Self-consciousness* feeds on sincerity, and both have attained cult status in America. In the current political climate, as if giving credence to Oscar Wilde’s contention that sincerity is the worst vice of the fanatic, the sincere religious beliefs of a few have trumped even some basic tenets of science. But as Henri de Lubac reminds us, “It is not sincerity, it is Truth which frees us, because it transforms us. It tears us away from our inmost slavery. To seek sincerity above all things is perhaps, at bottom, not to want to be transformed.”
A quote from “Acedia & Me” by Kathleen Norris that I came across today. It’s given me a bit different way of thinking about my own struggle for change and the slow, difficult task personal transformation is. Actually, I think personal transformation is a hopeless task for me – it is work for the Holy Spirit that I participate in.
*Self-consciousness as opposed to self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is fruitful and an agent for positive change, while self-consciousness is being aware of one’s faults and weakness while remaining “stubbornly unreflective” and stuck within one’s neuroses because of one’s resistance to the need for personal change. Self-consciousness is a type of self-absorption.