17 August 2014

shame


I drove a different route to work this morning so as to get decent coffee in Ripon.  This resulted in a long stretch where I couldn’t get any decent radio stations, and as I was trying to find something listenable, the radio landed on a Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) station at the exact moment a Sherriff Department’s cruiser pulled behind me, so I thought, what the hell, may as well suffer on both accounts and listened to Xian dribble for the 15 minutes or so the cop car followed me (significantly slowing my drive to work, rrrrrr).

As it fittingly turned out, the cop pulled off just as the Xian DJ came on the air, with his Mr. Rogers on Prozac after doing a line of coke sentimentality on steroids voice, at which point I could take no more, and besides, I had gotten to a place where Wait Wait…. Don’t Tell Me! would finally come in. 

So I heard five happy clappy with Jeezuhs songs.  Each one of them at one point mentioned shame and stated something about Jeezuhs/God overcoming their shame.

The question occurred to me – does anybody really believe this anymore?  I mean, I know 30 years ago Evangelicals and fundies used the “Roman’s Road” to show people their sin and explain that the way out was Christ’s Cross via the sinner’s prayer, etc., and a certain correspondent psychology went along with all that --- and I know that the depth upon new depth of dumbing down on the part of Evangelicalism has made a simplistic message even simplisticer, but does anyone seriously feel shameful for the sorts of misdeeds your typical demographic for CCM seems to want to be ashamed of?

I’m inclined to think that the “shame” talk is just an avenue of ritualized emotion, not actual felt contrition.  It must be that.  I still know a lot of Evangelicals, and outside of their defined ritualized environments (praise & worship, responding to sermons, summer camp, etc.), very few of them strike me as ashamed of themselves.  On the whole, they are a decidedly self-satisfied subset of humanity. 

20 years ago when I was in Bible college there was a shame fest “revival” of sorts that went through the Christian college circuit in the U.S. wherein all the students at Christian colleges would get up during a chapel service and confess their sins, the vast majority of which were sexual.  That was a very odd experience (group catharsis?) – and looking back on it, that “revival” strikes me as a phenomenon in which middle class white kids were desperate to find something to feel really bad about, because their religion really only worked (or worked best) if you had something to feel really bad about.

I mean, sexual sin is about the only “serious” sin your typical white middle class Evangelical gets into.  But even with that, it seems to me that the shame is trumped up so that the theological logic will work [Must Feel Shame So That Soteriological Paradigm Makes Sense].

But that’s just it, even with the sexual stuff, the “shame” element seems contrived.  One guy I went to bible college with, a couple years after he graduated, did ask me to be his “accountability partner” with regard to his masturbation “problem” which he claimed to feel very guilty about.  [Every element of Evangelicalism is homoerotic like that, it’s no wonder that so many Evangelical pastors are repressing things or getting some man ass on the side.]  I assume he asked me in order to get the response he got – “dude, you’re a 24 year old male, and all 24 year old males do that – get over yourself.”  I have known several Evangelical wives who have seriously shamed their husbands for their husbands’ porn “addiction” (read: porn use).  But each of those women struck me as being the sort who was probably lousy in the sack and really insecure about that.  So there again, I think the shame in Evangelicalism is more of a medium of projection than it is contrition related phenomena. 

I also wonder if this shame obsession (that inevitably gets focused on sexual matters) isn’t a sort of false flag of sorts.  Maybe white middle class Evangelicals intuit that their banal, vapid, saccharine, boring, meaningless, mass-consumption oriented, sickeningly predictable, socially manicured, pathetic lives are something that they should be ashamed of, but seeing as they have no vocabulary or hermeneutic via which to actually comprehend what they should be ashamed of, they pin that shame on sex, something the vast majority of them aren’t really ashamed of, but try to be. 

In any event, it is all rather sad, and it makes for some astoundingly shitty music.