By Jim Heffernan
“Braver Angels” (a national organization that promotes civil communication between people of different points of view) recommended this book. I’m very glad they did, I really appreciated it.
This isn’t a book about someone called Grace, it’s mostly about the nebulous, ethereal quality we call grace. If you had a Catholic upbringing, you may still remember the Catechism’s definition of grace, “grace is the free and undeserved help God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, sons adoptive, partakers of the divine nature and eternal life.” I really don’t know if there is a God who bestows grace, but I believe there is grace.
I believe that grace is something like a social “lubricant” that encourages us to exhibit all the traits commonly called “virtues”. Grace allows us to have humility and empathy. Grace is the foundation of kindness, charity and love.
Our habits and outlook largely determine whether we operate with a surplus or a deficit of grace.
Right now our country seems to have a major grace deficit and I believe the lack of grace is what leads to our discord. Saving our country will require that we each find ways of “saving grace” in our lives and in our hearts.
The author, Kirsten Powers, wrote the book in response to the mental trauma she experienced in what she calls “the fight club arena of American politics and media.” She spent time with Fox News as a “liberal” counterpoint before appearing on CNN.
Like many of us, she found herself demonizing and dehumanizing people she disagreed with. For a time, she found herself marinating in the judgment, rage, hatred, frustration and resentment she felt towards them. This affected his mental and physical health. She knew she had to do something and she went through a series of steps that amplified her supply of grace and so she gracefully saved herself.
His first targets were binary thinking and the biases that this type of thinking produces. We have a natural tendency to see things in black and white, good and bad. Truth be told, it’s usually not that simple.
A verse from Bob Dylan’s song, “My Back Pages” rings in my memory, “Good and bad, I defined those terms pretty clearly, probably somehow. But I was so older then, I’m younger than that now.
One of the examples she gives in her book is the close friendship that existed between Supreme Court justices Anton Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. While they only agreed with each other on 7% of their 5-4 cases, they regularly dined and went on vacation with their families. Scalia once said of Ruth, “What’s not to like? Except his opinions on the law.
She further advises us to see the “other” as a human being, to set boundaries that keep us from getting too involved in the argument, to be humble, and to realize that we may not have always right, and to learn to say no in battle. impulse.
I feel like reading this book right after reading “I Never Thought of It That Way:……..” by Monica Guzman was like receiving a vaccine and a reminder against the deadly discord that afflicts us today today.
Grace can be the perfect solution for what separates us.
208 pages, published November 2, 2021 Available Cloud and Leaf Bookstore, Manzanita, Powell’s, Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Coming soon to the Tillamook County Library. There are also several good interviews on YouTube.