Forgiveness How-To Powerpoint: some good points, no bullet points


If you are looking to forgive– you’ve come to the right place.

That’s the twelfth accidental death in this damned circus,he exclaimed disgustedly.

                                      Circus of Horrors

This sequins and splatter novel by Tom Owen is based on a screenplay by George Baxt. (A deranged plastic surgeon hides out in a circus.)  It has nothing to do with forgiveness but is a fun read especially when accompanied by a raft of cheap lemon cookies from Jewel.

(see also Honk Honk, My Darling, a clown noir by James Finn Garner.)

More relevant forgiveness novel:  The Heir of Redclyffe by Charlotte Yonge.  Redemption.  Big-time.  Spoiler alert:  Nice guy (named Guy) dies.

It’s rare to forgive.  In 52 years, it’s happened maybe once.  I forgave.  I, in turn, was forgiven.  Forgiveness squared.  What was that like?  The best feeling in this whole wide terrible world.  The potpourri of emotions included:  Love, Kindness, Relief, and Bliss.  Sad to report, I am no longer on speaking terms with this person.

Forgiveness, it seems, has an expiration date.

Blanche DuBois (a fictional lady whose name translates to “White Woods” which tells us what, exactly?) said, “Deliberate cruelty is unforgiveable…”

Unfortunately for Blanche there’s a lot of deliberate cruelty going around.

Read Psalm 35.  “Prayer for Help Against Unjust Enemies.”  Linger over verse 8.

                    let them fall into the pit they have dug.”

This is The Quandary.  Should we choose Not To Forgive.  Emulate the Count of Monte Cristo and yell “One!” “Two!” “Three!”  as we despatch our enemies and watch them swiggling on the ground with blood pouring out of them.  That’s a very romantic scenario.  Polish up our grudges; arrange them nicely on the mantelpiece.  Sustain a spotless integrity, a tough justice.  Be resolute.

Frank Sinatra peed on the grave of a critic.

Downsides to Not Forgiving include bitterness, lengthy jail sentences, and, perhaps, an increasing insanity.

Now.  I am a fat, white-haired woman.  On the red line el last week, I stood near two 80-year old guys who sported blue and red baseball attire.  Cubs hats, T-shirts.  One guy eyed me and nudged his pal.

“There’s your new girlfriend,” he snickered.

“No, yours,” giggled the other.

I forgive these men.

But how about those really despicable crumb-buns who practiced Deliberate Cruelty on a daily basis and made me the star of my very own personal Neil LaBute play.  I will call all these people “Harry”.  None of them are named Harry.  They actually all have really stupid names.

That said, these “Harrys” could juggle lies, half truths, and whole truths in their heads when I can’t work at Subway because I am unable to hold two different sandwiches in my head.

TAO WISDOM:  “Return injury with greater kindness.”

Who is capable of this?  Beth March? Melanie Wilkes? Guy Morville?  Fictional characters.

A month ago, after I got off the Red line el to go home to my apartment– I saw that someone had spray-painted “FORGIVE” on the sidewalk.  Cursing, I crossed the street.  And?  The same person had spray-painted “FORGIVE” on the opposite sidewalk!  No avoiding it.


When T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) was a young sprout, his mom would chant “hate the sin, love the sinner” as she whipped him.  Later, when he was a grown man, T.E. paid some Scottish guy to whip him.

Did T.E.’s mom chant her aphorism in a monotonous tone or in an excited, enthusiastic way?  I bet she said the words then whipped him, said the words then whipped him, because it’s very hard to do two things at once.

Did the Scottish guy talk to T.E. during the paid beating or was he just your basic taciturn Scottish guy?


Forgiveness is strictly for yourself.  It has little to do with any of the jackasses who did you harm.

        Questions for Extra Credit

1)  Can’t I forgive and get credit for being nice and whatnot but still crave vindication and that others suffer?

2)  If people are mean does that constitute their punishment?

3)  How can I possibly forgive “Harry” when “Harry” isn’t the least bit sorry?


“Let God sort out the punishments for ALL of us later.”

Uh-huh.  But wouldn’t it be a good idea to have something concrete now?

Still struggling with forgiveness.


John E. Mack’s terrific biography of T.E. Lawrence, A Prince of Our Disorder, provided the information of what his mother said while she beat him.  Plus about paying the Scottish guy to beat him.  The paperback edition’s cover shows a lovely soulful painting of T.E. by Augustus John.

John Lahr’s Sinatra: The Artist and The Man had Frank’s peeing on a grave story.  And lots of other swell-egant elegant swingin’ anecdotes.



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