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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

NO ENEMY TO CONQUER-- A Book Review by Sutton


NO ENEMY TO CONQUER:      


FORGIVENESS IN AN 

UNFORGIVING WORLD

 By 

     Michael Henderson

Reviewed by

     Geoffrey W. Sutton


The foreword by The Dalai Lama exemplifies Henderson’s approach to the topic of forgiveness. The work is not an academic treatise but a collection of narratives, amassed as 
“dramatic evidence validating the power of forgiveness and personal reconciliation to affect national life.” 
A Nigerian Pentecostal pastor and an Imam transition from enemy combatants to allies via forgiveness. Hotspot stories from Northern Ireland and South Africa illustrate the power of reconciliation. Indians and Rwandans graduate from victimization to empowerment. British and Japanese warriors take responsibility to engender new relations. 

Following an illustration of a safe place, the Swiss project at Caux, the importance of listening and apologizing concludes this trove of collective wisdom. The lessons learned by those who forged opinions in the fires of hate and turned them into bridges to freedom are powerful narratives, which may serve as catalysts for forgiveness and reconciliation. 

Although most narratives focus more on reconciliation than forgiveness and conflate the concepts such that it is often unclear whether forgiveness or reconciliation is meant, they offer qualitative evidence that a mixture of courage and humility can infuse encounters with hope that persons of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds can forgive and reconcile.

Here are some quotes.

Dalai Lama foreword to the book xii

…compassion plays a key role because it is both the source of patience, tolerance, forgiveness, and all good qualities. If it is correct that qualities such as love, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness consists of, and it is also correct that compassion is both the source and the fruit of these qualities, then the more we are compassionate, the more we provide for our own happiness.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu p. 79
“When I talk of forgiveness, I mean the belief that you can come out the other side a better person. A better person than the one being consumed by anger and hatred. Remaining in that state locks you in a state of victimhood, making you almost dependent upon the perpetrator. If you can find it in yourself to forgive, you are no longer chained to the perpetrator. You can move on and even help the perpetrator to become a better person too.
The author on optimism and hope page 197 (afterword)
“There are many more stories out there that might help people be more optimistic about the future, a reality-based optimism that encourages greater participation. “Hope is the greatest weapon in the armory of the peacemakers.” Says William Morris, secretary-general of the Next Century Foundation.”
Although most narratives in the book focus more on reconciliation than forgiveness and conflate the concepts such that it is often unclear whether forgiveness or reconciliation is meant, they offer qualitative evidence that a mixture of courage and humility can infuse encounters with hope that persons of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds can forgive and reconcile.
Henderson, M. (2009). No enemy to conquer: Forgiveness in an unforgiving world. Waco, TX: Baylor.

Read more about forgiveness in Living Well available on AMAZON and other booksellers


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