Jesus Creed

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.

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