Source: (2003) Aldershot, England: Ashgate.
In this book, Kay Carmichael explores and argues for what she terms a new paradigm that is emerging in terms of understanding sin and forgiveness. From her own religious upbringing and her engagement with the world as an adult, she believes that institutional Christianity, in its current expression, is failing to address issues of both individual and community responsibility. While individuals and groups, both within Christianity and outside it, are reassessing the nature of sin and forgiveness, institutional Christianity in general is not. Increasingly in a post-Christian society, people are moving away from traditional approaches to sin and forgiveness in relation to the God of the Bible, yet they retain a desire for transcendence. Carmichael examines these cultural changes and the new paradigm. She does so to a large degree through cases studies of actual people and events, identification of popular trends in culture, and analysis of art and literature. Indeed, she asserts that poetry, song, theater, and painting tell us more about the issues than the clumsiness of words alone. The chapters in her book include the following: narratives of a modern dilemma; responses to sin and forgiveness in art and literature; the move to a contemporary view of sin; contemporary views on forgiveness; the persistence and identification of structural sin; and concluding reflections on how people can live together with these new understandings. It is in this last chapter, in particular, that Carmichael discusses retributive and restorative justice, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and memory in relation to forgiveness.