I just finished watching Glee 4x17, "Guilty Pleasures", which provoked thoughts of confession in me. The Shrekian concept "better out than in" is true in most cases, which is why we confess. As a spiritual practice, confession is a way of "cleansing"--getting rid of the crap that keeps us from being the amazing people we truly are. By naming something, especially out loud, we limit its power over us; we define it and contain it in a manageable way, outside our heads. When we confess we can sort through what is guilt (feeling bad about having hurt another) and what is shame (feeling bad that we are the kind of person who would do that). And once we have owned up to what we needed to confess, we can seek to make amends and ask forgiveness, so our relationships can continue.
But it isn't so easy to do. Our culture rewards and emulates an image of people who have it all together, who appear to be perfect in every way, who don't make mistakes. I don't think being church = being counter-cultural all the time, but this is an instance when it's a good thing for the church to be different--lying is fairly unattractive, after all, so we can leave that out of church. What if we could be who we are right in front of God and everybody? What if they knew our guilty pleasures, our brokenness, our struggle? What if they knew we made a bad choice, a mistake, that hurt ourselves or someone else? What if they knew we aren't perfect but we're trying to keep on keepin' on and some days it's good enough just to remember to breathe? Guess what--they do know, God and everybody, because they're living it, too.
Our concept of confession tends to make us feel more guilty, rather than to alleviate our feelings of guilt, which is why we don't like to do it. But anyone who knows anything about psychology knows that repressed feelings will come back to bite you in the butt somehow. So we have this rite of confession--private or corporate in the Lutheran tradition--as a way to take care of our soul, not to require our selves to hold on to so much crap, but to let it go. We tell another person (pastor, priest, BFF, 5th step trusted friend) because it's harder to wiggle out of the task when someone is waiting to hear what we have to say. We also tell another person to honor our humanity, to be reassured that relationships can be repaired and restored, that forgiveness can be offered, that absolution and release from sin can be proclaimed.
Confessing that you love some cheesy music from the 80s as a guilty pleasure is not exactly the confession that is good for the soul. But trusting another to receive that from you is a good first step.
My guilty pleasure? Jake Puckerman. Duh.
And... I own 6 Barry Manilow albums on vinyl. And the sheet music for Phil Collins' "Against All Odds".
That is all the confession you're getting out of me, by this medium!