Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Commandment to Forgive

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”John 15:12
If you are facing conflict in your personal life, your professional life, or in your church congregation, you are not alone!  There is division and dissension among Christians and in churches across the United States.   The key issue in every dispute is not whether conflict will happen, but how we will respond to it when it does happen.

Watts, The Good Samaritan, courtesy Wikimedia commons

Will we respond in love?

And, what does it mean, this commandment to  “love” one another?


As to what it means to “love one another,” consider first, Christ’s love for us.

Though a love that lays down its life for others is counterintuitive to human nature,  that expression of God’s love for us is the first model for how we are to love one another.

Following from that expression, we then observe how we are to treat others.   The Lamb of God has loved each of us sacrificially, paving the way for reconciliation between God and man.  We, in our personal relationships, are commanded to do likewise.

In Matthew 5:23-24, we are admonished not to approach the altar of God until we have become reconciled to our fellow humans:
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.  Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
And Jesus taught us to pray: "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."

These are not empty words, “as we forgive our debtors.”    Our extension of forgiveness – of compassion--  to others is a condition to being forgiven.   This fundamental attitude toward our fellow human – an attitude of love -- does not allow for ostracization, for "other" ness, for building walls and fences.

When we fail to forgive, we risk being like the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21 - 35.  This servant, after being forgiven a large debt, displayed a lack of compassion toward another who was indebted to him for a lesser amount.  In this parable, when the Master found out about the lack of compassion shown by the servant who had been forgiven so much, he had him thrown into prison and tortured until he repaid back every bit of his original debt.

Truly, the consequences that flow from our own hardness of heart toward those with whom we differ are the consequences we really need to fear.   For, how can we approach the throne of God to ask for forgiveness for our sin, when we fail to extend even a smaller measure of grace to those who have sinned against us?

This was cross posted from the web site Just Mediation, LLC, a resource for “helping people tackle problems without tackling each other.” 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Deliver Us From Evil?

The phrase, “deliver us from evil” may, perhaps, conjure up images of an active God plucking a passive self from circumstances of evil.  Is it possible, however, that this “delivery” might at times require our active involvement to deliver ourselves from the evil?  

This question brings to mind the famous quote, “God helps those who helps themselves.”  This quote, however,  is  not a Biblical quote at all.   Though it appeared in Benjamin Franklin’s text Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1757,  it has been traced further back than that, to Algernon Sydney, writing in 1698.   In contrast to this, Jesus in Matthew 5:39-40 seems to imply that we should not resist evil, when he says, “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.”

Is there any way, then, for  a Christian to take an active stand against evil?  If so, by what means? 

The way of nonviolence can give an answer.  In his book, Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King charts a courageous, middle course that requires our active engagement, as follows: 

"First, it must be emphasized that nonviolent resistance is not a method for cowards; it does resist.  . . . [W]hile the nonviolent resister is passive in the sense that he is not physically aggressive toward his opponent, his mind and emotions are always active, constantly seeking to persuade his opponent that he is wrong. The method is passive physically, but strongly active spiritually. It is not passive nonresistance to evil, it is active nonviolent resistance to evil [emphasis supplied].


MLK in study

(photo by Flip Schulke courtesy Time magazine)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Be An Extremist For Love


Today, as we celebrate in the USA the national day of remembrance of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I reflect upon his words, as penned in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail

But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label.


Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."


Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream."


Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus."


Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God."


And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience."


And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free."


And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . ."


So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?


In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment.


The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

How will you choose, today? 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Representative Giffords’s Prophetic Words

"Sarah Palin ... has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district and when people do that, they've gotta realize there are consequences to that action," Giffords told MSNBC in March.

The Kool Aid Pleadings

This week's exercise in blame throwing and blame shifting reminded me of "alternative pleading" taught in law school.*  The arguments I've heard this week go something like:

  1. I didn’t pour any Kool Aid.  (My speech did not advocate violence, even though I suggested we should make liberals afraid to come out of their houses.)
  2. If I did pour some Kool Aid, he didn’t drink it. (This guy was insane and violent speech had nothing to do with this.) video:  “lead the charge with bayonets”
  3. If he did drink some Kool Aid, you can't prove it was my Kool Aid that he drank.  (You can't prove that my hosting a target practice fundraiser had anything to do with this.)
  4. If he drank my Kool Aid, it was his fault (not mine) that he did.   (Guns don't kill people, people do. And by the way, if you argue this incident points to the need for gun control, I might exercise my Second Amendment Remedies.)
  5. I may pour Kool Aid, but it's not my intent that anyone drink it.  (I just say these things, people are supposed to know I don't mean them.) 
  6. If you accuse me of having anything to do with Kool Aid, you are making a personal attack on me, and I’m offended by that.  (I’m a victim of a left wing conspiracy, and I'm offended that you would insinuate that my hosting a target practice fund raiser and suggesting we "take aim" at Gifford would have any relation to this.) left wing conspiracy:
  7. Everyone pours and drinks Kool Aid, and that makes it okay to have a Kool Aid party.  (Everybody else uses violent language and gun metaphors, so why not me.)
  8. Kool Aid sells well, so that means it's healthy.  (Hey, this is good for my ratings, lets' go buy a Glock!)
  9. It's not Kool Aid, it's milk.  (They were surveyor marks!)

The fallacy of all these assertions is that none of them can make an immoral action into a moral one.  Two wrongs do not make a right.  Political speech that advocates violence is immoral, period.  That, at least, seems like a no brainer we should all be able to agree on.  Beyond this, where is the line between freedom of expression and advocacy of violence?   Well, here's a radical suggestion:  why not err on the side of caution? 


*Alternative pleading allows factually inconsistent claims to be asserted in the same pleadings, the classic example being "(1) I did not borrow the cooking pot.  (2) If I borrowed the cooking pot, I returned it.  (3) It's not your cooking pot." 

Women Negotiating Power

Wow, Ladies, this book has eight five star reviews.  I just ordered it.   

Friday, January 14, 2011

Nonviolent Revolution in Tunisia

is unfolding at this moment. 

tunisia revolution BBC photo

This image is on the web site  

Widespread demonstrations and unrest shut down government and forced the resignation of Tunisian President, the dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.  

Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi will assume power as Ali boards a plane for Europe. 

This is the 21st Century version of “Second Amendment Remedies”

Another successful nonviolent revolution. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Interdisciplinary Collaborative Divorce: Is It Right For Me?

You may have heard of a new way of doing divorce, called "interdisciplinary collaborative divorce". This article describes what collaborative divorce is, how it works, why it is better for most divorcing couples, and the few cases in which it is not appropriate.


Collaborative Divorce means divorce without adversarial litigation. This does not mean it is a divorce without argument and disagreement. You do not need to be wearing a halo to qualify. What you do need to do, ahead of time, is to agree not to go to court. That's right. You make a 100% commitment to stay at the bargaining table with your ex-spouse until everything is worked out.

How is this enforced? Through an agreement everyone signs ahead of time, stating that if either party goes to court, all professionals involved in the case will resign. This ensures that every professional in the case will be 100% devoted to helping you resolve your dispute without resort to litigation. No one will be bargaining with their fingers crossed behind their backs.

In a traditional divorce, the proceedings are viewed like a battle, with each party hiring a gladiator to go to war on their behalf. Collaborative Divorce is different. Neither party is seen as "evil" or as an "opponent" on a battlefield. The problem, rather, is to find ways to disentangle the couple's lives in ways that leave as little damage as possible and to enable them to continue to work together to parent (and grandparent) their children.

Removing adversarial litigation from the range of options keeps matters within the control of the divorcing couple, and it opens up more creative possibilities for addressing conflict. There is a saying that when the only tool you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail. Litigation is like a hammer. It is but one tool out of many that can be used to resolve disputes. When the hammer is removed from the conflict resolution professional's toolbox, a wide variety of other tools are used to take its place. Drills and screwdrivers come out of the closet, jigsaws take the place of saber saws, and solutions are carefully custom tailored to fit the parties' needs more exactly than could be done with a hammer.

How? Through use of Interest Based Negotiation and through use of a network of neutral collaborative professionals who apply their expertise to help the divorcing couple.


In Collaborative Divorce, each party chooses his or her own attorney to represent and guide that party through the process. The first meeting between parties and each of their attorneys is called a "Four Way Meeting". At this meeting, the issues and needs are discussed. Then, the parties and their attorneys decide what other professionals -- all neutral, collaboratively trained professionals, as well -- will be utilized to assist in resolution of the case. Accountants, child specialists, divorce coaches, appraisers, vocational rehab experts, may all be used depending on the needs of the parties. In a litigated divorce, resources are first put into the "Discovery" process (Interrogatories, Requests to Admit, and Depositions) to obtain information. In collaborative divorce, the parties agree to full disclosure and then put their resources into obtaining the neutral, professional help they both need to secure a fair outcome.

Once the facts are all on the table, the parties are able to engage in interest-based negotiation to work out solutions that are fair and meet the true needs of both sides. The goal of interest based negotiation is to enable the true needs and interests of the parties to be met. Parties remain in complete control of their agreement and can tailor it to reflect both their unique situation and their individual values and priorities.


Put simply, Collaborative Divorce invests in the family rather than in conflict. Instead of pouring precious family resources into litigation which builds walls and fences, private decisions are kept private, and resources are poured into solutions that help the family, such as a financial plan, a parenting plan, career planning, and fair division of assets. Studies show that couples are generally happier with collaborative divorce, that collaborative divorce is significantly less expensive than litigated divorce, and that all but a small fraction of cases do settle through the collaborative process.


Collaborative Divorce requires a commitment to fairness and full disclosure. If either party is not so committed, the force of the law may be needed. Any questions or concerns should be discussed more fully with your collaboratively trained attorney before making the decision to engage in a Collaborative Divorce.


Learn more about collaborative divorce, and locate collaboratively certified professionals, through the web site of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.   The author of this blog is a collaborative professional who represents parties in collaborative divorce.  For more information, you may also refer to her professional web site, Just Mediation, LLC

Psalm 46:9

“He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.” 

2010 10 08 chicago 108

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why Does My Spouse Abuse Me?

It doesn't matter why, you may never know. Some people get their thrill from hurting another person and causing pain. Others just use the abuse as a way of getting their way. Think about it. No matter what form the abuse takes -- physical, mental, emotional -- it always involves getting power over another person, through fear and intimidation. For this reason, most experts do not distinguish between different "types" of abuse. Abuse is abuse, and it is all bad.

Additionally, it doesn't do any good for the victim to ponder over what they did that caused it, or to wonder why the other person does it. No matter why it happens, the fact is that it does happen. And when it does, it usually gets worse over time. In fact, a large percentage of the murders in this country are the result of spousal abuse. The only thing a victim needs to know is that it will not get better, without drastic action and professional intervention. The most important thing for a victim to di is to get to safety.  

If abuse has happened to you, get help, and the sooner the better. The best number to call is the National Domestic Violence Hotline ( 1-800-799-SAFE ) because their web site will flick to another site quickly if needed. An abuser is often controlling and seeks power over you. Your home computer may not be safe to use because your browsing history may be monitored. You may be able to use a library computer or go to a library and read in a book to learn more about abuse. It happens in every socio-economic group.

Leaving an abusive relationship takes a lot of courage.  Many victims leave everything behind.  In fact, the most dangerous time for a victim (usually but not always a woman) is when she attempts to leave.  If possible, get expert help from your local abused women's group.  (You can get a referral to your local women’s shelter from the National Domestic Abuse Hotline.)  If you have children, you also should consult with an attorney as soon as possible concerning child custody issues.  An abused woman fleeing abuse can often “look” to an outsider like an unstable person.  In the short term, do what you need to keep safe.  In the long run, these bigger issues and building a new, more stable life must also be a concern. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Translation of Guantanamera from Spanish to English to Chinese

30 March 2009
The song Guantanamera is a Cuban folk song.  It is based on the poem Cultivo Una Rosa Blanca by the poet and hero of the Cuban revolution, .  It's a song of revolution, as well as a song of peace.  Marti wrote:  "Life on earth is a hand-to-hand mortal combat... between the law of love and the law of hate" (letter dated 1881). 
I created this hermeneutic translation a year ago.  I re-post it now for benefit of my Chinese friends who would like a translation of the song from Spanish to Chinese (Zhongwen).  On this 50th anniversary of Chinese rule of Tibet, I post it as a reminder that Revolution can come in many ways, sometimes through cultivation of a white rose. 


Guajira Guantanamera
Guajira Guantanamera

[Guantanamera means a song of Guantanamo
Guantanamo is a town on the Eastern coast of Cuba
Guajira is slang for a peasant from the countryside
Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crecen las palmas
Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crecen las palmas
Y antes de morirme quiero
Echar mis versos del alma
I am a sincere man from where the palm trees grow
I am a simple man
from the land of palm trees.
And before I die,
I want to pour out these verses that flow from my soul
Mi verso es de un verde claro
Y de un carmin encendido
Mi verso es de un verde claro
Y de un carmin encendido
Mi verso es un ciervo herido
Que busca en el monte amparo
My verses are brilliant green, and also fiery crimson; my poems are clear green, and also flaming carmine; My poems are like a wounded fawn seeking refuge in the forested mountains;
Cultivo la rosa blanca
En junio como en enero
Qultivo la rosa blanca
En junio como en enero
Para el amigo sincero
Que me da su mano franca
I cultivate a white rose in June and in January; I cultivate a white rose, in June and in January, for my true friend who lends me his steady hand

我耕种白色 玫瑰花
我耕种白色 玫瑰花
Y para el cruel que me arranca
El corazon con que vivo
Y para el cruel que me arranca
El corazon con que vivo
Cardo ni ortiga cultivo
Cultivo la rosa Blanca
And for the cruel one who would break my heart; And for the cruel one who would pluck out my living heart, I cultivate neither thistles nor nettles; I cultivate a white rose

Con los pobres de la tierra
Quiero yo mi suerte echar
Con los pobres de la tierra
Quiero yo mi suerte echar
El arroyo de la sierra
Me complace mas que el mar
With the poor people of this earth, I cast my lot; With the poor people of this earth, I throw my fate, for the brooks of the mountains please me more than the sea

我一起安置我的命运, 因为

For more, see my Original Post

For more, see my Original Post
For more, see my Original Post