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Inside the outside – seeing the kalediscope of another’s life is perhaps the most humbling thing we can experience. Seeing what we do to them, rather than stagnating on what they’ve done to us. I can remember what it was like to be in Elementary School. I grew up in Scientology until about the age of six and then was in and out of it depending on whether or not my grandparents could care for me. Growing up in that in Clearwater where their spiritual headquarters were wasn’t an easy context. Almost weekly one of my Scientologist friends would get jumped or have their lunch money stolen all because their parents, and not necessarily themselves, were Scientologists. I remember getting into several fights because I defend them even though I was living with my grandparents and wasn’t inside the comune at that time.

I remember how hurt and dehumanized they were, how sunken their faces appeared as they walked home and had to explain to their parents what had happened to them. The ANGER I have as I remember that, the OUTRAGE, after all they were just kids…

Kids are cruel…

Adults are more subtley cruel…

Latter in life I got a first hand experience of how ‘Christians’ deal with others in their midst. Man it was as nearly ugly as the kids on the playground. I’ve got in more than one fight because of the others in our midst. Maybe its in my nature but I don’t deal well with bullies…or with memories. I’ve tried to forget these kids, these adults, myself, but I’ve failed. It appears memory is not as easily escapable as we commonly think.

Chapter One: Memory of Interrogations

Volf spends the first quater of the chapter recalling what it was like to have been secretely spied upon as a Yugoslavian soldier because of the suspicion that he was a CIA operative or political radical waiting to upset the soldiers around him. This period in his life ended in an interrogation with Captain G who promised him that he would be locked up for the next 20 years if he didn’t come forward and admit who he was. Everything from his personal letters to his wife, to his choice of reading, to the conversations his bunkmates would trick him into carrying were annalyzed with the assumption that Volf was the accused, condemned, and soon to be ruined one.

For Volf this memory in his life has been the chief area he’s wrestled with Remembering Rightly in a Violent World. The thing about violence against you and I is that it doesn’t go away from us as easliy as we’d like and often not at all. As Volf can testify, “I wanted him to get out of my mind on the spot and without a trace. But there was no way of keeping him away, no way to forget him. He stayed in that living room and interrogated me again and again.”

The issue that Volf sets out to explore in this book is:the memory of wrongdoing suffered by a person who desires neither to hate nor to disregard but to love the wrongdoer. The thing with memory is that its never a question of whether we remember violence or not but rather how to remember rightly.

Volf says that remembering rightely involves 3 things;

  1. First, there are aspects of remembering rightly that concern primarily the wronged person.
  2. Second, consider the relationship of the memory of abuse to the wider social setting out of which the abuse arose or to which it might be applied.
  3. Third, what does it mean to remember rightly in regard to the wrongdoer.

We must enter into the struggle to do justice and show grace to our Captain G’s whoever they may be. The thing about injury due to the violence of others is that we often only remember injury. This persons’ life becomes cataloged in our memory as one long series of violent, ungracious, unrighteous, and unrespectable actions. We see them without the grace or understanding we extend to our own violent actions.

We see them only as the accused, condemned, and ought to be ruined ones.