The PostSecret Confessional
I enjoy PostSecret quite a bit. It nicely reveals the deep needs of people. It’s authenticity of feeling usually provides rich ground for contemplation. The site in general, and this particular secret, shows the need people have for confession.
Confession is a sacrament that Protestants removed because of the focus on individualism (brought about by the philosophy of Ockham). This emphasis worked itself out in a type of dualism that goes back to the Gnostics — the world and physical things are bad, the spiritual is good. One outcome of this dualism is the destruction of sacred art. For instance, in all of Scotland all medieval stained glass (excepting four small coats of arms tucked away in a private chapel) was destroyed by Protestant Reformers. The distrust of physical things works with individualism to remove the physical element of confession. Confession was reduced to an individual asking pardon from God in total seclusion and even possibly without spoken words.
Web sites like PostSecret show that this extreme individualism isn’t who people are. We aren’t called to be solitary individuals, but we are called to communion. We have a longing in our hearts to confess in a physical as well as spiritual form and therefore we need a person to confess to God through. This urge of communion causes some to confess their sins to others via PostSecret.
Further, confession to others makes sense because we are both body and soul. Sacraments all have corporal and spiritual aspects because recognize a total person, body as well as soul. By removing the physical aspect of confession, Protestantism denies our physical body and keeps us from confessing with our whole self. Any attempt to confess with one’s whole self is, because of our body/soul nature, bound to include a physical component.
Consequently, by attempting to take communion out of the act of confession (by removing the physical element), Protestantism resulted in eradicating wholeheartedness from confession (by allowing only the spirit and not whole person to confess).