. His movement had every reason to evince a righteous anger, but on this Dr. King would not compromise. He knew there would be no change, no transformation, without maintaining relationships with those whose minds needed to change:

"Forgiveness means reconciliation, a coming together again. Without this, no man can love his enemies."

When you live in or around Washington, DC, as I do, the Gospel proclamation of loving your enemies is particularly germane - our nation's capitol has become a barely habitable place where the spiritual sins - wrath, envy, and pride - are considered tools of the political trade. A slight is rarely forgotten, and anything more serious is never forgotten. ("House of Cards" may be overly dramatized, but the character types on display are easily found.)

Unfortunately, the ubiquity of 24-hour cable news and talk radio has injected this poison into the bloodstream of America. It's an eye-opener to get off a plane to meet friends on the other side of the country and hear them want to talk about whatever dust was being stirred up by Fox News or Rush Limbaugh. Ever since Obama was elected President, several friends of mine can talk about nothing but him and the "destruction" of our nation. Needless to say, we don't talk as often as we used to.
 
The lack of forgiveness, thus, infects not only the "perpetrator" and the "victim" but those around them who necessarily are caught in the jet stream of their vitriol. Wounds of this sort do not remain isolated, they grow larger, encompassing entire communities. Unless forgiveness is forthcoming, there is nothing to impede and turn back the spreading bitterness.

Dr. King's words and example can help us imagine a different kind of culture, a culture of forgiveness, where a real or perceived evil act "no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship." If Dr. King could successfully inject this attitude into such a volatile moment in our history, then a culture of forgiveness is still possible.
 
The quotations from Dr. King can be found in his sermon, "Loving your Enemies" in Strength to Love, Fortress Press, 1981.

Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D

-----
Deal W. Hudson is president of the Morley Institute of Church and Culture, Senior Editor and Movie Critic at Catholic Online, and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.This column and subsequent contributions are an excerpt from a forthcoming book. Dr. Hudson's new radio show, Church and Culture, will begin broadcasting in February on the Ave Maria Radio Network.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More U.S.

Personal assistant to Mississippi Senator arrested for trafficking meth and date rape drugs Watch

Image of Assistant Fred Pagan was paid $160,000 in his Senate role last year, according to newspaper reports. The 49-year-old Pagan has worked for Cochran since he was 16 years old.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Mississippi Senator's personal assistant has been charged with trafficking drugs from China to use as payment for sexual favors. An investigation was launched after police seized a package on April 9 with over a kilo of the date rape drug GBL addressed to ... continue reading


Oregon bakers who refused to make lesbian wedding cake get $100K from online fundraiser Watch

Image of Melissa Klein and her husband Aaron disapprove of gay marriage for religious reasons. They refused to  make the cake for a commitment ceremony in June of 2013.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa, in the Portland suburb of Gresham, made international headlines when they refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple two years ago. The bakery was fined $135,000 -- $100,000 was raised on an online fundraising page ... continue reading


The Obama Administration to bring waves of immigrants to refugee settlements in the United States Watch

Image of You could look for clues if you're community is selected for immigration settlements, says WND.

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Obama administration is no less than discreet. From the "Strengthening Communities by Welcoming All Residents: A Federal Strategic Action Plan on Immigrant and Refugee Immigration" report from the White House Task Force on New Americans, certain clues and signs ... continue reading


Infant Exposure: Newborn Baby Rescued from a Dumpster Reunited with Hero Who Saved Him

Image of Officer Michael Buelna reunited with the baby he had saved from the trash, twenty five year old Robin Barton.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Michael Buelna is a Police Officer in Santa Ana, California. In 1989 he heard a sound coming from a trash bin. When he looked closely, he discovered a newborn baby boy with his umbilical cord still attached. The child was only four hours old. He weighed four ... continue reading


Lifting the Christian flag on Georgian government grounds raises concerns Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

After seeking legal recommendations, Cochran, Georgia was advised not to raise the traditional Christian flag outside City Hall. However, the city council decided to determine this through votes that eventually turned in favor of lifting the flag. The flag raising is ... continue reading


California's extreme drought causes rodents to raid homes Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Rodents are being forced to forage into houses and residences for water to survive during the high temperature in California causing an extreme drought. The rats are going through various lengths and pushing themselves into small holes just to get some food and water. ... continue reading


It just might be the largest eruption ever! Fire in the belly - much more magma underneath Yellowstone volcano than thought Watch

Image of The recently discovered magma reservoir alone has a volume 2.5 times that of the Grand Canyon. However, these new expanses do not mean that the two hellish hollows could overflow the Grand Canyon with molten rock.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A research group, using seismic technology to scan Yellowstone National Park's depths has made a literally earth-shaking discovery. Yellowstone's magma reserves are many magnitudes greater than previously thought, making the notion of an eruption far more ... continue reading


Islamic State's seduction, recruitment of Americans under scrutiny Watch

Image of At least 25 Probable American recruits have been detained since January.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

U.S. prosecutions of would-be recruits to Islamic State has grown exponentially. ISIS has used both brutality and perceptive propaganda to attract members worldwide, in ways that are far more sophisticated than al-Qaeda and other jihadist adherents. LOS ... continue reading


'Man of peace, tenacity and courage,' Cardinal Francis George dies aged 78 Watch

Image of Polio during childhood had left the prelate with a weakened leg and a pronounced limp throughout his life. With his death, the College of Cardinals has 223 members, of whom 121 are under 80 and thus eligible to vote for a pope.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Retired Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George has died after a decade of battling cancer at the age of 78. The first native Chicagoan to head the archdiocese, he is being remembered as "a man of peace, tenacity and courage" by his successor Archbishop ... continue reading


Genetic rescuing considered for shrinking wolf population on remote Michigan island Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There are only three wolves left on Isle Royale, a small island in Michigan Lake's Superior, according to biologists. Researchers said that they do not know what to do or what should be done in order to save the wolves from dying and disrupting the ecology. MUNTINLUPA, ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 11:1-18
1 The apostles and the brothers in Judaea heard that ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 42:2-3; 43:3, 4
2 I thirst for God, the living God; when shall I go ... Read More

Gospel, John 10:1-10
1 'In all truth I tell you, anyone who does not enter ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 27th, 2015 Image

St. Zita
April 27: St. Zita was born into a poor but holy Christian family. Her ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter