Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: forgiveness

“That’s Jesus”

washing_3262c-2“Whoever says, ‘I abide in him,’ ought to walk just as he walked.” (1 John 2:6)

A few days after baby J was born, I texted a photo of her to my cousin Jennifer. She texted me back telling me the conversation she had with her two-year-old, B.

Mom shows picture of Baby J to B

B points to picture and says, “Baby Jesus.”

Mom: “No, that’s baby J.”

B: “No, Mommy, that’s baby Jesus.”

When others look at us, who do they see?

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Guest Post: “I’m sorry. How Can I Help?”

by Rev. Lyndsie Blakely

“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over me. Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame; let them be shamed who are wantonly treacherous. Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long. Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me for your goodness’ sake, O Lord! Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.” (Psalm 25:1-10)

My two-year-old son has a new favorite show called “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” which is a spin off from “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.” It does a fantastic job of teaching morals and life lessons using little jingles that are sung over and over throughout the episode.

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Into the Woods (2014)

Into the Woods posterDisney brings the popular Broadway musical to the big screen doing very little harm to the story. Into the Woods is a mash-up of popular fairy tales, almost all of which have been animated features made by Disney. From the opening musical number, we learn that each character is wishing for something more. They are barely satisfied with the life they have.

They wish for more.

If you’re not familiar with the story, the plot centers around the Baker and his wife, wonderfully played by James Corden and Emily Blunt. The couple has sadly not been able to have a baby, the one thing they wish for the most in life. The Witch (Meryl Streep), who happens to live next door, explains that she is the cause of their infertility. It seems that in retaliation for something the Baker’s father did to her, she cursed the couple. She is, however, willing to reverse the curse if they collect four objects in three days:

‘The cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, and the slipper as pure as gold.’

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Scandal 3.12: We Do Not Touch the First Ladies

Fights, Coffee, and Forgiveness

Olivia and Fitz are fighting behind a door. Jake is outside with secret service, listening. They are fighting because, while they are still lovers, Fitz does not like Liv’s new “fake” boyfriend.  “He will try and fight me for you,” he tells Olivia, to which Olivia responds, “I’m not a prize to be won.” This leads to another Fitz loses his temper moment that has me wondering what’s up with Fitz.

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Guest Post: Mandela’s Legacy of Reconciliation

Neill Caldwell is editor of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate magazine.



In August, 1989, I was visiting London and discovered that my hotel was around the corner from the South African embassy. One day I saw a large group of people protesting outside the gates of the embassy against the South African government’s racist system of apartheid. I joined the rear fringe of the demonstration, mainly for the novelty of it, and among the things we chanted that day was “Free Mandela!” Although I’d heard of Nelson Mandela the year before when a huge tribute concert was organized in honor of his 70th birthday, I can’t honestly say I really knew who he was.

I had only met one person from South Africa, a student journalist who interned at the North Carolina newspaper where I was working. She was white, but was in favor of lifting the harsh laws against people of color in her homeland; laws that made our “Jim Crow” laws in the South seem tame. I only had a couple of conversations with her about apartheid, but considered her viewpoint – a white person willing to give away absolute political control to the black majority population – to be very enlightened.

Six months after my 15-minute protest in London, Mandela was in the news as it became apparent that the government was about to free him from prison. I remember artists making sketches of what Mandela might look like, as there had been no photos of him published in the 27 years he had languished in prison. That was pretty remarkable. Who was this man so many people were interested in seeing?

I remember his release, walking toward the media’s cameras and into freedom and with a huge crowd behind him. What a moment that was.

His election as the first black president of South Africa was even more amazing. That the election process, with more than two dozen presidential candidates, came off without violence was notable enough. But that a former inmate, who had been labeled a “terrorist” by his own government, the U.S. and Britain, was now in charge of the government that he had long worked to overthrow? If it was a Hollywood script it would have been rejected as too unbelievable.

Mandela was a complex man, a militant who enjoyed gardening and ballroom dancing. He said he was blessed with his father’s “stubborn sense of fairness.” After his schooling, including being the only native African in his law school class, Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC), forming the political organization’s youth branch with Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu. Mandela proposed a change in tactics in the anti-apartheid movement. Previously the ANC had sought to further its cause by petitions and protests; Mandela felt these actions were insufficient, and proposed more proactive tactics such as boycotts, acts of civil disobedience and strikes.

After police fired on an ANC protest in 1960, killing 69 in what became known as the Sharpeville Massacre, Mandela went underground, obtaining the nickname “Black Pimpernel” in the press for being able to travel the nation while in disguise to organize actions again the government. Frustrated by the lack of progress, Mandela formed an even more radicalized group to perform acts of sabotage against military bases, power plants and transportation links. He was arrested in 1962, convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1964.

It is Mandela’s prison years that make him remarkable. Sent to Robben Island, prisoners worked at hard labor during the day, breaking rocks into gravel or quarrying lime. He slept on a straw mat in a 7 by 8-foot cell; allowed one visit and one letter every six months, and no newspapers. But despite this, “Mandiba” thrived. He learned the Africaans language to better communicate with his jailers. He studied Islam, and organized “the University of Robben Island” where prisoners taught their areas of special expertise to other inmates (the original “Ted Talks?”).



He was eventually released in 1990, declaring his commitment to peace and reconciliation with the white minority government. After his election as president, he saw reconciliation as his primary agenda. His idea of “the Rainbow Nation” meant that everyone was to be included as part of the new system. President Mandela met with senior figures of the apartheid regime, sometimes over tea, saying that “courageous people do not fear forgiving.” He created the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate crimes committed under apartheid by both the government and people of color, appointing Archbishop Desmond Tutu as its chairperson. When his presidential term ended, he voiced his support for candidate Jacob Zuma, of the rival Zulu tribe, who was elected in a land side.

Finally, ten years ago at age 85 Mandela famously “retired from retirement” citing health reasons, telling the world “don’t call me; I will call you.”

There are qualities of his life that you could call downright … biblical. Certainly his “love your enemies” message resounds with Christians. Biographer Martin Meredith says he was always polite and courteous to everyone, irrespective of age or status, and often sought out the company of children or servants. Even while president, he insisted on making his own bed. He also liked to secretly drive a car with darkly tinted windows just to enjoy the pleasure of driving.

Mandela was far from perfect. He was a Marxist who learn much from the Communist activists he worked alongside, but did not become Communist himself because their atheism conflicted with his Methodist faith. Never a great public speaker, the content of his speeches, and his writing, are some of the most profound words of my lifetime. “I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances,” he said.

The thing to take away from the life of Nelson Mandela is his attitude toward those who sought to oppress him, marginalize him and strip away his basic human rights. He forgave them.

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