So where would you expect to find the following paragraphs:
Everybody is guilty of something. This is a truism of the West. It goes all the way back to Cain and original sin and has been a central topic of discourse among members of society from the construction of the laws of ancient Rome, through the Inquisition, into the Jim Crow system of the South (and North), stopping to wallow in the culture of the Soviet Union, and going right to the rotted heart of the race laws of Nazi Germany.
In 2,000 years of Western civilization we have been guilty of heresy, perversion, theft, and murder; of fighting and refusing to fight; of loving, lusting after, and sometimes just looking. We have been guilty of speaking out and keeping silent, of walking, marching, and running away. We have been found culpable for following orders and for refusing to follow them, for adultery, child endangerment, sexual harassment, and elder abuse. We have also been guilty of our religion, national origin, skin color, sexual preference, gender, and, now and then, of the blood in our veins.
Guilt is the mainstay of who we are and how we are organized, and is, seemingly, our undeniable destiny, along with Death and Taxes.
Our relationship with guilt is as old as the DNA that defines our species. But the nature of culpability changes with technology and technique. These changes affect the way we see the world and the way we seek to understand our predicament.
A book of theology? A depressing preachers harangue? A street preacher’s ranting?
Would you guess these are the first lines of this week’s cover article in Newsweek (here).
It goes in the file and will eventually end up in a sermon on guilt or sin or forgiveness. Where it will show up, I’m not sure. But that it will, I am.