Publishing Mistakes

That doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you recognize the value in researching, teaching, collaborating, and correcting mistakes. That’s why the Move The Web Forward folks went on to encourage writers to “keep your posts updated.”

And that’s why Rebecca Murphey, when discussing how to get better at writing JavaScript, said:

“The number one thing that will make you better at writing JavaScript is writing JavaScript. It’s OK if you cringe at it six months from now. It’s OK if you know it could be better if you only understood X, Y, or Z a little bit better. Cultivate dissatisfaction, and fear the day when you aren’t disappointed with the code you wrote last month.”

In this case, Rebecca was talking about actually writing code, not writing about code. But the same principle applies: you will get better when you make mistakes and correct them.

-Louis Lazaris
“Publish What You Learn”
Smashing Magazine

Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
prisoners in affliction and in irons,
for they had rebelled against the words of God,
and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor;
they fell down, with none to help.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
and burst their bonds apart.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he shatters the doors of bronze
and cuts in two the bars of iron.

Psalm 107:10-16 (ESV)

No, I’m not a programmer, but a great deal of what these “meditations” represent are writing about what I have learned and being open about my mistakes (which is rare in just about any kind of blogging…particularly religious blogging, in spite of what Lazaris just said).

The Psalm writer encourages us (OK, he was writing to a Jewish audience, but I think I can stretch the interpretation to include all of those who were created in the image of God) to acknowledge God and to thank Him for redeeming us, especially when we have been redeemed from our own stupidity and ignorance.

Publicly admitting your mistakes and even thanking God for getting you out of the mess you created is easier said than done. Even after God has redeemed you and relieved you from the consequences (or some of them) of your actions and the punishment for willful sin, there’s still the guilt and shame to deal with. Thanking God for being redeemed is still a lot like saying that you’re a screw up and you did something immeasurably stupid. Blogging about the same “immeasurably stupid” stuff is making the same admission, except it’s to people and not to God.

And yet, there’s supposed to be some sort of benefit to doing both, even though it makes you (and me) feel like crawling under the nearest slime-covered rock and hiding there for the next 70 or 80 years.

The 73rd mitzvah is that we are commanded to verbally acknowledge the sins we have committed before G-d (exalted be He), when we come to do teshuvah (to repent). This is vidui (verbal confession), the idea of which is to say, ” ‘O G-d, I have sinned, I have committed iniquity, I have transgressed and done …” One should elaborate verbally and ask for atonement on this transgression with all the eloquence at his command.

-Translated by Rabbi Berel Bell
From “Sefer Hamitzvot in English”
Confessing Sins
Positive Commandment 73

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. –Matthew 23-24 (ESV)

It is said that if we have sinned against God, we must seek forgiveness from God, but if we’ve sinned against man, we must seek forgiveness from that man before God will forgive us. If we do not ask the man for forgiveness, God will not forgive us, either.

And if we do seek forgiveness from man and it is not given, will God then forgive us in the man’s stead?

I don’t know. Logic says that God will forgive you if you’ve made your best effort to seek forgiveness from one you’ve sinned against, but I’m not sure. I only know we are supposed to do our best to live at peace with others, regardless of what they’ve done to us…even if they hate us.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. –Matthew 5:43-48 (ESV)

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. –Romans 12:14-21 (ESV)

The Bible talks about forgiving others and seeking forgiveness from others and seeking forgiveness from God, but it never talks about forgiving yourself. It seems as if the last person you must forgive is yourself. Otherwise, you live with guilt, shame, and condemnation for the rest of your life, paying for a crime that has already been atoned for in Heaven (or so we hope).

There is a common misconception that life is about being in the right place at the right time. In truth, how you experience life has more to do with what is happening inside you as with what is happening outside.

Like riding a roller coaster without being prepared, if you are not well-tuned to the channel of life, a symphony of miracles could come across as cacophony from the boiler room.

This is what the sages call z’chut –sometimes translated as merit. It means a refinement of the soul, so that it will be precisely on the right frequency and static-clean.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson

People can be very cruel and spiteful, sometimes even to themselves. Do I need to have my frequency fine tuned?

Yeah, I know. I sound more like Yom Kippur is coming up rather than Passover.

One thought on “Publishing Mistakes”

  1. Hi James

    This is a blog i read often. I do not come here for some great insight (although some are here) nor for any inspired teaching (but some come)… i come here because you express the human condition. You journey is a multi faceted and many coloured thing that you beautifully turn into text for the world to see.
    This blog is your way of sifting the wheat from the chaff, not simply in your belief but in the way you learn and approach life, G-d and all those to forces bring.

    Asking should you approach things differently, change your frequency would kind of miss the point.

    Changing your views, content or values because your readers only sidesteps the issues you feel and want to right about. Do you have the right to hold your hands up and say ‘i was wrong’?, of course.. can we as readers express our opinion? Yes, as long as comments are allowed 🙂

    We come here for your thoughts.. you are on this journey, we are mere sojourners. If you need to change your frequency, you will figure that out without us.:)

    As a small addition.

    Forgiveness is something you can only give yourself. If other give you a reason for you to need to forgive them and do not ask for forgiveness, the burden and pain lay only in your heart. Forgiving them lightens your heart and breaks your chains….

    The Bible says, forgiven and you will be forgiven. 🙂 it is maybe TO easy to feel right but that how G-d is.

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