I just realized that I’ve made a couple references to my class but I haven’t “set the stage” for them yet…

I’m dipping my toes in the balmy (if a little labor-intensive) waters of seminary by taking an online class through Andover Newton Theological Seminary in Boston. It’s a UCC seminary that I’m looking at as a possibility for the future.

The class is called “Shame, Guilt, and Forgiveness,” it combines theology and psychology, and its four major papers are all literary analysis with emphasis on the topic of the course. The books / stories for our papers are “Revelation” (Flannery O’Connor), “The Death of Ivan Ilych”, A Touch of the Poet (Eugene O’Neill), and The Scarlett Letter.

In short, it’s a perfect class for me right now! I’m loving it so far, and I’m teaching anyone who is interested all about the things I’m coming across.

For example — some defenses against shame are the following: rage, assertion of power, righteousness, perfectionism, envy, withdrawal, defeatism, and transfer of blame. One author says that shame, when confronted without resorting to these defenses, can actually be very redemptive — so, though it’s an inevitable part of being human (a result of having an infinite spirit and a finite body), it doesn’t always have to be destructive, and, in fact, most religious conversion experiences have an element of resolution / redemption of shame.

Interesting, eh?