Forgiveness has been a struggle since the Garden of Eden, so it’s no surprise authors find a never-ending readership for books on the subject. From memoir to how-to, six new books on forgiveness are being published this spring.
Nobel Peace Prize-winner Bishop Desmond Tutu is, to many, the face of forgiveness for his reconciliatory work after the toppling of apartheid. Mark Tauber, publisher at HarperOne, realized that Tutu had never written a prescriptive on the topic and pitched the idea to him and his daughter, the Rev. Mpho Tutu. The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World (April) delivers a clear plan, Tauber says, offering steps for answering the question, “How do I forgive?” with guidance for the reader along the way. The book combines Tutu’s global perspective with his daughter’s more personal reflections. Of Bishop Tutu, Tauber says, “I have about five heroes in my life, and he is one of them.”
When Kathy Sanders lost her two grandsons in the Oklahoma City bombing, she became a face for the victims. But the tragedy made her question her faith and seek answers. Now You See Me: How I Forgave the Unforgivable (FaithWords, April) recounts the quest that took her to a cult compound, a maximum security prison, meetings with the Aryan Nations, and into unexpected friendships with the bombers’ families. “I found that as I prayed for [Terry] Nichols and his family, I was finding it easier to sleep at night, and I began to realize that forgiving Nichols was a lot easier than hating him,” Sanders writes.
Growing up in the church doesn’t mean you don’t have to learn to forgive. Cheryl Brodersen’s father was Chuck Smith, one of the leaders in the Jesus Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s, who was succeeded as founding pastor of Calvary Chapel by Brodersen’s husband. In When a Woman Chooses to Forgive: Finding Freedom in Letting Go (Harvest House, April) Brodersen tells true stories of those who have struggled with forgiveness, and writes about how hurts can be unintentional. She includes eight misconceptions to remind readers that forgiving doesn’t always eliminate the problems that required it in the first place.
Writer and speaker Leslie Leyland Fields and clinical psychologist Jill Hubbard tackle Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers: Finding Freedom from Hurt and Hate (Thomas Nelson, Jan.). Hurts are passed down through generations, Fields says, and acknowledging anger is necessary to move forward, but so is putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and asking “What was life like for them?” Writing about her own experiences, as well as telling 30 stories of others struggling to forgive their parents, Fields points out that those of us who have been hurt see ourselves as the victim in the Good Samaritan parable, lying on the ground injured, but on the other side of the road, the person who hurt us also is “lying there broken and beaten. Once we come to a place of empathy, we’re on the way to forgiveness.” Hubbard fills out the narrative with clinic expertise and study questions.
Paul Farren, a young Irish priest, offers passionate reflections on confession and the sacrament of reconciliation in Freedom and Forgiveness: A Fresh Look at the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Paraclete, May). Reconciliation is perhaps the least understood and least practiced of the sacraments, Paraclete publisher Jon M. Sweeney says. Farren offers a fresh theological approach, writing that confession isn’t just about telling what you did wrong, but about restoring relationship and friendship with God. “It has psychological and spiritual value as well as the sacramental value the church says it has,” says Sweeney.
Pope Francis is “helping our marketing effort,” Sweeney quips. The popular pontiff recently expressed hopes that Catholics would again desire the sacrament of reconciliation.