Okay, so as I wrote this paper (which is pretty much done, but still requires some edits, footnotes, and maybe some other adjustments cuz I’m at the edge of the word count limit), things changed a bit. One reason is, I have a word count limit, so I can’t just say everything I want to–that doesn’t mean an expansion isn’t possible after the conference in prep for publishing. Another reason is, I just couldn’t do much with one of the ideas as I had it–I didn’t like how it was going; I wrote the beginning of the paper 3 times. So below, I put strike-throughs in the old stuff, and wrote some new stuff to make the abstract more reflective of what actually happened.

Title: The Politics and Poetics of Forgiveness

New Title: Transforming the Politics of Forgiveness

The very idea of forgiveness needs to be reframed from a sense of an “economy of exchange,” one in which forgiveness is merely owed upon the payment of some sort of debt. Recent conversations in continental philosophy and Christian theology have offered helpful new understandings of the nature of forgiveness. The discussion of the “gift” in Derrida’s work and those influenced by him reveals a certain calling into possibility something which seems impossible—true forgiveness. Coupled with insights from the Christian theological tradition, the “gift” of forgiveness through grace becomes powerfully transformative for both personal and communal identity. In giving the gift of forgiveness, a space is opened in one’s identity for real and lasting transformation to occur, such that the resultant relations in a given community will be directly influenced in large part, by the expression of further forgiveness, further giving of the gift. The transformation of the one becomes a flow of transformation of others.

Bookending this discussion of forgiveness, this paper will also explore the political relations which form the conditions of possibility for forgiveness. Stated simply, humans live in communities in which there are disagreements, transgressions and conflicts. Even further, these communities are themselves in relation with other communities (the boundaries of many of these are fluid; individuals are members of many different communities). The political nature of these communities is characterized by a sense of contestation. Each community embodies a story of its own, inhabits a worldview of its own—all of which are in conflict with each other. characterized by the existence of perpetrators and victims, fights and conflict, the demand for justice and repentance. In light of this reality, my paper will re-imagine how forgiveness—viewed through the concept of “gift” and empowered by a Christian theology of transcendence—challenges and changes the political relations of individuals and communities as well as the poetics of the grammar of forgiveness. and following from the central discussion of transformative forgiveness, I will offer two concrete ways that individuals and communities can practice the hope of forgiveness as they anticipate the eternal peace of the coming Kingdom.

I’m glad the paper is more or less done. I know I’ll at least be able to submit it on Monday. Now to bug one of my friends to read it over for me. I’m glad I’ve got people in my life who can read so well and think critically but generously about my work. It really is a God-given gift.

I left the call for papers and the link to the conference below.

The paper is for a conference on the Politics of Peace by the Society for Continental Philosophy and Theology.

Here is their call for papers:

SCPT’s 2010 conference will focus on PEACE. We invite papers that examine the many dimensions of peace from social, political, religious, scientific, theological, and philosophical points of view. We also seek papers dealing with complementary topics such as justice, reconciliation, forgiveness, and peace-making, and that deal with the practical aspects of the above topics. SCPT is an organization that seeks to promote inquiry at the intersection of philosophy and theology, through the study of phenomenology, deconstruction, feminism, Radical Orthodoxy, and other related fields.