Can you forgive your brother his stupidity? Can you forgive a regime? Berkeley professor Richard Candida-Smith writes me about how punitive American culture has become. The church epitomizes a kind of reconciliation we can find nowhere else in American society. Hence, he observes, the church's contradictory and seemingly nonsensical perspective on pedophilia in the priesthood. Candida Smith suspects that the church's peculiar place towards forgiveness could make it one of the only paths away from this strain of damnation of one's brother towards which America -- left and right -- is tending.
Most moving theological/literary encounter of the last three months: the Wooster Group's staging of Gertrude Stein's Faust. "I can do whatever I want whenever I want" insists Magdalena/Annabelle while seducing Edison/Faust. She preens while watching herself in the tv monitor. Taken by surprise, she runs away from the fear of having contradicted herself. She tries to broker the devil into leaving her alone by lying about what she can get away with.
The very image of the modern soul watching itself pose, convinced by its small amount of free will that expression alone is redemption.
(Required reading on forgiveness and how societies change: Robert Calasso, The Ruins of Kasch. About which more later. I continue to be haunted by Robert Calasso's discussion of the sacrifice/body problem. And recently I've been hearing about Derrida's work on the impossibility of forgiveness, which I've never read.)