I’m a semi-regular listener to Harry Shearer’s Le Show on NPR (also one of my favorite voices on the Simpsons). Each week he reports various “apologies” given by news-makers in a segment aptly titled: “apologies of the week.” Ironically, and why it can be quite funny, the apologies are almost never that. They are defenses, excuses, and convoluted explanations. What are some of the typical non-apologies you might hear?
“I’m sorry if you were hurt by my actions” (read, I didn’t do anything wrong but if you are so weak as to be hurt then I’m sorry for you)
“Mistakes were made” (gotta love the passive, third person effect)
“I mis-spoke” (after a angry tirade), and my two most favorite…
“I’m sorry but you…” (most common)
“[silence]” and/or gift giving to do something nice for the one offended, hoping everything will just go away and return to normal
Even in the Christian world, apologies are rare. We too defend, excuse, deflect, etc. I didn’t mean it that way…I couldn’t help it…What I did was honorable…You sinned first. My personal favored response is to figure out how to make my actions look super spiritual and the person who is upset must then be the opposite.
So, it is always good to see Christians willing to apologize. Recently, Mark Driscoll set off a firestorm by his ill-timed and negative words about some pastor’s wives (see here for some details and links from an earlier post). I was glad to see that Mark met with his adversaries and that the outcome of the meeting resulted in more clear (not perfect) apologies from all sides. (See Scot McKnight’s blog for numerous links to the players involved.) Some who felt hurt by his words also apologized for doing the same thing they accused him of doing (using inflammatory and slanderous words). When we do not act our normal selves and are willing to apologize without excuse, we evidence God’s spirit on us. This, I believe, is adequate proof that God exists. That, and when the Red Sox won the World Series in my lifetime.