Idol Chatter

A few years ago, the PostSecret site took off, providing people with a central place for posting their own hidden truths and spy on the secrets of others. This public confessional was perfectly reflective of the technology-enabled, “tell-all generation.” The site took something shameful–a person’s most embarrassing secrets–and transformed it into public spectacle.(One example: a confession reading, “I danced with two men on my wedding day–the one I married, and the one I wish I’d married instead.”)
We all play games of judgment. These are my secrets: what are yours? Are they worse than mine? How does my morality rank compared to that of the next person? We pose these questions of ourselves to try to justify the choices we’ve made, and if we’re inclined toward introspection and self-improvement, to assess how we can change our behaviors in the future.
Confession is a substantial part of the High Holidays’ liturgy, especially on the repentance-centered Yom Kippur–Jewish confession is different than the Catholic version….confession is between a person and God, and there’s no intermediary in a booth providing prayers as penance.

Now the National Jewish Outreach Program adopts a similar model with Project Forgiveness: a Jewish High Holidays-based approach to secrets and regrets revealed. The website provides a public confession of sorts, to put people in a state of self-assessment in approaching the repentance-based High Holiday season.
A step toward forgiveness or a dumping ground for secrets? As always, such judgment is in the eye of the beholder. And maybe that’s precisely the point.

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