Sunday, March 19, 2017

Lenten Journey to Forgiveness

Image result for manchester by the sea

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.

Anger and Forgiveness

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.

Did you see Manchester by the Sea? What did you think? How is it going with forgiveness in your life? Are you forgivable?


Frank said...

My spouse and I saw Manchester By The Sea. A very telling and compelling story. Not really a "happy ending" kind of flick. The inability to forgive himself, by the main character played by Casey Afleck, denies closure and resolution. An ultimate tragedy, really.
I also noted, David, that going way back to Sep.29, 2006 (the earliest blog I could access), was also about forgiveness and a book you reviewed back then.

Judy said...

Heavy topic, David ... I saw the film and was saddened by the ending - not happy, indeed. But there are real life stories with similarities - one asks for forgiveness and receives it but cannot accept love which is offered because he/she does not feel worthy or truly forgiven .... am I forgiveable? In God's eyes and heart, yes, of course - maybe not in every person's heart who feels wronged by me, though.... sometimes there is no way to try to make up for wrongs we have done - not that is acceptable, anyway, to the one is hard to "just leave it in God's hands", when that happens.

David Mundy said...

Thanks Frank and Judy for these thoughtful reflections. There is rarely a straightforward path to forgiveness & perhaps suggesting there will be is unfaithful. And probably why I've blogged about forgiveness for over a decade!