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Roman Polanski and the Challenge of Forgiveness

Roman Polanski and the Challenge of Forgiveness

One of the most fascinating events for those interested in the relationship between religion and secularism occurred in 1997. In 1997, Geimer publicly forgave Polanski. This event has caused some scholars of religion to reflect on complex questions: Does forgiveness, a nominally “Judeo-Christian” practice, have a place in the American law system, or in the public sphere? Or is this too simple a reduction? Some might argue that forgiveness is a universal practice, one practiced across many different cultures. In either case, there seems to be a strong aversion to substituting punishment with forgiveness in the U.S. (with perhaps the exception of a presidential pardon). Our law, in general, centers around a retributive form of justice, one in which criminals have to “pay” for their crime with their time, labor, or life. Forgiveness flies in the face of this kind of justice.

Just War and Post War Justice

Just War and Post War Justice

The just war tradition is the centuries-old gold standard for morally evaluating war. Most Christian denominations subscribe to this ethical framework, even as they are more and more commending nonviolence as a viable alternative. Just war reasoning also rests behind much of the modern international laws of war. Over time, this tradition has come to consist of several criteria—though the lists vary depending on the source—to be used to evaluate morally when and how war may be justly embarked upon and conducted. A war is considered just if these criteria are adhered to and satisfied.