On Shame

November 21, 2009

We’re studying shame in CPE right now. Apparently, shame is only now being studied even in the mental health field.

From CPE materials this week: “You cannot shame or belittle people into changing their behavior.” And what a realization for me to understand that guilt and shame are two different things. Shame: “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.”

Shame is the belief that we are not worth “good”; guilt is the belief that “the bad” is inconsistent with who we are in our core. If I feel guilt for eating a doughnut, I believe I am worth eating something more healthy. If I feel shame for eating a doughnut, I don’t feel I am worth eating anything more healthy, perhaps because I am worried that my spouse will not love me for being fat, or will not want to have sex with me.

Guilt can motivate long-term change; shame cannot. I’m not far enough into the cirriculum to understand how guilt might be effectively used, but my guess is that the Church and other cultural influences use shame far more than we use guilt.

“You aren’t worthy of God’s grace, therefore repent sinner.”

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Looking for Christ

November 21, 2008

As mentioned some time ago, I am no longer maintaining this site save for occassional odds and ends. Here is one of those, my senior seminary sermon. Note that the audio problems at the begin go away after a couple of minutes.

Gospel:  Luke 17:11-19

(If that doesn’t work, click here.)

My son is in third grade this year, and at Lee Elementary, that means that this is the year for the Hawaii program.  You see, each year at Lee Elementary, there is a designated play or show for each grade, a sort of liturgy for the kids (and their parents) to either look forward to or to dread, depending on their personality, gifts, and talents.  This particular year, Brian’s production was the history and culture of Hawaii.

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I know, I know: I just said I was done writing for a while. But I have had something on my mind lately and I’ve decided to write this post, so maybe I’m pulling a Barbra Streisand…

What has caught my eye lately is all of the political fuss over Geraldine Ferraro and the Clinton campaign—the allegations of sexism and racism and the furor it has generated. It seems to me that much of the same stuff gets roiled up in church politics: secular advocacy rolls over into the church because we don’t (and shouldn’t) compartmentalize our lives between what happens in the public square and what happens in our houses of worship.

Perhaps what should happen, though, that doesn’t happen as often, is that we should take our gospel values into the public square (keeping the separation of church and state distinct, for reasons I’ve discussed elsewhere). Those values, I think, shed some light on the problems that have been raised in the recent political campaigns. Namely, inequality in power and the resulting injustice cannot be solved by obtaining and using the same kind of power that originally created the inequality. To do so is a little bit like using the military to oust a military dictator in a coup, and then putting another dictator in his place. Perhaps the new dictator has a different face, but he is still a dictator. It does not fundamentally change the dynamic of the power structure. Read the rest of this entry »

I had to write a hymn for a class – I thought I would share it.  It can be sung to many tunes in the hymnal — anything with the little abbreviation “CM” in the corner at the bottom for “Common Meter”. I haven’t found a tune I like yet, but when I do I’ll update it.  It is based, of course, on King David and his relationship with Saul’s son, Jonathan, and the Book of Ruth.

David and Jonathan, they met
And wept behind a stone
They kissed and said their sad farewells
Again to be alone

Away, Naomi pushed her love
And Ruth refused to leave
“Where you go, I will go,” said she
Even if death takes me

Thank you God for relationships
You bless our love with life
Through good and bad you lift us up
Deliv’ring us from strife


Signs of Truth

March 30, 2008

A sermon preached at St. James Austin on the Second Sunday of Easter, 2008.

Lessons for 2nd Sunday in Easter 

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be aligned with your love, oh God, our courage, our saving health, and our freedom.

You wouldn’t know it from reading most of the press reports, but the last General Convention of the Episcopal Church actually did talk about some things besides the Bishop of New Hampshire. They approved some changes to our liturgical calendar, and this past Monday we celebrated one of those: we honored the former Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero. The Archbishop was gunned down by an assassin in his cathedral shortly after giving a sermon against the anti-humanitarian junta in El Salvador in 1980.

That regime ruled through all of the typical methods of domination—fear, intimidation, and dehumanization: stealing hope from any source it could imagine. Death squads of the government hired thugs to rape, torture, and kill any who opposed their system. The poorest—the peasants of El Salvador—were the most persecuted. By 1980, 3,000 people a month were being killed. Corpses were tossed in shallow graves, and in trash dumps.

But the junta could not imagine the kind of hope that Archbishop Romero brought to life. The Archbishop spoke loudly against the injustices, and worked for nonviolent resistance to the oppression. Shortly before his death, he said, “I do not believe in life without resurrection. If they kill me I will rise again in the people of El Salvador… if God accepts the sacrifice of my life, then may my blood be the seed of liberty and a sign that hope will soon become a reality.” The Archbishop, of course, knew of a living hope that is imperishable. Read the rest of this entry »

Out of the Darkness

February 29, 2008

Sermon for Homiletics Class for Fourth Sunday in Lent – Preached on February 29, 2008; Response to the global situation in the Anglican Communion over the inclusion of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered persons in the Church and the attempt to smooth tension without resolving our inclusion.

1 Samuel 16:1-13

Psalm 23

Ephesians 5:8-14

John 9:1-41



And on video…

November 13, 2007

The sermon I posted a few days ago is now available on video…

Google Video is having a few problems at the moment, so it may not work for a day or two, and the audio is poor so be warned.