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Forgiveness
Mister Grey Wonders about Our Most Lauded Quality: 3/29/22
The Amtrak conductor was correct. Since I have arrived at Jack London Square in Oakland, California, I have had no cell service. It could not possibly be the fault of Flip the Black Hero Phone, so I will attribute it to a higher power.
So, once I am back on the train in two days, Flip will flood with texts waiting in the ether to be delivered. Hence I am now addressing some texts for the crackpot mailbox received while leaving Portland.
“Christians always mention forgiveness and that you must do it. But some, [like Any Nowicki] say its only valid when someone genuinely asks for forgiveness. What do you think they really meant? It sounds like a built in way to not threaten those in power who fuck you over...very convenient…
-Mister Grey, Friday, March 25
My job as a historical novelist, which is what I have always wanted to do and am finally becoming, is to depict the feelings and actions of people of kinds and times that are alien to me with empathy and understanding and passion—from their view. I will so try to address this question from recent work to do with the poetics of Homer and The Song of Roland and four biographies of Amerindian war chiefs.
The Christian ideal of forgiveness is hierarchical, in that the mortal sinner is directed to repent before God, which is to adopt an attitude of surrender and supplication before the Highest Power, admit his guilt, and seek forgiveness for his transgressions. The forgiveness of the guilty repentant is Grace. This forgiveness is guaranteed so long as the repentant party acknowledges Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
Like most things between God and man, men higher in the social order—and increasingly lateral in the social order as society dissolves—insert themselves between God and man and insist that the repentant sinner may not receive God’s Grace or Christ’s Salvation until he has first abased himself before his church fellows, his preacher, minister, priest or other confessor. This process appears to me very much as a gate-keeping usurpation of Grace. Indeed, Kings in earlier periods insisted on standing between God and man, and named themselves Grace incarnate.
For instance, Charlemagne, “Whose look was dread,” fell into folly when he entertained the ruse that Marsille the King of the Moors, would “come to Christ,” and declared that Marsille “might know redemption yet.”
The idea of redemption is based on being forgiven after admitting guilt. For this reason, with the reduction of Christians to “whites” and the elevation of Money to the place of God, poor English who committed the sin of debt under the protestant prosperity gospel, were known as redemptioners, persons without rights even to their own body until the price of their passage to the place where they would labor for their master for free was paid off with time served.
This is where the idea of one’s “debt to society” steps between God and man, and also between the injured man and his injurer. In civilization, a man never owns his own body. Rather he is the property of the State, from Prince to pauper, with the Prince being mourned “in state” and the pauper denied the right to suicide. Suicide remains a crime in most American municipalities, for the self-killing man is harming the tax base of the hallowed government that owns him.
In warrior societies, forgiveness may only be granted by the injured party, most typically by the relations of the slain man. This might be paid by the killer paying damages or even by him replacing the man he slew as son, brother or even husband!
Imagine killing Brad Pitt and having Jennifer Anniston demand you make good on her loss by mating with her.
The warrior society answer to forgiveness of action is payment, vengeance [very old Testament there] or exile, as with Ayran tribes. Patroclus was the Slave of Achilles as his penance for slaying a fellow of his own tribe and then going into exile among the Mymidons. He was an ancient redemptioner of sorts.
The supplication, submission and begging of forgiveness is not broadly social or pyramidally hierarchical in warrior society as it is in civilized society.
When Black Hawk’s friend trusted the white man who wished his son to come hunt for him, resulting in his son being recreationally tortured and murdered by the whites, the old man could not forgive his own failure to heed Black Hawk’s advice and fasted before God until he died. Black Hawk took payment from the whites by raising a war party and slaying some of them, thus enabling peace and forgiveness in his mind.
When Black Hawk failed to protect his own children from the whites, he gave away all worldly possessions, painted himself black, fasted and prayed for two years in hopes God would take pity upon him, and only then managed to forgive himself enough to permit his own reentry into society.
The practice of the warrior society of individual redemption and abased forgiveness is well reflected in the Christian belief in direct repentance and forgiveness between man and Christ. However, the insistence among most Christians that they must judge the sinner as truly repentant before he is permitted to be judged by Christ, comes not so much from Christianity, but from the 360-degree slave matrix within which that faith and all other civilized faiths of Antiquity were born.
Thus there was a certain understanding among warrior chiefs and some of their military officer foes, that they served “the same Master of Life,” and were judged by the same Power.
An interesting case was Geronimo, who never forgave the Mexicans for murdering his family and psychotically hunted them into old age. Likewise the Mexicans never forgave him his savage depredations and the U.S. Government never forgave him for insisting that he should be left alone so long as he refrain from attacking Americans.
Geronimo could not internalize the civilized idea that he should beg forgiveness for not begging forgiveness of the very party that attacked him. President Teddy Roosevelt got it. And even though the army over which he was Commander-in-Chief could not forgive Geronimo for not begging forgiveness of those who transgressed against him and his, The President gave permission for the old tribal leader, a POW for some 20 years, to tell his side of the story so that “the American People” might judge whether he should be forgiven for the greatest crime a subject of the United States of America could commit—self defense.
We now live in the media sinner and repentance world that swallowed that dour old Apache warrior, and we too are subject to the post-Christian ideals of crowd-forgiveness, by which our multitude of anonymous fellows judge us as a hysterical hive of petty micro-gods according to their own rancid jealousies and twisted hates.
I hope that helps.
My personal experience in forgiveness is one of relief, that once I stop hating and blaming the party that injured me and get on with acting rather than suffering, I have experienced great relief.
I also suspect, that in our current social media condition, that many alienated and “racially guilty” individuals might feel that abstract groupings of ideological enemies are to blame for their own suffering, and want some kind of abstract penance. To the extent that this condition persists, it would shock both Achilles and Geronimo, that some fat bitch nodding her head at a printed page or oracle a half a world away, barely capable thought let alone action, could be to blame for their condition—when one new that his enemies were Agamemnon and Hector and the other that his enemies were all Mexicans and certain soldiers.
To any tribal or civilized ancient, it would seem a bizarre proposition to entertain forgiveness of a party still actively seeking to harm us, which is the activity all of our rulers engage in. This notion is no less strange than to think that Christ would open the Book of Life upon his second coming and grant salvation to an unrepentant sinner involved in beheading Christians up until the very moment of his return, who yet spat in the face of Grace and declared for Satan.
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