Broadening Our Vocabulary


Only the good doubt their own goodness, which is what makes them good in the first place. The bad know they are good, but the good know nothing. They spend their lives forgiving others, but they can’t forgive themselves. -Paul Auster, novelist and poet (b. 1947)

* * * *

One of the things that I do to broaden my vocabulary is subscribe to  A Word A Day.  Each week from Monday-Friday a word arrives in my inbox along with a thoughtful quote at the end.  The quote at the top of the page came on Monday and was completely unrelated to the word it was paired with.

I have had many thoughts about this quote today – from the ramifications for political life, talk radio, or ordinary gossip.  I was also reminded of another quote,

“Who steals my purse, steals trash, but he that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor indeed.”  ~ William Shakespeare

Where does the quote lead you?

I differ from the writer in that I believe everyone needs to learn to forgive themselves, but I think a person needs to understand and accept their own imperfections, as well as that barrier of sin which prevents us from hitting the mark.  I want to practice being the person who forgives others but remains humble enough to realize I need forgiving, even for things I do not know about.  That knowledge keeps me coming back to the cross, to the one who forgave those who were killing him.

A somewhat disjointed post of forgiveness and hope for forgiveness for us all.

About Sonja Roberts Dalglish

I love people, math, physics, and theology. I love mysteries which may explain the list above. I am a polio survivor, having had the disease in August 1954. The vaccine was declared safe in April 1955. I am very pro vaccines. They have increased the health and well being of the world. Presently, I am living just west of Corpus Christi, in Kingsville. For naturalists, this seems to be where the coastal plane and the Wild Horse Dessert meet. It is flat which gives us beautiful sunsets. One of our concerns is climate change. We are already hot and dry and getting hotter and dryer. The cattlemen and women are having to graze fewer livestock these days.
This entry was posted in Faith, Forgiveness, Hope. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Broadening Our Vocabulary

  1. mrthekidd says:

    I try to pray for humility daily, which is a challenge to say the least, and ask for forgiveness daily. What I struggle with is forgiving too quickly and not fully considering the ramifications of the act that needs forgiving, and the forgiveness.

    Baby steps.

    Also, I do a weekly word post with a little bit af random fact thrown in for good measure and a picture or photo somehow related to the content of the post, feel free to have a look at the latest :

    God bless


  2. Many people do not understand the problem with forgiving too quickly – or of asking others to forgive too quickly. Once, I heard of a church that had a treasurer who took a sizable amount of money from the church, several tens of thousands of dollars. It was found out and announced. A few weeks later, the pastor had a forgiveness service with the man up front and asked everyone to forgive him and accept him back into the community. This was done without asking the man to make restitution, much less having a plan to pay back the money. It was supposed to be wiped clean.

    I am reading a biography on Bonhoeffer,
    Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas and Timothy J. Keller (Apr 20, 2010) and a commentary on The Cost of Discipleship by Rodney Coombs. I have been thinking about the topic of Cheap Grace and the problem it has caused for the church. I have only begun to explore it.
    Thank you for your comment and the link to your website. Enjoyed the post.

  3. Nan Bush says:

    Only the good doubt their own goodness, which is what makes them good in the first place. The bad know they are good, but the good know nothing. They spend their lives forgiving others, but they can’t forgive themselves. -Paul Auster,

    Mmm. I think perhaps Auster is being a bit more clever than accurate. First, is it that the good *doubt* their goodness (which suggests a significant lack of discernment on their part) or that they are also *aware* of the ways in which they are not good (to which the bad are blind)? Rather than the goods’ “knowing nothing,” that would seem to mean that the good have a far greater store of understanding than the bad. The bad, he says, *know* they are good; but in fact, they (and he) are mistaken; what they have is belief, not actual *knowing.* And as for saying that the good can’t forgive themselves, it makes me wonder about pathology in some of the people he’s known. I find his universalizing rather a wild stretch.

    Interesting! Thanks.

  4. Mary Ann says:

    I like the phrase “hope for forgiveness”. I believe forgiveness, like love, is a daily choice…both enabled by the One who first forgave and loved me.

  5. Nancy, I like your clarity of thought. I think he is using language differently than we normally use it, at least those of us in the church.

    I think he is trying to speak from more than one viewpoint. This quote struck me because so many people dislike the Biblical understanding of sin and particularly the corporate confession where they confess that they are sinners. Recently, a colleague and fellow pastor has had a woman in her congregation who seems very puzzled because she says that she does not sin. She has trouble understanding what that might even mean. I wonder how to rewrite it in words that would seem more accurate to us (it bothers me that he calls people ‘good’ perhaps because I remember that Jesus said that only the Father in heaven is good.) Although, I think I understand what he is trying to say under the words. I have been surprised at how many people feel so justified in their opinions and words and actions, even as they hurt others. Our talk radio and press seem to hammer at people. Our people are so critical of those in the public eye. It is amazing that anyone wants to be a public servant any more.

    Mary Ann,
    I like the idea that forgiveness is a choice – and a process, and many times something that we do not have the strength on our own to accomplish. I hold close the memory of Corrie Ten Boom having to ask the Spirit for help in order to proclaim to one of her former prison guards that God could forgive him. To even say those words took more strength than she had. I am so thankful for the gifts of love and grace from God, given so that we might share them with others.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s