The Russian Orthodox Church is suggesting clemency for the three jailed members of the band Pussy Riot if they repent of their anti-authoritarian "punk prayer" delivered in a cathedral.
If the band members display "penitence and reconsideration of their action," well then, perhaps clemency would be better than punishment.
Why is it that when I read this story, all I can think of is that these young women are being asked to bend a knee to the very authority they decided to confront in the first place? Church or state ... no difference.
I will not fault them if they decide to "repent" -- being in jail is no easy matter. But I despair of those who feel that repentance rests on toeing the mark laid down by an institution or power structure or belief system. The institution may be elevated, but the repentance goes begging.
My guess is that courageous repentance is the repentance in which an individual acknowledges his or her responsibility and capacity within. To shoulder the responsibility of the past and use it to inform the present. The past cannot be undone. There is no guarantee that the fault will not reoccur. But in the meantime, there is some willingness to try to revise what is seen as a mistake....
Not on behalf of some institution or imaginative belief system, but rather on behalf of the person who made the mistake in the first place.
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