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Why Forgive?

by Johann Christoph Arnold

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From Publishers Weekly
Little more than a series of anecdotes, this quick read might not be noteworthy were it not for its profound and always timely subject matter. Arnold, a pastor and author whose admirers range from the evangelical Right to the secular Left, tells story after story of people who have forgiven despite unfathomable personal tragedy and a vengeful cultural climate. Readers may recognize many of these tales from Oprah, Guideposts and other purveyors of inspiration, but they are no less remarkable the second or even third time around. Despite the fact that he weaves so little analysis in between these anecdotes, Arnold manages to drive home several points that unequivocally answer his titular question, the most powerful of which is that no one, whether victim or perpetrator, can heal until forgiveness is granted. Not one to engage in long theological explorations, Arnold instead allows many of his subjects to speak for themselves in extended quotations, allowing insight into their desperate, brokenhearted rage. Some of these subjects, such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, ultimately choose not to forgive, while others describe a force beyond their conscious control that makes forgiveness inevitable. Arnold also writes about everyday forgiveness in marriage, families, communities and the workplace. In all cases, he reminds us that to forgive is neither to excuse nor to anesthetize ourselves from the pain that attends life and love, but rather to enter again into life's fray. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Independent Publisher, Linda J. Thorlakson
Arnold ventures beyond biblical cliches to delve into the hearts and minds of victims of unforgivable acts. Readers ache with pain, seethe with rage, and yearn for retribution only to watch in stunned disbelief as victims extend the hand of forgiveness to the enemy. As poignant and unique as each story is, their common bond is the revelation that the only way to move beyond the pain is to let go of the anger.

Independent Publisher, Linda J. Thorlakson
Arnold ventures beyond biblical cliches to delve into the hearts and minds of victims of unforgivable acts.

Book Description
Why Forgive? brings together incredible, true stories of ordinary people scarred by violence, who refused to let hatred control their lives. Together they create an irrefutable testimony to the power of forgiveness, one that will challenge, inspire, and encourage others wherever they are on the road to healing. Unlike other books on the subject, Why Forgive? doesnt preach or theorize. Instead, Arnold offers easily understood real-life accounts in which people who have earned the right to talk about forgiveness speak for themselves.

About the Author
Johann Christoph Arnold, a pastor and counselor, is known for his ability to make spiritual issues accessible to non-religious readers. His books on sexuality, marriage, raising children, facing death, and finding peace have sold over 175,000 copies in English and have been translated into many foreign languages.

Excerpted from Why Forgive? by Johann Christoph Arnold, Steve Chalke. Copyright © 2000. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved
From the foreword by Steve Chalke:

What do you do when your friend gives you a sawed-off shotgun? For Roger, this was an easy question to answer. He used it. And he says that if he had the chance, he'd use it again. Roger's entire life has become consumed by one unquenchable desire: avenging his daughter's death.

Sarah was out on her bike when she was hit by a drunk driver. She died almost instantly. There was no doubt about who was to blame, and the driver (who didn't have a valid license because of a previous drunk driving conviction) was sent to prison for manslaughter. But that wasn't enough for Roger. He borrowed a gun and - when the driver was released from prison - shot him, fully intending to kill him. So now the tables were turned, and Roger found himself charged with attempted murder and faced with the possibility of a long prison sentence. Astonishingly, he was found not guilty. Despite the fact that he had deliberately tried to take a man's life, the jury found his victim -who had never once shown the slightest remorse - so repulsive that they unanimously acquitted Roger. Even so, he wasn't satisfied: if anything, he was more determined than ever to avenge his daughter's death. I asked him if squeezing a trigger and watching a man collapse in agony made him feel any better. No, he said. Only killing him could make me feel better. I asked his wife, Cathy, how she felt. Her answer was even more chilling. I could never be happy if Roger killed him, she told me, because that would mean that I hadn't killed him. I need to pull that trigger myself. I need to see him dead, and know I'm responsible.

Sitting with them in their house, I was overwhelmed by their anger and pain, and by the horror of their ordeal. There was little doubt in my mind that justice had not been served by the light punishment given their daughter's killer: his self-centered callousness shocked me to the core. Yet I also couldn't help feeling that their continued bitterness over her death was compounding their misery. Having been through one hell, it seemed to me that their inability to forgive and let go was putting them through another. Day after day they were letting new hatred and resentment consume them. Was this really what their daughter would have wanted for them - this living hell that was destroying their lives, but which had no impact on that of her killer?



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