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April 15, 2009

How else am I going to live?

Art.marlee.matlin.cnn Actress Marlee Matlin appeared on Larry King Live Monday night and talked with Joy Behar (who was sitting in for King) about her new book and a long-ago abusive relationship with actor William Hurt, her co-star in Children of a Lesser God.

Behar: You're very nice to him in the book. You have an acknowledgment in the book for William Hurt.

Matlin: Look, he is a very good actor. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the work we had together. I was a fan of his before I met him.

Behar: But if he hasn't apologized and you still feel that he was very wrong in the way he behaved, why do you acknowledge ... ?

Matlin: If he apologized, I would forgive him, but I won't forget.

Behar: You won't forget, no. But you've forgiven him in this book, it seems to me.

Matlin: How else am I going to live? How else am I going to live? You have to try to find the heart to forgive.

That last line by Matlin reminded me of Catherine's book As We Forgive. Many of the survivors of Rwanda's genocide discovered that same truth. Catherine began writing her book on Rwanda as I was finishing up my book on children of divorce. That theme of forgiveness ran through both our manuscripts, and we had several discussions about why we forgive and how we forgive and what God requires and doesn't require of us in this whole process. There were no easy answers. 

One thing stands out to me. Whether it's an actress forgiving an abusive boyfriend, a genocide survivor forgiving the man who killed her family, or a young adult forgiving a parent for abandoning the family, seen from the outside forgiveness is one of those things that does not make sense, especially when the perpetrator has not asked forgiveness. And yet, for the person living with the deadness that accompanies pain, forgiving is often the only way back to real life.

(Image © CNN)

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I used to wonder why God would take the human equivalents of those fragile, fluted glass vases, pluck the roses from them, and use them to bail sewage. But finally, I understood the book of Ezekiel; we're built to be struck by powerful contrasts, especially those with a moral message. Your book, Kristine, as well as Catherine's and the postings here of other sensitive women who have seen or experienced horrors is, I think, a type of modern prophecy.

And there is powerful paradox in forgiveness.

Jason Taylor

Very few of us are called upon to forgive the perpetrators of genocide very often.

Many of us are called upon to forgive their school bully.

It is the unfortunate fact that Christianity does not stop at demanding spectacular acts of saintliness, but continues to ask for virtue in grubby day to day life. And in fact success in the former cannot be counted on unless success in the later has been learned.


Anyone who has raised teenagers can say, along with Pastor Warren, that it is challenging to respond to the statement "If you don't let me (fill in the blank with some behavior that is not only self-destructive, but hurts others as well), then you don't love me."

We are told repeatedly that we must accept the GLBT political agenda, or else we hate them. In fact, we're often confused about it ourselves.

I try to maintain relationships with the gay activists here at The Point. I do the same with the gays I know in my community. When they say that a vote on an.issue like gay marriage is a statement of personal animosity, I want to apologize - to attempt to repair the relationship. I don't believe a person can be reduced to an issue. (Brian, where *ARE* you, my friend?) I believe it's a lie that a person's worth can be reduced to even several issues.

I admit that an apology can sound like the compromise of one's convictions. (As my kids would say, "So I can go, then?" No, you can't. "BUT YOU JUST SAID... AUUUGH!") But I'm reasonably certain that's not what Pastor Warren did.

Gina Dalfonzo

Was that meant to go under the Daily Roundup, LeeQuod?


Ay, yes, Gina; thank you. I'm having browser issues today.

Gina Dalfonzo

You're welcome to repost it over there if you'd like. I'd move it for you if I could, but I don't think TypePad has that capability.


Typepad: great for ripostes, but clumsy for re-posts.

Gina Dalfonzo

Exactly. :-)

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