Friday, January 29, 2010

Apology 7 (David)

For our final apology (though I'd be interested in adding to this series when future apologies are made known), I'm going to examine the apology of David. It's quite a contrast from that of Saul. We know the story, David was guilty of adultery and, essentially, murder. The prophet Nathan confronted him through parable and David's great sin was exposed. Here's his apology/repentance:

"I have sinned against the LORD."

- Short and to the point
- Strong language (sin)
- Accepted consequences

- None

- None

Grade- A

Next post, I will gather all the data from these examples of apology and develop a list showing the marks of a good or bad apology.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Apology 6 (Saul)

I'm not really changing gears by switching, at this point, from contemporary apologies to biblical ones. Repentance, in its better and worse forms, is a constant of history. We're going to look at 2 more apologies (one from Saul, one from David) in the same way we've looked at the previous 7.

Saul had been told to completely wipe out the Amalekites, but came home with a captured king and some beautiful beasts. Below is the dialogue he had with the prophet Samuel after these events.

When Samuel reached him, Saul said, "The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD's instructions." But Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?" Saul answered, "The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest."

"Stop!" Samuel said to Saul. "Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night." "Tell me," Saul replied. Samuel said, "Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. And he sent you on a mission, saying, 'Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.' Why did you not obey the LORD ? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD ?"

"But I did obey the LORD," Saul said. "I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal."

But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD ? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king."

Then Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned. I violated the LORD's command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them. Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD." But Samuel said to him, "I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!"

As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. Samuel said to him, "The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind." Saul replied, "I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD your God." So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshiped the LORD.

- Using strong wording (sinned, violated)

- Initially denies wrongdoing
- Blames others (soldiers)
- Claims pure motives for his wrongdoing
- Sticks to his story
- Follows up apology with 'but'

- Seems more interested in appearances than repentance

Grade: D-

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Apology 5 (Phelps, Woods)

I want to look at 2 more athlete apologies today. Once again we are dealing with very famous men (Michael Phelps & Tiger Woods), but this time very different offenses (drug use and multiple adulteries respectively).

Michael Phelps, after winning 8 gold medals at the 08' games, was pictured partying and using illegal substances. He gave the following apology:

"I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I'm 23 years old, and despite the successes I have had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner that people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public -- it will not happen again."

- It's short and too the point
- Strongly worded (bad, inappropriate)
- Stated regret, sorry

- Partially blames his age (kids do this sort of stuff)

Grade: B
Tiger Woods, of course, is now known to have been involved in a series of adulterous affairs (he seems to have since checked into a clinic for sex addicts). Though he is a very rich man for being a public figure, he hasn't made much in the way of public comment. In fact, this is about all we have:

"I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone.

Although I am a well-known person and have made my career as a professional athlete, I have been dismayed to realize the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny really means. For the last week, my family and I have been hounded to expose intimate details of our personal lives. The stories in particular that physical violence played any role in the car accident were utterly false and malicious. Elin has always done more to support our family and shown more grace than anyone could possibly expect. But no matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy. I realize there are some who don't share my view on that. But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one's own family. Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn't have to mean public confessions. Whatever regrets I have about letting my family down have been shared with and felt by us alone. I have given this a lot of reflection and thought and I believe that there is a point at which I must stick to that principle even though it's difficult.

I will strive to be a better person and the husband and father that my family deserves. For all of those who have supported me over the years, I offer my profound apology."

- Starts fine
- Makes clear wife is not at fault
- Some strong wording (transgression, profound)

- More mad at media than self
- Almost sees himself as a victim
- Paints himself as a great holder of principles!

- I question whether someone who made millions on public endorsements has not surrendered the right to privacy

Grade: C

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Apology 4

I want to look at another apology in the same general genre as yesterday's. Marion Jones was a track star who cheated and later lied in court. Below is her apology:

"Good afternoon everyone. I am Marion Jones-Thompson, and I am here today because I have something very important to tell you, my fans, my friends, and my family. Over the many years of my life, as an athlete in the sport of track and field, you have been fiercely loyal and supportive towards me. Even more loyal and supportive than words can declare has been my family, and especially my dear mother, who stands by my side today.

And so it is with a great amount of shame that I stand before you and tell you that I have betrayed your trust. I want all you to know that today I plead guilty to two counts of making false statements to federal agents. Making these false statements to federal agents was an incredibly stupid thing for me to do, and I am responsible fully for my actions. I have no one to blame but myself for what I have done. To you, my fans, including my young supporters, the United States Track and Field Association, my closest friends, my attorneys, and the most classy family a person could ever hope for -- namely my mother, my husband, my children, my brother and his family, my uncle, and the rest of my extended family: I want you to know that I have been dishonest. And you have the right to be angry with me. I have let them down. I have let my country down. And I have let myself down. I recognize that by saying that I'm deeply sorry, it might not be enough and sufficient to address the pain and the hurt that I have caused you. Therefore, I want to ask for your forgiveness for my actions, and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I have asked Almighty God for my forgiveness.

Having said this, and because of my actions, I am retiring from the sport of track and field, a sport which I deeply love. I promise that these events will be used to make the lives of many people improve; that by making the wrong choices and bad decisions can be disastrous. I want to thank you all for your time."

- Uses strong language (betrayed, guilty, dishonest, stupid)
- Takes full responsibility
- Gives people right to be angry
- Realizes saying 'sorry' is just a word
- Sees it has a spiritual offense
- Initiates consequences for her actions

In my opinion, this is a masterful apology. Of course, Jones cheated in her field and then lied about it in court, so we're really dealing with 2 separate wrongs. But this series is focused on the nature of genuine repentance in regards to wording. Jones says all the right things here and none of the wrong things. Grade: A

Monday, January 18, 2010

Apology 3 (Steroids & Stuff)

I'm going to analyze 2 apologies today. Both are athletes apologizing for using performance enhancing drugs.

Alex Rodriquez (baseball star)
"When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me and I needed to perform, and perform at a high level every day. And I did take a banned substance and, you know, for that I'm very sorry and deeply regretful. And although it was the culture back then and Major League Baseball overall was very - I just feel that - you know, I'm just sorry. I'm sorry for that time. I'm sorry to fans. I'm sorry for my fans in Texas. It wasn't until then that I ever thought about substance of any kind, and since then I've proved to myself and to everyone that I don't need any of that."

- Admits he took a banned substance
- Short and to the point

- Partially blames peer pressure
- Compares his sin with others (everyone did it)
- Seems interested in protecting his statistical legacy

This is a pretty typical apology. He admits his wrong-doing, but focuses on the circumstances that led him to do it rather than the wrong choice. Like the next apology, he seems very concerned to protect his legacy. Grade: C

Mark McGwire (baseball star)
* This 'apology' was given recently in an interview format. McGwire tried to make the case that his use of performance enhancing drugs didn't enhance his performance (he would have hit all those Homeruns without them). Here are some of the key statements:

"It's the most regrettable thing I've ever done in my life... It was the era that we played in. I wish I never played in that era. I wish we had drug testing. If we had testing when I was playing, you and I wouldn't be having this conversation today. I guarantee you that... the pressures that I had to perform and what I had to go through to get through all these injuries is a very very regrettable thing. I wish it never came into my life. But we're sitting here talking about it. I wish I didn't have to. I apologize to everybody in major-league baseball, my family, the Marrises, Bud Selig. Today was the hardest day of my life... All I wanted to do was come clean. I wanted to come clean since 2005. I didn't know where when or how. I've just been holding this in... I want to add one more thing: I was not going to lie. I was not going to lie. I wanted to tell the truth. But because of the position I was in, and to protect my family and to protect me, I decided I would take the hits. I think anybody's going to take the hits. I've been taking hits for five years. It doesn't feel very good."

- He specifically names some of those he hurt

- Blames the era rather than himself*
- Blames peer pressure
- Personifies steroids as if they came to him
- Blames lateness of apology on lack of venue
- Claims pure motives for not confessing

- Unclear whether he regrets action or having to confess

Throughout the interview, McGwire was unwilling to admit that his home run totals were influenced by the drugs he was taking. Because of this, I think most will find it hard to view this as a full apology. Overall, his apology is even worse than that of Rodriquez. Grade: D

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Apology 2 (Baldwin)

You may have heard about the irate message that Alec Baldwin left on his 11 year old daughter's cell phone back in 2007. If not, all you need to know is that he called her a thoughtless little pig and seemed to threaten her. Somehow, the recording found its way to the internet and Baldwin attempted an apology:

"Thank you to everyone who has posted messages of support and understanding. Naturally, it is not best for a parent to lose their temper with their child. Everyone who knows me privately knows that I have endured a great deal over the last several years in my custody litigation. Everyone who knows me privately knows that certain people will go to any lengths to embarrass me and to disrupt my relationship with my daughter. In such public cases, your opponents attempt to take a picture of you on your worst day and insist that this is who you are as a person. Outside the doors of divorce court, I have friends, I have respect from people I work with and I have a normal relationship with my daughter. All of that is threatened whenever one enters a court room.

Although I have been told by numerous people not to worry too much, as all parents lose their patience with their kids, I am most saddened that this was released to the media because of what it does to a child. I'm sorry, as everyone who knows me is aware, for losing my temper with my child. I have been driven to the edge by parental alienation for many years now. You have to go through this to understand. ( Although I hope you never do.) I am sorry for what happened. But I am equally sorry that a court order was violated, which had deliberately been put under seal in this case. Once my book is published, I'm sure more people will understand the incredible strains created by parental alienation. In the meantime, I'm sorry to anyone who's taken offense from this episode."

The Good
-He at least admits something happened

The Bad
- Uses bland wording like 'not best'
- Views himself as the offended party
- Casts the blame on others
- Considers his actions normal
- Admits he's mostly sad he got caught
- Thinks more info would explain his actions
- Uses opportunity to advertise new book
- 'Sorry to anyone who's taken offense' (their fault)

The Questionable
- Nothing questionable here

This is one of the worst apologies I've ever encountered. Only those 2 green lines even show that this is supposed to be an apology. Almost everything else Baldwin said was self-serving. I give him a grade of F.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Apology 1 (Clinton)

Most of us know the story behind Bill Clinton's apology. He had lied about the kind of relationship he had with a female intern and later tried to 'come clean.' The text of his public apology may be found below, but I will do some color coded analysis to keep this process as quick as possible.

Green is good
Blue is bad
Red is questionable

"Good evening. This afternoon in this room, from this chair, I testified before the Office of Independent Counsel and the grand jury. I answered their questions truthfully, including questions about my private life, questions no American citizen would ever want to answer. Still, I must take complete responsibility for all my actions, both public and private. And that is why I am speaking to you tonight. As you know, in a deposition in January, I was asked questions about my relationship with Monica Lewinsky. While my answers were legally accurate, I did not volunteer information. Indeed, I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible. But I told the grand jury today and I say to you now that at no time did I ask anyone to lie, to hide or destroy evidence or to take any other unlawful action. I know that my public comments and my silence about this matter gave a false impression. I misled people, including even my wife. I deeply regret that. I can only tell you I was motivated by many factors. First, by a desire to protect myself from the embarrassment of my own conduct. I was also very concerned about protecting my family.

The fact that these questions were being asked in a politically inspired lawsuit, which has since been dismissed, was a consideration, too. In addition, I had real and serious concerns about an independent counsel investigation that began with private business dealings 20 years ago, dealings I might add about which an independent federal agency found no evidence of any wrongdoing by me or my wife over two years ago. The independent counsel investigation moved on to my staff and friends, then into my private life. And now the investigation itself is under investigation. This has gone on too long, cost too much and hurt too many innocent people. Now, this matter is between me, the two people I love most -- my wife and our daughter -- and our God. I must put it right, and I am prepared to do whatever it takes to do so. Nothing is more important to me personally. But it is private, and I intend to reclaim my family life for my family. It's nobody's business but ours. Even presidents have private lives. It is time to stop the pursuit of personal destruction and the prying into private lives and get on with our national life. Our country has been distracted by this matter for too long, and I take my responsibility for my part in all of this. That is all I can do.

Now it is time -- in fact, it is past time to move on. We have important work to do -- real opportunities to seize, real problems to solve, real security matters to face. And so tonight, I ask you to turn away from the spectacle of the past seven months, to repair the fabric of our national discourse, and to return our attention to all the challenges and all the promise of the next American century. Thank you for watching. And good night."

What can we learn from this transcribed apology? Are there any good indications of its genuineness? I think so. Below I'll explain my color choices:

The Good
- Claims complete responsibility
- Specifically names his sin
- Strong wording (wrong, failure, etc)
- Admits selfishness (lied to protect self)
- Willing to work to make it right

The Bad
- Still working to protect legal side of things
- Do lies really protect your family?
- Huge section complaining about investigation
- Attempt to change the subject

The Questionable
- Followed up green section with 'but'
- Are these 'motivations' really 'excuses'?
- Sense that he shouldn't have had to face this?
- Private matter jargon an easy way out?

Overall, this was a pretty average public apology. It had some good moments at the beginning, but had a bad middle. Remember, these evaluations are based only on word choice and given those parameters I'd give this apology a 'C' grade.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Anatomy of Apology

What's the difference between being genuinely sorry (repentance) and being sorry that you got caught? In one sense, the difference can be discerned only be the apologizing person (they know the seriousness of their 'sorry'). In another sense, the level of authenticity can best be known with time (does the apologizing party change?). But what are the initial and external signs of genuine repentance?

Over the next week or so, I want to briefly analyze a small number of celebrity apologies. I think there are some clear marks that distinguish a genuine apology from an apology that come only because one got caught. I will analyze apologies by people like Bill Clinton, Marion Jones, Tiger Woods, Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriquez, Alec Baldwin, Saul & David.

Who should I analyze first?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Amish Exemption

Reason #258 for becoming Amish

It appears they will be exempt from being part of any new health insurance law (notice I didn't say health 'care' law). If I could grow a better beard, I'd be gone already!

Friday, January 08, 2010


The 1st week of January is already over and I haven't even posted yet! I have an excuse: Katie & I were on vacation in Amish country again from Monday through Friday. But now I'm back and refreshed. Tomorrow I will return to somewhat regular posting :)