Friday, October 30, 2009

Lam 1

1:18-21. I don't know enough literature to say this for certain, but what religious literature in the entire world is as ongoingly self-critical of its own adherents than the Old Testament? The New Testament has things like this too, in places like Mt 5-7 and Mt 23, but the large amount of such teaching is in the OT. In this tragic description in Lamentations, it's not the thing that Hitchens moans about, the ritualistic repetition of a public formula about being a miserable sinner. It's an assessment of oneself and one's culture in light of recent events. It's an attribution and vindication of God's activity at that point in time, right when Jerusalem fell in 586 B.C.

This passage in Lamentations illustrates one of two ways to confess a failing or fault purely. Etymologically, "confess" means to agree/acknowledge that something is true. That should not be confused with promising to do better, especially with a promise to do better offered as payment for the damage of the fault. "I did, I was the one who did that. We did, we truly did that." NOT followed by "and we promise to we'll never do it again," or "we promise, promise, promise, vow, pledge, indemnify ourselves not to do it again, so let us be be restored." No.

I get a strange sensation when some people recite things like "I humbly confess" -- pat yourself on the back, why don't ya, while you're grovelling. (That's hard to do, even physically!) It makes the confession itself suspicious. "We humbly confess our pride ..." Huh? The self-congratulation in that makes the whole thing false!

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