Rest for Our Souls by Jim Forest

Feature

Rest for Our Souls

Confession in an Age of Self-Esteem
by Jim Forest

Among the hottest best-sellers of the 1970s was a book that had the catchy title, I’m Okay, You’re Okay. One of its enthusiastic readers, a young priest in Boston, gave a sermon about it that was a rave review. He wished he could give everyone he knew a copy. The book’s message was simple: To love others started with loving yourself, and loving yourself meant acquiring self-esteem.

At the end of Mass, standing at the door, the priest asked one of his older parishioners how he had liked the sermon. The man wasn’t eager to criticize but responded, “I haven’t read the book. If what you say is true, it’s better than the Bible. My only problem was that I kept thinking of Christ on the Cross saying to those who were watching him die, ‘If everybody’s okay, what in blazes am I doing up here?’”

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