The Joy of Forgiveness curriculum might be described as our most tender-hearted effort on behalf of the children. We say this because of its emphasis on moral love in forgiveness. We have taken the one virtue from the earlier curricula—–that of moral love—-and have emphasized throughout the lessons that as people forgive, they are actually lavishing love onto the offending person. We chose moral love among the five basic concepts from the earlier curricula because it is the central moral principle in forgiving and therefore perhaps the most important. It is also the most difficult and challenging. This idea, that to forgive is to love, is common in the world of academic scholarship where forgiveness is examined in depth. For example, the brilliant writer C.S. Lewis, who was born and raised in Belfast, wrote that if we are to forgive, then we are to exercise the virtue of love. It surely is not simple to offer love to someone who was unfair. Mr. Lewis knows this. He quips that we all think forgiveness is a lovely idea…..until we ourselves have something to forgive. Then the idea of forgiving is met with howls of protest. Yet, it is in this struggle to love the offending person that true growth as a person may be realized for the forgiver.
As in the earlier curricula (The Adventure of Forgiveness and Discovering Forgiveness), we primarily teach the concepts of forgiveness and moral love (that we call “lavish love” in the curriculum) through stories. One of the centerpiece books is Rising Above the Storm Clouds, which I had the privilege of writing. We chose the kind of stories that should appeal to children ages 8 or 9 through 11. As in the earlier curricula, we basically have three parts to the curriculum (that we do not label as Parts 1-3 as in the earlier curricula): First, we introduce the children to the concept of lavish love. Second, we introduce them to the idea of lavish love in the context of forgiving. Third, we give the children the opportunity to apply their learning to forgiving someone who has hurt them. Again, the emphasis is on lavish love as they explore forgiveness.
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