Sin and Forgiveness
New Choices in a Changing World
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Publisher: Ashgate Publishing Group
Western attitudes to crime were in the past rooted in concepts of sin, and therefore of hopes for redemption and forgiveness. So what happens - to offenders and society as a whole - in a world where people no longer talk of sin but of evil. If hopes of redemption go too, will revenge take the place of forgiveness? Kay Carmichael explores these dilemmas in her book. She traces the stories of Myra Hindley, Mary Bell, Sarah Payne, James Bulger and his killers, comparing public responses to such crimes in various Western countries. Art and literature are examined for the light they throw on the evolution of our ideas about sin and forgiveness - from Rembrandt to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Samuel Becket, Dali and writings inspired by the Holocaust. Turning to our own day, Carmichael discusses the emergence of structural sins or "iniquities" in which we may all find ourselves involved: poverty, slavery, violence and war are her themes. Her analysis leaves her sceptical about many contemporary appeals for forgiveness, but hopeful about ideas of restorative justice.