Not So Sorry

Abusers, False Apologies, and the Limits of Forgiveness

Not So Sorry

Abusers, False Apologies, and the Limits of Forgiveness

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Available July 30, 2024

It's time for a nuanced discussion about forgiveness.

From religious communities to therapeutic spaces, the importance of forgiving those who've wronged us is often enshrined as an unqualified good. But what about horrifying cases of abuse, predatory behavior, or systemic wrong? Too often, when predators or abusers are exposed, the chorus comes immediately: "What about forgiveness?" In these cases, forgiveness places the onus on victims, diminishes real hurt and anger, lets perpetrators off the hook, and prevents justice from being done.

In Not So Sorry, journalist and culture critic Kaya Oakes tackles these questions with intelligence, nuance, and a bit of righteous anger. Ranging effortlessly from Christian theology and world history to psychology and pop culture, Oakes takes us on a whirlwind tour of the many abuses of the concept of forgiveness, including the abuse scandals of the Catholic church, the outing of high-profile abusers like Larry Nassar, and white America's obsession with false narratives of marginalized peoples granting forgiveness to oppressors. Ultimately, Oakes dares us to ask the necessary question: Is it ever better not to forgive?

Endorsements

"Kaya Oakes challenges those slippery, PR-constructed apologies that leave us rolling our eyes. But she does more than that. Throughout Not So Sorry, Kaya Oakes listens to the voices of victims, allows us to wrestle with our assumptions, and leads us on a path to restore justice."

Rev. Carol Howard, author of Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God after Experiencing a Hurtful Church, and pastor of Bedford Presbyterian Church

"In Not So Sorry, Kaya Oakes presents a thoughtful meditation on one of Jesus's most challenging commandments: that we forgive those who have wronged us. With compassion, curiosity, and conviction, Oakes invites us to consider the implications of forgiveness in a fraught age."

Michael J. O'Loughlin, author of Hidden Mercy: AIDS, Catholics, and the Untold Stories of Compassion in the Face of Fear

"Kaya Oakes has long been one of my favorite writers on the religion beat, but I can testify that no work of hers has challenged me like Not So Sorry. When you believe, as I do, that the genius of Christianity is its offer of mercy to even the worst of sinners, it is bracing, and difficult, to be reminded of the limits of forgiveness and the perils of cheap grace. In an age when abuse has been exposed as rampant, and accountability is so rare, Oakes's call to rethink forgiveness by centering survivors and reminding us of all the ways the powerful use and abuse the language of faith is essential reading."

Matthew Sitman, host of the Know Your Enemy podcast

Product Info

  • Publisher Broadleaf Books
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506486963
  • eBook ISBN 9781506486970
  • Dimensions 6.25 x 9.25
  • Pages 214
  • Publication Date July 30, 2024
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