Archive for May, 2017

The Way Out

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

The path away from judgment of self and neighbor requires major mercy, both giving and, horribly, receiving. Going without either of them leads to fundamentalism of all stripes, and fundamentalism is the bane of poor Mother Earth. Going without engenders blame, which offers its own solace but traps us like foxes. We trick out box traps with throw rugs and vases, until the pain grows too big. Then the only way out of jail is forgiveness.

— Anne Lamott, Hallelujah Anyway, p. 48-49

Defining Forgiveness

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

I define forgiveness as the experience of peace and understanding that can be felt in the present moment. You forgive by challenging the rigid rules you have for other people’s behavior and by focusing your attention on the good things in your life as opposed to the bad. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting or denying that painful things occurred. Forgiveness is the powerful assertion that bad things will not ruin your today even though they may have spoiled your past.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. xii

Fuel for Growth

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

To soar above is to go beyond limits, to become greater, to become the most empowered and humane persons we can be. This, I believe, is the evolved function of pain: not to suffer or to identify with suffering but to grow beyond it. As we’ve seen, the natural function of pain is to motivate behavior that will heal, correct, and improve. The Adult brain uses pain as fuel for growth.

— Steven Stosny, Soar Above, p. 144

An Instinct for Forgiveness

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

“The natural response when someone hits you,” the Archbishop said, “is wanting to hit back. But why do we admire people who don’t choose revenge? It is our recognition of the fact that, yes, there are those who think an eye for an eye is going to satisfy you. But in the end you discover that an eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind. We have an instinct for revenge but also for forgiveness.”

— Archbishop Desmond Tutu, quoted by Douglas Abrams in The Book of Joy, p. 236

Destroying Sin

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Punishment, I repeat, is not the thing required of God, but the absolute destruction of sin. What better is the world, what better is the sinner, what better is God, what better is the truth, that the sinner should suffer — continue suffering to all eternity? Would there be less sin in the universe? Would there be any making-up for sin? Would it show God justified in doing what he knew would bring sin into the world, justified in making creatures he knew would sin? What setting-right would come of the sinner’s suffering? If justice demanded it, if suffering be the equivalent for sin, then the sinner must suffer, and God is bound to exact his suffering, and not pardon; and so the making of man was a tyrannical deed, a creative cruelty. But grant that the sinner has deserved to suffer, no amount of suffering is any atonement for his sin. To suffer to all eternity could not make up for one unjust word.

An unjust word is an eternally evil thing; nothing but God in my heart can cleanse me from the evil that uttered it. But it does not follow that I saw the evil of what I did so perfectly that eternal punishment for it would be just. Sorrow and confession and self-abasing love will make up for the evil word; suffering will not. For evil in the abstract, nothing can be done. It is eternally evil. But I may be saved from it by learning to loathe it, to hate it, to shrink from it with an eternal avoidance. The only vengeance worth having on sin is to make the sinner himself its executioner.

— George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, Third Series, “Justice,” quoted in Discovering the Character of God, p. 259