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Passions in Poetry

Mea Culpa

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Huan Yi
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since 10-12-2004
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Waukegan


0 posted 10-31-2004 01:43 AM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

Catholic Guilt.  I have forgotten where it originates
or was initially about.   I know it was a big thing
when I was young.  I seem to recall different kinds
of madly self-sacrificial behavior being explained
by its motivation.  So somebody play the Father
or Sister and refresh my memory.

I do seem to recall that concupiscence, which
now defines as a desire for sexual intimacy,
originally related to the sin of merely experiencing
pleasure, like that derived from eating ice cream.

At my very first confession, ( a very very long
time ago), two boys, also novices, who had already been in
the box, sitting together in church whispered to each other
about their experience, and then one after another went
back in to confess their conversation.  Tough camp.

John

serenity blaze
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since 02-02-2000
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1 posted 10-31-2004 01:51 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

mea culpa

pardon my error

in the Latin, not the original language of the Bible...

but I think, now, after years of contemplation, mea culpa means much more. It means acknowledgent of anything that bothers the conscience.

It's the recognition of that which brings about healing.

And I am not Catholic.

I think it's about "release."

Huan Yi
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since 10-12-2004
Posts 6334
Waukegan


2 posted 10-31-2004 01:12 AM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

serenity blaze,

"anything that bothers the conscience"

Which I think used to be just about
everything.  Just didn't pay to wake up.


“And I am not Catholic.”

Neither am I for a very long time.

I have a friend, Mike, another ex, who summarized
it best:  “At some point a guy wakes up and says
“This is nuts” and walks away.”  I’ve forgotten what
much of “This” was, though I know Catholic Guilt
played a big role.  I remember finding it hard to
accept that, with extremely few exceptions, everybody
was bound at least to do time, before going to Heaven.
Stuff like that.

John
Ron
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Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
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Michigan, US


3 posted 10-31-2004 11:00 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Ironic choice of titles, John.

Mea culpa is an acceptance of responsibility. Blaming everything on Catholicism, or any other religion, is a denial of responsibility.
Denise
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since 08-22-99
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4 posted 10-31-2004 09:03 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

I think it was because they got us at such a tender age, John. We believed everything they drummed into us. Maybe those who didn't go to Parochial school had it better, I don't know. I don't think that those who didn't experience it personally can fully appreciate how guilt producing and mind controlling an experience it actually was. And maybe it's not as oppressive now as it once was, I don't know that either.

One nun told me I would burn in hell forever for biting my fingernails on Friday if I accidentally swallowed one (eating meat, and all ). I was six, of course I believed her!

We felt guilty over everything and nothing all at once. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa was our daily chant!

I remember being in the confessional one time, going through my litany of sins, and the priest saying, that's not a sin, that's not a sin, that's not a sin. Geesh. Talk about confused!

I remember thinking that I wished I had been born a goldfish so that I could just swim around and enjoy life. That's kind of sad for six year old thoughts, no?

I'm an ex now too. Life is better. I now believe that God wants me to enjoy life, even as a human being. It took a long time to get there though.
serenity blaze
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5 posted 11-01-2004 02:17 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

"I remember thinking that I wished I had been born a goldfish so that I could just swim around and enjoy life. That's kind of sad for six year old thoughts, no?"

I was just thinking that's kind of freeing for a forty-four year old.

Kinda my goal this year.

I just acquired an addition to my bedroom--an african ciclid that was handed down to me, so I have been noticing his habits, and perhaps he has been noticing mine.

I read to him from "The Poisonwood Bible" and rationalized to him that he was indeed an African, and he had no idea he was stuck in tank in a bored housewife's bedroom in Suburbia.

I told him he was blessed that way, but he flicked his tail at me, while carting gravel in his mouth to the other side of the tank.

"spit"

He's down to the grate of the powerhead now.



The search for a way "out" is instinctive, I think.

"spit"


Huan Yi
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since 10-12-2004
Posts 6334
Waukegan


6 posted 11-01-2004 03:35 AM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

"I remember thinking that I wished I had been born a goldfish so that I could just swim around and enjoy life. That's kind of sad for six year old thoughts, no?"


At White Deer Spring


A little fishpond, just over two feet square,
and not terribly deep.
A pair of goldfish swim in it
as freely as if in a lake.
Like bones of mountains among icy autumn clouds
tiny stalagmites pierce the rippling surface.
For the fish, it is a question of being alive—
they don't worry about the depth of the water.


Yüan Hung-tao
(1568 - 1610)
Denise
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7 posted 11-02-2004 01:41 AM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

I think you're right, Karen. And I think its served me well over the years.

I have to get another fish tank!

I can definitely relate to Yüan Hung-tao, John. Thanks for sharing it!


Stephanos
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8 posted 11-04-2004 09:16 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Is there a proper division between guilt which is clerically imposed... and true moral guilt?  Do we throw the baby out with the bath sometimes?  Or to put it another way, after someone tried to drown us, did we become hydrophobic, denying the need for baths?  It seems like experiences like this are used to invalidate the whole idea of sinfulness being a life issue.  How can a priest's ineptitude be criticized, and yet his creed (if there is value in it) be preserved?  Is there a balance?


I've actually heard positive stories of "confession" also.  And though I'm not Roman Catholic, informal confession has proved to be a conduit of God's grace in my own life.  


Stephen.  
Huan Yi
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since 10-12-2004
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Waukegan


9 posted 11-04-2004 09:23 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

Stephen,

My first response is, apart from a particular
creed, to what absolute would or could one
turn to determine sin?   Seems, at one time
or another, what may be considered wrong
now was practiced with full social, if
not as well theological, consent
and approval before.

John

Stephanos
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10 posted 11-05-2004 10:36 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

John,


When it comes to the question of what is and is not sin ... there are of course grey areas, and marginal places, where it seems we have to determine whether or not something is right or wrong mainly based upon our consciences and experiential knowledge.  But the question of those things are usually settled in the light of some other moral principle we are more sure of.  So though they are somewhat less clear, that doesn't mean they are totally unclear.  I'm sure there is honest disagreement among moral people about certain things.  And there is also the possibility of self-deception, and thinking evil to be good, all the while possessing some knowledge to the contrary.  We're not always able to determine whether a person is practicing legitimate determination from the other, but God does.  


But despite areas of difference, there is a striking trans-cultural, trans-religious uniformity in moral standards.  It's not absolutely the same, but the foundations are essentially the same.  I think that's why the Bible states that God wrote his laws "on their hearts", referring even to those peoples / nations who did not have the benefit of recieving the embodiment of God's will as expressed in the Mosaic Law.


When Jesus came, he did not introduce a really new ethical/moral system.  He may have amplified the signal, but the signal was the same.  What he did for the Jews was show them that it was impossible to meet the demands of God by meeting the demands of the law, and suggest another way.  Then he went on to take their deficit and failure in his own body on the cross.  He turned men from law to love, and brought the grace (unmerited favor) of God to light. That much was original .. but the moral system wasn't.  Nor was the moral system of the Jews all that original, though it may have been clearer than the moral codes of the Pagans, having come more directly from Heaven.  But the moral systems (expressed through law and custom) of the Gentiles were not really unlike that of the Hebrews.  


If you're ever interested check out the appendix of C.S. Lewis' "The Abolition of Man".  He does a harmonization of moral principles expressed in various moral/ legal codes of ancient civilizations (Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Rome etc...).  Their similarities are more notable than any differences in my opinion.


Lastly, I think your own conscience provides somewhat of an answer.  It think in every stage of my life (whatever religious persuasion I was at the moment) I knew there was such a thing as a real right and wrong when it came to behavior and thought.  I bet the same is true for you.  Can you tell me all the guilt you feel is "Catholic Guilt"?  Even your moral reproof of the abuses of an overbearing priesthood of the RC church, tells me that you think them really wrong in some of their actions.  Even your offense has a moralistic base.


I'm aware that you could easily tell me that's just a creed.  You did put that clause "apart from creed" in your question.  But my response would be that a creed is nothing but a dogmatized description of something more real, more vivid, and more actual than itself.  As G.K. Chesterton wrote, the doctrine of Original sin is "practical as potatoes", and the most empirical part of the cardinal Christian beliefs.



Stephen.
    
Huan Yi
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since 10-12-2004
Posts 6334
Waukegan


11 posted 11-06-2004 01:15 AM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

Stephen,

How many are Christians now
after two thousand years, or Jews
after more than that?   What
was going on before and now?

Arthur Whaley once said that for
Westerners to understand the Japanese
the first thing was to understand
that the Japanese were not Christians.

Thou shall not kill universally
translates to thou shall not kill your own,
(even that is conditional, depending
on initial and continued recognition
and acceptance into the group).

John

Stephanos
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12 posted 11-07-2004 07:56 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

John:
quote:
Thou shall not kill universally
translates to thou shall not kill your own,
(even that is conditional, depending
on initial and continued recognition
and acceptance into the group).

Firstly I would disagree as to how "universal" that particular view is.  The large following of pacifism in our own country illustrates my point.  And "pacifists" and "just warriors"  have coexisted for the longest.


Secondly, I would ask, what does any of that have to do with whether there is such thing as real moral guilt, or sin, arising from the transgression of a higher law?  It certainly doesn't invalidate the idea.  I think it tends to confirm it.  


Whether people have said you shouldn't kill your own, or shouldn't kill anyone, is just a variation on the same theme.  While the former says you shouldn't kill your brothers, the latter just extends the consideration of who our brothers are to be.  All Jesus did was insist that we should love our enemies, instead of hating them ... or to treat them as if they were our brothers.  That's no profound difference of moral kind, but only of  degree.  Evidence, I think, than men are trying (universally) to scrawl in imperfect imitation, a more perfect law that they sense.  


Stephen.


[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-07-2004 09:56 PM).]

 
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