Tag Archives: mercy


A conversation with an individual whose privacy I will respect has inspired me to post a poem I wrote about 10 years ago. I was either a senior in high school or a freshman in college. It's not likely to be confused with the works of Robert Service, but I've written worse.


No, I will not let you.
I cannot let you.

Don't make me hate you.

Hate is too bitter.
It hurts to burn with fury,
Boiling in discontent.

I mourn a loss:
The loss of the sweetness of friendship.
Kindness has the cool beauty of the calm sea.
But I fear that when the fires of anger die,
Cool comfort will not remain.

Instead, there'll be a cold to chill the soul
And a silence like death.

Frozen hearts shatter.
And not even the warmth of the sun
Can repair the damage.

No, I will not hate you.

I would sooner die.

An Overdue Apology

As stated in an earlier post, I owe some people an apology. Before I make good on my promise, I must apologize for taking so long. I probably could have whipped up something quick, but I thought it better to put time and consideration into my words. It would have been a shame if in my haste I inadvertently offended again.

I think the easiest way for me to do this is to step through comments that I worded poorly and say what I should have said.

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Consistent Life Ethic

On Friday, CNN published a brief article describing the differences between John F. Kennedy and John F. Kerry in the eyes of Catholic voters. The moral of the story is pretty obvious at this point. Namely, more observant Catholics favored Bush by 13 points because of his conservative stances on social issues like abortion. What hasn't been so obvious is this.

"Only 29 percent of churchgoing Catholics favor the death penalty for murder. Among less observant Catholics, nearly two-thirds support the death penalty."

This took me very much by surprise and should have surprised the author as well. I had to re-read it a couple times for it to sink in. Opposition to the death penalty is something more often associated with the left side of the spectrum, with the occasional moderate exception, such as myself. There's a known correlation, which the article mentions, between regular church attendance and support for conservative causes. Why, then, do so many wishy-washy Catholics support the death penalty?

I think the author wrote the wrong story – the less interesting one.

Thoughts? Comments?

Mirror of Sin

My grandfather used to say that the habits or faults of other people that annoy us the most may be ones we are also guilty of. I guess that was his atheistic Quaker version of Luke 6:41. I am very often reminded of that lesson and it has been an important part of my maturation process and growth in faith. It's a lesson I have to relearn over and over again. It's painful, the saying true – no pain, no gain.

There are times (too many to count) God puts me in a situation in which I find myself correcting someone for a fault I too am guilty of. Sometimes I get sort of a "spider sense" feeling as I reprove a friend, knowing all the while that I'll learn Pop-pop's lesson before I'm through. Other times, I'm too blinded by my own self-righteousness to see what's coming. It's a very humbling a experience either way.

I'm writing about this now because events of yesterday and today have re-taught me that lesson. This morning, I was looking for an explanation of the sin of detraction. I found one and proceeded to read it, ready to copy and paste the bits that would help me correct a friend of mine. As I read the definition, I got a sick feeling in my stomach. I realized that I'd been guilty of detraction on numerous occasions and didn't even think it might be sinful.

Detraction is related to calumny, which most Jews and Christians would recognize as breaking the commandment to not bear false witness against a neighbor. Usually we know when we're committing calumny. Detraction is a sin that doesn't get much mention in Christian circles, but it should. Here's part of the definition of detraction. Examine your heart.

(From Latin detrahere, to take away).

Detraction is the unjust damaging of another's good name by the revelation of some fault or crime of which that other is really guilty or at any rate is seriously believed to be guilty by the defamer. An important difference between detraction and calumny is at once apparent. The calumniator says what he knows to be false, whilst the detractor narrates what he at least honestly thinks is true. Detraction in a general sense is a mortal sin, as being a violation of the virtue not only of charity but also of justice.


Those who abet another's defamation in a matter of moment by directly or indirectly inciting or encouraging the principal in the case are guilty of grievous injustice. When, however, one's attitude is simply a passive one, i.e. that of a mere listener, prescinding from any interior satisfaction at the blackening of another's good name, ordinarily the sin is not mortal unless one happens to be a superior. The reason is that private persons are seldom obliged to administer fraternal correction under pain of mortal sin (see CORRECTION, FRATERNAL). The detractor having violated an unimpeachable right of another is bound to restitution. He must do his best to put back the one whom he has thus outraged in possession of the fair fame which the latter hitherto enjoyed. He must likewise make good whatever other loss he in some measure foresaw his victim would sustain as a result of this unfair defamation, such as damage measurable in terms of money. The obligation in either instance is perfectly clear. The method of discharging this plain duty is not so obvious in the first case. In fact, since the thing alleged is assumed to be true, it cannot be formally taken back, and some of the suggestions of theologians as to the style of reparation are more ingenious than satisfactory. Generally the only thing that can be done is to bide one's time until an occasion presents itself for a favorable characterization of the person defamed. The obligation of the detractor to make compensation for pecuniary loss and the like is not only personal but becomes a burden on his heirs as well.

Read the rest of the definition here.

Update 09/21/06: I now know that my grandfather was paraphrasing a line from Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier's "The Chapel of the Hermits".

 "Search thine own heart. What paineth thee in others in thyself may be."

“Take heed that you are not consumed by one another”

Sean Herriott, of Meet Joe Convert, reminded me of an important topic for Christian bloggers that I’ve mentioned before.

"A sense of superiority –my own need to be right — can actually be completely divorced from truth, and still give one the euphoric feeling that God is on their side. I’m sorry to say that I’ve justified things to myself — and to others — that were not only wrong, but harmful and destructive. I’ve tried to persuade myself and people I knew that my way was right, even when it clearly wasn’t."

In response to the increasing influence blogs are having on culture, Christians must be more vigilant of their true motives and the impressions they make on their fellow man. I’ve seen some ugly back-biting on Christian blogs, much of it perpetrated against fellow Christians. What kind of message does this send to nonChristians? Rey, of The Bible Archive, is also concerned about this.

"For some reason, when people go online and put on the veil of anonymity they tend to ignore any of the rules that govern common society. Civility gives way to sarcasm. Patience gives way to brevity. The tongue is fully unleashed through the fingertips and the typist revels in his own wisdom."

"Brothers and Sisters, this should not be the case with we who believe! We are in the world, yes, but we are not of the world. We are to remain different from the world, keeping the flavor of our profession before men — otherwise what use are we? We must not appear like other men, who professing to be wise do horrendous things in the name of their wisdom, following their own so-called knowledge and desires. Let us stand apart from the crowd evidencing the light of the life of Christ within us. This light is not to be hid, but to shine — not so much the light of ‘my-knowledge’ or self-proclaimed wisdom but the love of Christ that abides in those who are saved."

"Fellow brothers and sisters, I beg you, control your tongues in this public forum. Those words you type are your only testimony here in the virtual world. It is your only tangible evidence of Christ in you — why trample it underfoot and unleash all those prohibitions that are so evident in scripture?"

"I don’t speak of ‘testimony’ only towards those who are in the world. I imagine if they stumbled on one of these sites and saw the way that Christians call each other everything from ‘unwise’ to ‘blaspheming heretic worthy of hellfire’ they would sit in their scorn saying ‘ah, they’re no better than me.’ This is sad in itself. Rather I speak of the fellow believers who may not be as strong as the rest of you. Christ spoke of washing each others’ feet not simply in keeping each other’s doctrine or walk pure, but in loving each other as Christ Himself has loved us, set aside the joy that was before Him and humbly gave Himself for us. "

I now humbly request my fellow Godbloggers to write about this serious issue from their own perspectives. My readership is loyal, but small. This issue must be dealt with by all bloggers who call themselves Christians. The more voices denouncing enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, and the like and enouraging love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, the better.