Shame & Conscience, Consumption and Spiritual Formation

I believe our Church has corroded our sense of Spiritual Formation into an intertwining of today’s culture and our eternal disconnect.

Our eternal disconnect is dealt with between our Shame and our Conscience. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote “Shame is man’s ineffaceable recollection of his estrangement from the origin; it is grief for this estrangement, and this powerless longing to return to unity with the origin. Man is ashamed because he has lost something which is essential to his original character, to himself as a whole; he is ashamed of his nakedness”  Take your self discovery deeper and you will find your conscience. Bonhoeffer continues “Conscience is the sign of man’s disunion with himself. Conscience is farther from the origin than shame, it presupposes disunion with God and with man and marks only the disunion with himself of the man who is already disunited with the origin.”

In 21st Century North America, there exists a great problem. I believe, for many of us in the Church, we do not have eyes to see or ears to hear, the state of this great disunion between God and ourselves. In America, this guilt remains, and, I believe our coping mechanism is consumption. The American dream is built upon consumption. Buy the house with the white picket fence, have the best technology, eat the best food, gain the right type of family. Furthermore, for those of us who slip into a different type of destruction, we eat to cover our pain, we buy to feed our dissatisfaction, we snort, we inject, we open our bodies to drugs. All of this, to mask our great disunion.

Modern day Church has similarly given us the same approach to finding God. Once we read and memorize the correct amount of verses, then, we can find unity with God. Once we pray the right amount of time, then God will get off my back. If I go to Church every Sunday, then everything will be fine.

Is everything fine?

When I see this, and, I see the world. I see something incredibly similar. I see Man’s attempt to fill the void of this disunion. One with spending, food and drugs. The other with prayer, reading and liturgy. Yet, we are still distant.

So in light of this, what does Spiritual Formation look like?

What does praying without cease look like?

What does fasting look like?

What role does confession play in all of this?

I would love for you to engage with this, tell me your story and/or your thoughts of spiritual formation.


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