Magazine article The Christian Century

Kinda Sorry

Magazine article The Christian Century

Kinda Sorry

Article excerpt

THE WESTERN world lost much when the confession-absolution dyad dropped God out of the equation. Vanished is the power of the purifying rhetoric that once gave voice to sinners in classic words and acts of contrition and confession. The banal phrases of today's transgressors, gathered from any recent week's newspapers or broadcasts, contrast drastically with the language of confession in the classic Book of Common Prayer and the Roman Catholic Act of Contrition, as the following examples show:

We have erred.

"I didn't think I'd get caught."--Baseball star Pete Rose 'after he was changed with outlawed sports gambling.

We have strayed from our ways like lost sheep.

"I sincerely regret my actions in this case."--The USA Today executive who embezzled $3.6 million.

We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.

"I am ... just a man who made a terrible mistake."--Howard Donath, Illinois child pornographer convicted of sex acts against a little neighbor girl.

We have offended against the holy laws.

"I'm sure that I'm supposed to act all sorry or sad or guilty."--Rose.

We have left undone those things which we ought to have done.

"I was wrong in failing to truthfully address these issues."--Connecticut Governor John Rowland, after misusing state accounts and lying about it.

We have done those things which we ought not to have done.

"If anyone was offended, I apologize."--California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, accused of groping women. …

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