Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Where the bodies are buried, The New Yorker
Forgiveness Isn't Tidy, The Wichita Eagle
Read them, tell me you read them. I would love to talk to someone about them. I read the two above long form stories about the people left over after slaughter. I found both of them to be terrifically enjoyable reads as well as very keeping with Lenten themes of forgiveness and penance and the chance for redemption. Whether you need it or not, whether you deserve it or not and want it or not.
Do we forgive because the offender needs us to do so or do we forgive the offender because we need us to do so? Does it matter for them ultimately? Does God keep track of whether this sinner has been forgiven on earth? or is it only His forgiveness that unlocks the gate? If the offenders victims forgive him and He does not, does this reflect badly on the victims? Is forgiveness something we give because we need to feel better? Because the victims need to move on and the only way to do so is to "let go" of the negative emotions? Let Go and Let God?
What if that is what the bad guy truly goes to hell for? Making someone else hate?
Is forgiveness given out of the selfish need for healing, real? Does it count? if I forgive you but God sends you straight to hell, why does it matter that I am all right with you? Your act sinned against God and God forgives all who seek it, what if the bad guy never seeks it? What if he or she never accepts the blame or admits the guilt?
In the first piece, the daughter of the BTK murderer speaks what happened to her after the FBI came to her house and told her that her father was BTK and imploded her life and led to a break down. She can not forgive him for his acts, he did not actually do anything to her directly - but she tries valiantly to forgive her Father for taking away her Daddy. She is not in a position to forgive him for being a mass murderer, but she certainly is in role where she can be furious with him because her friends questioned whether or not she and her husband should even have children less BTK was a genetic problem! She has to explain to her very young children, that their grandfather, whom they will never meet, is in "a very long time out".
It is a very good feature.
The second one I read is a bout a very different set of murders and victims and forgiveness or lack of. The story is about two women, the very first woman to be a full on member of the IRA and the widowed mother of ten that she is party to murdering. The dead woman's children had to watch people they knew from their neighborhood come to their home and take their mother at gun point. They next saw her some forty years later when her body was finally discovered on accident. The IRA suspected, wrongly as it was, that she was a spy for the British.
We learn quite a lot about both women. The dead woman was raised a protestant but converted upon her marriage, her oldest son was in jail for suspected IRA involvement when the IRA killed her.The murderer was interviewed multiple times for various university projects and she made herself very available for these interviews and was very open ( to a point) and proud (to a fault) about her involvement with the IRA.
We know less about the dead woman, she is silent as the grave. She died young and was killed to maintain that silence, her children had to live with their mothers murderers and learned to be quite. The IRA member was ultimately jailed for her bad acts, went on a famous hunger strike and was eventually released from prison by Margaret Thatcher , who knew a little something about being a bitch in a mans world - eight years into her double life sentence. She married actor Stephen Rea and had two children. I knew he married a a former IRA member and she had served time, but interviews gave the impression that she made sandwiches and rolled bandages and was just part of the ladies auxiliary IRA and was mostly jailed because she was an enabler. The fact she was very guilty of being an actual gun toting, terrorist murderer was not really explored at length. I can see why, if they had made it more plain, that he was married to an unrepentant murderer, people might have stopped seeing his movies.
Years later, marriage over, she finally succumbed to drugs and alcohol and mental illness. She never apologized or admitted guilt for her acts and one of her children had to find her dead body. Her victims children did not forgive her, and have to wait around until the neighbors die to see any kind of closure for their loss. One of the sons will occasionally hail a cab and the driver is one of the people who kidnapped his mother.
Today, both women are dead. I know they don't sound similar in theme but examined women's roles - victim, over empathized in the media, and victimizer - which is not often explored. I don't think I explained my rationale for this at all well, but both moved me and made me think about forgiveness and redemption.