How faith can help and hinder forgiveness
Former first lady Laura Bush was involved in a car accident which claimed a friend's life when she was a teenager.
June 24th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

How faith can help and hinder forgiveness

By Todd Leopold, CNN

(CNN) – When you can’t forgive yourself, it’s easy to lose faith in a higher power. It happened to no less than former first lady Laura Bush.

In November 1963, two days after she turned 17, the then Laura Welch was driving on a highway on the outskirts of Midland, Texas. Unaware of a stop sign at an approaching intersection, she plowed into a car being driven by a good friend from high school, Mike Douglas. She was unhurt; Douglas was killed. She recalled the incident in her memoir, “Spoken from the Heart.”

After the crash, she remembers saying, "Please, God, please, God, you know, let him be OK," she told CNN’s Larry King in an interview last year. “And you know,” she told King, “it was like no one heard.” She lost her faith for many years.

“I dealt with it by trying not to think about it,” she said. “You just swallowed your troubles and went on.”

In his recent book, “Half a Life,” author Darin Strauss relates a similar incident – he ran into a cyclist, killing her, when he was 18 – and the difficulty he had in coming to terms with its enormity.

When I asked Strauss if he'd appealed to faith or a higher power when coping with the accident, he said he'd never considered it: he was raised in a secular household and thought himself "too meek to shake a fist at God."

But for those raised in a religious tradition, it's a logical step.

Indeed, one way of coping, says Gregory LaDue, a therapist and Methodist minister based in San Diego, is to get angry at God.

“The randomness of the world is there whether you believe in God or not,” he says. “But I’ve had people who come out of a faith tradition who got angry – really pissed – shook their fist at God and said, ‘F- you’ to God … and in that, found some sense of relief.”

But Dr. Gaby Cora, a Miami psychiatrist, says that religion can sometimes hinder forgiveness and letting go.

“There are some religions that have more of that guilt," she said. "In Catholicism, for example, you’ll see people feeling more responsible, and there’s a lot more of that inherent guilt going around – and you will not see that in Buddhism, for example.”

Nevertheless, forgiveness – of others, and ultimately, of yourself - is a big part of many faiths.

The New Testament repeatedly stresses the concept. “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you,” says Colossians 3:13. In Judaism, Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement – requires that Jews ask for forgiveness from others who have been sinned against, and grant forgiveness to ourselves and those who ask it.

Anger and grudges should be discarded: "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart," says Leviticus 19:17-18. "… Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

“Ultimately, there’s a humbleness that comes when we realize that there’s something or someone out there bigger than myself that ultimately loves me, accepts me, cares for me, can give me grace, and in places where it’s hard for me to do that for myself,” says Richard Shaw, a marriage and family therapist in Oregon who runs Shame No More Counseling and Ministries.

“When there’s a spiritual dimension to it, there’s a sense that there’s stuff beyond my control and someone in the universe who cares deeply about me, even in the midst of my own shame and my own brokenness," he says. "… That can be, in the forgiveness process, a healing component for some folks.”

Laura Bush eventually came back to her faith. But it wasn’t easy, she told King.

“It was slow and a long time coming,” she said, her voice breaking. “And it was more a study of what faith is, and what that means, and it just came slowly.

“The accident was a tragedy beyond belief for the Douglases and for Mike, whose life ended then, and then for me," she continued. "And I learned the hard way that there are those kinds of tragedies that you can’t do anything about ever – that you can’t change, no matter how much you might want to.”

- CNN.com Entertainment Producer

Filed under: Bible • Faith • God • Lost faith

soundoff (221 Responses)
  1. JEM

    Lets address the fact that our nations worst and most destructive laws originated from our chapels. Various prohibition laws against drugs, alcohol, gambling, vise, etc. have transformed this country from "The Land of the Free" into the worlds "Prison Nation". It was various faith inspired crusades which allowed this free nation to allow its government to grow to the point where it not only strangles freedom and liberty here in the USA but in most other nations around the globe.
    It is time for Christians to stop being agents to the state and restore liberty and freedom for their children.


    June 26, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
  2. nogods

    Live your life by what you feel is right, not what some really old book says.

    June 26, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Zelda

      @No-, that sounds a worst way to live. Every narcie ended up massacring others.

      June 27, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  3. SGinOR

    I have trouble with the world's various "doctrines of faith" so I'm by no definition religious. But, you don't need to be a religious faithful to forgive. I think forgiveness is more about your own state of mind than it is about the person or persons who may have wronged you. It's not about giving "points" to someone who has done some harm to you but more about you being able to say "it is what it is" and move on. I understand the concept of maintaining a "naughty and nice" list in your head but I fight doing it because it keeps me wound up with anger and does more harm to me than the person I'm mad at. Anger equals stress and stress takes more people than bullets. And it seems to me that you give someone else power over you if you allow them to keep you angry. No – I don't chant and pass out flowers at the airport. I think I've just reached the age when I have a clearer view of what's important to me and the fact that someone else is an a$$ isn't important – it is what it is.

    June 26, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • nogods

      If there truly was a "god" we would not need airbags!!!!

      June 26, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  4. fritz

    As far as forgiving deliberate transgressions for the sake of some gain at my expense, I forgive NOTHING! But that doesn't mean I'm going to hunt them down or get 'even' in some way. Instead, I mark those individuals for avoidance in the future. To trust anyone who has kicked you in the teeth for nothing is just plain stupid. I tend to give most strangers I don't know the benefit of doubt. But they get one chance and only one to deal fairly with me. If I were living thousands of years ago when there were only a few thousand of us I'd probably be a more forgiving person since human life was far more precious back then. But with our population pushing seven billion, human life is far cheaper and I can afford to carefully pick my aquaintances and reject those who betray my trust and vex me.

    June 26, 2011 at 12:26 am |
    • Joeysgirl02

      I like the comment you left because that's exactly how I feel. What is the point of keeping people like that in your life? I've gotten a lot of flack for that from other people because I don't give any 2nd chances but you're right, what's the point? It's VERY stupid to trust someone who has betrayed you again! Thanks 🙂

      June 26, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • zapper45701

      My experience has been that forgiveness is permission to do "whatever" transgression one more time. If a true accident has occurred, that's different. It wasn't an intentional act. But for those who deliberately do harm, I'm done with them after the first run in. I used to be "forgiving." I tried for years to come to terms with those who are so destructive, and I discovered it was all on them, and they have no intention of quitting their bad behaviors. Why should I carry any burden because of them?

      June 27, 2011 at 7:49 am |
  5. Mike

    I love a theological argument as much as the next person, but something's not being addressed in all these comments:

    Laura Bush blew through a stop sign and killed someone...how did she avoid prison? No manslaughter charge? Am I missing something here?

    June 25, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • Adam

      Maybe since she was a teenager they were more forgiving?? That would kind of make sense, but I guess it just depends on the judge and other details. Good question though.

      June 26, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  6. rusty

    For Andy

    Rusty: Which god should I credit, though? How does the wonder of the world we live in thus demonstrate the truth of *YOUR* specific deity

    Andy. Frist, there is only one true living GOD...the truth is that the wonders of this world were created by him. The Bible clearly states this, and whereas you found some peace from reading the Bible, you have not beern able to discern the truth and purpose of it's teaching. I pray that you will come to accept God and stop trying to manufacture your own version of what it means to you. The reason that people refuse to believe is that they do not want to acknowledge anything above themselves, when the truth of the matter is that the "wonders of this world ' are evidence of his devine hand.

    Peacse be with you my Brother

    June 25, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • Andy Anderson

      I appreciate the reply, Rusty. You've sure made a lot of claims here, let's address them one at a time.

      "Frist, there is only one true living GOD...the truth is that the wonders of this world were created by him. The Bible clearly states this."
      I agree with you that the bible states this unequivocally; per Deuteronomy 6:4, Isiah 45:7, most all of Genesis 1, Ephesians 3:9, Matthew 16:16, and quite a few more. Please demonstrate how you know that any of these biblical statements are actually true.

      "and whereas you found some peace from reading the Bible"
      Please do not presume to be able to read my mind. You clearly have not read any of my comments here, else you'd have at least an idea of what I found from reading a myriad of religious texts, as opposed to what you would like to believe I found.

      "you have not beern able to discern the truth and purpose of it's teaching."
      Neither have you. Nor have any others of the multi tude of Christian denominations and cults. Even the early Christian Church took 300 or so years before they had the Council of Nicaea and decided what exactly it WAS that they all believed, anyway. If what was said in your bible was demonstrably true and correct, there would be no such confusion about its meaning and purpose. Further, you have yet to demonstrate how you know the claims made in the bible are true.

      "I pray that you will come to accept God"
      You and lots of other people of varying faiths and traditions have said this to me. It hasn't worked for any of them, either. Unless you can explain why I should accept the claims of your particular religion, and how you can demonstrate them to be true, you're wasting your time, and lying to yourself.

      "and stop trying to manufacture your own version of what it means to you."
      That is PRECISELY WHAT EVERY SINGLE PERSON DOES WITH ANY RELIGION THEY ENCOUNTER. Everybody comes up with their own understanding of what it is, its truth, and how it applies to their lives. Do you dismiss belief in the ancient Greek Pantheon as untrue? Do you refuse to believe in Thor or Sri Krishna and to follow their laws and commands? Stephen F. Roberts said it better than I can: "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."

      "The reason that people refuse to believe is that they do not want to acknowledge anything above themselves"
      Again with the mind-reading. Again with the unfounded claims. Just because you say something is so does not make it so. Please demonstrate how you know this to be true.

      "when the truth of the matter is that the "wonders of this world ' are evidence of his devine hand."
      Repeating a claim does not make it any more true than the first time you made it. Please demonstrate why your claim is true.

      "Peacse be with you my Brother"
      و عليكم السلام, but I don't need to believe in any gods to wish peace upon somebody.

      June 26, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      Rusty your statement to Andy is arrogant, presumptuous, and lacks logic. Those are exactly the attributes of most Evangelical Christians, that most of us who are not Fundamentalist, do not understand.

      Christianity is an act of faith, it has not nor can it be proven. There are dozens of Holy books from religions much older than Christianity that prove their divinity within their own pages. Nothing you know can disprove the truth of those other faiths, and nothing in your Book can prove that it is right either.

      Practice what you believe and leave others to their own faith and you will be living the life of a Christian.

      June 26, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  7. felton

    I'm not a religious person, but I love knowledge, so I got a copy of the CD version of King James Books of the Bible. I listened 64 CDs completely over a span of 18 months. I will admit that gaining that knowledge directly from the CDs rather than from a church, actually changed my heart, and the Philosophy was great as well.

    The Two most valuable humanly traits that all humans should learn is two things: Learn the meaning of and how to "Forgive & Ask For Forgiveness". I listened to those CDs a second time and my conclusion is, the ability to forgive actually causes you to think about what you say to others to not hurt feelings. And, Asking For Forgiveness equally, recognizing that we hurt others and asking for forgiveness reminds us to be conscientious of what we say and do.

    I'm not a religious person but, the ability to forgive and ask for forgiveness are the two traits that we all should know and understand. As a result of gaining the bible knowledge, I wrote my elements of life, the things that I focus on each day.


    June 25, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • Stephen

      I "like" this post, felton! Very well said!

      June 25, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  8. Carlito Swagger

    I believe many people question God but they don't do their research. If you're wondering why God allows pain, suffering, etc in your life and in this world then read the Bible, ask a Christian, ask a priest and you will find answers. Don't just sit there and raise a middle finger at a God you know nothing about.

    June 25, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Andy Anderson

      You're certainly welcome to "believe many people question God but they don't do their research". That does not mean your belief is correct, especially if all you are able to do is make an assertion, but not demonstrate its truth. This is a fairly common thing for Christians to claim, as it nullifies (in their minds) the possibility that people have made a well-reasoned choice in concluding there probably is no god that demands acknowledgment, worship, and threatens eternal torment otherwise.

      See, I don't believe in any gods, and I HAVE 'done the research' – the result of that research is why I don't believe in any of the myriad of gods worshiped throughout human history. Since this is an US website, I will assume we are discussing the Abrahamic god YHWH, though my studies were not limited to Christianity. The end result is there is no good reason to believe in something that cannot be demonstrated to be true.

      In Christianity specifically, I found myself more wondrous of why their god DELIBERATELY CAUSES PAIN AND SUFFERING. I found no real moral justification for this practice in the Bible. These are not the actions of a loving god, but those of a malicious, blood-thirsty, jealous, petty tyrant. Most all priests and ministers could tell me was that I should accept it even if I could find no such reason, because their god would torture me for eternity if I did not. I asked if I DESERVED to be tormented forever just because I could find no good reason to believe in YHWH and was unanimously told that yes, I did. William Lane Craig's sophisticated writings offered no justifications either, and his defense of the slaughter of women and children in YHWH-ordered Old Testament genocides was downright disturbing. Practicing Christians offered little more than endlessly refuted arguments and of course good ol' Pascal's Wager. Trust me, if going outside and looking at trees and marveling at their beauty could cause me to believe in specific gods, I would be doing so now.

      I've tried to find good answers, only to conclude that THERE ARE NONE. There is no way to demonstrate that anything about the Abrahamic God (or any other gods, for that matter) is true; and therefore no good reason to believe so.

      Plug the following into google: "Skeptic's Annotated Bible, IronChariots WIki, Internet Infidels, TalkOrigins, The Atheist Experience"

      June 25, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • PeterVN

      Andy, great post, including the references / search terms.

      June 25, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • Stephen

      @Andy Anderson.... While I respect your views on this matter, to some the words of the Bible and other texts of faith are "foolsihness", to others, they can discern what the text is trying to say to them, and apply those tenets in their life.
      Just because we can't see something, doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't exist. What we see is temporary. What we don't see is eternal. You can read and study as much about the faiths of the world as you want, Andy, and you may never apply it to your life, because you have hardened your heart to something that may be beyond anything our feeble minds can comprehend.

      June 25, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • KC

      I was raised in the church, attended religious schools, and was a minister's wife. I know plenty about God. I also know that for many years, every time I have prayed for something very basic, the prayer was answered with the opposite of what I needed. Sort of "you think what you're dealing with is bad? Let me prove to you it can get worse." If I thought life was bad enough with constant pain after an accident, God was going to up the ante - the pain became bad enough that I passed out from it several times a day, couldn't get out of bed without passing out, and no one willing to do so little as bring me a glass of water so I wouldn't get dehydrated in 108-degree heat. Everyone I reached out to was willing to pray that someone else would bring me a glass of water but none of them were willing to get off their couch and come over to do it themselves. When I turned my back on, first, organized religion and, second, some years later, God, it was on the basis of plenty of Bible study and knowing EXACTLY what religious leaders had shoved down my throat for decades about being the good little submissive woman and being rewarded for my charity. My husband didn't want to deal with a wife whose health meant she could no longer work 24/7/365 and took up with another woman, then asked me to pay alimony so he wouldn't have to work; that's not the "devoted husband" that I was promised if I'd sacrifice everything for him!

      June 26, 2011 at 1:08 am |
    • Andy Anderson

      Re-posted, as the original tripped the filters and is now stuck awaiting moderation.


      There is nothing wrong with applying worthwhile moral lessons found in sacred writings of various faiths. The problem is that those writings, in this case the Bible, contain a great deal of immoral rules, which believers are expected to follow as well. Love thy neighbor as thyself (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31, Matthew 22:39)? Probably a moral idea, and one worth applying to daily life. Slaughter an entire city, including women and children and anything else that breatheth, because god told you to (Deuteronomy 20:13-17)? Not a moral action. The same goes for bludgeoning people to death with rocks for picking up sticks on the wrong day of the week (Numbers 15:32-36), and refusing to eat shellfish (Leviticus 11:9-12, Deuteronomy 14:9-10). I like my mixed-fibre clothing (Leviticus 19:19) and love my family (Luke 14:26).

      There is nothing wrong with reading a sacred text and gleaning useful lessons from it to apply in one's daily life. I have done this myself. The problem with adhering to a religious belief system is that you are unable to discard the nonsense, as it's all the Word of God™, and you can't just cherry-pick the sane bits and dismiss everything else that is not morally justifiable (Matthew 5:18). Christians seem to love insisting that the Old Testament no longer applies to them, but Jesus said otherwise.

      I agree that "just because we can't see something, doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't exist." This forms the basis of adult thinking. I have never personally been to China, but I know it exists, and can produce evidence to show the truth of my reasonable belief. I cannot see gravity, but I know that if I drop something from somewhere high up it'll eventually come to fall at 32.2 feet per second, and through the use of testable mathematical models we can demonstrate how we know this to be true (Wikipedia:Gravitation). I have never seen Santa Claus, and given all the evidence that attests to his man-made origin it is reasonable for me to conclude that Kris Kringle isn't a real person, and that people who believe he is are incorrect. If there is no means of demonstrating the truth of a belief, it becomes essentially moot, and there is no point in believing it.

      I do apply worthy moral lessons that I have learned in my studies of world religions, I just don't accept any of the supernatural nonsense (Ti tus 1:14). I am uncertain as to what you mean by the claim that I have 'hardened my heart'. Do you mean like YHWH did for Pharoah (Exodus 10:20) in order to justify murdering every non-Jewish first-born child in the land? Is your god doing that to me as well, so that it can torture me for eternity because I have yet to find any good reason to believe in it? My heart pumps blood, and as far as I am aware nobody else's heart has the ability to do much else. My MIND is certainly open to any reasonable evidence as to why I should believe in the Christian religion over any and all other religions, and vice versa. And if it's beyond "anything our feeble minds can comprehend", then YOU CANNOT COMPREHEND IT, EITHER, and have no basis for insisting your particular belief system is true.

      The typical response at this point is to pull out 'faith'. Faith is believing in something even if (and especially if) there is no means of demonstrating its truth. Faith is not a virtue, it's gullibility. It's believing in something because it feels good to you, instead of believing in something because you have good reason to believe that it is true. It throws the logical framework we use to determine the truth of everything else in the world around us right out the window, and demands we stop thinking and reasoning.

      As it stands, there is no good reason to believe that your particular god, or any other god is real, and that I should adhere to any religious tenants resulting from such belief. So I do not.

      June 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  9. fritz

    I learned early that shaking your fist at god is no different than shaking it at the wind for knocking you down. I also learned you can't pray to god to make it rain. I don't believe in any god that has as many human foibles as the hebrew god, god of the jews, christians and muslims. I don't believe god is a person of any kind. As to what god really is? Who knows? Certainly not us humans barely a few million years out of the trees. I deal with guilt in the knowledge that in the end I am destined to be worm food like everyone else and that I am my harshest judge and critic. Sure, guilt stings so best to avoid it to avoid future misery. Remember, life is short.

    June 25, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Rusty

      Where does this belief in nothingness come from. How can one look at a being or a plant and not believe in God? Look at the universe. Just because one does not believe, does not negate the truth of his existence, in the end...,"every knee will bend, and every tongue will confess....with belief,comes confidence and assurance that this life is not all there is...and then things become easier to accept....like my wife in ICU for a post operative brain tumor....right now! I love God and trust his plan, and with that love and trust comes peace!

      June 25, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Andy Anderson

      Rusty: Which god should I credit, though? How does the wonder of the world we live in thus demonstrate the truth of *YOUR* specific deity?

      June 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  10. Fuyuko

    We are our own worse enemy sometimes. Sometimes it is so easy to forgive other people but not ourselves. Religion to me sometimes seems to delight in making people feel guilt an bad. To me this is unhelpful. But it has allowed the church to control people for centuries- through fear, shame and guilt.

    June 25, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  11. BroNate

    I have mixed feelings about this topic; it's really about self-rationalization rather than a wronged person forgiving whoever hurt them. In these cases the hurt was accidental and I'm glad when any belief system enables them to overcome feelings of guilt, but there are also cases like Bernie Madoff – deliberately bilked people out of billions of dollars, and it would disgust me if Bernie attempted a "born again in prison" act. That's something he should feel guilty about forever, religion or not.

    June 25, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  12. Zelda

    @EvolvedDNA, your opinion is based on your false imagination. God hears every prayer in Jesus' name, and as we pray we find God and His will. As we get to know Him, we do His will and our prayers get fulfilled more than we asked for, deepening our relationship with Him at the same time. We don't present God bunch of selfish requests. Prayer becomes holy breathing. Evo-, pray to God in Jesus' name. Ask Him for forgiveness and to save you from yourself(sin). He is your Creator who programmed your DNA.

    June 25, 2011 at 2:58 am |
    • Sybaris

      Hey Zelda, go to an Army hospital and fire up your prayer chain in the amputee ward. I gaurantee you your god will not regenerate the limb of any Christian soldiers but isn't it funny how during your services the faithful will praise the healing powers of your god when little Jimmy's flu gets better.

      June 25, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Zelda..prayer works the same way that coincidence does.,, as Sybaris states the minute you ask for anything that requires an action that is directly attributed to the prayer god gets very shy. The amputee situation is an example.. Any prayers that are "answered" fall into the realm of chance...

      June 25, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • PeterVN

      Zelda, I challenge you to present any solid evidence of a prayer ever having been answered by a deity. Thus far, no one has been able to do that.

      June 25, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • KC

      My prayers do not get answered, and certainly not with "more than I asked for". I prayed for healing, and my pain level was ratcheted up significantly. Since I need to support myself, I prayed to be able to go back to work, and I got even sicker, to the point I couldn't even get out of bed, much less get to a job. I've now been out of work for more than a decade, and no, I don't get alimony; I ran through my life's savings and started selling off assets. If God can do this to an ex-minister's wife who spent thousands of hours in church and volunteer work, then there is no reason for me to continue to believe in someone with such a warped sense of humor. Since throwing that farce of a God out of my life, I got pain pills that helped, my health has improved, I'm able to work part-time from home, all the things that I prayed for and was given the exact opposite. Take your naive childlike faith and stuff it; I've been tried and tested and learned it was a waste of breath to pray for the things I needed.

      June 26, 2011 at 1:19 am |
    • Andy Anderson

      Zelda: how do you know that to be true? Can you demonstrate the truth of your claims?

      June 26, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  13. Zelda

    I remember a Christian American soldier who thinks he caused his comrades' deaths by being compassionate on Afghan shepherds. Please take heart. God has been sovereign and He has been in control at the very moment you were supposedly making a mis-judgment. Please find Jesus in your life in deeper level and dedicate yourself to God and for others all the more. People perish everywhere around us for one reason or another but we are alive to rescue others in the ways He allows us to. We did not die then and we are alive. Let us do God's good until the last breath no matter how our hearts grieve for the past. There are people you can rescue and help now. In Jesus, every new day is simply a new gift. You will understand God's compound mystery only in the other side. Trust Him, no matter what.

    June 25, 2011 at 12:36 am |
    • PeterVN

      Why should we trust your apparently imagined deity?

      So far, there is no evidence that it even exists, and furthermore, many of the Christian stories about him indicate that he is cruel, jealous, and unfair, as well as a torturer.

      June 25, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • Zelda

      Peter, all your list sounds like you. Don't place God on your level when you know nothing of God's sphere. Read Psalm 50 from the start to the end.

      June 26, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  14. Zelda

    Demanding God to make things right is a form of creature's pride. We must grieve but just pour our hearts sincerely before Him in facing anything in life. Honest quest always comes to the right destination with hope. Bitterness, arrogance, rejection lead to sin, falsehood and self-destruction.

    June 25, 2011 at 12:21 am |
  15. Zelda

    Only Christians rise above from the impossible ashes into the most profound radiant meaning of human life. Praise to God forever. We are in a tragedy-striken universe but we learn God is sovereign through everything. Nothing, not even my unintentional but fatal mistakes can undo God's reign. Situations like Mrs. Bush pushed us former pagans into suicide or some self-destruction, but not anymore. Christians taught us to accept God's sovereignty AND forgiveness and live for Jesus and for others with hope and humble joy again.

    June 25, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Zelda..what this has told us is that belief or no belief the outcome is the same.. life is random.. and prayers work the same way that coincidence does..

      June 25, 2011 at 12:38 am |
    • Andy Anderson

      Zelda, you've made an awful lot of claims about your god, but have yet to demonstrate the truth of your claims. I ask you to please follow 1 Peter 3:15 and give us an answer as to the reason why you believe this.

      June 26, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Zelda

      @EvolvedDNA: God is alive and He answered and is answering all my prayers. I've seen Him answer the prayers in Jesus countless times. @Andy, we Christians told you already but you didn't listen. Read the Gospel of John. Be more specific if you have a question. Everything in the world proves the God of the Bible is true and real. You just need to observe honestly.

      June 26, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  16. LEB

    This is why you have to be careful about the "mad at God" types of atheist, because they're quite likely to stop being angry and become "born again," going on to claim to others that "I was once an atheist." It's complete BS, they never stopped being believers at all. They just suffered a tragedy and got mad at God for not preventing it. Real atheism is based in rationality and logical thought, not emotionalism, or anger from a tragedy, or a bad relationship with one's father, or any other such nonsense.

    To return to the topic at hand, I don't think anyone has to forgive anyone for anything to make peace with being wronged. Not forgiving doesn't mean you're stewing in resentment, or even holding a grudge... it is simply that someone or something has wronged you, and because they've wronged you, you will never give them a chance to wrong you again. With enough time, a person can come to peace with just about any wrong, but forgiveness isn't required. Besides, forgiving just appeases the emotional turmoil of the person who has been harmed, which is fine, but no one should feel pressured for forgive, or feel guilty because they find forgiving too difficult.

    June 24, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • Ah, the Problem of Evil Becomes Personal

      "Mad at God" can be a stage that people pass through on the ascent from religious to atheist, but you are absolutely right that they are not atheists at that point, even if they think they are. And the ones who sink back into the darkness of religion then claim idiotically that they were atheists and found the light, and give other morons reason to think really asinine things like "atheists are mad at God."

      The ones who become atheists from there must go to the next stages, which include realizing that God's senseless actions cause them to question if God even exists, then the realization that nothing resembling a deity seems to be at work in the universe. Finally, when they come to the conclusion that God probably does not exist, they start seeing the world as it really is. At that point, they are free to start choosing how to live their lives, free of the coersions and crazy, baseless thinking of phony religions.

      June 24, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • Free

      "I was at this time of living, like so many Atheists or Anti-theists, in a whirl of contradictions. I maintained that God did not exist. I was also very angry with God for not existing. I was equally angry with Him for creating a world." C.S. Lewis

      Everyone's favorite poster boy of a staunch 'former atheist' was just mad at God for a while too.

      June 24, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • Stephen

      Forgiveness and trust are two different terms. We can forgive others, while we withhold our trust of them. Trust is earned. Forgiveness is free. We don't have to be doormats for anyone, LEB. Forgiveness is letting go of the anger and resentment we hold in our hearts. Forgiveness is saying, in effect, "what comes around, goes around," ie...let someone else take your revenge, sit back, and wait. Holding grudges only hurt ourselves. "Forgiveness..what a concept!" – T.S. Elliot

      June 25, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
  17. John Richardson

    If this was supposed to be an enlightening or inspiring story, it wasn't.

    June 24, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
    • Manifold Density

      You got that right, brother. But they wanted something put up for the weekend, I think.

      June 25, 2011 at 1:21 am |
  18. Marie Kidman


    June 24, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
  19. QS

    “Ultimately, there’s a humbleness that comes when we realize that there’s something or someone out there bigger than myself that ultimately loves me, accepts me, cares for me, can give me grace, and in places where it’s hard for me to do that for myself,”

    That's not humility that's comfort.

    Humility is more accurately illustrated in this context by realizing that there IS NOT something or someone out there, that it's just you and you are your own hero or villain. Essentially you humble yourself by acknowledging that you are subject to the whims of nature and chaos as much as the rest of us are.

    June 24, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • thes33k3r

      Well said.

      June 24, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  20. ohsnap

    "After the crash, she remembers saying, "Please, God, please, God, you know, let him be OK," she told CNN’s Larry King in an interview last year. “And you know,” she told King, “it was like no one heard.” She lost her faith for many years." Ok. YOU plow into someone. YOU kill them. Then you expect God to undo your mistake. Doesn't work like that. It's amazing how many people lose their faith because God doesn't do what they tell Him to do.

    June 24, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • Free

      Still, people do expect miracles to happen, yes?

      Every born-again Christian seems to have a story about how Jesus or the Spirit entered into their life and 'saved' them. "Tornado kills whole family, but leaves one child alive" sort of thing. Had that boy walked away from that crash without a scratch both he and Mrs. Bush might still be telling that story in Church, right?

      June 24, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.