On the evening of June 27th of this year, Dylan Roof, a 21 year-old ninth grade dropout, slipped through a side door at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charlston, South Carolina. He sat down in a bible study class with a dozen congregants, listened for a bit, then stood up and shot. Nine people were killed.
A long article in this week's New Yorker explores the reactions of the community, including relatives of the deceased, to this triagedy. What surprised me was a general feeling of forgiveness. That is what their faith is all about.
Typical is a statement to Root by Nadine Collier, whose mother was killed. "I will never get talk to her again. I will never get to hold her again, but I forgive you, and have mercy on your soul. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. But God forgives you and I forgive you."
My God, the one who was assigned to me, Jehovah, is not so forgiving. In fact he is easily pissed off and at such times, watch out below! Just ask the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, or the ones who didn't make it to the ark, or the Egyptian parents who found their first born slain.
Frankly, I think Nadine's God is a bit of a whimp. I would never forgive someone who murdered someone I love. On the other hand, I find Jehovah too testy. If he does't get his way, OMG, it's disaster.
There is a middle way. What we need is a Czar of Forgiveness. Someone who has been around the block and has acquired understanding and compassion on top of a keen intelligence and a willingness to set examples so that potential sinners might be deterred.
Someone like me. Look, I invented the job; I deserve it. To give you an idea of my regime, I would not forgive Dylan Roof, but I would have forgiven Bill Clinton.
Who you got better?