Friday, July 15, 2016

On Catholic Guilt

On Catholic Guilt: In the Church's early days, the origins of Catholic guilt can really be traced to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. For the most part, parishioners confessed their sins publicly, i.e., in front of the entire congregation. Such an act usually brought instant shame to the confessor, and likewise, appropriate behavioral changes. These days, however, Catholic guilt mostly refers to lapsed parishioners, or those who merely attend church services (Mass) around liturgical holidays like Christmas and Easter. Nevertheless, unlike Protestantism, which generally preferences faith over works, Catholic guilt often pushes churchgoers to think in depth about the ultimate consequences (and motivations) behind their actions. Unfortunately, with this kind of intense scrutiny given to one's personal actions, guilt can be considered a precipitating factor in the development of psychological disorders like OCD. In short, although guilt tends to complicate the inner-workings of one's psyche, it can also liberate one's soul.

Friday, July 1, 2016

On Peggy Shippen, Benedict Arnold, and Betrayal

On Peggy Shippen, Benedict Arnold, and Betrayal: The Shippens had become a well-known Philadelphia family by the late 1700s. As lawyers, judges, and politicians in the Pennsylvania Colony, the Shippens owed a great deal of their success to the British Crown. And when the American Revolution began in the 1770s, the family held mostly Loyalist beliefs. In effect, Loyalists like the Shippens believed the Revolution was nothing more than a movement to make the Colonists more British. Becoming independent, i.e., creating a new government and raising a new military, would not be not such a radical experiment, because so much of it would be modeled on British traditions. Nevertheless, when the Continental Army recaptured Philadelphia in 1778, Arnold and Shippen started a courtship. Despite being 20 years her senior, Arnold became exposed to a variety of British folks and folkways, mainly because the Shippens often entertained British guests. Over time, Arnold began to feel his services as a military commander would be more appreciated by the British, and thus, he defected soon after marrying Shippen. Arnold's name has since become a byword for betrayal in American English.