In the gym the other day, whilst doing a 5K metre row - my favourite/usual place for finding inspiration (perhaps due to increased blood flow to the brain) I started to ponder on the effect of the notion of "Original Sin" on society.
This notion of "You/We are not worthy" is all pervavise: Advertising hoardings shout it in 20 foot high letters "To be worthy look like us/belike us/have this stuff " As though somehow we as people are incomplete and not worthy unless we have a six pack, a new car and the lastest shiny stuff. The Church does the same thing. In the Book of Common Prayer is the line "We are not worthy even to pick up a crumb from under your table." We are all "miserable sinners". Imperfect, not good enough, not worthy. Its all around us! Negativity in = negativity out.
No wonder people have low self esteem! No wonder people think they find happiness from the latest shiny things and hair do.
But yet.....but yet is the latest hair do and having the newest and most "stuff" actually healthy? Is the assertion of the BCP healthy? I dont think so. It tells us that we are somehow, fundementally flawed, flawed by our very nature of our being and only by the ministrations of the church or commercialism can we be saved and be happy.
As Unitartian, of course, I do not believe in "Original Sin". I believe in Original Blessing. Adam and Eve are jsut a story, like a Kipling "Just-So" story, written at a point in history to explain not literally but in stories and metaphor, why things are the way they are. They are not true nor literal accounts. That is not to say Sin does not exist. Unitarians and other liberals tend to run away from that word and find it unfashionable. But I think this concept of Sin - literally all that which gets between us and God and ourselves - is important. Whilst Orthodox Christians would suggest that pride is a bad thing - to Catholics a Cardinal Sin - being proud of yourself, having high self esteem is healthy, but not at the expense of others. To my mind, SIn is best summed up by Terry Pratchett who, through Granny Wetherwax says "There are no shades of grey. Sin...is when you treat others like things". And by extension I would add "yourself". Thus, treating yourself as a thing - as unworthy, as only being happy and fulfilled with the latest clothes and gadget is Sin. Why? Because it blocks out original blessing- the inbuilt capability and capacity within all human beings to be Christ-like. All that "stuff"gets in the way of being ourselves, being truly who we are. We spsend more time striving to be someone else, dreaming, wishing, hoping to be someone else rather than getting to know and love ourselves for the beautiful, fulfilled people we are.