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Saturday, January 14, 2012


In earlier times,
to atone for sin and shame,
we practiced self-mortification.

A lash on the back for
a lustful thought.

A hair shirt to wear
for the sin of pride.

Long fasts to demonstrate
our worth to an inscrutable
and distant God.

Today, our self-mortification
masquerades in various forms.

The dieter who becomes bulimic
is the modern equivalent of the
fasting penitent sinner.

The fitness buff, running for
miles to atone for an extra
doughnut is the reincarnated
practitioner of self-flagellation.

More serious are those
whose shame and guilt
for sins imagined or real
drive them to addictions.

Drinking and drugging,
sexing and loving,
religion and money,
gambling and ever-sunny
dispositions all substitute
for self-mortification.

Rescuing others,
finding new lovers,
prosperity preachers,
new age secret keepers,
depression and bipolar diagnoses,
obsession and self hating neuroses;
all are ways we have
of punishing ourselves,
while trying to answer the
self-loathsome questions:
"What is wrong with me?"
"What will it take to
finally break free?"

But mortifying flesh has
never healed or satisfied
a broken spirit, nor
helped or saved a
lost and hurting soul.

We post-modern flagellants
are no better or worse,
no more sinful or hurt
than our distant cousins
in time whose model
we unknowingly role.

© Francisco G. Rodriquez, 2012

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