It is sometimes scary being a teacher because you have no idea what your words or actions may trigger. I graduated yesterday having written 80,000 words on shame in the church, but I would never have written them if it had not been for a teacher nearly half a century ago. I don’t remember the name of the teacher and if you have heard me speak about my research you almost certainly heard me tell the story.
But the (negative) actions of that teacher sparked something in me that over the years I have reflected on and began to realize that I needed to think more deeply about. Shame is horrible, shame which should never have been evoked is particularly horrible but shaming is prevalent in our culture. You only have to buy a tabloid newspaper to understand that. I devised a typology of shame and now see more clearly how shame happens in a range of contexts at different levels and I try to be priest who does not shame individuals, I may not always succeed but try to be mindful of the power inherent in my role and the call to be loving.