Wednesday, June 27, 2012

#178 / Forgiveness #2

Recently, I listened to one of "The Great Courses" in its audiobook format; namely, Why Evil Exists, with thirty-six different lectures on this topic being presented by Professor Charles Mathewes. Mathewes is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, and the most moving of the entire series of his lectures, for me, was his Lecture #23: "The American North and South - Holy War." This lecture focused on the thinking of both Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln, and provided the most helpful and hopeful prescription for an effective way to overcome evil and its dominance in our lives and in our history.

Lincoln's lesson, in particular, taken from his Second Inaugural Address, was brilliantly presented by Mathewes. That one lecture was worth the price of the whole ensemble. In the end, Lincoln (like Arendt), without using the word, identified forgiveness as the foundational work necessary to allow our nation to begin again, anew, and to do something other than to retell, forever, the stories of the horrors done by both North and South, in our fratricidal combat:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

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