Generals are in the news. David Petraeus, who resigned as CIA chief, and John Allen, who denies any inappropriate behavior, confirm the plain fact that emails are not private. The military heroes stimulate our thinking as we ask, What were they thinking?
God is Mind, many priests and philosophers affirm. God is Mind, not Brain. People need brains (and feet and fingers and the bodies to which those things are attached). God doesn’t. Mind is reliable. The brain isn’t, even though it provides a place for the human mind.
We approach God, Mind, Father, Spirit, Mother, the only way we can, through prayers and other thoughts. We don’t always recognize Mind’s answers. We pray for good health, and don’t notice that God has already given us the wholeness of loving friends and families.
Sometimes we make deals. I was invited to dinner at the home of a physician, his wife and their teenage children. The wife’s knife and fork stayed in place, because she ate nothing. Years before she had promised God that if one of her children survived a frightening condition she would deny herself the pleasure of sharing dinners with her family for the rest of her life. The deal concept is familiar to students at exam time.
The mom who gave up dining with her family kept her promise, but many deals with the Almighty evaporate in the mist of resolutions, diets and exercise plans.
Christians have offered a trillion promises to forgive others the way they want God to forgive them. It is right there in the heart of the most famous of prayers: Our Father who art in heaven…forgive us…as we forgive.
Having lived a long time, and having offended many, I have a substantial stake in the way humans think about forgiveness.
Accounts I hear are not reassuring. Forgiveness is scorned in families, where you might think it would have its greatest strength. Think of the moms whose unresolved anger leads them to keep their offspring away from grandparents who love them. Think of the brothers who have not spoken to each other for a decade. Such folks have immersed themselves in icy mindlessness, mocking God and committing perjury each time they mumble the Lord’s Prayer.
Forgiveness is an enabler of reform. Cheaters, stealers, liars, gossipers, killers, persecutors and predators challenge religious believers especially to show them ways to reform and renewal. Forgiveness of offensive behavior does not erase it, but it does encourage rewriting it.