Yesterday’s post emphasized intersubjectivity as central to forgiveness. Today we want to look at Sandage and Shults’ The Faces of Forgiveness and the issues of “saving face”, what the faces in a “face to face” look like, at “systemic estrangement,” relational hermeneutics, and a model of the forgiveness process. What’s on your face when you are estranged? How do you treat the other when you don’t want forgiveness?
There’s a lot here, and there’s a lot of good things here. I hope you buy this book, even if it requires serious attention.
Research shows that there are faces of conflict, faces of violence and faces of intimacy. I thought of putting “smileys” here, but am not sure I could genuinely match the faces.
Systemic estrangement — that’s the real issue, isn’t it? A passing problem with someone can blow over us and by us and we can be restored; but systemic estrangement requires work. Put this on some list near your desk, especially husbands and wives. Estrangement is developed by:
Totalizing the other: he’s nothing but a jerk.
Scapegoating: a person is blamed for all the group’s problems.
Exclusion: otherness either by banishment or by absorption.
Self-surveillance: inner sense of being watched (driven by guilt).
Narcissistic families: blame is everyone else.
To deal with all of this, we develop a system of attribution: we attribute blame to the other, and we develop stories of facework (confession, excuse, justification, refusal).
Forgiveness, then, has two other networks that shape it: our religious identity and the role of sacred faces (how we envision God’s face).
So, here’s a model of forgiveness: we go through three phases. First, we engage in lament; second, we encourage empathy and humility; third, we extend our narrative horizons to include the other.
Wow, there’s a lot here, but I think this is very good stuff for us to ponder and to factor into our understanding of forgiveness. No better topic as we approach Holy Week.