DEAR HARRIETTE: I enjoy reading your column; you seem to have the good sense necessary to make a success of it.
One thing came up that I would like to comment on. "Child of God" wrote to you complaining about people using the name of God carelessly. I agree with her complaint and with your answer, but there is another dimension that needs to be addressed. She said Christians should be offended, and your response spoke of Christian tradition, but the prohibition against using God's name in vain comes originally from the Jewish Torah at Exodus 20:7 (the Second Commandment). It exists in Christian tradition because Christians adopted a good deal of Jewish tradition. Too many Christians today talk as if there are two groups: Christians and heathens.
I worked in Germany for several years. One of my colleagues there was an intelligent and friendly man who complained about some facets of society and spoke of "Christian values." I stopped him and asked him to give some examples of these values. Everything he listed came from Jewish tradition, and many are common to almost all religions.
It helps to remind folks that there are other traditions and religions that worship God, too, especially where the Christian tradition is not original. -- Faithful, Washington, D.C.
DEAR FAITHFUL: Thank you for your clarification and for broadening the discussion. We live in a world of many religions. It is wise to learn about the ways in which others practice their faith.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I had a friend who was publicly humiliated. She drove drunk, hit a car and left the scene, but, ultimately, she was tracked down and arrested. It was in the papers. What she did was terrible, but she is a good person: She is always nice to me, and she did a lot for the community, which made it all that much worse.
I sent her a note, telling her I heard of the accident she caused, but I let her know that my opinion of her did not change. I did this for two reasons. First, she was -- and still is -- a great person. Second, I did not want her to be embarrassed when she saw me. There was enough of that to go around in our town. She was grateful, and I know I did a good thing for her when she was feeling terrible. We know when we fail, but we want to know our friends and acquaintances can still see the good in us. -- Standing Up for a Friend, St. Charles, Ill.
DEAR STANDING UP: Thank you for sharing your story. It's important in the healing process for people who have been humiliated to have someone who loves them and supports them through it. This doesn't mean that the supportive person should overlook the situation; it means to do just what you did, for the person to reach out to express compassion and connection.
It can be excruciatingly difficult to face up to one's bad behavior. When you know that someone has your back in spite of your misdeeds, it can be much easier to face yourself and do your best to fix the situation at hand.