Can we forgive?

eraser my faults.JPG

We don’t buy many souvenirs when we are traveling, we used to, but not now. The stuff we got just hung around and the guilt associated with getting ride of the things was too high to make it worth the effort. Therefore, the stuff gathers dust and takes up space. Occasionally we buy a deck of playing cards which are consumed at a relatively high pace when we play some of the competitive card games popular at our house, especially “Pounce!” A nativity set is enticing, but se already have so many so they are even less interesting than the used to be.

On our ecumenical dialogue trip in January I found the perfect souvenir. It was useful, an eraser. It was interesting, it had a label in Latin on it. It was about forgiveness, at least self forgiveness. It was the first three words of a famous saying, “To err is human, to forgive divine.” I bought two of them. One was a gift, the other has been hanging around my desk at work.

I have picked it up and turned it over and over in my hands recently. It is true. As I sometimes hear,
”people are highly overrated.” People are a sinful mess and sometimes the mess is very messy. What should I do about it in the moments when the fractures and flaws become common knowledge? What do I do about the musicians who’s lives have been revealed as deeply sinful? What do I do when one of my mentors, a pastor, Bill Hybels is shown to be deeply flawed? What am I supposed to think when a politician’s personal life so deeply reveals an aversion for the ways of God? What am I to do with the legacy of our founding fathers like Jefferson who had children by an enslaved women and then sold the child away into bondage? What happens when the director of the movies I like reveals himself to be calouse to the pain and brokenness of the world making fun of the abuse of women and children?

Do I listen to the music or try to eradicate from my world? Should I try to get it eradicated from the whole world? Can I listen to Bill any longer? Can I support the politician? Can I cherish the words of the Declaration of Independence? Can I watch Guardians of the Galaxy? What are we to do with the obviously sinful? Should I just make sure I stay naive and never look under the hood of people’s lives. At least that way, I don’t have to trouble my conscience with these pesky questions.

James Gunn was given his director’s job back this week. Disney said,

The social media messages were indefensible, but the filmmaker never did anything but blame himself for poor judgment displayed at a time when he was emerging from [film school] and attempting to be a provocateur. There were no reports that Gunn ever engaged in the behavior he lampooned. Unlike the defensive posture exhibited by Kevin Hart that led him to skip hosting the Oscars, Gunn fell on his sword early and often and never lashed out at Disney. ) March 15, 2019.

Honesty, the lack of blame, clarity . . . we might call it repentance was the thing that helped. I’m still working out a system for evaluating what I will and will not consume from the obviously broken (I just fooling myself that there is anyone who is actually unbroken), but obvious repentance makes a difference. Now I just have to figure out what to do with those who are dead, or silent, or deluded into thinking they are without fault. What do I do without honesty? This is what consumes my mind when I pick up my eraser.