Exploring the role of guilt and shame in the formation of the Christian religion
Since the time of its inception, Christianity has been a religion rife with conflict. One such conflict is the 2000 year old battle between the two sides of the Christian message – that which is based in fear and the other which is rooted in love. Understanding the experiences out of which Christianity emerged, one has to wonder, is the religion of Christianity merely an expression of the unresolved guilt and shame experienced by the disciples who denied and abandoned Jesus at his greatest hour of need? When we look at the long dalliance between Christianity and guilt, one has to wonder.
What follows is a “fictional” account of what may have happened:
Once upon a time, there was a bunch of fishermen who met this dude named Jesus. They thought this Jesus was pretty cool. First he taught them a better way to fish, and then he showed them how to walk on water. After the theatrics he taught them how to love. These fishermen thought Jesus was the next best thing after leavened bread – something that was a luxury for fishermen – because which one among them had time to wait for bread to rise?
Things were really cool with this Jesus guy. They got to travel. Meet new people. Hear amazing stories. They got invited into the homes of those they never thought they’d be able to dine with. They saw amazing things happen and miracles performed. The sick were healed. The blind were able to see. And Jesus spoke in a way that made their heart feel warm and their soul feel at peace.
But then one day, people started to become angry over Jesus’ words. Angry words were exchanged and the next thing the fishermen knew, their buddy Jesus was hauled off to prison and brought before the Roman governor where he was tried for treason. Treason? (They also heard words like blasphemy….and other scary words). Jesus was just trying to teach people how to love. The fishermen were surprised, but mostly they were afraid. If people came to know that Jesus was their friend, would they be imprisoned and tried too? So they hid.
And they kept hiding. They heard that Jesus’ trial didn’t go well and that he had been sentenced to death. Now they were really afraid. So they kept hiding. They hid all the while the women knocked on their door saying, “Come out. Come with us. We need to support our friend. We need to be with him. We need to offer our love and support.” But the women’s pleas could not break through the fishermen’s fears. So they continued to hide.
They hid after the women came and told them Jesus had been crucified and that he had died. They hid after the women came to tell them Jesus had been buried. And they continued to hide until three days later, on the morning after the Sabbath when Mary Magdalene (Jesus’ favorite) knocked on the door and proclaimed that Jesus lived. But even then, they only opened the door a crack, and then swiftly slammed it in Mary’s face. “She must have lost her mind. Jesus cannot have survived a crucifixion. And ‘he has risen?’ What does that even mean?”
But then, Jesus himself showed up. He walked right through the closed and bolted door and showed them. “See. I have not died so as never to be seen or known again. I am now with you, always, along with the Spirit who is with and in me.” Only then did the fishermen open the door to Mary Magdalene who stood there tapping her feet with her arms across her chest…saying with her eyes, “I told you so!” For a brief moment, the disciples hung their head in shame – first because they had not listened to the Magdalene, the one Jesus favored above them all; and secondly, because they had abandoned their friend at the time of his greatest need. But just as quickly as the guilt and shame surfaced, they began to make their excuses.
Jesus listened to their bargaining and then began to remind them of all he had taught them about peace and love and how they could experience the kingdom of God right here in the midst of the human experience. Jesus continued to teach them, empowering them with the light of his Spirit so they might go forth and share the good news he had proclaimed: “Turn your gaze only toward the Divine within, for here is where you will find the kingdom of God.” (While the disciples were being tutored for the umpteenth time, Mary Magdalene and the other women were already about their mission of teaching people how to love.) Then Jesus told the disciples, “I must ascend,” and took off for good. Now the disciples were on their own, so they did what Jesus told them to do, “go out and preach the good news.”
This would have been all fine and good except that the male disciples could not let go of that sense of guilt and shame over having abandoned their friend. The wound of shame festered and soon, they could only remember Jesus’ message through the lens of their unhealed shame. As a result, they went forth preaching “the good news,” but soon it took on a new flavor. This message was not the pure message of love Jesus had proclaimed and which Mary and the other women continued to share in the world. Instead, the message became tainted by shame. Instead of the overwhelmingly uplifting message of unconditional love, the love of God became conditional and wrapped in fear. God was no longer the prodigal father of which Jesus spoke; instead he became a wrathful God making impossible demands on his children with the overarching and overwhelming threat of eternal punishment in a place called hell. The cause of Jesus’ death became the sin of humanity. Judas was Jesus’ betrayer and it was the Jews who killed him. Women and sexual intercourse became the cause of original sin. As the wound of shame continued to fester, the message of love became eclipsed to the point where it no longer remained.
But, while the disciples who retained the wound of shame preached a message tainted with fear, those who had no shame, because they had stood by the side of their beloved teacher and friend – Mary Magdalene, Mother Mary, Lazarus, Joseph of Arimathea, Martha, the other Marys, the youngest disciple (and Jesus’ own brother) John, and a few others taught a message of love. They went out into the world doing what Jesus taught them to do. They began with showing people how to connect with the Divine within. Then they supported them in coming to know that this connection – which felt like peace, love, contentment and joy – was their original nature and what Jesus called “the kingdom of God.” Then they taught them how to connect with their own unique gifts and to hear the voice of the Divine which led them to their truth and to the purpose of their life path. They gathered in community for meditation, contemplation and prayer. They broke bread together and shared all things in common for the sake of the common good. They went out into the world teaching, healing, supporting and empowering people – showing them how to be free by teaching them how to love. In this expression, God was not to be feared but was instead, the source of unconditional and unmerited love. In this they came to know that there was indeed no separation – only love – and they lived in peace and walked softly upon the earth while diligently praying that their brothers and sisters might find healing and self-forgiveness for the guilt and shame they have been harboring for the past 2000 years.
What role have guilt or shame played in your own religious upbringing?
How do you find yourself STILL plagued by this shame-based conditioning?
Shame is one of the forces of manipulation that we are currently unraveling from at this stage in our cultural/spiritual evolution. Specifically – the shame we have been conditioned to feel by the patriarchal/hierarchical power structures who for the past 5000 years have ruled our world. These power structures, which are rooted in fear, power and control, have fashioned “rules” from which they benefit while the rest of us suffer. Shame is the tool they use to get us to comply with their rules. Let me offer a few examples:
If you anger, disappoint or turn away from “god” you will go to hell and here are the ways you will anger and disappoint “god.”
If you don’t dress a certain way, carry a certain purse, if your body isn’t a certain size, people won’t love you.
If you don’t succeed in school, you are a failure.
If you didn’t learn the lesson, or if you did learn it but can’t communicate it in the way we expect you to, you will get a bad grade.
If you don’t pay your bills on time, you will be punished.
If you don’t make a certain amount of money, you are a failure.
If you are sick and need medical care, but don’t have money to pay for it, you are lazy.
If you are a working mother and can’t get to work on time because you have to take your child to work, you will be fired.
If you got pregnant out of wedlock, you are a whore.
If you are having sex outside of marriage you are also a whore.
If you are raped, it’s your fault.
The list goes on and on and on.
These are the threats that have been doled out to us by the existing power structures to imprison us with fear and manipulate us with shame.
It is time for us to unravel from this shame by:
Refusing its power over us.
Taking back our own power.
Healing the wounds that have been implanted within us by this shame so that we are less likely to be vulnerable to shame’s manipulations.
I spend a fair portion of my professional life supporting clients and students in naming, claiming, and speaking their truth. However, I find myself spending a lot of my personal life NOT speaking.
Yes, I speak MY truth.
What I don’t always speak is the truth I see in others. Or rather, their manipulations, lies, and deceptions. For as clearly as I know my own truth, I see the truth (or lack thereof) in others.
I see and I know – especially when another is trying to pull the wool over my eyes or over the eyes of others. I can’t be fooled. (I have been fooled in the past, but I’ve since learned to TRUST MY FIRST INSTINCTS. They are always correct!)
I listen and watch closely. Liars will always reveal their true face – if not right away, over time. The truth cannot be hidden for long. Eventually it will creep out from under the carpet where it’s been swept to be seen by those with eyes to see.
Deception has tells – a look in the eyes, evasive or ghosting behaviors, lame excuses, inconsistencies, words not matching behaviors, false promises, leaving out important details, etc. Sometimes it’s just a feeling. Something doesn’t feel right, or something feels off about a person, their business, their practices, their products, their credentials. The stories they tell or the way they present themselves don’t add up.
Sometimes it’s what’s NOT being said that reveals the lie.
To me, there is nothing worse than a liar! Especially those who take advantage of others with their deceptions. Most especially, when the advantage benefits the liar through the typical capitalistic measurements of so-called success: money, fame, power. Liars getting rich off the backs of the vulnerable humans they have lured into their trap. This (almost regular) phenomenon makes me both angry and sad. Angry at the liar. Sad for their victims.
When I’m really being compassionate, I even feel sad for the liar. Why? Because the only people who need to lie are those with something to hide – often something they are hiding from themselves. A deep well of insecurity, for example, is a typical characteristic of liars.
The recovering perfectionist and truth-telling prophet in me wants to call out these liars from the rooftops at the top of my lungs. “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” I want to point out every infraction, discrepancy, deception, and point out every tell. I want to see the liars brought to justice and watch the kingdom they have built for themselves burn itself to the ground.
I won’t though. I’ve learned it doesn’t do any good. Those enamored of the liar won’t believe me anyway. People refuse to see the truth right in front of them, sometimes even after it has blown up in their face. People are on their own path and will either eventually figure out the deception or die trying.
I’m also not an asshole. I might think like an asshole on occasion, but I refuse to act like one. (I’m sure there are certain people who would disagree with this statement – LOL!) What if I’m wrong? (I’m not!) How would I feel if someone accused me of lying (they would be wrong)? I adhere to the Golden Rule.
I also believe strongly in the restorative justice of Karma. Karma is a MF Bitch! I’ve seen her in action. Whether in this life of the next, liars will get their due. And the evil part of me relishes in the fantasy of that retribution.
So, I hold my tongue. I watch. I observe. I listen. I pay attention. I discern. I let Truth speak for itself and allow the space for liars to dig their own graves.
Live Your Truth!
Overcoming Obstacles with the Authentic Freedom Protocol empowers you in identifying, healing, and transcending the inner obstacles to living your own truth.
Before diving into the purpose of evil, I must first share a story. This is a conversation I had with my daughter when she was somewhere around the ripe old age of 14:
Me: “I wish all the evil and bad in the world would just go away.”
Daughter: “But mom, if that happened, there would be no anime.”
Daughter: “You know, no heroes’ journey! What fun would that be?”
Me: “Sigh. You’re completely right! Out of the mouths of babes!”
This was not the first time I was bested by my wise daughter! At the young age of 14, my anime-loving daughter was able to clearly see what I could not:
We need evil in our lives! Evil has a reason and a purpose.
The purpose of evil is ultimately for our benefit.
As my daughter so cleverly pointed out, if there wasn’t evil in the world, how would we ever be challenged to grow? In referring to the classic archetype of the heroes’ journey, my wise daughter said it all:
Evil provides the resistance we need to grow.
Human beings are not unlike plants in this regard. As a germinating plant needs the resistance provided by the seed to grow and is then further strengthened by the resistance provided by the rock and soil through which it must climb to reach the sun, so do we need resistance to grow. Being confronted by evil and the other difficulties and struggles of the human condition, we are being provided with an opportunity for this growth.
Unlike a plant which has no choice but to push through (or die), facing evil also gives us the opportunity to cultivate our will and our power to choose. Struggling with the evils of the human condition supports us in honing our conscience and our consciousness. Who do we want to be and how to we want to live and act? Continually, we are given an opportunity to succumb to evil, be led by evil, or alternatively to make the choice for love. When we choose evil, we suffer the consequences of that choice and are given one opportunity after another to choose otherwise. When we choose love, our path takes on a greater sense of ease as we flow gently toward the next opportunity for our growth. Then we have another opportunity to choose.
Evil is always working for our highest good – continually providing us with opportunities to choose and to grow. Our invitation is not to run from evil, but to face it head on, welcoming its lesson, and accepting the opportunity for growth. In welcoming evil as a teacher, we are fully participating in our own heroes’ journey, and in doing so, writing our own anime adventure!
What kind of hero are you choosing to be?
Courses in support of your own heroes’ journey. Click on the images below to learn more!
You know your truth and you know your path. You immediately know if you can trust a person or if caution must be exercised. You know if you are in danger. You know if you are safe. You know when something is right for you and when it is not. At the deepest and most immediate levels you know this, but if you are like most human beings, this knowing has been conditioned or punished out of you. Most often, this knowing has been sequestered into box called “can’t” “should” or “shan’t.”
You can’t possibly know that!
You shan’t be so judgmental.
You should give people and situations the benefit of the doubt.
You should give it a chance.
But why? If you know, you know! Remember that tiny hair on the back of your neck that stood up when you met that person who later of turned out to be a complete jerk? How about that clenched feeling in your belly when you were left alone in the room with Uncle ____. Or that tickle in your ear that said, “don’t take this road” but you took it anyway and rolled your car? How about that snap moment of panic just before you got rear-ended? Or the outside force that picked up your leg and moved it to slam on the brakes saving you from getting t-boned by the big green van running the red light?
Or more subtly: the sneaking feeling that a co-worker had it out for you? The lightning bolt that went up your arm when you shook the hand of a new acquaintance and you immediately knew they were a liar and a manipulator? The feeling that something felt too good to be true – and it turned out to be!
You know! You know your truth. You know what’s right for you. You know when you are to remain on your current path and when you are being called to change it. You know what is life-giving for you. You know what is soul-sucking. You know when you want to share your energy and time; how and with whom. You know when you simply want to be alone. You know who your allies are. You know your enemies.
This knowledge is communicated in your very first thoughts. Trust them!
Lauri Ann Lumby supports you in trusting your first thoughts!
Lauri has over twenty-five years of experience as an educator, facilitator, soul-tender, and guide. She has supported hundreds through her one-on-one guidance, books, workshops, retreats, over thirty online courses, and online community.
One of the greatest traps we experience as human beings is that of belonging. Belonging has rules. Belonging must be earned. Once earned, there is the constant threat of belonging being taken away. Belonging arises out of a self-created power structure that grooms us to seek after and maintain its approval, and when we break the rules of the power structure we are banished from that place of perceived belonging.
Conditioned belonging exists in every single aspect of our human experience – in our homes, churches, schools, workplaces, etc. The desire to belong reflects our woundedness. Groups of belonging take advantage of this woundedness by extending a promise of acceptance. But in nearly every single case, this acceptance proves to be conditional.
Belonging is a vicious trap that keeps us imprisoned in our woundedness and insecurity. The threat of belonging being taken away keeps us from being able to see the world’s truths, let alone our own. With belonging hanging over our heads, we are unable to name, claim, and live as our most authentic selves. It is for this reason, among others, that much of humanity is living a life of “quiet desperation” – unfulfilled, anxiety and shame-ridden.
Escaping the prison of belonging, is simple, yet likely the most difficult task we will ever undertake. When we know and understand our true nature as Love, we learn that the only one to which we truly belong is to ourselves. After this, no other belonging is necessary:
It takes more courage than most possess to truly see.
Seeing means losing that which
most tightly seals humanity’s prison –
Or rather, the threat that they
and no one
if they don’t belong.
What is belonging if not the constant threat that
Love must be earned and
can even more easily be taken away.
All these threats keep them from seeing that the only belonging one ever needs
is belonging to themselves.
And in belonging to themselves,
they know that
they are Love.
How have you been groomed by belonging? Where did you find belonging conditional? How has the need to belong prevented you from living your most authentic truth?How are you working on remembering your true nature as Love?
Stay up to date on all our classes, programs, and offerings.
Soul School with Lauri Ann Lumby
supports you in remembering your true nature as Love through one-on-one mentoring, spiritual direction, online courses, training programs, books, and more. Start that journey of personal and spiritual mastery today!
Many, if not most, seem to be afraid of honesty – their own and that of others.
As I’ve come to know myself, my comfort with honesty has grown – especially about my own feelings, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses. With this, I’ve become more bold in speaking my truth and being transparent with who I am and the journey that got me here. Funny thing is that many simply don’t know what to do with that level of truth telling. Those that don’t enthusiastically receive the truths I share, either run away in terror or project their own dishonesty onto me, making me the enemy. It seems the adage is true – many human beings simply cannot handle the truth.
When we share our weaknesses or vulnerability there are three ways in which people react:
It’s completely ignored (as people slink away from the sharing that is likely triggering their own unacknowledged vulnerabilities.)
It is welcome, and we are thanked for speaking something they may have felt themselves.
Some will catastrophize our words and then reach out to ask if we’re ok or if we need help.
When we share our feelings or attempt to name and claim our needs: Again, we are met with one of three reactions:
Projection. The recipient turns their own shame or inability to accept difficult feelings or set boundaries on to us – thereby turning us into the enemy.
Gratitude. The recipient gratefully accepts our words and if appropriate apologizes and accepts responsibility for any behaviors that may have hurt us or for infringing on our boundaries.
Respect. The recipient honors and respects our desire to set boundaries and upholds them willingly.
When we speak truth to power and point out societal and corporate injustice:
(issues of racism, sexism, corporate greed, white privilege, concerns about poverty, education, healthcare, homelessness, economic injustices, etc.), there are four predictable reactions:
Retaliation. This response most often comes from those benefitting from these injustices as they attempt to intimidate or justify their willing participation in injustices from which they benefit.
Explanations and excuses. Ahhhhhhh the corporate Koolaid! (more on that later). All the reasons and justifications people make for being part of an unjust system (I have bills to pay, they provide me with insurance, it’s a “good” company, yada yada yada).
Deaf Ears. This most often comes from those who are either in denial, or who are attempting to ignore the suppressed shame they feel for being part of an unjust system.
Agreement. Spoken loudly and clearly from those who also see the injustice and who are willing to risk rejection and condemnation by calling out and working against injustice.
I know! I’m preaching to the choir! You get it! If you don’t get it chances are you haven’t read this far anyway! 😊 So what’s my point? What’s the moral to the story? Why are people so uncomfortable with honesty – whether it be personal honesty spoken or more general honesty about an unjust system? The reason is simple:
People’s discomfort with honesty reflects their inability to be honest with themselves.
Lauri Ann Lumby
Has over twenty-five years of experience as an educator, facilitator, soul-tender, and guide. She has supported hundreds through her one-on-one guidance, books, workshops, retreats, over thirty online courses, and online community.
It has been a productive week at Soul School as I prepare for some big bold moves. Fueling the big and the bold are this week’s video/podcast episodes. If you find these videos helpful, please share them with your friends! Let’s share the love! ❤
Soul Tending with Lauri includes:
Personality, Temperament, and Gifts Assessments.
Exploration of the Soul’s calling.
Uncovering and transforming the obstacles to living out that calling through a variety of mindfulness, creativity, and shamanic practices including Lauri’s trademarked Authentic Freedom™ protocol.
Depth work – identifying ungrieved losses, unhealed wounds, past traumas, ancestral trauma, and learning shamanic practices for transforming and releasing them.
Shadow work – uncovering the unintegrated and often rejected parts of self and bringing them into wholeness.
People often ask me, “How do you know this stuff?” The short answer is – a lifetime of study. The longer answer is what I have come to call “embodied learning.” Yes, I have read literally hundreds of books on the topics I teach and in the areas that I counsel. But more than just reading, I have done my best to embody the best of what scholars before me have articulated through their words, and have applied the practices of the mystics and contemplators and experienced the benefit of these practices in my own life.
Below is just a glimpse into the many books I have studied in forming the foundation of the offerings of Soul School. The benefit to my client and students is that they don’t have to read all these books. They can just show up for the classes and enjoy the distillation of all I have accumulated and gathered in a lifetime of study, integration, and practice.
Lauri Ann Lumby Reading List 2022
Books Related to Mary Magdalene:
Begg, Ean, The Cult of the Black Virgin, Chiron Publications, 2006.
Bourgeault, Cynthia, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene – Discovering the Woman at the Heart of
Christianity, Shambhala Publications, 2010.
Haskins, Susan, Mary Magdalene – Myth and Metaphor, Harcourt Brace & Company, 1993.
King, Karen, L., The Gospel of Mary of Magdala – Jesus and the First Woman Apostle,
Polebridge Press, 2003.
Leloup, Jean-Yves, Judas and Jesus – Two Faces of a Single Revelation, Inner Traditions, 2006.
Leloup, Jean-Yves, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, Inner Traditions, 2002.
Leloup, Jean-Yves, The Gospel of Philip, Inner Traditions, 2003.
Leloup, Jean-Yves, The Gospel of Thomas, Inner Traditions, 2005.
Leloup, Jean-Yves, The Sacred Embrace of Jesus and Mary – The Sexual Mystery at the Heart of
the Christian Tradition, Inner Traditions, 2005.
MacDermot, Violet, The Fall of Sophia – A Gnostic Text on the Redemption of Universal
Consciousness, Lindisfarne Books, 2001.
Starbird, Margaret, The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, Bear & Company, 1993.
Starbird, Margaret, The Goddess in the Gospels – Reclaiming the Sacred Feminine, Bear &
Starbird, Margaret, Mary Magdalene – Bride in Exile, Bear & Company, 2005.
Fiction or Channeled Works:
Heartsong, Claire, Anna – Grandmother of Jesus. S.E.E. Publishing, 2002.
Heartsong, Claire, Anna – the Voice of the Magdalenes, S.E.E Publishing, 2010.
Kenyon, Thomas & Sion, Judi, The Magdalen Manuscript, Tom Kenyon Orb, 2006.
McGowan, Kathleen, The Expected One, Touchstone, 2007.
McGowan, Kathleen, The Book of Love, Touchstone, 2010.
Pevehouse, Dolores, I, The Christ, Hampton Roads, 2000.
Wilson, Stuart, Essenes – Children of the Light, Ozark Mountain Publishing, 2005.
Wilson, Stuart & Prentis, Joanna, Power of the Magdalene, Ozark Mountain Publishing, 2008.
Unitive Gnosticism/Gnostic Christianity:
Douglas-Klotz, Neil, The Hidden Gospel: Decoding the Spiritual Message of the Aramaic Jesus,
Quest Books, 1999.
Douglas-Klotz, Neil, Prayers of the Cosmos, Harper One 1993.
Eisler, Riane, The Chalice and the Blade, Harper Collins, 1987.