New Church Life March/April 2017 - Page 80

new church life: march/april 2017 drugs and malnourishment, which can factor into personal responsibility. Cultural influences (such as violent video games) and parenting can also influence conscience – in negative or positive ways. Such questions come into play in determining whether a person charged with a crime is mentally competent. Soni cited the recent case of Dylan Roof, accused of killing several people at a Bible study class in Charlestown, South Carolina, who expressed no regrets or remorse, and was found guilty and sentenced to death. Soni offered the hopeful perspective that there is a tiny place in each of us that we can’t ruin, and this is where God works. We may give up on some people, but God does not. She infills her teaching about the dark side with New Church teachings: that there is a God, an afterlife and providence; spirits in the other world go through a process of self- examination before finding their place in heaven or hell; we all have freedom according to reason; the rational mind can be temporarily turned off; and we are to judge others civilly and morally but never spiritually. Parents and caregivers have a tremendous responsibility to love, protect and guide children – and keep them from turning to crime. She emphasized the importance of face-to-face communication with children when correcting them – looking them in the eye and speaking calmly and clearly about your expectations. This develops a high degree of self-regulation, with children knowing the rules and that they are loved. They also develop an ability to read the moods of others and develop empathy, whereas bullies don’t decode their victims’ feelings. The use of gentle, loving discipline helps to develop empathy and conscience – and to keep young people from becoming calloused adults. Once unhealthy behavior starts the issue becomes how to intervene effectively. The Ten Commandments are a good place to start. And watch for Soni worked in a maximum security prison for five years. In addition to mentoring women now she is also an advocate for foster children and a mediator with people needing help. To do this effectively, she studies what is known about the minds of criminals and how the Writings shed light on relevant issues – such as regeneration and conscience. 146