What is a Real Apology and How does it Help Your Soul?

Apologies have been in the news lately.

Many apologies by celebrities and other public figures fall seriously short in sincerity and believability. They’re more of a CYA response than a real apology.

But sometimes apologies are real.

Mike Fiers apologizing for hitting Giancarlo Stanton with a pitch

Mike Fiers apologizing

Giancarlo Stanton hit by a pitch

Giancarlo Stanton hit by a pitch

Last Thursday in major league baseball, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Mike Fiers hit Miami Marlins batter Giancarlo Stanton in the face with an 88 mph fastball, causing facial fractures, lacerations, and dental damage. He likely ended the ace hitter’s season. Clearly rattled, in his very next pitch Fiers hit the next batter in the hand, before being taken off the field.

Though tempers flared while all this was happening, afterwards Fiers issued a public apology for the unintentional injuries he had caused. You can read about it and watch an associated video here.

Mel Greig, Australian radio DJ

Mel Greig, DJ

Jacintha Saldanha, 1966-2012

Jacintha Saldanha, 1966-2012

Another public apology occurred on Friday during a long-delayed inquest into the death by suicide of Jacintha Saldanha. In December 2012, Saldanha hanged herself after mistakenly passing on to the floor nurse a prank call from Australian radio DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian. The DJs, posing as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, had called the hospital where Prince Charles’s daughter-in-law Kate Middleton was being treated for severe morning sickness during her first pregnancy. When the floor nurse revealed private details of Middleton’s condition, and the story went viral, it proved too much for Saldanha.

For our take on the story soon after it happened, see “It Takes a Village to Make a Tragedy.” Now, almost two years later, DJ Mel Greig traveled to England to personally offer a tearful apology for her role in Saldanha’s suicide. You can read the story here.

What does make an apology real? Back in June of this year, actor, filmmaker, and comedian Jonah Hill did it right.

For more on real apologies and the soul, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events, Spiritual Growth

Eat My Flesh, Drink My Blood

When it comes to the Christian sacrament of the Holy Supper, it’s all about eating and drinking. That’s true whether we look at it physically, philosophically, spiritually, or interpersonally.

Let’s look at an earlier story of Jesus feeding the people, from the Gospel of John, chapter 6. I encourage you to click the link and read the chapter first.

The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, by James Tissot

The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, by James Tissot

For more on eating, drinking, and spiritual meaning, please click here to read on.

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Posted in The Bible Re-Viewed

Advanced Tech Brings Down American Plane in Border Skirmish

Knee Defender

Knee Defender

Okay, you’re right, that title is just a little bit exaggerated. The technology isn’t very advanced at all. It’s just a plastic device called a “Knee Defender.”

But it did bring down a U.S. passenger plane.

What?

Well, yes, the Knee Defender didn’t actually bring down the plane. But this weapons technology was deployed in the border skirmish that brought the plane down.

Huh?

Okay, okay, let’s get technical. It’s not really weapons technology. It’s a little gizmo that can be used on a passenger airplane to prevent the passenger in the seat in front of you from reclining. It was deployed for that purpose in the border skirmish that brought the plane down.

Eh?

Yes, it was a border skirmish that brought the plane down. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

For more on border skirmishes and downed planes, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events

From Literal Slavery to Spiritual Freedom

In Exodus 6:5–6, God said to Moses:

I have heard the groaning of the Israelites whom the Egyptians are holding as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the Israelites, “I am the Lord, and I will free you from the burdens of the Egyptians and deliver you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.”

Ten plagues later, the ancient Israelites were on their way from slavery in Egypt to freedom as a self-governing nation.

Israel in Egypt, by Edward Poynter, 1867

Israel in Egypt, by Edward Poynter, 1867

The exodus from Egypt is a seminal story in the formation of the Jewish religion and nation. It is the basis of Passover, one of the most important religious festivals in Judaism.

Yet there is little or no archeological or documentary evidence (outside of the Bible itself) that such mass migration of two or three million people from Egypt to Palestine ever took place. Current scholarship suggests that the Israelites most likely had continuously inhabited the land of Palestine. If there is any grain of historical truth to the story, it appears that it must have been a much smaller and less spectacular event, perhaps involving a few hundred people instead of a few million.

Does this mean we must throw the story of the Exodus out the window as a myth and a fallacy?

Not at all.

The truth of the Bible, and of divine revelation in general, does not depend upon its historical or scientific accuracy. The Bible, as the Word of God, is concerned not with material-world truth, but with spiritual truth.

The Exodus story has become a powerful metaphor for Jews and Christians alike. It tells a deeper story of the human longing for freedom from bondage of all kinds: political, social, financial, emotional, intellectual, and especially spiritual bondage.

In this post, we’ll apply the story to a specific issue: freeing our minds from the oppressive bondage of literalism in our reading of Scripture.

Yes, I am suggesting that reading Scripture in a doggedly literal way is a form of slavery from which we must be freed if we are to fully inherit the spiritual kingdom of God.

For more on freedom from bondage to literalism, please click here to read on.

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Posted in The Bible Re-Viewed

Robin Williams, 1951-2014

Robin Williams, 1951-2014

Robin Williams, 1951-2014

Annette and I are saddened to hear of the death of Robin Williams yesterday, August 11, 2014, at the age of 63. He was a great and compassionate soul. His humor lightened the lives of millions of people around the world. He was also a community-minded man who contributed in many ways to the San Francisco Bay Area where he made his home, and to the wider world. We offer our condolences to his family and friends, and to all who mourn his passing.

We are especially sad to learn that his death appears to have been a suicide after a long struggle with depression. We cannot help but think of his role in the movie What Dreams May Come, in which his character descends into the hellish regions of the spiritual world in order to lift his wife up from there into heaven after her suicide.

It is our belief that people find their life in heaven or in hell based not on the way they died, but on the quality of their character and their life. To put it plainly, no one goes to hell just because they have committed suicide. Though the dark state of mind and heart that leads to suicide may follow people into the spiritual world and persist there for a while, those who have a good heart will over time rise up into heaven through the care and compassion of wise and loving angels.

Robin Williams showed through his life that he has a heart for heaven. Though we on earth mourn the loss of a great entertainer and a good man, Annette and I are confident that it will not be long before Robin Williams has his angel audiences roaring with laughter at his latest heavenly comedy!

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Posted in Current Events, Pain and Suffering, The Afterlife

Why does God Keep it a Secret until it’s Too Late?

Do any of these sound a little too familiar?

  • You work hard toward something you’ve set your heart on, but no matter what you do, you just can’t achieve it.
  • You start a project with high hopes, everything goes wrong, and it takes five times as long as you thought it would.
  • You set a goal for yourself, achieve it, and find out that you’re still not happy.
  • You finally manage to get into a relationship with someone you’ve desired for a long time, only to discover that it is a complete mistake.
  • You try to get something done at your job or in an organization you belong to, but you can’t seem to get anywhere. Later you find out that someone was working behind the scenes to block it.

Now tell me you haven’t had this thought:

“If only I’d known then what I know now . . . .”

Now let’s just say that after you’ve spent months, years, or decades working toward something that turns out to be a big disappointment or a big disaster, you happen to meet God on the street.

Would you have some questions for God?

Questions such as, “Hey God, you’re all-knowing, right? Why didn’t you tell me?!? It would have saved me an awful lot of work, and I could have avoided a big pile of heartbreak.”

So why does God keep it a secret until it’s too late?

Why does God let us stumble along down here? Why does God let us waste half a lifetime running after stuff that turns out to be a big bust?

It sure would be a big help if God gave us just a little peek into our future, wouldn’t it?

Apparently, God doesn’t think so.

Why not?

For more on our efforts and God’s secrets, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, Spiritual Growth

God Proposes, but Man Disposes . . . and God Re-Composes

Thomas à Kempis (1380–1471)

Thomas à Kempis (1380–1471)

In his 15th century devotional classic, The Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis (1380–1471) famously wrote:

Man proposes, but God disposes

The general idea is that we humans can make whatever plans we want, but in the end, God is the one who decides what actually happens. Here is the fuller statement from The Imitation of Christ:

For the resolutions of the just depend rather on the grace of God than on their own wisdom; and in Him they always put their trust, whatever they take in hand. For man proposes, but God disposes; neither is the way of man in his own hands.

Perhaps it’s just my natural human perversity, but I’ve never much liked this proverb, pithy as it is.

I’ll grant that the plans we make often turn out very differently than we intended.

I’ll grant that God’s hand is always engaged in human affairs, guiding and directing us toward a path that God would have us take when our own plans fail.

And I’ll grant that those who devote their lives to what is good and right from a spiritual perspective will look to God for guidance, and willingly follow the path God lays out for them as they understand it.

What bothers me about this pithy old proverb is the suggestion that human free will is an illusion; that no matter what plans we may make for our life, God will ultimately decide the path we take and the destination we reach.

I beg to differ.

We humans do have free will. We ultimately decide the path that we will take—even if the destination we reach isn’t exactly what we had originally planned. I do not believe that the greatness of God is shown in exercising the power to control our lives and to have God’s will prevail over ours in the end. Instead, God’s greatness is shown in the respect and honor that God gives to us as human beings by allowing us to make our own choices and follow our own path even if God’s ideal path for us might have been a better idea.

I therefore not so humbly offer an alternate version of the classic proverb:

God proposes, but man disposes . . . and God re-composes.

Because the fact is, we humans dispose of much of what God proposes for our happiness and wellbeing.

Then God has a recycling job to do.

For more on God’s proposals and our disposals, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Spiritual Growth
Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

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Earlier Posts
Lee Woofenden speaking at Fryeburg New Church Assembly, Fryeburg, Maine, August 2012

Lee Woofenden speaking at Fryeburg New Church Assembly

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