Janet Smith

Joined: Jul. 17, 2012

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More on Unprincipled Forgiveness

Jul. 22 at 10:14pm | Comments: 90 | Most recent comment: Jul. 30 at 3:35pm

Katie van Shaijik understands us to have very different positions on the relationship between forgiveness and justice.  I am still not clear what the nature of those differences are (and hope the discussion below will smoke those out).  Proper Focus Katie also thinks that I have shifted the focus from what she wanted to focus on.  I think it fair to say that what she wants to focus on is the incompatibility of “unprincipled forgiveness”...

Guilty of Unprincipled Forgiveness or Model Christian?

Jul. 18 at 7:30am | Comments: 92 | Most recent comment: Jul. 29 at 9:56am

I think this CNA story offers an opportunity to think about how to apply the principles Katie is articulating. Arturo Martinez-Sanchez says he had no choice but to forgive the man suspected of sexually assaulting and killing his wife and young daughter in an April 2012 attack that also left him seriously wounded. “I have to forgive him, to go the way of life,” the Las Vegas resident told CNA in a July 17 interview. “It's in the Bible ...

Latest comments by Janet Smith:     (See all of them)

Re: More on Unprincipled Forgiveness

Jul. 26 at 10:18am | see this comment in context

Yes, falling in love with Jules is something that happened to you deep in your being. But that you willed to act on that love was an act of will.  If we weren't free in response to loving feelings the world would be a mess.  More people need to exercise acts of the will in respect to love.

And most couples find that they need to make repeated acts of the will to remain "in love" with their spouses. Especially when the "feeling" of love is not there. Love is the determination to seek the good of the other.  Yes, there are many kinds of love, but that is the essence of love and it needs an act of the will.  Many.

Re: More on Unprincipled Forgiveness

Jul. 26 at 9:34am | see this comment in context

You say: 

"I don't agree with the aternatives you lay down.  I think von HIldebrand is right to see "deep spiritual responses" as a category of their own, involving the whole person from the roots of her being."


I believe I have asserted the same. When I spoke of the "heart" that means "deep spiritual responses."  The "whole person" involves acts of the will as well as the intellect, emotion, and body. I acknowledged much earlier that all would be involved but the will is primary.  Those are the "roots" of one's being.  The heart is where all those come together.  

I suppose a difference between  an Aristotelian/Thomist and a phenomenologist is that the AT believes that one is committing one's self to all that essentially and logically entailed in one's claim and does not have to spell out  all that is entailed all the time.  The definitions "rational animal" or "self-determining entity" capture an infinite number of realities that belong to those terms.  

To say that forgiveness is an act of the will is not at all to exclude what VH depicts but that "willing collaboration" involves an act of the will cannot be denied.


Re: More on Unprincipled Forgiveness

Jul. 26 at 9:22am | see this comment in context

We posted quite simultaneously so I didn't see post #50 before I wrote #51.

It would help me if you would explain this: "I think we agree on many substantial points and propositions, but I doubt we're in substantial agreement."

In what way are we not in substantial agreement?  I believe we are and that our differences are a matter of nuance and emphasis.  

Of course, I have never said or implied that forgiveness is easy or comes quickly; just that we are commanded to forgive and must pray for the grace. etc. (I cannot repeat all the qualifications we have established about acknowledging wrong doing, attempting to see that amends are made please take it that I still agree with all I have agreed with before.)

Forgiveness cannot be accomplished in us with out our, as you say, "willing collaboration."  That means the will is involved.  I have stated repeatedly that grace is necessary. You have given a fuller description of how grace. While I love full phenomenological presentations, just because one does not provide them does not mean one does not assent to them.

Re: More on Unprincipled Forgiveness

Jul. 26 at 9:11am | see this comment in context


Here I'll just say that "unprincipled forgiveness" treats forgiveness as an act of the will, when (I agree with you) it isn't.  It is a gift of divine grace, which needs our willing collabortation.

 Doesn't anything that "needs our willing collaboration" count as an act of the will?  Acts of the will are necessary for sin or for merit.  These are "acts of man" not just human acts.  Acts of the will are tranformative of our character. We become good or evil because of them. Choosing to accept the grace to forgive and then to choose to forgive (which are likely simultaneous) can be radically life changing.  It is an intensely personal act.  Is springs from the heart. Things that are simply gift remain external. It requires an act of the will to make put the gift to work.

How, Katie, do you understand "act of the will" to be able to say that "forgiveness is not an act of the will"?  Are you saying it is not at all an act of the will?  Or just not primarily?  Doesn't "willing collaboration" require an act of the will? 

Re: More on Unprincipled Forgiveness

Jul. 26 at 7:36am | see this comment in context

I am not familiar with this book but like the choice and blurb:

Forgiveness Is a Choice is a self-help book for people who have been deeply hurt by another and caught in a vortex of anger, depression, and resentment. As a creator of the first scientifically proven forgiveness program in the country, Robert D. Enright shows how forgiveness can reduce anxiety and depression while increasing self-esteem and hopefulness toward one's future. This groundbreaking work demonstrates how forgiveness, approached in the correct manner, benefits the forgiver far more than the forgiven. Filled with wisdom and warm encouragement, the book leads the reader on a path that will bring clarity and peace. Enright is careful to distinguish forgiveness from "pseudoforgiveness" and to reassure readers that forgiveness does not mean accepting continued abuse or even reconciling with the offender. Rather, by giving the gift of forgiveness, readers are encouraged to confront and let go of their pain in order to regain their lives.

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