04 March 2008

Nothing new under the sun: syndicated columnist edition

Of course pregnant women shouldn't read Ellen Goodman's columns. (Maybe most other people shouldn't either.) But Sunday's paper--what was left of it after our collage project--was lying on the table where we were industriously making, unmaking, and "recycling" Play-doh objects this morning. So, since my blood pressure has been holding steady and the headline said nothing about babies, born or unborn, I read one of her recent columns.

The gist of this column: we Americans are into "shopping" for religion, "U-Hauling our beliefs off [from one church to the next] in search of a better fit." Not surprisingly, Goodman presents this trend in a postive light.

She quotes a Donald Miller (religion prof. at U. of Southern California): "You are the artist of your own life when it comes to religion."

Now, my brain hasn't been working too well lately, but it seems to me this is an echo of something I read somewhere once...wait...it's coming back...some drama set in a Garden, maybe?

Wow. Once again, the relative poverty of the human imagination is demonstrated. We can't even come up with new sins and heresies; we just keep recycling the old ones, reshaping them a bit. (Kind of like that Play-doh.) I guess that's why pastors, after a few years of confidential counseling, start to feel like they've heard and seen it all. Sure, there are variations on the theme. But go ahead: try to invent a new sin, so awful that it's never been done before. Or try to indulge in some heresy that hasn't already been tried. (Um, on second thought, please expend your time and energies in a different way. But you know what I mean.)

That's why it's such a shame that so many people who are really hurting let fear and shame stop them from taking advantage of private confession and absolution. The women in the home Bible study that I (more or less) lead are just discovering the immense relief that follows the "you too?!" or "I'm not the only one who struggles with that?!" moments that sometimes occur, and the grace that follows. For many, it's only then that they will finally allow themselves to begin to hope and to heal. Knowing that others sin in some of the same ways that I do doesn't decrease my horror of my own sin, but opens opportunities to bear one another's burdens, uphold each other through tempation, and encourage each other with the truth of Scripture.

Sorry, Prof. Miller. I've often yearned to be more artistically inclined, but when it comes to my life, I'm sure glad Someone else is holding the paintbrush. I can't resist grabbing it sometimes, but all that makes is a big, ugly mess.

1 comment:

Rebekah said...

Good point on C&A--it's never easy, but remembering that your sins are nothing new does ease the pain of hearing yourself confess them a little.