About a month ago, I read the unusually contrite and self-aware statement by Felicity Huffman in court re: her actions in the college admissions scandal, as reported in the Boston Globe:
“I am pleading guilty to the charge brought against me by the United States Attorney’s Office.
I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done,
I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions.
I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. I want to apologize to them and, especially, I want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly.
My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her. This transgression toward her and the public I will carry for the rest of my life. My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty.”
Somehow, in reading this, I was reminded of the Catholic “sacrament” known as “going to confession.” Piously. Once weekly, late Saturday afternoon, in prep for Mass the next day where we would then, cleansed of our sins, be able to “receive Holy Communion.”
I’ll never forget one of my sisters, burning with shame as a teenager, sitting in the pew while the rest of us went up to kneel in front of the priest and, eyes closed, stick our tongues out for the thin white host. That she didn’t go with us she probably excused with “I forgot to fast” (can’t remember how long we were supposed to fast, but at the very least, we weren’t supposed to eat breakfast), but I knew: the look on her face, and the blush, spoke volumes.
I used to think Confession was a great idea, in that it let us absolve ourselves of sins on a regular basis and not carry around that extra baggage. That because of confession in childhood, we wouldn’t need psychoanalysis later. But as a teenager, giving into temptation at least in “french kissing” (a mortal sin which, unconfessed and resolved, would send me to hell) every single weekend with my boyfriend . . . no matter how much I wanted to stop doing it, I couldn’t. And this is when I began to realize that confession sucked. Why? Because there was just no way I could guarantee I “won’t do it again,” which is the promise I had to make in that black box with the black-robed priest, listening — and masturbating? we might ask now, so jaded have we become; did he get off on our teenage sins? and was this another form of pedophilia? — on the other side of the shaded window.
One must (falsely) promise not to do it again, and of course, one must also say three Hail Marys or Our Fathers or whatever it took to make sure that most recent sin was erased.
So every time I promised, even though I knew I would probably do it again because I was so weak, I worried: Was my promise a lie? This conundrum preoccupied me, a saintly Catholic girl if ever there was one.
Some time later I heard about the medieval practice of Catholic indulgences — good works meant to help absolve sins, that, by the time of the 16th century, transformed into a financial scam, selling indulgences, a practice that Martin Luther, among others, condemned.
Now why does this remind me of Felicity Huffman? Well, it’ has to do with “sins,” and it has to do with money; however in this case, as we know, the sin itself had to do with a form of what we call now, glibly, “Pay for play,” a phrase I first heard in reference to the shady practices of the Clinton Foundation.
In any case, money has corrupted our entire “civilized” world, that’s clear. And confessions, no matter how heartfelt, as Felicity’s seems to be, don’t change that fact.
I thought about her confession when I read another one, two days ago, from Isaac Kappy, a sometime actor and Hollywood pedophile whistleblower, done just before his strange death, where he supposedly “forced himself to jump” from a bridge onto a remote Arizona highway and was then run over by a vehicle. Truck? Car? Reports differ. And what did the news stories mean by the strange phrase, “forced himself to jump.” Huh? The scuttlebutt on twitter was that he did not die a suicide, but was suicided, by those who would keep him quiet lest he reveal more, which, apparently, he was about to do.
Meanwhile, he also wrote a confession, and posted it on Instagram. It’s long. Here’s how it begins:
Two confessions. Both seeming to be real, contrite, especially Kappy’s. Felicity’s too, though more formal in the context of a courtroom. Both having to do somehow with the wrong use of money.
Are confessions about to become a new theme in the body politic? I certainly hope so. Especially confessions regarding the wrong use of money, and how this practice pervades society with outright bribes, habitual embezzlement, and the sale, not of indulgences now, but of women and children, blood, organs. The very worst behavior of humans is on display. Can we forgive ourselves? If so, what will it take.