Tag: Forgiveness

Can Kevin McCarthy Ever Be Trusted?


A number of representatives have criticized Kevin McCarthy, and I think they have good reason not to trust him. He took the House Republican representatives for granted. He ignored their efforts to negotiate. And it appears in some cases that he lied to them. All of these outcomes are a big deal.

At the same time, we have to reflect on our own lives, our relationship to truthfulness, and our ability to forgive and move on. I know that there are people in my own life who have done hurtful things to me or others, and I have chosen not to forgive them. I take betrayal very seriously, and I will always be skeptical, if not cynical, in reviving a relationship with someone who has let me down. I have chosen in some cases to shut them out of my life, although there are very few who have violated our relationship to this degree. Nevertheless, the damage was done and I may have no reason to try to rebuild our connections.

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Tonight we will begin the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, known as the Jewish New Year but literally the “head of the year.” This Jewish month of Tishrei commemorates the day of creating man, and starts the Ten Days of Repentance preceding Yom Kippur. During this period, G-d determines whether, through our actions, we are to […]

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Student Debt Cancellation Is Constitutionally Infirm


In one of the most audacious acts of his presidency, President Biden recently issued a fact sheet offering “Student Loan Relief for Borrowers Who Need It Most.” To Biden, that group consists of all individuals who have received student loans but have not yet paid them off, with an exception for loan payments made during the pandemic. The president wants to give this group “breathing room as they prepare to start repaying loans after the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic.” The terms of the proposed loan forgiveness program are clear: the Department of Education will allow for $20,000 in debt relief to Pell Grant recipients—undergraduates with exceptional financial needs—and $10,000 for other students, so long as their individual income is under $125,000 per year (or $250,000 for a married couple). The plan also makes a number of technical adjustments that cut repayment rates for future loans.

The equity of this program has been under fierce attack for forcing the impending financial shortfall on the shoulders of individuals who have already repaid their loans, blue-collar workers who never took out loans, and the general taxpayer who already faces heavy rates. And the burden is no small thing: the Wharton financial model projects that the cancellation program will cost over $500 billion, and could jump to over a trillion dollars depending on future regulations and practices on both existing and new loans.

One might expect that a program of this magnitude would receive extensive congressional discussion followed by legislative approval. One would be disappointed. Here, the president is proceeding by executive order, which he claims is authorized under the HEROES Act of 2003 (an acronym for The Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act). Biden relied on an extensive memo by Christopher Schroeder, the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, an office within the Department of Justice that provides legal advice to the president and all executive branch agencies. The memo does not hold water. The key provision of the HEROES Act on which it relies reads:

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome what appears to be the Biden administration’s grudging admission that there won’t be a new Iran nuclear deal. They also hammer President Biden for reportedly getting ready to pander to his base through massive student loan forgiveness and explain who will really benefit. And they find the timing curious as Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey demands “algorithmic justice” after Elon Musk buys Twitter.

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I read this story in Crisis Magazine called “Anyplace But Home for the Holidays”, by John M. Grondelski.   I was deeply moved on so many levels. Here, in a nutshell, is described where we are as a society, that has gone from real to virtual.  To many, it’s a major inconvenience and “I’m just not […]

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Avoid the Pitfalls of Student Loan Forgiveness


One looming issue facing the incoming Biden administration is what to do with the $1.7 trillion in outstanding student loans, mostly held by the federal government. The most recent internal government analysis found that the United States will lose about $400 billion on its current portfolio of $1.37 trillion, a number likely to increase as the government continues to allocate about $100 billion per year in new student loans. Notably, that analysis did not include the roughly $150 billion in loans backed by the federal government but originated by private lenders.

By way of comparison, private lender losses on subprime loans in the residential lending market were about $535 billion during the 2008 crisis. The student loan and subprime mortgage crises share the same root cause: by statutory design, the government wished to expand both markets, such that loans were made with little or no examination of the borrowers’ creditworthiness. The meltdown of the residential home market arose because private lenders relied on the implicit federal loan guarantee. In the end, this practice pushed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the holders of weak mortgages, over the edge, and ultimately resulted in the wipeout of all the private common and preferred shareholders of the two companies.

Fortunately, the absence of private shareholders ensures that the student loan crisis is not likely to generate such chilling collateral consequences. But the problem of borrower defaults will not go away soon, given that the federal government continues to pump billions of dollars each year into student loans. Unfortunately, this constant infusion of new capital into the lending market is causing increases in college tuition that outstrip inflation, imposing additional costs on individuals who do not take out student loans, and raising the overall cost of education above competitive rates.

Taking My Faith Practice Deeper


As many of you know, I returned to Judaism several years ago, after falling away and practicing Zen Buddhism for many years. It has been a period of joy, questions, exploration, more questions, and discovering the path that brings me closer to G-d. Although I began to enjoy many parts of the practice, I would not have imagined learning so much; I can now recite the Amidah in Hebrew and actually understand it! It has become an early morning ritual, and I rest in the silence that surrounds me as I pray. I feel appreciated by my Torah partners; we share questions, our understanding, and our joy. My learning and writing journeys with @iWe have been remarkable. Even then, I still found myself doubting my commitment. It wasn’t that I wasn’t fully connected to Judaism and feeling G-d in my life, but why wasn’t I willing to do more?

At Yom Kippur this year, I finally realized I was asking the wrong question.

Quote of the Day: Forgiveness Is an Act of Will


“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” — Corrie Ten Boom

All of us can recall times in our lives when we’ve been wronged. Whether a hurt happened to us as a child, teenager, or adult, the pain can stay with us. We may have found it difficult, even impossible, to forgive the person who harmed us. Since the pain remains, we assume we are righteous in our anger and may refuse to let go of the incident.

As Corrie Ten Boom* suggests, we might have our strategy backward: to heal, we need to make the decision, the commitment, to let go of the hurt, not so much for the benefit of the other person, but to liberate ourselves; we may never free ourselves from the memory if we wait for our hearts to mend first. Our resentment feeds the hurt; even the mention of the other person’s name can feel like a stab to our hearts. So, if we wait for the pain to vanish to offer forgiveness, we may have a very long wait.

Rejecting Antiracism: Christian Conversations for Forgiveness and Reconciliation


I recently came upon the antiracism belief that individualism and merit are “racist.” Antiracists refer to them as “American white values.” The racializing of individualism and merit-based achievement seem to be exclusive to those who share the antiracist worldview. More and more people are eagerly embracing the tenets of critical race theory and antiracism as a public posture that exemplifies the noble pursuit of “racial justice.” I want to highlight what should be obvious– the fad of racializing everything, even a long-standing virtue as individual merit, is further eroding our already-fragile civic ties while trivializing real racism.

One of the problems with antiracism is its practice of condensing the complexity of unique individuality into shallow representations of “race.” This antiracist position refuses to see people– as people. There’s nothing distinctive about individuals in antiracism’s anthropological methodology. Antiracist ideological convictions demand advocates ignore the intrinsic worth of people in favor of a racialized preconception that divides people into two classes: oppressed, (blacks and other non-white “minorities”) and oppressors (white people). Shelby Steele called this reductionism a form of racial blindness. He wrote,

People who are in the grip of [racial blindness] … always miss the human being inside the black skin…Your color represents you in the mind of such people. They will have built a large part of their moral identity and, possibly, their politics around how they respond to your color. Thus, a part of them–the moral part–is invested not in you but in some idea of what your color means. And [if] they see you– the individual–they instantly call to mind this investment and determine, once again, to honor it. They are very likely proud of the way they have learned to relate to your color, proud of the moral magnanimity it gives them an opportunity to express.

Chad Benson grabs a stool for today’s Three Martini Lunch while Jim is away. Today, Chad and Greg briefly discuss the significance of President Trump becoming the first sitting president to address the March for Life. Then they get a kick out of learning that the House impeachment managers are successfully alienating the group of senators they can least afford to lose – GOP moderates. They also richly enjoy watching a dad who scrimped and saved to pay for his daughter’s college education dissect the progressive lunacy of Elizabeth Warren’s college debt forgiveness plan right to her face. And as Democrats and their media allies dig for dirt on a strengthening Bernie Sanders, they brace for a riveting fight over whether Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders was more racially insensitive in the 1970’s.

Surviving Thanksgiving and Black Friday


I love watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade while I prepare food. Loved Snoopy’s NASA outfit this year, and the cheerleaders, but not performing to a RuPaul song. Santa coming down past Macy’s is to me, the official kick-off.

I don’t know why, but my husband loves Black Friday. He says it gets him into the Christmas spirit to get out early, mingle with all the shoppers and find great deals – so we did that – again.

But let’s address “Thanks”-giving. Our gathering was really nice. My brother-in-law smoked a turkey breast on his smoker dashed with some Cajun seasoning. We had cornbread stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes, cobbler, and apple and pumpkin pies – a respectable Southern gathering, minus our last remaining parent. My mother-in-law passed in April, the week of Easter. This is the first year my husband, me and his family will have holidays without her or any parent.

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As a child, I was always intrigued by the fact that while Christ was dying on the cross, he managed to have conversations with the two thieves who were being crucified along with Him. Despite his massive suffering, he reassured Dismas, the good thief to let him know that He would help him achieve a […]

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Lights on Hilltops: Grace in Dallas


Lights on HilltopsThe remarkable courtroom events, following the sentencing of Amber Guyger to 10 years in prison for the murder of Botham Shem Jean, called to mind the similarly remarkable courtroom events in 2015 in South Carolina. These, together, called to mind the famous passage in the Gospels about lighted lamps. Politically aware readers will at least recall President Reagan talking about America as “a shining city on a hill.” In an era of oppressively negative news, we were reminded at the beginning of October 2019 that an individual can make a significant positive difference.

Christians were challenged by the faithful witness of a young man this past week. Brandt Jean is the brother of the man murdered in Dallas. Botham Jean had graduated with an accounting degree from Harding, a private Christian college, and was working for the accounting firm PwC.*  He was the first to speak in the victim impact statement phase, which comes immediately after the sentence (the time to be served) is pronounced. The sentencing phase follows the jury’s finding of guilt for one or more specified crimes.

The jury had given Amber Guyger 10 years. This is the top of the range for what she would have got if convicted of the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide with a firearm (mandatory 3rd-degree felony sentence, 2-10 years). This is also less than half what the prosecutor demanded for the murder conviction. The prosecutor had been playing to the identity left, crucial for election in very low turnout local elections. The prosecutor asked the jury to sentence Guyger to at least 28 years, one for each year of the age Botham Jean would be if Guyger had not been shot him in his apartment.

The Fifth Sunday of Lent: Saint Mary of Egypt


What is repentance? Can one truly repent if one has sinned greatly? Repentance is a turning back to God, and so long as we draw breath, no matter how low we may have sunk, we can turn back. But that turning back may be arduous and painful. On the final Sunday of Great Lent, we are reminded that, so long as we choose to repent, the door is open.

On the final Sunday of Great Lent, we commemorate Saint Mary of Egypt. The account of Saint Mary comes to us through Saint Sophronius of Jerusalem (himself an interesting figure in his own right), which he transcribed as it has been verbally passed down for perhaps a hundred years at that point. Mary was from Alexandria and had lived as a prostitute for 17 years, from the age of 12. Moreover, she claimed that she lived that way as much for pleasure as for the money.  Yet in a moment she changed.

She encountered a group of men about to sail for the Holy Land, so as to be in Jerusalem on the day of the Exaltation of the Cross. She had no money to pay for the journey but prostituted herself for the passage. Yet upon reaching Jerusalem, when she tried to enter the Holy Sepulchre with the others, she was barred from doing so, though not by any visible guards.  

Lent Part 2: The Triodion


In the first part I gave a brief overview of the services of the Orthodox Church that signal that Great Lent is not far off.  But these were still basically “regular” services.  In the three weeks and four Sundays before Great Lent, however, we enter into a new phase in the liturgy that carries all the way through Great And Holy Pascha (Easter), a phase that departs from the regular service orders and is called the Triodion (the canons chanted during this time originally had but three odes each, hence the term).  In the Orthodox Church, this is the most sacred and special time of year, far exceeding Christmas in its significance, and in the physical and spiritual preparation we undergo. 

However, we’re not quite there… yet.  There is something of a joke that I heard a priest say.  If Lent is a preparation for Pascha, the three weeks beforehand are a preparation for the preparation.   There are four rather special services, the first three of which each begin a week of this pre-preparation.  First there is the Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican, then the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, followed by Sunday of the Last Judgement, and concluding with the Sunday of Forgiveness.  As I heard another priest put it: these services are like your mother calling out to you to get inside as it’s getting dark.

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But I heard this in today’s sermon, and thought it was worth sharing: “Burning down others’ opinions doesn’t make us right. It makes us arsonists.” ― Bob Goff, Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People Preview Open

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Exorcising Valentine’s Day: It All Works Out in the End


Surgeon General’s Warning: This has feelings in it, and it’s personal. You’re probably better off reading @cliffordbrown. In fact, it’s a little creepy to think you’d want to know a stranger this well; but I’m going to do this anyway. Damn the torpedoes, no sleep ’til Hammersmith!

Most of us don’t wait as long as I did to finally grow the hell up. I’ve mostly been a responsible sort for much of my life, but that’s hardly a marker of adulthood. You can save for retirement and still be a wretched hedonist with no understanding of the grace of God or mercy for His creatures. That was me in my 30s: too much Ayn Rand, fetish clubs, and waking up hungover on the floor.

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As far as Christmas Carols go I’m mostly a fan of the old hymns. The older poetry had to conform to a stricter set of rules. You have to spend a lot more effort on your word choices when you’re constrained like that, and the effort shows in the quality of your writing. They also […]

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Musings of a Third-Generation Wagon Circler


Writing here at Ricochet last week, @KateBraestrup expressed her opinion that “even without the sixfold imprimatur of the FBI, it would be virtually impossible to make a circle of wagons tight enough to conceal the kind of lurid behavior that Kavanaugh has been accused of.” She continued: “It’s not that it doesn’t exist; rather, when it exists, people know about it. Louche, lascivious or predatory men (alcoholic or otherwise) over time become well-known for being so.” While I’m relieved Kavanaugh has been confirmed, and I dreaded the precedent that would have been set if he had not have been, I can’t agree that men’s wagon circles are virtually never this tight. I know because I’m part of more than one man’s wagon circle, as was my mother, and her mother before her. Three generations of conservative American women, all three with little inclination to laugh off predatory behavior as just “boys being boys” — and all three with just as little inclination to name and shame men for having stories like those alleged about Kavanaugh in their past.

Men become notorious for sexual predation by persisting in it for long periods of time, especially if they become shameless about it. One reason we caution youth to postpone sex is because immature sexual misadventures are often exploitative. As Mark Regnerus has documented in his books Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying and Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers, boys usually find it considerably easier than girls do to self-servingly and callously rationalize their “conquests,” even when they’ve had the moral formation to know better. Thank God that boys who should know better and don’t often mature into men who know better and do! Thank God that not everyone who has committed a sexual wrong in his past persists in that sort of misbehavior.

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Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins Sunday night. Unlike our secular New Year, it is the Jewish time for re-establishing our relationship with G-d and acknowledging His kingship. In addition, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, Jews are directed to ask for forgiveness of all those we have hurt, before […]

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