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Brooks urges reconciliation at prayer breakfast

by Harvest Prude
Posted 2/06/20, 12:39 pm

WASHINGTON—Harvard business professor Arthur Brooks reminded attendees of Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast of the Biblical admonition to love your enemies, as President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., sat to his right and left, respectively. The keynote speaker at the 68th annual event in the nation’s capital described growing up in a family with liberal political views and asked audience members to raise their hands if they love someone with whom they disagree politically.

“Contempt is ripping our country apart,” said Brooks, who is Catholic and the former president of the American Enterprise Institute. “Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew didn’t say, ‘Tolerate your enemies.’ He said, ‘Love your enemies.’ … Ask God to give you the strength to do this thing … and sometimes when it’s just too hard, ask God to help you fake it.”

Who else participated in the event? Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., offered prayers before Trump spoke. As the president walked on stage, he held up the front pages of Thursday’s USA Today and The Washington Post announcing his acquittal of impeachment charges in big, bold type. “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong,” Trump said. “Nor do I like people who say, ‘I pray for you’ when they know that that’s not so.”

Dig deeper: Read Marvin Olasky’s interview with Brooks about the compassion of conservatism.

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Harvest Prude

Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.

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  • DEBI
    Posted: Thu, 02/06/2020 08:02 pm

    I don't think God would want us to ask Him to help us fake anything ! 

    It is good for the president to be able to go to the Prayer Breakfast and share his true feelings ...

    and know that he will be listened to and respected.

  • OldMike
    Posted: Fri, 02/07/2020 12:59 am

    I think I understand what Professor Brooks was saying, when he admonished people to “ask God to help you fake it.”

    Loving our enemies and forgiving those who do evil to us is very hard. In fact it is totally unnatural. Especially when the injury is very severe, it goes against every part of our human nature to feel love and forgiveness for the one who intended harm, actually did us harm, and may still be doing us harm. We can actually only forgive and love that person when we allow the Father’s love and forgiveness to come into us and then go out to that person. 

    This is what I have come to believe: If we are waiting until we start feeling love and forgiveness, the day may never come. So we must, by an act of submitting our will to our Father, say, “Lord, in your strength and because you want me to, I love and forgive that person, regardless of how I feel, because I sure can’t do it on my own!”  I believe it’s likely to be necessary to continually repeat that as we go on through life, as an act of obedience. When we have opportunities to take actions of love and forgiveness, we must do that too.  

    Perhaps we will eventually have feelings of love and forgiveness that match the deliberate action of obedience in forgiving and loving. I do not know, because I’ve not reached that point yet. But it is not the feelings that are important, it is the obedient act and words.

    That may be be what Professor Brooks is talking about.  

    I would be interested in others’ experience with forgiveness and loving an enemy.


  • not silent
    Posted: Sat, 02/08/2020 08:10 pm

    There's a saying in recovery groups: "Fake it 'til you make it."  That doesn't mean they are encouraging people to be inauthentic.  It means exactly what you said in your comment-if you wait until you FEEL like forgiving, it will never happen; but, if you make a decision to "act as if" (another recovery saying), the feelings will follow.  Forgiveness isn't a feeling-it's a decision.  It's also a process because, every time the issue comes up in your mind (and Satan will keep bringing it up), you can make the choice to let it go.

    Another thing I've learned is that you can forgive without having reconciliation.  In other words, you can choose to let something go without the other person apologizing or even acknowledging they did anything wrong.  You can also forgive someone who has died.  But it's hard to have reconciliation if the other person refuses to take responsibility.  You may still be able to have a relationship with them, but it will almost certainly be affected and you may need to set boundaries. Sometimes reconciliation or restoration of a relationship is not appropriate-such as when someone is threatening or abusive.  In those cases, you can still forgive (i.e., choose not to seek revenge or to let it keep repeating it over and over in your mind).    

    I'm sure there is much more that can be said.  In most cases, I have needed God's help to forgive because I simply could not do it on my own.