Why All the Fuss?

The inner struggles of a person, with all their intricacies, tend to be handled in one of two ways by today’s theraputic culture. Either a person divulges without exception everything that is going on inside in an attempt to purge the demons that haunt them (demons usually from their childhood—not hell), or they simply leave the problems of the inner life behind and “move on” with life.

In a recent article on Hawthorne, professor Wilfred M. McClay finds that his students don’t quite get what the big deal is with all the inner stuggles that occur in a book like The Scarlet Letter:

BUT WHAT THEY CAN’T COMPREHEND is what all the fuss is about–why Dimmesdale felt so guilty, why he couldn’t confess, why what he and Hester did was in fact a grievous sin, why our sins and the sins of our forebears are inseparable from who we are, why those sins must be paid for, why it is almost impossible to pay for them fully, and yet why sins that remain unacknowledged and unconfessed and unpaid will surely destroy our souls. The central premise in Hawthorne’s imaginative world–his insistence that the weight of the sinful human past, in one’s own life, in the life of one’s family, and in the life of one’s city and country, can never be denied or wished away–is completely lost on a generation raised on smug therapeutic platitudes.

Part of out society’s numbness to God and his dominion is that we as a people have become numb to almost anything that goes on in our inner lives. We’re so lazy when it comes to contemplative thought that we push it off to tackle at a later time. We often “move on” and “get over” things too quickly, leaving us free to deal with our many distractions.

Perhaps he would all be wise to heed Qohelet, and remember our Creator in the days of our youth. If we do not, we will distract ourselves into forgetting who we ever really were.