Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More sinned against than sinners, ALL!

Oprah seemed to be as good as yesterday's TV provided, at a time when my wife and I were just finishing dinner. And there we found Geneen Roth, author of another New York Times bestseller, Women, Food and God. Oprah's history of "yo-yoing" (her word, not mine) up and down the scales (the bathroom scales that is!) over the last three decades makes her an eloquent spokesperson for all those who struggle with gaining weight, then dieting, and gaining it all (and sometimes more) back again.
And the central theme of this book, if I was listening carefully and taking in what I was hearing, is that many people have dumped on themselves for not being "enough" or "good enough" or "in pain" or "struggling with a bad day, event, loss, death, failure....(you fill in your own blank with the appropriate noun and food has been a way of reducing the pain, denying the pain, avoiding the pain, putting the pain aside, burying the pain for the moment. And food could be any of several pain "medications" that do not come with a doctor's prescription.
And, according to Roth, "Kindness, (and not more self-flagellation) is the answer." Only if we begin to treat ourselves more kindly will we enter into the pain that is our own inner work, and that is required of us, and only by doing the hard inner work will we begin to see our own inner "gifts," or as Carl Jung put it, our "gold."
Imagine, a society beginning to treat itself with kindness, and not consider such kindness narcissistic.
The christian church has much to answer for in generating several hundreds of generations of people "who have sinned and come short of the glory of God" as Paul put it, in his own self-flaggellating perfectionism. Of course, we have sinned, all of us, without exception, and will continue to "sin" in the overt and in the more covert manners available to all of us. We are not OUR SINS! We have responsibility for them, but they do not define us, even before God.
And we will all find people whose self-loathing has been and will continue to be "projected" onto us, and until we come to full awareness that their aspersions have absolutely nothing to do with us, and everything to do with them, we will continue to writhe under the "weight" of that projected judgement. And that weight contributes mightily to our sense of ourself. And that pain adds to the embarrassment, shame, guilt or whatever word seems to best fit, (meaning self-criticism, self-judgement, self-contempt) all of it generating more pain, and all of it worthless, because it is not our true picture of ourselves.
Imagine, if we could become a society in which we could see every other person, including those in prison, and those who whipped us, and those who spat upon us, or threw rocks at our heads at the town beach, or who pounded us in jealous anger because we had friends they wanted, and those who maligned us with gossip and those who raped us sexually or through stripping away our reputation with false or exaggerated accusations, or who stripped away the respect of our children, for their own "self-loathing" purposes, as more sinned against than sinners!
You see, this is not merely an issue of weight gain and loss; it is a matter that seeks expression in all phases, stages and arenas of our existence. And when we have all taken the oath to begin to purge our hearts, minds and bodies of the self-loathing that is woven into every cell of every organ, especially the organ between our ears, the brain, only then will we stop waging wars without cause, and only then will we stop building prisons for prisoners whose crimes were never reported, and only then will we find in our religious, political, corporate, scientific and academic opponents, the same capacity to see us in the way that we are attempting to see him/her, as more sinned against than sinner, and only then will we begin to see the vision of a world where agape love can and does operate and that world (community, town village, family) will not have a specific religious institutional "sign" over the entrance, because the entrance will be a rainbow which does not need a sign to remind those near that they are in the presence of the God of their own belief system.
As the Rabbi put it to the Abbot, whose monastery was nearly empty of brothers, while his synagogue was also nearly empty of faithful, "Just remember, the Messiah is among you!" (Quoted in Scott Peck's, The Different Drum)

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