Friday, September 29, 2006


In this way we differ from all the animals. It is not our capacity to think that makes us different, but our capacity to repent, and to forgive. Only humans can perform that most unnatural act, and by doing so only they can develop relationships that transcend the relentless law of nature.

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

On October 10th I am beginning a study group on the subject of forgiveness. It's probably because of my preparation that I'm noticing that anger, apologies, hatred, forgiveness, alienation, retaliation, reconciliation, are all themes that show up on almost a daily basis in the news. Yesterday the head of the RCM Police in Canada apologized to Maher Arar for their part in his nightmarish suffering at the hands of the Syrians. Will Arar forgive them? Should he?

One of my favourite books on the subject of forgiveness is Helping People Forgive by David Augsburger. Augsburger says that forgiveness is a bridge which must bear weight under the coming and going of life. It's a helpful metaphor for me. All religions speak of forgiveness and Christianity focusses on the forgiving love of Jesus. But that forgiveness can't be flimsily constructed or it will fall to the ground.