Monday, February 08, 2016

Everybody Knows Your Name: Two Recent Books on Shame

When someone mails you a book about shame, you get to thinking. When two someones send you two different books on shame, you get a little self-conscious. When one of those two someones sends you two copies of the same book on shame, maybe God is trying to tell you something.

(When that book is explicitly directed toward women and you're a man, you get to thinking all over again.)

In my defense, there's a reason I was sent The Soul of Shame by Curt Thompson and Overcomer: Breaking Down the Walls of Shame and Rebuilding Your Soul by Aubrey Sampson. As a book editor, I had made bids to publish both of them when they were still just proposals--each a gestating idea in the mind of the author. Aubrey's book went to a different publisher; I managed to sign a contract with Curt, but I went to a different publisher before he finished writing. So while I was familiar with both projects, each when finished was a new book to me, a printed and bound truth bomb right there on my doorstep.

As I read and reflected on both these books I kept thinking about a song by Mavis Staples, recorded with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. If, as both Curt and Aubrey suggest, shame is countered by encounter - if we are best equipped to contend with shame when we understand it as a common enemy that has power over each of us but not over all of us - then "You're Not Alone" isn't just good news; it's gospel.

When I was a kid we sang shame onto each other: "Shame, shame, everybody knows your name." But also, when I was a kid, the notion of everybody knowing our name was a source of encouragement - a universal desire that directed our steps. "Sometimes you want to go," the theme song to the TV show Cheers declared, "where everybody knows your name." (My friends Lance Ford and Brad Brisco reflect on that anthem in their forthcoming book Next Door As It Is in Heaven.) The cure for shame, it turns out, closely resembles the poison. We fear being found out, being known for what we've done, and what we've failed to do. But the gospel, alluded to by Mavis, celebrated by Curt and Aubrey (and Lance and Brad), is the good news that a God who knows us inside and out has taken all our shame upon himself, and has written our name in the book of life. We will never be forgotten; we will never be alone. We will know fully, even as we are fully known.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OR:
maybe you over did it .... somehow / someway
= pooped on their parade & they & one of the they was X2 pooped back at you man !
It is a bit too petty for God to have done it.
God would have given you ...
Look at poor Job & what God allowed Satan to do to him.
Count your blessings - I say.