Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Spirituality Author Paul Wilkes Notes That Confession is a Path to Renewal (Event is 1/27), But Daniel's Mantra is Guilt is a Force for Good. Turns Out to Not be That Different.

Having read Paul Wilkes's new book, The Art of Confession: Renewing Yourself with the Practice of Honesty, I know that the last thing Mr. Wilkes would want would be for me to drop a C-bomb on you in order to stun you into attending our event on Friday, January 27 (7 pm).

I've thought about what would be an interesting way to call attention to Mr. Wilkes's appearance on the blog. The Art of Confession is a meditation on the role of confession in history, in society, and how it is a practice in every (just about) religion and spiritual tradition. I'm sure it goes back farther than the Code of Hammurabi, but at least since then, folks have gotten a list of best societal best practices, and been asked to follow them. As Wilkes notes, the desire to be the good is at the center of all great faiths.

Our society, however, has become rife with faux confession and false apology. Perhaps they help celebs dodge bad q scores, but do they lead to a better person? Not likely. It turns out that confession is just one of the steps to healing and renewal. But faux confessions just lead to repeating bad behavior. And it's not really a confession if you don't have the intention to change.

While The Art of Confession draws from a number of faiths, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism (as well as non-religious therapy), confession is probably most linked to Catholicism, and that is Wilkes's background. A Marquette graduate, Wilkes left behind a journalism career in New York to explore spirituality from his home base of Wilmington, North Carolina, where he has written many books, most notably Holding God in My Hands, In Due Seasons: A Catholic Life, and The Seven Secrets of Successful Catholics. Wilkes has a lot of books out there and some are tough to get. If you were hoping to buy a particular book by him at our event, it would be great if you let us know now, giving us a chance to make sure we had it.

There were two things that fascinated me in particular about The Art of Confession. One of them was Sister Karen Kirby, who saw her job as bookseller at Wellspring Bookstore (can't find the link) as a place where folks would go to deal with difficult subjects, and wind up starting the confession process by asking, "Do you have any books on...?" I'm just saying up front that this actually has happened to me over my twenty-plus years of bookselling, but I also want to note that I am probably not the right person for this. From now on, I'm giving out Sister Karen Kirby's phone number. Bartenders also work for this purpose.

The other thing that Wilkes reminded me of is one of my guiding mantras--guilt is a force for good! I've stopped myself from doing many things wrong by imagining how bad I'd feel afterwards. And sometimes I've even done something extra with the guilty feeling I'd have of not having done my best work.

So join us for an evening of renewal with Paul Wilkes on Friday, January 27. Do it to get a sense of renewal. Or maybe you knew Wilkes a long time ago and are just showing up out of guilt for letting your friendship lapse. I'm okay with that.

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