Stripped down

One of the downsides, if you could call it that, of reading in the Bloggernacle is that of extreme discontent.

I am no longer content at church. The lessons I hear sound hollow. The doctrine being taught lacks depth. The inequality, insensitivity, and pride seem rampant.

As I sit in Sacrament Meeting and ponder these things, my mind is brought to the 6th chapter of John:

  1. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
  2. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
  3. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
  4. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
  5. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
  6. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
  7. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.
  8. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
  9. When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
  10. What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
  11. It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
  12. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
  13. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
  14. ΒΆ From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
  15. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
  16. Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
  17. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

I echo the words of Peter: to whom shall we go? Despite the failings and discontent I have, where else would I find the Priesthood of God, so that I may receiving the ordinances of salvation?

Shame and Guilt

Several years ago I was talking with some friends, and during the course of the conversation, I came to a realization that has helped me sort out some emotions:

Shame and guilt are not the same thing.

Shame is destructive

When I think about shame, I usually think about scenarios where we commonly see shame portrayed. Perhaps a person has done something wrong, and others are mocking him for it. Perhaps a person has done something wrong, no one knows about it, but she is afraid others will mock, belittle, intimidate, scorn, or think less of her because she did it.

When I think of scenarios like these, I’m struck by how the element of shame is something that we feel in response to how we imagine (or experience) others considering us. I believe this reaction is a veiled form of pride: we are placing the opinions of others above that of God.

Guilt is constructive

By contrast, when I think of guilt, I think of it in a more detached sense. A person is guilty who has broken the law. Thus, if that person recognizes the illegality of the action, the expected consequence is to feel guilt. Guilt has no comparison attached to it. It is, to steal a word from the title of this blog, binary. You are guilty, or you are not guilty.

Recognizing guilt, feeling guilty, and comprehending the ramifications of our actions are what impel us to seek restitution.

Shame ≠ Guilt

This definition has really helped me sort through my feelings when I realize I have sinned. As I consider my actions, I think: “is what I’m feeling shame or guilt?” If I’m feeling shame, it gives me an opportunity to uncover more aspects of pride in my nature. Who do I think is trying to shame me? Is God trying to shame me? (Hint: the answer to that question is always “no”.) As I answer these questions, I try to cast off these feelings and focus instead on my guilt. What did I do? Why did I do it? What choices of mine led me to that place? How do I avoid them when they will surely rise again in the future?

This, I believe, is the element of true repentance. When Adam and Eve were found naked in the Garden, God was not the one who shamed them; that was The Accuser. God simply acknowledged their wrongs and invited them to consider their actions, accept the consequences, and move on. Should our experience be any different?

Starting off

I’ve decided to start this blog, because I need an outlet for stuff. I have outlets for various aspects of my life (Twitter, Facebook, etc), but in those places I am very reserved about my religion. Part of it is the stigma of publicly attaching my ideas/dissatisfactions to my real name. Another part is that these other fora allow for unmoderated commenting; Twitter is especially bad in this regard. By having a pseudonymous blog with moderated comments, this can all happen on my terms.

So what will I be posting here?

  • I sometimes have great discussions with my spouse or friends that lead to fantastic ideas. Those may get posted.
  • Sometimes I need to rant and let off steam. Isn’t that what the Internet is for?

I’m looking forward to this blog. I don’t know how frequently I’ll update it, but I am glad to have a place to post stuff.