Thanks to "on demand" we've now seen all nine Academy Award nominees for Best Film. They were all worthwhile with excellent acting, although Ruth and I differed on Fences in terms of our appreciation of the film. We also came to different conclusion about which one was best. She agreed with the Oscar nod for Moonlight, which was powerful. The film which touched me most deeply was Manchester by the Sea. I found it to be a fascinating exploration of the meaning of forgiveness within a community, between individuals, and of oneself. There is a scene where Lee, the central character who has done the "unforgivable," is offered forgiveness and grace from his former partner, who still loves him. He cannot or will not receive this gift and so the opportunity for reconciliation is stillborn. He acts out his self-loathing with destructive drinking and reckless bar fights.
I have a row of books in my study on the subject of forgiveness, and I've led a number of studies on the subject through the years. New titles appear regularly, although I pause in purchasing them so close to retirement. This new book by Martha Nussbaum intrigues me.
I've had many conversations with those who wrestle with whether forgiveness is possible. They speak about anger and forgiveness for the living and dead. A fair number have been about self-forgiveness, and there are no easy paths.
What I do know is that forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel, and the story of the crucifixion we will repeat a few weeks from now on Good Friday. Jesus spoke about forgiveness with his disciples and uttered the words, "Father, forgive them" from the cross.