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Book Reviewed:

Dennis Linn. Sheila Linn, and Matthew LinnDonít Forgive too Soon: Extending the Two Hands that Heal . New York: Paulist Press, 1994.

The book can be purchased from Amazon.Com and Barnes & Noble.

Review by Gary Simpson. All copyrights are held by the author.

Book Review:

Linn, Linn, and Linn are prolific writers. On the Barnes and Noble web site, one can find over twenty listings for books written by the Linns.

Forgiveness is one of the most important topics addressed in books and in churches. Human relationships have the potential to give deep personal fulfillment. Unfortunately, human relationships also have the potential to leave people deeply wounded. Because life is a conglomeration of relationships, each relationship having the potential to leave people aching, being able to forgive, and knowing good strategies for forgiveness is critical.

Minority groups often face systemic prejudice and discrimination. From a very early age, members of visible and invisible minority groups experience rejection, discrimination, and, at times, violence. Because both institutions and individuals might have discriminated against a minority member, many minority members find they need to forgive individuals and institutions. People who are members of minority groups cope with life better and are much happier when they have a good sense of what forgiveness means and how to forgive.

Many people are of the impression the Christian response to abuse and discrimination is to meekly forgive the abuser and to never speak out against abuse. According to the Linns, some of Jesusí teachings advocate a very different style of forgiveness. They see Jesus promoting an approach to forgiveness where people refuse to either become involved in a cycle of violent behavior or to continually be victims.

One text the Linns discuss is where Jesusí teaches that if anybody forces you to go one mile, go the second mile. The Linns explain that Roman soldiers could compel a person to carry their load for a mile, but forcing a person to carry a load two miles could result in the soldier being punished. A Roman soldier could be very concerned that a person volunteering to carry the load two miles might get him in trouble.

The Linns take readers through the five stages of forgiveness, and identify clues to help readers know if they are in that stage, and things that can be done to assist people in each stage of forgiveness. Don't Forgive too Soon presents five stages of forgiveness - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Christian churches which have a significant number of minority members will want to study this book.