I have woken up here in Australia to this firestorm about the previous post.

I sincerely apologise if it offended any of you.

Let me explain –

1/. I am not a spiritual person and have never professed to be.

2/. I am a provocative person and always have been.

3/. I am warts-and-all on this blog, and have been from day 1.

4/. What happened with Mr. Johnstone (the dwarf) was not funny.

5/. I put the post up because I wanted to get a discussion going.

The set up as presented by the media treated the incident like a joke – the title for the post was the headline for the story in the Sydney Morning Herald – our equivalent of the NY Times:

Saint sinner sets dwarf on fire.

The media presented it in a provocative and jocular manner, and yet treated it seriously – which is the same kind of conflict I presented in my post.

In this country there has been scandal after scandal here involving footballers getting drunk and doing horrible things, mainly involving women. Nasty misogynist stuff.

This is no different.

Again, I sincerely apologise to anyone who took offence. It was not intended.

However I did intend to provoke thought and discussion. And if in the process of that you make judgements about me, then so be it… I will cite the mantra that got me across the Meseta –

I love you, I'm sorry, please forgive me, thank you.




60 thoughts on “Apology

  1. Hey Matey,

    I still love you like a brother. You achieved your goal of getting a little spirited discussion going, including, of one anonymous criticism. By the limited comments, I think most of your friends and followers decided to sit this one out and see what happened. Obviously, I couldn’t.



    • Well Steve thank you – I only partly read some of the comments and I got the gist of it – hence my apology.

      Seems like I set myself on fire…

      Yesterday you and I swapped emails, and you said you preferred to let sleeping dogs lie – and I said I preferred to kick them.

      Part of my role in the larger scheme of things is to be an agitator. A social agitator. A lot of my earlier films came from that angry young man position. Films on racism and ageism, in particular.

      I like to get the dogs barking and snapping, because I don’t believe in stasis – in letting the status quo remain the status quo.

      Sometimes that gets me into trouble…




  2. Good morning Bill and fellow Bloggers.
    For a change, I am going to jump in first to respond to this posting.
    As a fellow Australian and avid AFL supporter, I have some understanding of the antics Bill referred to, which seem to end every football season with a sour taste and level of dismay. This example of behaviour is just another. I am disgusted by it. I refuse to watch the videoclip. I am annoyed. Conversations continue, however, and judgement continues to be delivered by all and sundry.
    This Blog has given all who are involved a place where they can express ideas and opinions, seek help and refuge, share and be supported. Whilst I don’t always agree with what is written, I accept that we all have a right to express ourselves and we also have free will – we can choose to stay or choose not to. We can post or not post. We can read and remain silent. Remember – we all have free will. That is a gift from God.

    I refuse to pass judgement. I deliberately did not post on the judgement debate which raged on this Blog. I very strongly believe that there is only one Judge and one day I will come face to face with Him.
    I rest my case.
    Blessings to all.


    • Thank you Anne.

      This blog, as someone pointed put the other day, can be a bumpy ride.

      As you say, it’s a place where people can express openly their opinions, without (I hope) fear of criticism and judgement, but within an arena of respect.

      As you know, I don’t come to this blog with any pretensions – at least I hope I don’t. But I do approach it with respect for everyone and their points of view, however much they may differ from mine.

      How people reacted to my previous post defines them, not me.

      I am who I am, and have never pretended to be otherwise.

      All these posts and comments are a mirror to the person posting, and commenting.



  3. I don’t really know what to say Bill but just want to reassure you somewhat. I think the way you worded the blog was perhaps not the most sensitive but then you were looking to stir the pot….. And that you achieved in spades.

    To my mind dwarf entertainment is horrible but I’m not sure all dwarfs feel that way. The social culture in footy clubs is often absolutely disgusting and brings out the worst in people and I am horrified by this incident.

    Now I stick my neck out. I found Andrew Demetriou’s reaction quite funny. This man has been trying to manage the football drug scandal saga for the best part of a year. The biggest crisis to hit the Australian football code ever. To be told a very abbreviated version of the ‘burning event’ and then be asked if he is used to this sort of thing would reduce many people to laughter. What a ridiculous question!

    Love you Bill ….. You’re more than ok.


    • Deborah,

      Firstly, thank you. You’re right, in retrospect I should have worded that post a little more delicately. It was late, I was tired, my wife and I had just come back from a Camino dinner where we met Britta and Jenny and Julie and some otherreally lovely people, and I didn’t give the post the full level of attention it deserved.

      I wanted to get a discussion going about the bigger issues underneath the story – the way the media treats incidents like this, whether in this time of strict political correctness we’ve lost our courage to laugh without in any way being disrespectful, etc.

      To sign off in the manner you have, telling me you love me, affects me deeply. Thank you. I love you too.

      That’s the kind of intimacy this blog engenders, and I believe it’s in no small part to the frankness and warts-and-all quality of the postings and comments.

      I am deeply deeply touched.


      • well Bill, you sure know how to get a bonfire going. I have large extended family in Europe, this reminded me of family gatherings, colourful and never dull, small fistecufs, huffing and puffing, walk outs and hugs. never taking sides,being caught in the middle got me beat up emotiinally a lot – I moved across an ocean to get away from it. imagine now I miss them, but I got you all. hugs ti you all


  4. Oh Bill, those who know and love you know that you meant no disrespect.
    You are one of the bravest people I have ever known.


  5. Bill,

    I didn’t take offense yesterday.

    I didn’t comment because I do not follow sports other than cycling, and that is only because my son participates in mountain bike racing.

    Having not commented, I did not receive the blog’s comments. So I was unaware of the ruckus that followed your previous blog. I worked today so did not see this post till 5 pm Mountain Standard Time.

    Come on folks, are you all that sanctimonious?

    Bill, I have been standing by you for quite some time now and will continue to stand by you.



  6. Well that didn’t take long! I have not – and will not – watch the video.
    But I think the lesson that can be learnt here is one I learn a few days back on another thread – if you don’t have time to express carefully what you want to say, then WAIT. Nothing is so ground-shattering that it needs to be said RIGHT NOW, and much is to be gained from holding off until you have the time to be careful – especially around a potentially disruptive issue.
    What do you think, Bill?


    • Rachael,

      I think you’re absolutely right.

      I was hoping the blog would lead to a deeper discussion about the issues that the whole incident raises – instead I got back a largely superficial response from some people, condemning me.

      I am impulsive, because I do follow my PGS without question. Did my PGS blindside me on this one? I don’t think so. But yes, with a little more consideration I could have worded the blog better.

      Usually I do spend a lot of time thinking about a blog before I post it. Last night it was late, I was tired, I’d woken up very early, driven 300kms from Mudgee to Sydney, gone to the Camino dinner, and then late in the night I wanted to get the blog out before I went to bed.

      Steve called it “throwing out a bomb then going to sleep.” Yep, that’s what I did.

      I’ll say it again – I’m sorry, I love you, please forgive me, thank you.


      • I repeat at this time. I love you just like you are and don’t change a thing. You are the Bill that we all know and love and you don’t really need any advice from any of us. If you start trying to tailor to make sure you please everyone you would no longer be our Bill.

        Love you, Mate Steve


        • Bill, I couldn’t agree more with Steve. I love you just the way you are, don’t go changing to make others happy.


        • Thank you Steve –

          I write this blog as someone who questions, who is curious, who provokes, and who accepts.

          And as someone who loves.

          I am unchangeable, and I am changeable.

          I am the same as I always was, and I am different too.

          That’s what this blog is for – for me to learn, grow, and change.

          If others get something from it, then that’s fantastic.

          Then I am a lucky man.



  7. Dearest Bill,

    One of the comments on your last post asked “Do any of us know you in person?” – well I have had the pleasure of knowing you and counting you as a dear friend for almost 20 years. What I saw in your post was the same old incendiary Bill (throwing bombs out as Steve would say), getting a discussion going.

    You didn’t say that you approved of the incident, or that you weren’t appalled by it along with the rest of us (or if you are an Australian, thoroughly embarrassed by the latest antics of our sporting “heroes”). What you did say is that you were conflicted, and that in your “pilgrims heart” you knew you shouldn’t find it funny. Well Bill, before you were a pilgrim, you were a human being, with all the foibles and failings that go along with that nasty condition. Are those people condemning you seriously saying that they have never laughed inappropriately at something before??? Come on!!! I think that what they are really saying is that they don’t have the courage to do it on a public forum.

    You are a brave, brave man Bill – and this is coming from someone who has not only had the honour of reading your book in full (talk about warts and all!!), but who has the privilege of calling you friend.

    Love you Bill.

    Libby xx


    • Libby,

      Do you have a PayPal account?


      Seriously, thank you!

      Such beautiful sentiments. Yes, you know me. You know I like to ruffle feathers. The Camino didn’t change any of that.

      I have been both appalled and disgusted by the off-field behaviour of these footballers over the years. Unlike the incidents of rape and the most dreadful treatment of women though, I don’t think in this instance there was any malicious intent on the part of the footballer involved. If there was, Mr. Johnstone would have pressed charges. I think it was just a very bad taste prank.

      But I found it a fascinating thing to discuss. And strangely, uniquely Australian.

      Thank you for saying these words of support though.

      You are gorgeous and right at this moment if you can feel it I am giving you the biggest hug!!



  8. You are a full out human being, Bill. Like Arlene, I wasn’t able to read yesterday…so didn’t even know there was a fuss. When I do or say something that creates controversy, I pray that I have the wisdom and courage to humble myself as you have, and I doubly pray that people are as forgiving. Sending out warmth and joy to all of the PGS family tonight. (PS: To those who “left” I know you are out there reading anyway…because the firestorm here is just as seductive as the firestorm created by the footy players. If you are truly done, that is fine….but if you are not, maybe some personal introspection can help you grow as a person….because in the end, that is why we are all here……..) Peacefulness and Gentleness….Julie B


  9. Bill. Oh dear. I’ve just read the last two posts during my lunch break. Do you feel a little battered and bruised? I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you in person but I’m sending you lots of virtual hugs today. So many of the comments above I’d like to put big ticks next to. Don’t let this get you down. Is Jennifer reminding you that this blog is a learning thing for you?

    Being an Aussie I’ve heard all about the incident and just thought that its typical of our “hero” footballers here. And I say hero with much sarcasm. I can’t stand that they are put on a pedestal here.


    PS. If you guys are ever coming up to Brissie let me know. I’d love to meet you and Jennifer in person.


    • Hi Donna,

      Yes, I come up to Brisbane a bit. I’m an Adjunct Professor there at the Queensland University of Technology. Plus most of my family comes from Brissie – I grew up there.

      It would be great to meet you!

      And thank you for your very kind words of support here.

      Very much appreciated.



  10. There are a few comments about “don’t change Bill”. Yes and no.
    There was also a “you don’t need us to give advice” comment. Yes and no.
    This is, as I understand it, a conversation. So there might be joking, there might be laughter, there might be tears, there might be disagreement, there might be disappointment. There might even be advice given! Isn’t that OK? Don’t we want to learn from each other? (rhetorical questions)
    I say DO CHANGE BILL. Yes, we accept you as you are, but at the same time we understand that you want to be different tomorrow. Some things will stay the same, but some things will change. It’s good to be that way. It means you will look back and say “I am glad I am no longer xyz” I am the same. It means, for me, taking a good hard look at myself and honestly assessing, “What are my xyz-factors that could do with changing?” (yet at the same time being thankful that I am accepted without condemnation)
    Sometimes it means manning up and saying, “You know, I got it wrong there, I’m sorry”
    And that’s OK. Actually, it’s admirable.

    As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another – an old proverb. At the end of the day, both parties look a bit different and are more effective tools.

    One last thought – when you set out to be provocative, surely you expect someone is going to disagree with you. Chances are, not everyone will agree. You gotta take it on the chin. In my experience those who provoke often do not listen with the same intensity – Bill, I believe you are different in that respect. Everyone listening and accepting others with their differing opinions (without having to have the last say or even to be right) can create a special community.


    • Hi Rachael,

      I have to admit I’m really tired.

      Exhausted, in fact.

      I’m sure you raise very valid points here but I don’t want to defend myself anymore.

      I’ve said all I can say.



    • Rachel,

      Personally, I stand by my earlier comments in that I love him just like he is. He is the same man that I started following on his Camino and the one that followed me, and I have never seen anything other than a guy who has put herculean effort into creating this blog and forum, not to mention writing a book, and I have nothing but respect for him.

      Can he improve aspects of his life? I am sure he can, but he knows areas better than I do. I am sure he can manage that. I have witnessed him doing so through this blog. If he wants my input about HIM AS A PERSON, he will ask for it.

      My personal improvement compass has only one needle and it always points to me. I am sure Bill has a similar one. It is all I can do to take care of myself, and I have neither the desire nor the expertise to advise others on how they could better take care of themselves. Since I have gotten older, I found that I am no longer smart enough to change others.

      How do you know that Bill wants to be different tomorrow? I never heard him say that and I have been reading every word he has written since May 22nd. I have heard him declare some of his traits over and over, but not that he needed or wanted to change them. He was just reiterating who he is. He will change what he wants to or believes he needs to, as will I, as will you, but, to disagree with you again, he does not need us to advise him.

      Bill has graciously allowed all of us to chime in and give opinions about many topics which is healthy and thought provoking, but I think the line should be drawn about giving opinions about each other. I don’t think that is the intent. He reads, hears, and responds to almost every comment, and I am sure that some of them give him cause for introspective, provocative thought. He is a kind and generous man and if it weren’t for him, none of would be here.

      Rachael, I hope this does not sound judgmental, because I am definitely not in position to judge you either. I just think that Bill has personally been the topic of too much discussion and that we should all get back to the interchange of ideas and thoughts that are brought to the surface about the topics that, yes, Bill takes the time to put forth. I know that it does take time. He has asked me to do guest blogs before, and I am stymied about what I could write about, yet he does it anew every day. We are all blessed by him, and I believe he has been blessed by us, but let’s assume he is smart enough to adjust his course as he sees fit to reach whatever objective he sets for himself.

      I love him like a brother, and I will always stand with him if I think it is appropriate.

      Respectfully submitted, Steve


      • Rachel,
        I cannot add a single comment to what Steve has responded.

        I say HERE HERE and am in full and complete agreement with his every comment.

        We love and stand by Bill as we know him.



      • Beautifully said, Steve. I feel the same way. Bill is too good a man to be personally torn apart by people.who disagree with him.There’s a big difference between criticising a comment and criticising a person. We aren’t here to judge personalities -and even if we were, Bill is a person of great integrity, and I’ll stand by that whether I agree with everything he says, or not.


  11. I like you more now, Bill, since you made this booboo (which it certainly was). You seemed to be too much reformed/transformed. Everything was so black/white, before/after the camino. Had you retained no flaws? No pettiness or impropriety or stupidity at all? You had assembled a team of admirers and positive people. There was so much loving and tolerance and purity of heart that I sometimes had trouble identifying with it. Even I was starting to sound sanctimonius. I was a bit nervous about being my blunt opinionated self. Now I am, tentatively, more relaxed!

    Humour is a funny thing, haha. It is unpredictable and sometimes you just “have to be there” to get it.

    So don’t start getting all perfect on us!


  12. I was there last night when Bill was talking about posting the blog, we did discuss the potential ramifications and the more than potential for misunderstandings, I did say to him that he was setting himself up for a hanging … and all happened in spades – and I must say I admire Bill for sticking to his guns and his point of wanting to start a debate. Unfortunately, as was also predicted, that was not how most people saw it, so I can just hope that this current post is making up for all this churning of the minds of the many PGS posters and that you can forgive Bill for being the wonderfully flawed human being he is, much admired by so many of us. You rock, my friend šŸ™‚ Britta


    • Ah Britta –

      I should have followed your advice!

      It was so lovely to meet you after all this time. And Jenny too!

      Thank you also for these beautiful comments here. You and Jenny have the most extraordinary energy. You both have this amazing light emanating from you. I put this down to the Camino.

      I value your friendship.



    • Hi Bill and PGS Family –
      I concur completely with Britta’s comment. The subject of both the incident and the aftermath, which have gone viral, as such things do, was something that was discussed by us all for quite some time and we all had the view that it was inexcusable. Sadly, this sort of larrikin (and much worse) activity can sometimes be part of the football culture here in Australia, and no doubt there are examples of the same sort of activity across the globe. It was Bill’s wish to start a debate over this – to highlight the warped nature of such individuals – purely that, and with no other agenda.
      Whilst writing I’d also like to say that having Bill and Jennifer attending our pilgrim meeting last night was fantastic – we all got along like a house on fire from the first moment – and Bill and Jennifer were both able to meet and talk with the majority of the crowd there. Those of you who are doing the ‘PGS Pilgrimage’ next year are in for a huge treat!
      Bill – thank you for the beautiful photo of Britta, Janet and me. Britta’s face, particularly, says it all, doesn’t it? It’s the best photo!
      Cheers – Jenny


      • Dear Jenny –

        Thank you for posting this.

        It was such a great pleasure to meet you and Britta and Janet.

        I hope Britta sent up that photo I took. What’s great about the shot is the light that you three ladies exude. The inner light. It’s quite wonderful!

        I hope we meet up again soon.



        • Hi Bill- my pleasure in posting the comment – I wanted to confirm Britta’s comment and further illustrate to the PGS family the feelings we all had about the deplorable actions of the individuals involved in the incident.
          The photo … thank you again so much for this and for your beautiful compliment about us. The light of the Camino shines very brightly in us all – it’s strengthened the friendship I’ve had with Janet for 23 years now, and our friendship with Britta, since we all met on our Camino in April last year, is a strong and supportive one – we’re kindred spirits brought together by the Camino.
          I hope we can all meet up again soon too and I look forward to that –
          Best regs – Jenny


          • Jenny, would you and Britta and Janet mind if I posted the photo on the blog?

            It’s such a gorgeous shot of you all, and you express so clearly in your collective radiance what the Camino is all about.

            Let me know – but if you wish it to remain private, then I completely understand!



          • Hi Bill – I would be honoured if you would post our photo on the blog. I’ve spoken with Janet and she will respond to you tomorrow and I’ve left a message for Britta, who’s working at her local polling booth. It’s 8.00pm and she’s just messaged to say she’s counting votes, so she’ll get back to you tomorrow too.
            Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness –
            Best regs – Jenny


          • Cheers Bill – the election – yep! Husband Steve and I are channel-surfing between the election and the rugby – fighting for control of the remote!
            Best regs – Jenny


  13. Dear Bill, finally got Jenny’s message, so sorry about the tardy reply, but it was nearly midnight by the time I got home and frankly I could hardly care about the election result at that time!! I’ve since been updated by my public servant son and it does look as if it could be more interesting times ahead than had been anticipated šŸ™‚ Anyway, yes, feel free to post the photo. Janet and Jenny are not only very special people in themselves, but being my Camino buddies, they have a huge space in my heart and I think it shows in the photo šŸ™‚


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