What role does shame play in our faith?
Yesterday I wondered if the way in which we handle confession impacts our experience of guilt and shame (however we might define these words). In talking to Catholics (or former Catholics), it seems to me that their approach leaves people ever-focused on their shortcomings. Many of the people I’ve talked to sound like they can’t see any redeeming qualities in themselves because they’re so laser-focused on the things they’ll one day need to confess. In this case, we may live in shame because we’re not accustomed to viewing ourselves accurately.
On the Protestant side of things, we risk living in hiding. We lack the compulsion to share the things we’re perhaps most ashamed of because it’s not really built in to our life of faith the way it is with Catholics. In this case, we may live in shame because we’ve got secrets we feel we can’t possibly share without getting “booted” from our community.
Neither of these generalizations applies to every person in each group, but they’re common enough. We’re vulnerable to huge doses of shame on both sides.
What can we learn from each other?