In these circumstances, when, if ever, would you offer forgiveness?
* Young men, driven by religious zealotry, murder your nephew.
I have faced both circumstances. The latter had to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, in which the son of one of my sisters perished as a passenger on the first plane to strike the World Trade Center.
What would forgiveness in such circumstances look like? What would it mean? Would it even be possible in the latter case, when the hijackers who committed the crime also died?
These are some of the difficult questions about forgiveness that my friend Doug Hundley and I plan to talk about in a weekend seminar in April at the Kirkridge Retreat Center in Pennsylvania. If you ever have struggled with either giving or receiving forgiveness, I hope you'll join us for "Should We Risk Forgiveness?". For details, including how to register, click here.
There are many, many easy answers when it comes to forgiveness, starting with the impossible and silly "Forgive and forget."
Serious religion requires more and offers more. We'll explore some of what religious traditions suggest (and maybe even require) we do about forgiveness and we'll look at the destructive consequences of carrying bitterness around with us.
If you know in your heart that you need time and space to wrestle with all this but you don't come join us, I may have trouble forgiving you.
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ANOTHER ROLE FOR FORGIVENESS
Wouldn't you know? Already many of the folks involved in the current shooting and bombing between Israel and the Gaza Strip are talking as if God is on their side. If you ask me, one of the few legitimate ways of dragging God into the picture in war is to seek divine forgiveness.