An Ethic for Enemies

An Ethic for Enemies : Forgiveness in Politics

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Shriver shows that the concept of forgiveness, long relegated to the realm of the personal, is surprisingly relevant and important to political life. He uses three examples from recent American history - our relations with Germany and Japan, and the civil rights struggle - to show the importance of forgiveness in overcoming the traditional hatreds that threaten to cripple our more

Product details

  • Hardback | 299 pages
  • 165.1 x 244.35 x 25.15mm | 566.99g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195091051
  • 9780195091052

About Donald W. Shriver

About the Author: Donald W. Shriver, Jr., is President Emeritus and Professor of Applied Christianity at Union Theological Seminary, and past president of the Society for Christian more

Review Text

A compelling case for forgiveness - traditionally thought of as the way to heal disputes between persons - as the route to better relations between peoples. Shriver (president emeritus of Union Theological Seminary) argues that forgiveness needs to play a pivotal role in dealing with contemporary ethnic and national conflict. To forgive, for Shriver, is not to forget. Rather, he sees forgiveness as a fourfold process: acknowledgment of the wrong done; passing of moral judgment; the renunciation of vengeance; and the search for a new, empathic relationship with "the other." Shriver puts his case in descriptive, pragmatic terms and from an avowedly American standpoint. In a rapid introductory sketch, beginning with the ancient Greeks and the Bible, he shows how forgiveness gradually lost its original social, or public, dimension until, with the thought of Locke and Kant, it was relegated to the realm of individual sin and private conscience. Shriver goes on to describe the complex issues of guilt and forgiveness involved in postwar US relations with Germany and Japan. We hear of Germany's gradual coming to terms with the Holocaust and WW II, exemplified by the controversy over President Reagan's visit to SS war graves at Bitburg and culminating in President Weizsacker's apologetic Bundestag speech. US relations with Japan are not as far along in part because of the racial dimension of that conflict, for example, in the internment of US citizens of Japanese (but not German) descent during WW II. Himself a southerner and a Democratic activist in the 1960s, Shriver then examines the role of forgiveness in American society's persistent racial conflicts. He takes us into the thought of Martin Luther King ("a greater political moralist than Thomas Jefferson"), Malcolm X, and others, and he presses the case for economic plans to right past and present evils. For anyone concerned with the continual cycles of vengeance and retaliation in our world, Shriver's book offers a well-argued vision of hope. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

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16 ratings
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