Susan A Minasian
“Claiming Lives of Peace When Justice is Denied” is a theological essay on forgiveness and how the humanity of Jesus on the cross can serve as a model to clarify forgiveness as a spiritual practice. In this essay, the reader will be introduced to the denial on the part of the Turkish government and the role of the Ottoman Turkish government in the genocide of Armenians in 1915. It is my position that denial creates a burden for the survivors of genocide and other traumas. I contend that the victims need to receive a sense of agency in considering forgiveness as an on-going spiritual practice instead of an immediate destination. We will consider voices in the current conversation about forgiveness and discover that they all come to somewhat of the same conclusion that we must all forgive. Forgiveness is seen as a mandate of Christian piety and we must also be agents of forgiveness for our own wellbeing. I agree and yet find these positions to be limited. I propose that we take this saying of Jesus on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing,” and consider how this is his moment of emptying himself and claiming the fullness of his humanity in all of its limitations. In this moment he is praying and releasing his desire for forgiveness to God. We do not know if he refused to say “I” forgive you. While forgiveness is inherent in the act of even praying for his “Father” to do so, it is a profound moment and a model for victims and survivors to move further on the spiritual journey toward thriving.