Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

Confess some small and unimportant sin, and I will assign you penance

This evening I finished Chaim Potok's "The Chosen", perhaps the best novel I have read in years. I love novels about finding one's meaning in life.

In the spirit of religious inquiry sparked by this novel, I nonetheless will not expound on its deep and inner meaning, and instead embark on an altogether different quest.

As my readers may know, I am by disposition Protestant with strong universalist leanings. I say this not to imply that I am filled with any special religious gifts, as I am instead as full of error as all creatures great and small.

Confession in the churches in which I grew up in was not a centerpiece of the experience. We did not "go to confession", although on communion Sundays we did turn to page 600something in the back of the hymnal and talk about sins whose remebrance was grievious unto us. I use "grievous unto us" with joy in everyday conversation sometimes, which rather, I admit, defeats the purpose of the word.

In my adult life, my most active church role was at a Unitarian Universalist Church in which they kept replacing the words like sin and hell in the hymnbook with words like "unison" and "mistake". I have always regretted, with regrettable pride,that we moved cities just before I got promoted from VP to President of the congregation.

Tomorrow I may even go to a service at Los Angeles' Founders' Church of Religious Science, where they are heavy on "There's a bright golden Haze on the meadow" and light on "sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble". I will not debate whether their views are in error, though I do kinda think they are, but I do like to think, as they do, that His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. I like 'em at that old church.

So I have no basis or background in confession, and no real religious purpose.
I hasten to say that while I use the term confession loosely, I do not even mean to parody true formal confession at all, a ritual I find slightly alien but incredibly beautiful. I instead wish to parody what I'll call "cinematic confession", that false set of notions about confessions found in movies and similar commonplaces.

So here is my proposal. Tell me a sin, error or mistake. Don't make it large.
Don't make it personal. For goat-roping sake, don't tell me about your peccadilloes, your sly winks or your outright flagrante delicto wrongs. Life is too short for you to spend your life telling me secrets. I have enough secrets. I am over quota.

But instead tell me some trifling wrong, or niggling fault. I will then assign you a ridiculous penance, but one which you are fully capable of doing. It won't "count", and it won't be "real". But I'll use my imagination, and, and we'll see if we can't enjoy the experience. Heck, you might even choose to do the penance, which will not win you absolution, but might make a good story. YOu can say "gurdonark, I have sinned", but you need not be formal because this isn't really confession and I am not a holy man but a person who likes to read journals.

So do you wish to confess? Step right up! I have indulgence for all.
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