The Two Headed Hideous Monster

The far left and the far right are the two heads of a hideous monster of shame. One tells you if you don’t think how it thinks, then you are a racist (among other things). The other tells you if you don’t think how it thinks, you are going to hell. They both tell you that you are doing it (whatever it is that you happen to be doing) wrong and there will be consequences. Both heads accuse each other of spreading falsehoods, and yet spread falsehoods themselves, whilst at the same time claiming to speak for the truth. Both heads are in the habit of making everything political. Both heads are part of the same monster that invites you to worship in the cult of shame, guilt and judgementalism.

If we are to believe that God embodies (for lack of a better word) the Good, the True and the Beautiful then this monster must stand in opposition to God because it is neither Good, True nor Beautiful. Nor does it embody the Fruit of the Spirit, for that matter.

It is not Good, although each head claims to be good to the exclusion of all other points of view. But conforming to a point of view out of shame is not good. It is a turning of the self against the self. It is a house divided and a house divided cannot stand. As such it cannot be good or Good.

It is not True. Nothing done motivated by shame is good. It is merely a suppressing of one’s true thoughts or desires in favor of another person’s thoughts or desires in order to no longer feel shame. But this only creates a situation of hiding and in effect a falsification of the self. This in turn breeds resentment, lashing out angrily at inopportune moments, and passive-aggressive behavior.

It is not Beautiful. In fact it is quite ugly. Shame turns people into ugly, corrupted forms of themselves. Accordingly, any belief system based in shame cannot be Beautiful.

The Fruit of the Spirit (according to St. Paul) are “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance.” (KJV Gal. 5:22-23). Shame is not mentioned here as a fruit of the spirit even though many people aligned with one of the Hideous Monster’s heads would claim experiencing shame is a kind of virtue.

The truth is that shame is simply a means of control. Shame turns a person against himself so that he cannot fully believe what he believes to be true. Now you might say that what he believes to be true is not the same as objective Truth and we cannot all be deciding what is and is not true for ourselves. But the truth is, we already do that. Every individual must give his consent to believe anything. Even the truth of scripture must be agreed to by the individual before he believes it. Of course, much of the time, this agreement is perfunctory or unconscious. And even if one does believe in the truth of scripture, he is free to interpret that scripture so that it conforms to his beliefs.

Now, I have heard it said from people taking sides with one or the other head of the Hideous Beast that they do not spend any time thinking about shame. But I have at the same time noticed that even though they may not spend time (consciously) thinking about shame they seem to be very motivated to defend shame when it is called into question. This suggests to me that it is very much operating in the background.

21 Comments

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21 responses to “The Two Headed Hideous Monster

  1. JMSmith

    You profess the modern doctrine that the essential conflict is between self and a repressive, shaming society. The traditional Christian doctrine is that essential conflict is within the self, between what St. Paul calls spirit and flesh, and shame is just consciousness of this conflict. If I have no shame, what need have I for Christ?

    • Not quite. The conflict is always within the self. But “society” or the Two Headed Hideous Monster aims to convince the self that self must choose one of its heads to align itself with in order to be free of shame. This is a false premise, however, because neither head is capable of being satisfied. Christ is liberation from this false choice.

      • JMSmith

        By my reading, your Christ is liberation to follow your heart and do as you please. But that is probably unfair of me. If Christ is this sort of liberation, though, I do not see why shame has any power over you. Snap your fingers at Right and Left. Say “get behind me Satan” and “to hell with you.” You are like an emancipated slave who is now enslaved by the memory of his old chains.

      • We all aim to follow our hearts and do as we please ultimately. This can be corrupted by outside forces attempting to convince us that this is wrong or another path contrary to our hearts is the correct one. If it was so easy to shake off this corruptive influence by snapping my fingers what need would I have for Christ?

      • JMSmith

        This is where you and I differ. “Outside forces” exploit and disclose the evil in our own hearts. They test us to see what kind of person we are. Alcohol does not make a man alcoholic, but only reveals his innate disposition to alcoholism. War does not make a man brutal, but only reveals his innate disposition to alcoholism. This is what I take Christ to mean when he talks about men “lusting in their hearts.” A willing partner does not make a man an adulterer, but only reveals his innate disposition to adultery.

      • But we’re not talking about temptation (in that sense). We’re talking about knowing the Good, True and Beautiful and outside forces (aka evil) aiming to corrupt and convince you that it is shameful to believe what is truly Good, True and Beautiful is so.

      • JMSmith

        I think your view is that men and women are naturally good–naturally attracted to goodness, beauty and truth–and that evil is therefore unnatural and imposed from the outside. My view, which I believe is more in line with scripture, is that men and women are naturally a mixed bag of good and evil instincts. Your view accords with liberal doctrine, which is hardly surprising since you are a self-professed liberal. The essence of liberalism is a belief that liberty will liberate man’s good nature. The essence of conservatism is a belief that liberty will liberate good and evil instincts, and that social constraints like shame are therefore valuable.

      • It doesn’t matter to me whether men and women are “naturally good”. In order to be “good” it has to be a free choice and not compelled through shaming.

      • JMSmith

        Shaming incentivizes but does not compel. You must learn to care less about what people think of you. Shame is just consciousness of disapproval. If other people disapprove of your behavior or opinions, it makes sense to double-check those behavior or opinions. If you still disagree with their disapproval after that, you must have the spine to laugh in their faces.

      • The amount I care about what other people think of me is miniscule compared to what is was. My aim now is not to justify my own beliefs but rather to work them out logically by engaging with people (such as yourself who have different beliefs) and also to evangelize what I have learned to others who may be entrapped in shame.

    • JMSmith

      Note that the sheepfold has a door, and that those who climb over the wall just as they please are thieves and robbers. Our natural conception of living more abundantly is like a child’s natural conception of an excellent meal (i.e. potato chips, cookies and soda pop).

      • Perhaps your natural conception of living more abundantly is like that. Shame is by definition living less abundantly.

      • JMSmith

        It all depends on what you are ashamed of and whether shame actually stops you from doing it. If I am ashamed of my behavior while drunk and consequently stop getting drunk, I will live more abundantly. If I am ashamed of creeping about in a sordid and adulterous affair and consequently break off that affair, I will live more abundantly.

        I agree with you that we should not live in shame. Our disagreement is that I believe shame is sometimes justified and the way to get out of it is to stop acting shamefully. As I’ve said to you many times before, when you feel (or are made to feel) shame, you must first ask if your behavior has in fact been shameful. If yes, then you get out of shame by changing your behavior. If no, you get out of shame by ignoring the people who are trying to shame you. Your problem with shame appears to be that you are living in it, and will not take either of these exits.

  2. I am not living in shame but I have lived that way and now my eyes are open as to its corrupting influence. This corruption exists in equal proportion within the heart of those experiencing shame and those who impose shame.

    • JMSmith

      I have complete respect for your privacy, but it you were not still living in shame, you would by now have said who shamed you and what for. If whatever it was is not shameful, in your current view, you would not be ashamed to name it. Your thinking on this question is clouded because you continue to hide your no doubt searing experience behind the abstract term shame. I do not mean to taunt you, but I think it would help you to be specific and name the shame. This is entirely hypothetical and stated only as an example: “My dad shamed me for liking books more than baseball, and that was wrong because there is nothing shameful about liking books. My dad abused my natural need for his approval in an attempt to twist me into a son he did not have, and that abuse and twisting was wrong.” This is an example, not a conjecture or a hypothesis.

      • I have talked about many instances in my past that led to living in shame for many years further back in this blog. But I don’t think it is confined to one person or incident as you seem to assume. Rather, I believe shame is like a mind virus spreading from one person to another. And those who are deep in shame attract the attention of people who enjoy shaming others. This compounds the trap.

        That said, why do you think (falsely) my not naming a specific person means that I must still be living in shame? I’m not sure that logically follows.

      • JMSmith

        If someone had succeeded or merely attempted to make me feel shame for X, and I was not ashamed of X, or had overcome my shame of X, I would name X in order to ridicule the shaming. On the other hand, as I said, I completely respect your privacy. There are many things about myself, about which I am not the least bit ashamed, that I will not share with strangers on the internet. I’d just like to see you put this all behind you by taking Exit One or Exit Two out of shame. Once you are free, you are free, and it is not healthy to fondle your old chains.

      • As I have already said I have put shame behind me and I have discussed my past on this blog. My intent now is to teach what I have learned. It’s curious that you ignore these points.

  3. Pingback: Ad Hominem Attack – a Shame Based Tactic | Winston Scrooge

  4. Pingback: False Arguments in Favor of Shame | Winston Scrooge

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