The Pain, Embarrassment, and Bitterness of the Past

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I started this blog in 2008–back when I was a young, arrogant, over-zealous, Evangelical Fundamentalist.  A far cry from the slightly older, arrogant, over-zealous, Catholic I am today.

When I survey my early writings, I feel a pain in my stomach, a sense of embarrassment, and, even a touch of bitterness.  How could I have been so naive; so careless; so proud; so callous?  As I read through the old diatribes–with all their passion and bravado–I am tempted to delete them all; to erase my past completely; to start anew.  But something holds me back.

I remember the words allegedly spoken by Abraham Lincoln in response to an artist who attempted to disguise his imperfections: “Paint my picture, warts and all.”

There is a real temptation to disguise our imperfections and failures; to hide the mistakes from our past; to live a non-authentic life.  But, at its core, this temptation to maintain an air of perfection and respectability is a manifestation of pride.  We don’t want people to realize we’re fallible, that we make mistakes, and that we often make bad decisions because we don’t want people to realize what we truly are: temporary, limited, finite, dust.

Pride is, as the Church Father’s often said, a pernicious form of self-love and stands as the root of all sin.  It cares nothing for others and, therefore, builds itself on an illusion.  The illusion that what matters most in life is our own subjective experience, our individuality.  This illusion, however, is a foundation of sand that will crumble upon the high tide.  As a wise man once said, “all come from dust, and to dust all return” (Eccl. 3:20).

For we are not mere individuals but, in virtue of our person-hood (i.e., our very existence as distinct beings), stand in a reciprocal relation to the external world; and especially to other rational agencies.  Therefore, how we treat others, how we relate to the world around us, truly matters.  We are a community of beings–not isolated free-floating substances.  To live in harmony means we must truly care about the other; our self-love, thus, must be transformed to self-giving.  This is to live an authentic life; to be a person and not a mere individual.

This is why the Bible never hides the imperfections, embarrassments, and utter failures of its protagonists.  They are presented authentically, warts and all, so that we might learn the futility of living a life built upon self-love.

I have, thus, concluded not to delete the blog post’s of my past.  Should someone ever care to read them (and I feel deep sympathy for anyone who does) they will learn that I am a man with deep imperfections; a man often given to self-love.  They might also learn, I pray, that I am a man who desires to change; to grow in my love  and live a life directed towards others.  I, like Honest Abe, desire to be authentic.

So, here stands my blog, warts and all.

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