Lately I've started to think about Barbara Brown Taylor's book, "Speaking of Sin." I don't have a copy of it here, it's at the office. And, I haven't read it for about 5 years....(guessing here, like I said I don't have a copy so not sure when it was printed).
The point is, as I recall from her book, she argues for the necessity of a language for sin. She says that we have become a society that brushes off sin, ignores it as a reality and writes it off. People don't want to go to church and feel "bad" so let's don't offer a confession and absolution.
I remember this topic in a conversation at seminary, lo some 12 years ago. I think I argued, then, for confession, but not at everyone of our daily Eucharists. I thought it would be good enough to have it once or twice a week, so it wouldn't become rote and meaningless. Others wanted it less, while others wanted the confession included in every Eucharist.
Not sure if I would argue it the same way, now. But that's beside the point. What I am thinking about is, how do we name sin? And how do we teach it to people, especially our children?
My kids just roll their eyes when I use language like, "sin." So I have to describe their behavior in other words....words about justice, respect, accountability. My hope is convey what sin is even if they don't like the word.
Another thing, as a I recall, that BBT says in the book, is that forgiveness is important and so is reconciliation. These concepts are important for human well being - in a real, deep, way. I can't recall how BBT unpacks this, but I remember that I thought is was right on.
My daughter is now 20. I think she has grown up understanding the concept of sin and reconciliation even without the language. She has a fine sense of justice, honesty, and accountability. Some days I stand in awe of her strength and integrity.
Now, my son, who is 16, is another story. He, currently, is living with the impression that the world needs to adapt to him, not he to the world. It makes it complicated to teach him accountability....
And, it is leaving me feeling impotent and unable to parent.
But I don't think it is just about me and my son. I think we are a reflection of our society, our world. People who have lost the ability to speak of sin and then understand what to do....and our society is crumbling under that loss...crumbling from denial, from pushing things under or away, and pretending that each of us is entitled to what ever it is we think is right.
Yes. I chose to write a public confession of my failure. It's true. I have. My hope is that accepting my failure (not that I am a failure, but that in areas of my life I have failed)...by accepting it and confessing it, I can seek ways to reconcile it. I trust that the forgiveness is there, but that does not relieve me of my responsibility to reconcile...
That is, with God's grace.
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