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Christianity and the concept of national guilt

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the "heaviness" of the past. Those that experience this heaviness, at least in the West, are accustomed to calling it "guilt". In what way can guilt for some past horror be attributed to a group when not every member of that group participated in it? Can whole societies be said to bear the guilt of some massive social crime in their past? And what about major injustices perpetrated by a previous generation? Do the descendents carry any responsibility, and therefore by implication any guilt? In short, is there any such thing as "national guilt?" And if there is, can we also speak of national redemption? The chapter approaches these questions with the help of several concrete examples. The Christian tradition with its concentration on rules of behavior for the individual, taught people to feel guilt almost exclusively about their own personal actions.

Keywords: Christianity; massive social crime; national guilt



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