Copyright © 2012 StarNewsOnline.com
Reprinted with permission
John Edwards? Eliot Spitzer? Anthony Weiner? They all said they were sorry, but according to Paul Wilkes, they all flunk when it comes to true confessions.
"These are apologies, not confessions," said Wilkes, the Wilmington-based author of "The Art of Confession." "There's no cost, the load isn't tougher."
"Real confession," Wilkes added, "means rectifying what you did. It needs a change of heart."
Published in January by Workman, "The Art of Confession" drove Wilkes' attention from National Public Radio (which interviewed him on its "Faith Matters" series), USA Today (which published his comments as a guest column) and The Huffington Post.
Now, Wilkes will talk about confession with Prologue, the monthly book club sponsored by the StarNews and public radio station WHQR. He'll field readers' questions beginning at 7 p.m. Monday in the WHQR studios, upstairs at 254 N. Front St.
Admission is free, refreshments will be served, and copies of "The Art of Confession" should be on sale.
A longtime contributor to The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and other publications, Wilkes has built a nationwide reputation as a Catholic lay spokesman. His books include, "Beyond the Walls: Monastic Wisdom for Everyday Life," "Holding God in My Hands" and his 2009 memoir "In Due Season." His documentary film on the life of Thomas Merton, the American Catholic monk, author and mystic, was televised by PBS.
For "The Art of Confession," though, "in a way, I put religion aside," Wilkes said. "Confession is a part of what we are, a part of human nature. "When we do wrong, we feel bad inside. Until we rectify it, we don't feel right."
Most people think of the Catholic confession box and the Sacrament of Penance, but confession is a part of most human faiths, including Islam and Buddhism, Wilkes said. (His book includes comments from representatives of a number of faiths, including Rabbi Robert Waxman of Wilmington's B'nai Israeli synagogue.) Even Freud's "talking cure" is a secular form of confessing.
In the end, he added, confession is a form of honesty to oneself, stripping away veils of conceit.
It isn't easy, he conceded, which is why confession is an "art." Wilkes recommends regular exercises in self-reflection and self-examination.
"We need to confess," Wilkes has written, "and not to consider it a sign of our weakness. Just the opposite – it builds strength."
Ben Steelman: 343-2208