Making Toast

“And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.'” – John 7:53-8:11

“You are not your fault,” writes Anne Lamott.  So then whose fault are we?  Frankly, is there any fault?  The question of blame has all but taken over our conversation.  If I get sick, what did I do to cause it?  If there is a deficit, what did I do to make it happen?  If I get pregnant and am 14, there are those with a lot to say about what I did to cause my fertility to be fertile at an inopportune time.  

What would life be like if we lived beyond and without blame?  First of all, our days would be happier.  We would lean forward rather than back into our loss and resentments.  Secondly, we would blame fewer victims. In congregations, we would not blame the pastor for not “growing” the church and learn ways to be responsible to each other and not for each other.  We would know the attitude of lovingly mystified indifference, normally attributed only to the most mature Buddhist monks. Finally, we would live like Jesus, who knew only how to love and lead and seemed to have missed the course in blame and condemnation.  

Roger Rosenblatt, in his 2010 memoir, Making Toast, says he enjoys making toast for his grandchildren, after the untimely death of their mother and his daughter.  He calls the act of making toast “a simple gesture of moving on.” Most of the time we put condemnation and exterminationist violence into the word “toast:”: “I wish they were toast,” we’ll say.  Jesus says something different.  “Neither do I blame you.”  Living without blame means we can also live without revenge . . . and share a piece of bread together, every now and then, under the most difficult of circumstances.


O God, teach us to love making toast with each other.  Let the blame game be exterminated and let the rest of us live. 

ddauthordonnaschaper.jpgAbout the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Frances: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.