Sunday, December 05, 2010


Good-bye, F-150
Sunday morning. Just finished printing up a sermon I’m scheduled to deliver this morning. It’s called, Repent and Reconnect. The title was given to me by a sequence we’re following in the Advent season services. I’d rather be talking about the three kings of the Orient; I was just involved in three evenings of dinner theatre under the banner, “The Gift of the Magi,” featuring choral music and the short stories of O’Henry, namely The Last Leaf and The Gift of the Magi. Readers’ Theatre. It was well received. The dinners were phenomenal.

Repentance takes such odd shapes, doesn’t it. Tom Flanagan regrets his glib remarks on a CBC TV program in which he advocated the assassination of the founder of Wikeleaks; I’m pretty sure his regret is genuine, but he did feel compelled to say that the leaks on the website ought to be stopped nevertheless. Sort of an “my stupid comments were provoked by a man who is way badder than I am” kind of apology.

Then there’s the “I was seduced” repentance, in one case constituting the defense of a man who was charged with sexual misconduct with a minor!

Probably as inane as any is the “I’m sorry, but I was drunk at the time” repentance.

I don’t find the admission and regret part of repentance as hard as I used to. I can remember making all kinds of excuses for stupid things I’d done as a pre-adult. When your public image is as important as it is in your teen years (or as a public figure), face must be saved, and the straws grasped at to accomplish that can be bizarre. Repentance without penitence, and without the prerequisite intention of changing course.

Even more astounding is the public tolerance that allows people in power to make massive blunders with little demand from us for repentance. I’m puzzled, for instance, by the fact that although Bush and Cheney and the rest of the American administration of the time led the US into Iraq on the basis of a lie—or ignorance, depending whom you ask—and thousands died as a result, there doesn’t seem to have been a concerted demand for genuine repentance, i.e. admission, remorse, change. Why is that, do you suppose?

But, I don’t want to stray too far from home on this subject. Here and now, I repent the fact that I’ve allowed myself to be recast as a consumer—as opposed to a person—and in so doing, have been joint contributor to an economy that can’t work in the long run and an environment that can’t sustain the continual attacks upon it. So I’ve admitted it, but I ought to feel more remorse, and I’ve still got a lot of changes to be made, although I sold the pickup truck I loved and have reduced to one, small vehicle. Whoopee ding. I also recycle. Hey, and I don’t buy bottled water.

But I’m not sure I’m ready for the real repentance, when I and my fellow “consumers” genuinely say “enough is enough.”

I guess there’s always that other face-saving excuse. “The devil made me do it!”

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