We saw The Big Question at Windrider Toronto last night. It’s a documentary that tells the stories of people who have been horribly wronged, and have had to grapple with whether or not (and how) to forgive.
Whenever I speak on forgiveness, I can tell that it’s an issue for almost everyone out there. You could feel that tension last night. The director said that he tried interviews on the street, asking people what they would like to say about forgiveness. Most of the people essentially said, “You don’t want to ask me about forgiveness.”
The most poignant stories for me were those of the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania who chose to forgive the gunman who slaughtered their children. They asked the director to mention that this was not easy for them, contrary to what some have said. It was also interesting to hear the story of a man who had just finished writing a book on forgiveness when his mother was killed. Although he had spent years teaching and writing about forgiveness, he felt consumed with a desire for revenge until he caught himself and turned to forgiveness instead.
Someone asked the director if he felt we need God’s help in order to forgive. The director said that he wasn’t sure, but maybe it would help. The film was eclectic in its spirituality, quoting Deepak Chopra and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as well as Desmond Tutu and Sister Helen Prejean. It’s not a film that aims to present a Christian theology of forgiveness. Rather, it’s a film that shows the incredible cost of forgiveness, and it portrays some who found the strength to forgive.
Speaking of forgiveness, I’m looking forward to reading Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds by Chris Brauns. Chris is a good guy to write this needed book on such an important topic.