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The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World
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The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  343 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Can one forget atrocities? Should one forgive abusers? Ought we not hope for the final reconciliation of all the wronged and all wrongdoers alike, even if it means spending eternity with perpetrators of evil? We live in an age when it is generally accepted that past wrongs - genocides, terrorist attacks, bald personal injustices - should be constantly remembered. But Miros ...more
Hardcover, 244 pages
Published November 9th 2006 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
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Dianna P.
Jul 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I don't remember any other book rocking my world like this one did. A complete paradigm shift occurred for me because of it. ...more
Volf offers a clear, penetrating look at rightly remembering and how justice, redemption and our identity as God's image-bearers informs both remembering traumatic and difficult memories and even how it informs when it is appropriate to forgot such memories. Truly a remarkable work and worth reading for any Christian who has experienced trauma or who works with those who have. Highly recommended. ...more
Jackson Brooks
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly pastoral as well as philosophical. It not only builds a foundation for a theology of remembrance, but also tears down the idol that memory can sometimes become. Thought provoking and practically challenging
Jul 04, 2016 rated it liked it
This was equally thought provoking and frustrating. His ideas are interesting, but he's only engaging with philosophers and theologians (and not historians or archivists). I also found him equating (or confusing?) personal memory with societal memory and public history. There's an obvious difference between an individual forgetting a traumatic experience and a society forgetting a problematic past, but he floats between those two situations as though they're the same thing, which was both puzzli ...more
Jul 24, 2012 rated it liked it
A fascinating topic and the book contains some provocative and helpful ideas for integrating memory, particularly of injustice and trauma, into a Christian framework. However, the prose is rather convoluted / excessively dense (for example significant flaws in his logic are sometimes alluded to in asides but not picked up until much later), and lacks concrete engagement with the implications of Volf's ideas - how to apply the ideas in practical ways in response to injustice. Given how directly t ...more
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this work, Volf continues the project begun in “Exclusion and Embrace” and “Free of Charge,” which is to offer a theological account of the idea of Christian forgiveness as it relates to contemporary culture. His specific goal in this work is to discuss the place of the memory of wrongs in the context of forgiveness. Perhaps the simplest way to summarize the argument is as an explanation and defense of the old saw, “forgive and forget,” as an accurate picture of Christian forgiveness.

For Vol
Michael Austin
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Volf's The End of Memory is not an easy book to read. It is academic theology that engages intensely with other academic theologians and with non-religious philosophers (or, at least with religious philosophers writing about non-religious things). Volf is a rigorous intellectual writing theology within a rigorously intellectual tradition. However, unlike the vast majority of books for which these things are true, this book is actually important. Beneath all of the rigorous theology and academic ...more
An Te
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading Professor Volf's book has been a slow-burning revelation. What are we to do when we recall past injustices? Volf is concerned with answering this question here. Volf envisions a way of recollecting the wrongs and how we can do both justice to the wrong and yet maintain it for future posterity. It simply cannot be convey in memories of the self, which is fleeting, subject to bias and fractious.

Volf envisions this. Wrongs are committed but we, in God's resplendent love, welcomes the victim
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A profound theological exploration of remembering and forgetting.

Volf was at one time a prisoner of the communist forces of his native Yugoslavia, where he underwent interrogation that was a form of psychological torture. What should he do with those memories? What should all people do with memories of pain, trauma, and suffering?

A deeply personal book that draws from the rich wells of the Christian tradition, literature, and philosophy, Volf considers how we should remember and remember well an
Timothy Goldsmith
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Volf has had the traumatic experiences required to speak about a topic like this with authority coupled with the academic capacity to look at deep questions with genuine rigour.
I read through this book with the staff from my church. It is sometimes repetitive, but a wonderful book to digest and meditate on.
If you wonder how you might move beyond a traumatic experiences, or whether you should feel guilty for "moving beyond" something, this could be a helpful book to read.
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was probably one of the best books I would NOT recommend. He asks and answers his questions about remembering rightly wonderfully, but it is his writing style, what I call a casual PhD dissertation, that punches you in the gut just a bit in its readability.

It's good, but find someone who has already read it and get the CliffNotes version from them.
John Buchanan
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Didn't read it all. profound ideas. ...more
Gordon Scrimgeour
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Best read of 2018.
Much to process not only pertaining to bad events.
Oct 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5. An engaging, thoughtful exploration of what divine forgiveness/reconciliation might mean. Lots to chew over here, ideas to return to.
James Korsmo
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Miroslav Volf is an evangelical theologian and professor at Yale Divinity School. He also grew up in the former Yugoslavia and its communist rule. And it is precisely his experiences in Yugoslavia during his year of mandatory military service that provide the focus for this book, a sustained reflection on the meaning of memory and grace with regard to wrongs committed against us.

Volf sets up his reflections by recounting his memory of the sustained interrogations to which he was subjected by "Ca
Cale Little
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The End of Memory will be a book I’ll always remember

Thoughtful, philosophical, theological. I’m overwhelmed at the weight of such questions and the insight into the inner struggle to forgive and for justice to be served. Doing so simultaneously is right. I come away challenged and inspired!
May 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Miroslav Volf sets his sights on the command to love one's enemies, the sternest test of Christian obedience, in The End of Memory. Volf skillfully weaves a personal story onto a scholarly study once again as he did in Exclusion and Embrace. The basis of his take on loving one's enemies for the purposes of this book is his experience of being unjustly interrogated and branded as a subversive rebel by the Yugoslavian military. As Volf works his way through the problem of reconciliation with the e ...more
Mar 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: trauma, religion
Another book that brings you to really think about individuals dealing with the memory of wrongs and traumas and how their faith can help them. Some quotes I liked:

“We are not just shaped by memories; we ourselves shape the memories that shape us. And since we do so, the consequences are significant; for because we shape our memories, our identities cannot consist simply in what we remember. The question of how we remember also comes into play.”

“As trauma literature consistently notes, the heali
Jul 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"Seekers of truth, as distinct from alleged possessors of truth, will employ "double vision" - they will give others the benefit of the doubt, they will inhabit imaginatively the world of others, and they will endeavor to view events in question from the perspective of others, not just their own. "(p57-Ch 3 Speaking Truth Practicing Grace)."

Excellent Book; Timely. Realistic in its theology and praxis.

From Amazon:

Can one forget atrocities? Should one forgive abusers? Ought we not hope for the fin
Sep 14, 2016 added it
- there are some real gems in this book, particularly about analyses of biblical justice and the connection between memory and forgiveness, as well as the rot of bitterness which is an inability to forgive as God does. Also of interest is the connections drawn between Forgiveness and Gift, which is free to receive.
- "Forgivers forgo the punishment of persons who deserve it and release them from the bonds of their guilt. Of course, to obtain this release wrongdoers must receive forgiveness of the
Joseph Sverker
Volf has the ability to write from within a rather evangelical stand point yet be extra ordinarily provoking against cherished beliefs. If someone really shows the scandal of the cross and how extreme the consequences are of the forgiveness God has given through Christ it is Volf. He takes his own life as a starting point which bring credibility to this work and then shows how wrongdoings should be non-remembred. I particularly like his thoughts on the world to come as like being wrapped complet ...more
Dec 01, 2010 is currently reading it
This is a book everyone should read. Volf writes about how we deal with the wrongs committed not just against us but against humanity (the Holocaust, the Killing Fields, etc). His basic thesis is that evil lives when a wrong is perpetrated against us. That evil would die with that act if we would let it, but we don't. We allow it to live on in us either in the form of self-loathing (how could I let this happen to me?) or in the form of vengeance or both. But since it isn't wise to forget our own ...more
Dwight Davis
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant work of psychological theology. Volf argues for a correct remembering of wrongs done to us in order that we may enact what he calls "non-remembrance." Volf builds this theory on his own experience of interrogation in Yugoslavia and the wrongs done to him by Captain G. The book ends in a beautiful imagined reconciliation with his interrogator. Volf also engages with the work of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Freud on the necessity of forgetting and shows how the logic of forgetfu ...more
Amy Ivey
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, suffering
I highly recommend this book. We have all been wronged by others, and we have all wronged others. We live in a fallen world where sin and its effects are realities. Remembering wrongs and the resultant hurts and wounds to our souls are natural consequences which can engulf us if not addressed. "As Christians, we have no option when it comes to reconciling, since failing to reconcile with fellow human beings for whom Christ died to reconcile them to God and to each other is to reject God's work o ...more
Bryn Clark
Dec 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
At worst this book was redundant and perhaps a little too wordy. At best, it wonderfully depicted the tension that comes with remembrance in a world of injustice. Volf draws from his own experience as well as the writings of everyone from Dante to Elie Wiesel to ask how we, as Christians living in a violent world, are to react/act towards injustice. Volf draws on the conviction that retributive justice denies the justice of God: "The first victory (for evil) happens when an evil deed is perpetra ...more
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sarah by: Rabbi Alan Brill
I really should not have taken a 2 month break while reading this book. However, I think I needed to digest and apply what I had read up to that time. Memory is such an amazing concept to me, and the more I think about it, the more I understand we need it to relate to EVERYTHING: ourselves, community, God, the past, the present, the future. Yet at the same time, it's so notoriously unreliable. I wrote a little more about it here at the Wheelhouse Review:

Jul 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone seriously interested in redeeming the memory.
An absolute must read for the serious student of human transformation.

Every new creation in Christ must deal with memory. Positive memories may blind one to the great opportunities of today and tomorrow and negative memories may paralyze the soul in the past.

When I meet a person in heaven, from whom I have received much pain, will I remember the situation, the pain, and the person?

In brief, Volf makes it clear that in a world of perfect and complete love, one may remember but the memory simply w
Jan 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity, ethics
How we remember justly and mercifully and truthfully matters. Miroslav Volf examines and questions some of our larger culturally cherished notions of what is just, merciful, and truthful in remembering. Whether you agree in whole or in part will be partly theological, partly personal, and partly whether you agree with his reasoning. An interesting addition to the works on ethics and memory, and a text with which to dialogue, particularly with other works on ethics and memory from other religious ...more
Milton Brasher-Cunningham
Aug 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Golf takes on the task of describing the relationship of memory, faith, and forgiveness, which is not an easy one. He is coming from a specifically Christian perspective, though much of what he says could have a wider appeal. He talks about what it means to remember "rightly" and "justly." Our capacity for forgiveness swings as much on how we remember as much as what we recall. He gave me a lot to think about. ...more
Mar 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
A moving book, at many points. I don't want to say too much about his theological perspective--it irritates me sometimes. However, he is very apt in describing all the possible ways in which we refuse to judge others, and ourselves, rightly. Very good on the complexities of memory, and a very moving personal story too. ...more
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Miroslav Volf is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School and the founding director of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture. “One of the most celebrated theologians of our time,” (Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury), Volf is a leading expert on religion and conflict. His recent books include Against the Tide: Love in a Time of Petty Dreams and Persisting Enmities, and ...more

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14 likes · 11 comments
“Through my memory of the Passion, God can "purify" my memory of wrongs suffered because my identity stems neither from the wrongdoing done to me, which would require the perpetual accusation of my wrongdoer, nor from my own (false) innocence, which would lead me to (illegitimate) self-justification.” 2 likes
“To remember a wrongdoing is to struggle against it.” 0 likes
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