Sunday, September 4, 2011


In church today, after our associate pastor said she would beat me up (seriously), she challenged the congregation to consider forgiveness as our ability to remain who we are despite what is done to us, and to apply that consideration to the events of ten years ago next Sunday.

Yes, it is that time.

In any event, the idea of forgiveness as remaining who one is despite what one endures is somewhat problematic in my mind.  Certainly, I understand the thrust of the discussion; it is incumbent upon us to hold to what we know is right, to act as we know we ought to act, regardless of what others do or have done to us.  And it is true, from a purely logical sense, that past performance is not an absolutely certain indication of current or future action.

The idea is one that is familiar to me from my study of aikido.  One of the instructors at the New York Aikikai has repeatedly stated that nage, the person performing the technique, should perform the technique not worrying about uke, the person who receives the technique, but about the technique itself.*  That is to say, nage acts without real regard to uke to dissipate any aggression that may be present--something much like passing peace along, really, and something I am hardly the first to notice.**

On the other hand, experience is the primary teacher; we know what we know because of what has happened to us.  What we have endured is the very thing that tells us what is or is not right in a given situation.  It seems to me, therefore, that it is not possible to act without regard to it, and so I am faced with the frightening idea that forgiveness is not possible.  Yet it is an article of faith for me as a Methodist that it is not only possible, but it is freely offered and ought to be by all of us.

Is the contradiction one, then, that requires the Almighty to resolve?  Is it merely an issue of my incomplete understanding? (I know that it is partly that, at least; my concern is that it is wholly that.)  Is it an issue of the offered definition being--I apologize, Reverend--incomplete or inaccurate?

I believe that faith should not be easy, that that which is struggled for is more valuable, and so I appreciate the challenge for consideration that the pastor presented.

I am not sure how to feel about the one for the fight.

*Insofar as there ought to be any worry about the technique itself.  Diligent practice, however, ought to ensure that there is not any actual thought given to the technique as it is performed; having to think about it slows it down and results in nage getting hit in the face or something similarly undesirable.

**I recall reading a comment by O-Sensei to that effect, although I cannot recall where.

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