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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Desmond and the Very Mean Word

This spiritually animated story for children from 6 to 10 years old is written by South African Episcopal Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, with the assistance of Douglas Carlton Abrams. It’s based on a real-life experience in Tutu’s childhood.

book coverJust after receiving a new bicycle, young Desmond goes for a ride and encounters some white boys who shout a very mean word at him. Upset and angry he visits with Father Trevor, who listens to his account of what happened. The priest tells Desmond that if he gives in to hatred and revenge, nothing will change and the cycle of violence will go on forever. Forgiveness is the best path, and he can forgive the boys even if they don’t apologize: “When you forgive someone, you free yourself from what they have said and done. It’s like magic” (Candlewick Press).


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