Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sin and Forgiveness

Today, and on a few subsequent days, I want to share some interesting quotes from the book that I blogged about a few days ago---Kathleen Norris' new book "Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life". Here is today's quote:
" dismiss sin as negative is to demonstrate a failure of imagination. As the writer Garret Keizer asserts in Help: The Original Human Dilemma: "Everyone believes in sin, the people who charge their peers with political incorrectness and the people who regard political correctness as the bogey of a little mind." He adds, "What everyone does not believe in, as nearly as I can tell, is forgiveness." It requires creativity to recognize our faults, and to discern vitures in those we would rather disdain. Forgiveness demands close attention, flexibility, and strigent self-assessment, faculties that are hard to come by as we career blindly into the twenty-first centruy, and are increasingly asked to choose information over knowledge, theory over experience, and certainty over ambiguity."

I'd like to write something more about this, but I'm still pondering. I just have vague impressions, pretty unformed. Impressions about the so-called old-fashioned, definitely politically incorrect, absolutely intolerant concept of "sin" (that's what enlightened folk in our culture believe, of course), and about the in vogue and politically correct but little practiced concept of "forgiveness".

If I say I believe in sin, everyone assumes lots of things about me, right? If I say I believe in forgiveness, everyone assumes lots of other things about me... [and I'm referring to our mainstream Western culture here].

Except sometimes, when it's not okay to believe in in with abusive or philandering husbands, or with child molesters, leaders of countries, potential leaders of countries, terrorists...then it's okay to hate.

I'm not sure what else to say, but I like thinking about it. I hope you will, too, and share your thoughts with comments.

~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark


Jane said...

I grew up in the Catholic church. Although I never did get on board back then (I lit my Holy Communion booklet on fire), I believed in the concept of "sin".

As an adult who has come full circle in her spiritual beliefs, I think there are bad decisions and actions that I would not necessarilly term as "sin". I do definitely believe in the power of forgiveness.

patti said...

I think what you call sin is sometimes the result of being un-conscious & sometimes we just make bad choices. When we are conscious, we always have a choice to do what we know to be the right thing.

We are all perfect and imperfect at the same time. Not forgiving others means we cannot possibly expect it for ourselves.

So do unto others. We must forgive or we cannot move forward. We are all floating down this river together and we never know when we are going to need each other.

Angela said...

I never liked the term "sin", until I heard it described as "missing the mark". Who among us hasn't done that? Who among us wouldn't want forgiveness for that? Thank you, Olivia, for bringing it to our attention.

Olivia said...

Thank you for sharing what you believe, Jane. It is interesting to ponder these two terms, I think. Peace and moving blessings, O

Olivia said...


What you share is an example of how we can conceptualize both sin and forgiveness...they two are intimately related, I think. Peace today, O

Olivia said...

Angela, "Sin" does have so many negative and judgmental connotations. It seems like such a nasty word. I am wondering, what if it isn't? What if it is even "failure to love"? Or "failure to perceive in a loving way"? I don't know, as I have just been pondering this since I read it in the book. Definitely, how we perceive sin and forgiveness is critical to the world view we have, whether it is kind and loving or fear-based. Peace today, O

Flassie's Fil'a said...

I think some people need their head examined. Some people hold grudges because something might be going on in their body that is effecting the brain or something going on in the brain it self.

I watched Change Your Brain Change Your Life on PBS and it was really interesting to learn why people do the things they do.

One man started working around chemicals and he changed and he and his wife started having problems. They went through marriage counsuling and were told to get a divorce. They didn't want to. Went to Dr. Daniel Amen. He asked a lot of questions and come to find out the chemicals he was working around started messing up his mind. So he was moved to a different department away from them and what ever else the doctor had him do and he went back to his normal self.

A brain injury in a certain part of the brain can make people lash out in anger.

People put toxic substances in their body or are working around toxic chemicals it can effet the brain.

Bleach isn't good to be around if you are depressed it makes it worse.

Our brains don't fully develop till we are 25yrs. old so we need to take care of them. Protect them and eat brain healthy food.

He wrote a book. In my blog entry titled Page 56 I have a link for Dr. Daniel Amen. You can find the titles of his books there. Maybe get them at the library if you are interested.

God Bless You and Yours!!!

laundrygirl said...

Sin has been a complicated concept for me to put my mind around and yet recently I heard it being referred to as “being out of line with the order in which God intended”. At the time I was listening to a lecture about God’s creation and about ecology and being earth friendly. Sounds random, I know, but the example given was that God has created things with a purpose and when used outside of this order, or when damaged and taken out of the context it was meant to be, (because we want to step into the place of ultimate authority and do it our own way) we sometimes miss the mark or unconsciously move away for things as God intended it to be. For this reason there is forgiveness because inevitably we will step away from the original intended plan (having been given free will) so forgiveness and mercy bind the wound of our errors in judgment or conduct.
That was quite a mouthful wasn’t it? I don’t know if any of this is helpful and I am sure some will disagree with my remarks but I’m ok with that. It’s a hard concept...

Olivia said...

Hey Flassie's Fil'a!

Welcome to the happyluau! I am familiar with Dr. Amen's books and also find them very helpful. I am fascinated by how the brain works.

I appreciate your commenting!

I know this was just an incidental part of your comment, but I wanted to say that I do think that people are very, very quick to give up on marriages before investigating every possible option. That said, I myself have so far been divorced twice, and know the pain of divorce. And the pain of a bad marriage. There are no "good" solutions, but each of us has to find the best way for our situation. Certainly having a healthy, clear brain does nothing but help!

Thank you for your comments and I hope to see you back,



Olivia said...


Yes, very helpful, I wanted to get a discussion going about sin...but sin is not a popular topic and is hard to write about in general.

Everyone's comments were interesting and made me think.

I like what you said. I think that sin is both a gentler thing than we were taught back in the olden days, but also a more serious thing. A paradox. I think it's both at the same time. And it's not simple. I still don't have my mind around it.

It is hard to write about because people have such strong negative views about it before you even start, so I appreciate your doing so!

If anyone else has more to add, please do...even if it is controversial...

Thank you, Kristine :)

Peace and love and blessings,