Man Turned in on Himself, excerpt 1
In celebration of the completion of my MA thesis I will be sharing a sampling of excerpts over the next few weeks. As I prepare to present the work to the Theology department at the end of April, I’d love to know what speaks to you….
The Origins of Homo Incurvatus In Se
Picture a body curved inward— in the fetal position, for example. The shape of the curve does two things: 1) it protects and defends the thing it is turned in on, guarding it and the right to have it to oneself, preferably in the secret shadow of the curve, and 2) its curved form creates a barrier between the heart’s desire and the things it wants to keep at bay: judgment, change, help, love, God. Even if we take God out of the conversation (a useful exercise when speaking of sin to a modern secularist), the image maintains its potency: when man is turned in on his own desires, the world— despite man’s best efforts to the contrary— becomes smaller and darker. Without the impetus or wherewithal to reverse his course, his condition gets progressively worse. Without access to any power greater than himself— and with the sudden realization that he is, in fact, only human— he becomes trapped in the “hamster wheel” of his own thoughts and enslaved by his own feelings and desires. This universal human experience exposes the hard truth of the lie of sin:
“Wherefore it is not without meaning said that all sin is a lie. For no sin is committed save by that desire or will by which we desire that it be well with us, and shrink from it being ill with us. That, therefore, is a lie which we do in order that it may be well with us, but which makes us more miserable than we were.”
St. Augustine, The City of God
From RECLAIMING THE WISDOM OF HOMO INCURVATUS IN SE: “MAN TURNED IN ON HIMSELF” AS AN ENTRY POINT FOR THE DISCUSSION OF SIN IN 21ST-CENTURY AMERICA by Heather Choate Davis