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Healing memory, ontological intimacy, and U.S. imprisonment: Toward a Christian politics of “good punishment” in civil society

February 11, 2013

Central to Christian theological perspectives on criminal punishment is the requirement of discerning the difference Jesus Christ makes for Christian understanding and possible participation in society’s meting out of punishment. 

I advance here a thesis significantly indebted to Hauerwas’s work; a Christian praxis of good punishment offers a healing politics of better hope for society’s practice of criminal justice. 

Good punishment, as an embodied Christian praxis, involves a particular story-informed and worshipful practice of “healing memory” in the service of “ontological intimacy.” Essentially, good punishment involves a peaceable Christian politics of healing the memories of wrongdoing by way of the acknowledgement of sin within a communal setting of forgiveness and reconciliation. 

Ontological intimacy is the Christian confession that all things participate in the power of  God’s being through bonds of radical communion.

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