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Colman, W. (1988). After the Fall: Original loss and the limits of redemption. Free Associations, 1(13):59-83.

(1988). Free Associations, 1(13):59-83

After the Fall: Original loss and the limits of redemption

Warren Colman

In this paper I am concerned with a particular aspect of the overall experience of loss: that which, once lost, cannot be recovered. In some losses more than others, this aspect will be dominant and in the most extreme or traumatic kinds of loss it may be so overwhelming that the loser cannot recover from the devastating blow which loss has struck. Such a loss constitutes a wound which will not — perhaps cannot — heal, and it is the nature of these wounds I wish to explore. Since so much of the paper is about Genesis, it is appropriate to begin with a story of its own origins in an encounter I had with a group called the Parents of Murdered Children.

I was in the audience of a rather bad TV programme on ‘the limits of forgiveness’, one of those all too common audience-participation-with panel-experts shows in which great moral issues are reduced to a level compatible with their use as fodder for the TV entertainment machine. There were a number of invited groups in the audience, ranging from Born Again Christians to Women Against Rape. But, refusing to be cowed by the arc lights and razzmatazz, the Parents of Murdered Children stood out like a very sore thumb. They made it quite plain that for them forgiveness was out of the question — what they wanted was justice. Their lust for the satisfaction of talion law was an embarrassment to the liberal media sentiment which suffused the programme. They were remonstrated with and marginalized, their implacable passion deemed mildly offensive to those who would find an easy way to believe that ‘all manner of things shall be well’.

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