They say if a person continues to do the same old things, the same old ways, but keeps expecting different results ... they are a good candidate for insanity. Sounds like that person would be a good candidate for some "change."

Then again, isn't "change" what we have been hearing from our politicians, the media and our neighbors in regards to our struggling economy, poor-performing schools and spiraling health care costs? Change is not only the word of the year, but is quickly becoming the panacea for all that is wrong with America.

Now, please don't label me as just another insensitive critic. I am actually one of those people who likes the word "change." It is often fresh, somewhat confrontational, and always accepted as a legitimate response to when the crap hits the fan.

However, I must admit, I like it more when it is directed toward others. Ironically, I am also one of those people who likes creating illusions by using colorful descriptions of how I have changed, but never actually alters my behaviors. So, you see, change is part of who I am and how I think, but not part of anything I really do.

When I was a college professor, I taught that a person's growth was directly linked to her or his desire to develop. And we all know to develop is to change. Therefore, if we didn't change, we didn't develop or grow. I still believe that, but I have also begun to see how the theory of change without alteration can be a powerful manipulation tool.

With the bombardment of television reality shows and our nation's need to watch pseudo-intimacy, I have become a little more reflective on what constitutes change.

It seems like unrestricted confession is in. That is, talking openly about your risky behaviors and therefore making yourself publicly vulnerable. MTV made millions off of it by getting people to check in, stay tuned and enter into a "Real World." Now, almost every reality show markets its ability to share personal secrets and parade alternative relationship practices.

Today our teens and 20-year-olds assume they are being "real" or genuine when they "confess" something they have done dubiously. They actually believe this is what it means to be honest. I struggle with what and whom they are being honest. It doesn't seem to be with themselves.

It doesn't take long for any parent or preacher to see what is missing. So, you ask, what is missing? It is repentance. You know, the term your grandmother used.

Another way of stating it might include "humbling yourself beyond confession to include changing your mind, your direction, and your will."

It is what the sages call having a deep desire to turn away from a practice, behavior or association that keeps you distant from your true self. Hmm ... almost sounds life-changing, doesn't it? Maybe because it is only when we truly repent that we actually do change.

As we enter into a New Year with a backdrop that echoes change, let our new hope be imbedded in an old principle. May our prayer be one of entering into this unpredictable future with a faith that calls us beyond superficial revising to rededicating ourselves to radical transformation.


The Rev. Joel S. Garavaglia-Maiorano is a chaplain at Hays Medical Center and director of the Center for Spirituality and Leadership. His articles are found in the monthly publication ONE. For more information on how your church can receive ONE, talk with your pastor or contact the Hays Daily News at (785) 628-1081.