Misunderstanding Forgiveness

For your serious consideration…

The Quietist Quaker

I have been wrestling with forgiveness this week.  To be honest, I have been wrestling with forgiveness for twenty years, but the murders in Charleston this week brought the old tension to the fore.  I too have suffered the loss of a family member by brutal murder, and like the families of the victims in Charleston, I made a choice to forgive.  But I think that there’s a fundamental confusion in the media and in the general consciousness about what forgiveness is and who it’s for.

I’ve watched people celebrate the victims’ family members for having the courage and strength to forgive the man who killed their loved ones.  At the same time, I’ve heard the exhausted calls of activists who are sick of being expected to forgive atrocity after atrocity when nothing changes.  Why should forgiveness make murder okay?  Murder is never okay.  Black Girl Dangerous hits the nail…

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6 thoughts on “Misunderstanding Forgiveness

  1. avidseeker 06/24/2015 / 11:01 am

    Such a well-stated article. I agree completely. As far as her title, it may be purposely titled in that she considers herself a “quietist”, a person who keeps silent. Thanks, Roger, for posting this. There is a lot of confusion around the meaning of forgiveness. This has been a rough week for those of us who abhor violence, racism, and the further degradation of the soul of our country. Ginger

  2. Roger Vincent Jasaitis 06/24/2015 / 1:44 pm

    Hi Ginger, A little bit of Quaker history is in order here. Around the 1800s Quakers, after weathering years of persecution in England and America, focused their attention more “inward” both in the Society of Friends and personally. This period was called “quietist” in that Friends attended more to their own issues and less with the wider world. This title has nothing to do historically with “being quiet” per se. There were very outspoken Quakers during this period, e.g. John Woolman, they just dealt with different social issues. As far as she being “quietest”, that is another issue 🙂

    • avidseeker 06/24/2015 / 3:16 pm

      Thank you, Roger. This history is new to me. I was thinking of “quietist” as being a person of inner reflection. Seems that is is more of an adjective describing a period in the history of the Quakers rather than a noun, unless a person could be described as a “quietist”. With your knowledge of the history, was that ever done

      • Roger Vincent Jasaitis 06/24/2015 / 4:05 pm

        Ginger, your question led me to this from Wikipedia; Quietism (Christian philosophy), the 17th-century Christian philosophy Quietism is the name given (especially in Roman Catholic Church theology) to a set of Christian beliefs that rose in popularity in through France, Italy, and Spain during the late 1670s and 1680s, were particularly associated with the writings of Miguel de Molinos (and subsequently François Malaval and Madame Guyon), and which were condemned as heresy by Pope Innocent XI in the papal bull Coelestis Pastor of 1687. The “Quietist” heresy was seen to consist of wrongly elevating ‘contemplation’ over ‘meditation’, intellectual stillness over vocal prayer, and interior passivity over pious action in an account of mystical prayer, spiritual growth and union with God (one in which, the accusation ran, there existed the possibility of achieving a sinless state and union with the Christian Godhead).
        Quietism (philosophy), an approach to the subject that sees the role of philosophy as broadly therapeutic or remedial.
        So if you follow Quietism you are considered a Quietist, but this has nothing to do with Quakers. Interestingly, Quakerism arose in England just before this period in the 1660s so it may have influenced the Quietists.

      • avidseeker 06/24/2015 / 8:38 pm

        Wow! That is really fascinating, Roger! I never heard of that philosophy and am happy to be enlightened by your digging deeper into the subject. I’m in the throws of packing (ugh) and am looking forward to seeing you soon. We leave home about 7:30 AM, so I have to be ready tonight!!! we can discuss some of this. Ginger

  3. avidseeker 06/24/2015 / 3:26 pm

    Rog, there should be a ? after “done”. The phone rang distracting me! Ginger 🙂

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