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Q. The Fourth Commandment says to ìhonor your father and your mother.î Am I obligated by this commandment to renew a relationship with my abusive father?

A. No one, under any circumstances, is required to sustain or renew any relationship that is abusive. If your father desires a relationship with you, he must first honestly address his behavior and demonstrate both remorse and the ability to respect boundaries. If the abuse was sexual, and from your question I assume it was not, a more stringent set of rules would be required.


Q. The clerk at the supermarket did not charge me for an item in my grocery bag. I did not discover the error until I was home. What kind of restitution, if any, is required on my part?

A. There is no requirement. These kinds of errors are routine and are included in the calculation of the price for conducting a business enterprise. However, if you choose to do so, on your next visit, stop by the customer service counter and inform them of the error. Offer to pay for the item that was not originally scanned as part of your bill. They may or may not accept your payment, or they may have a program to help needy groups or food banks that is in place for just such an occurrence. Thus, your effort might be very worthwhile.

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Please note, a sentence in our January 2020 newsletter on experiencing mystery was stated incorrectly in the version we mailed, but we rewrote it in the online version. The sentence should read: ìEven violent, sexual, and blasphemous thoughts that are random and not chosen willfully are simply manifestations of the mystery of what it means to be human in a world that is ultimately unknowable.

Published inSA Mailbox