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On Forgiveness: How Can We Forgive the Unforgivable? [Paperback]

Richard Holloway
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

2 Sep 2002
In this inspiring work, Richard Holloway tackles the great theme of forgiveness. It is a subject that he explores in the widest context but underpinning this examination is his belief that religion has given us many of the best stories and metaphors for the act. He proceeds to relate forgiveness to such events as September 11th, the Truth Commission in South Africa, and the ongoing conflicts in Palestine/Israel, Northern Ireland and Serbia. On Forgiveness is a discourse on how forgiveness works, where it came from and how the need to embrace it is greater than ever if we are to free ourselves from the binds of the past. Drawing on philosophers and writers of the calibre of George Steiner, Frederick Nietzsche, Jacques Derrida, Hannah Arendt and Nelson Mandela, Holloway has written another fascinating and timely book.

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On Forgiveness: How Can We Forgive the Unforgivable? + Godless Morality: Keeping Religion Out of Ethics + Between The Monster And The Saint: The Divided Spirit of Humanity
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Product details

  • Paperback: 100 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (2 Sep 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184195358X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841953588
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 397,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

* I don't know when I have been more impressed, indeed, excited, by a work... It answers the seemingly unanswerable tormenting questions in a completely satisfying way. -- Ruth Rendell * A work of blinding sincerity and high intelligence. Spectator

About the Author

One of the most outspoken and best-loved figures in the modern church, Richard Holloway recently stood down as the Bishop of Edinburgh. He was Gresham Professor of Divinity in the City of London and remains a Fellow of the Royal Society. He has written for many newspapers in Britain including The Times, the Guardian, the Sunday Herald and the Scotsman and presented his own series on BBC Television. His books include On Forgiveness, Looking in the Distance, Godless Morality and Doubts and Loves. His forthcoming book Between the Monster and the Saint: Reflections on the Human Condition will be published by Canongate in August 2008. ...more One of the most outspoken and best-loved figures in the modern church, Richard Holloway recently stood down as the Bishop of Edinburgh. He was Gresham Professor of Divinity in the City of London and remains a Fellow of the Royal Society. He has written for many newspapers in Britain including The Times, the Guardian, the Sunday Herald and the Scotsman and presented his own series on BBC Television. His books include On Forgiveness, Looking in the Distance, Godless Morality and Doubts and Loves. His forthcoming book Between the Monster and the Saint: Reflections on the Human Condition will be published by Canongate in August 2008.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerhouse of wisdom and ideas 28 Aug 2002
By Adam VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
This little book immediately hooks you with the authors conviction and lucidity of thought. This is fresh and exciting thinking. Richard Holloway is a name that will alienate many readers because of his"controversial" views, but, read with a spirit of inquiry, this is tremendously rewarding reading.
He uses his source material well to illustrate his arguments (ranging from the Bible to Nietzche).
His main argument is that forgiveness of past wrongs liberates the future.
He deals with this on the individual and collective level. He deals with those acts of such magnitude they may be deemed 'unforgiveable' and where only the grace of 'unconditional forgiveness' (a rare gift) will work.
This will certainly lead me to explore Richard Holloway's other works.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written and deeply affecting 29 Aug 2002
Format:Paperback
'On Forgiveness' is dedicated to Desmond Tutu and takes as its epigraph a passage from Jacques Derrida's essay of the same title. There can be little higher praise than that it is worthy of these associations.
Holloway provides a short and eminently accessible introduction to the subject and its heritage in the Abrahamic religions. Without straying into theology, he is able to give a powerful demonstration of the importance of his subject while shedding significant light on Derrida's somewhat enigmatic position. His concluding reflections on the conflicts which dominate world affairs today are thought-provoking and deeply moving.
It is difficult to avoid reflecting that if more people were to think as carefully and clearly as Richard Holloway, there would many fewer persisting tragedies of this sort.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing fresh on forgiveness 21 Oct 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase

This slight book reflects all of the values and also the limitations of an author who, since retiring as a heroic liberal bishop in Scotland, has found no need to be constrained by the shackles of the institutional church, and now advises in the arts. I read the book (less than 100 pages) in an hour or so, wondering if he would reveal an understanding and experience of forgiveness beyond the institutional church, getting away from the assumption that forgiveness is largely a religious matter. The answer is No.
To be sure, he writes fairly well against traditional general ideas of God and claims to exclusive and revealed truth in his first chapter, though his "Godless Morality" is a better introduction. Holloway is at his best in the second and third chapters, writing about the messes we all get into - victim and wrongdoer - when we do not let go of the past; and the damage caused by not forgiving, even when one is seeking the apparently virtuous role of judging with truth. Indeed, his prose here is sometimes memorable and beautiful, releasing the poetic imagery found in his best books.
But his final chapter, in which he tries to describe unconditional forgiveness, reads like a so-so sermon from his file. He gives no personal examples of forgiving from his life or from others, and does not seem to have any fresh insight into what forgiving means or costs. So it's a very disappointing book for anyone hoping for a direction towards finding forgiveness, or for insight into how to forgive or to help others to do so; significantly Holloway does not refer to any major teachers or trainers in forgiveness apart from Desmond Tutu. One for fans of Holloway rather than fans of forgiveness.
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