Saturday, January 11, 2014

How Malcolm Gladwell rediscovered faith

When I was writing my book David and Goliath, I went to see a woman in Winnipeg by the name of Wilma Derksen.

Thirty years before, her teenage daughter, Candace, had disappeared on her way home from school. The city had launched the largest manhunt in its history, and after a week, Candace’s body was found in a hut a quarter of a mile from the Derksen’s house. Her hands and feet had been bound.

Wilma and her husband Cliff were called in to the local police station and told the news. Candace’s funeral was the next day, followed by a news conference. Virtually every news outlet in the province was there because Candace’s disappearance had gripped the city.

“How do you feel about whoever did this to Candace?” a reporter asked the Derksens.

“We would like to know who the person or persons are so we could share, hopefully, a love that seems to be missing in these people’s lives,” Cliff said.

Wilma went next. “Our main concern was to find Candace. We’ve found her.” She went on: “I can’t say at this point I forgive this person,” but the stress was on the phrase at this point. “We have all done something dreadful in our lives, or have felt the urge to.” ...

I have always believed in God. I have grasped the logic of Christian faith. What I have had a hard time seeing is God’s power.

I put that sentence in the past tense because something happened to me when I sat in Wilma Derksen’s garden. It is one thing to read in a history book about people empowered by their faith. But it is quite another to meet an otherwise very ordinary person, in the backyard of a very ordinary house, who has managed to do something utterly extraordinary.

Their daughter was murdered. And the first thing the Derksens did was to stand up at the press conference and talk about the path to forgiveness. ...

Maybe we have difficulty seeing the weapons of the spirit because we don’t know where to look, or because we are distracted by the louder claims of material advantage. But I’ve seen them now, and I will never be the same.
--Malcolm Gladwell, Relevant, on the power to forgive and the power of forgiveness