In praise of guilt

You have probably mucked things up once or twice in your life. Congratulations, you’re human. There’s hope for all of us in the Easter story.

This week, Simon Smart and Justine Toh tiptoe through the minefield of ‘guilt’, ‘sin’, and ‘morality’: three words and ideas that are offensive to the modern ear – no doubt partly due to the perception that Christians and the church have been all too judgmental of others.

The weighty, Christian baggage of these words aside – is there not something good about acknowledging the times we’ve hurt people and gotten things wrong? Simon and Justine discuss how The Picture of Dorian Gray, directed by Kip Williams for the Sydney Theatre Company, confronts viewers with the darkness of the human heart. And in discussing parenting fails and climate inaction, they explore the mismatch between the people we want to be and the people we actually are.

This episode of Life & Faith grapples with our human tendency to ‘muck things up’ – a sanitised version of author Francis Spufford’s working definition of ‘sin’ – and how even this seemingly fatal flaw is not the whole human story. The hope of the Easter narrative is not just one of sin confronted, but conquered.

Also appearing in this episode: contributions from The Sacred podcast host Elizabeth Oldfield, New York Times columnist David Brooks, theologian Alister McGrath, author Marilynne Robinson, and author Francis Spufford.



Conal Hanna’s article in The Guardian on the “teal paradox”

Elizabeth Oldfield’s full interview – with transcript – with David Brooks for The Sacred.

Alister McGrath on why sin is such a useful idea

Marilynne Robinson on original sin

Life & Faith interview with Francis Spufford about Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense. 

Francis Spufford on your ruined life I

Francis Spufford on your ruined life II