Suzanne's Second Estate

A web log of my thoughts, activities, life....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Purpose of Confession

My friend Jon gave me this quote today, and I've been pondering it:

"People think ceremonies like marriage, confession, confirmation and baptism are just tradition and ritual, and certainly they can be. Indeed, most often they are. But they are meant to be something else; richer: an orientation, a return to center, a refocusing, a cleansing. And confession is the most misunderstood. Sin itself is not something you should feel guilty about; there is no punishment, or disapproval, with sin. The sin itself is punishment. You turn from Light and darkness is the punishment. [Jon adds: so when one turns from light, they don't get extra lashes on the back just for making a bad choice. But they may get beat up because they can't see where they are going, so they stumble and fall, sometimes badly.] If you live life in deceit, and if you do that long enough, you'll come to see that there need be no penalties other than the ones you've created for yourself, such as no one trusting you and loneliness. Confession is not designed to alleviate guilt; confession merely indicates the desire for realignment. To acknowledge the desire for light and honesty, that's the point."

—Ethan Hawke, from Ash Wednesday

I have often wondered about confession. If my sins are forgiven by Jesus' sacrifice, what is my responsibility in confession? I cannot atone for my own sin, only recognize Jesus' work in my place. And sometimes guilt is not alleviated since we have an accuser. That guilt is not of God (though conviction that leads to repentance is). What do you think? Is Mr. Hawke's analysis accurate?


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