Hypocrisy is bad, right? Strictly defined, it's trying to impress people with the appearance of virtue while inwardly being a rotter. And no, I'm not really going to argue for that.
But I think we tend to feel an uncomfortable feeling like we're being hypocritical whenever we notice a difference between our outsides and our insides. Here I am preaching charity and I was just a jerk to my kids! Here I am in church when really there are scads of atheists who are better people than me! Here I am sharing an article about poverty when in reality I don't really give much to charity! It feels bad. It feels fake.
And it's true that this feeling should inspire us to clean up our insides to match our outsides. But is there anything good about dropping the exterior stuff in order to match our inner awfulness?
When I was in boarding school and correspondingly way too obsessed with sin, I was afraid to make a visit to the chapel because I suspected I secretly only wanted to go so that people would see me and think I was holy. But then I thought, maybe this line of thought is just an excuse because I don't want to make a visit. How do I know I have an honest intention? What is the better thing to do?
And I made a decision, back then, for how I wanted to live my life, and it is summed up like this: Never let fear of hypocrisy stop you from doing a good thing.
Yes, it's a bit dishonest to let people think you're better than you are. But sometimes our search for "authenticity" just makes us stop doing good things that we actually wanted to do. There's only so far you can parse your own motives -- I learned at that time that I am capable of reading horrible motives into any conceivable action I could possibly take. At some point you've got to just make a decision, and rather than worrying that some actions are hypocritical, you should just pick good actions.
If I feel too hypocritical about that, I just make it a point to be honest: YES, I am sometimes a jerk to my kids. SURE, I don't give much to charity. But it is a good thing that I'm able to recognize that peaceful parenting or charitable giving are good, and maybe talking about them will help me do better at them.
So this is kind of the conclusion I've come to, for the present, about faith. I don't think I have any faith to speak of, because faith should include thinking it's true and I can't seem to think it's true without evidence. I'm saying this now, to fend off the charge that I'm being dishonest when I act like I think it's true, even though I only think it's sort of plausible, tops.
But here's what it comes down to: I want to be Catholic. I want to go to church. So I am just going to DO IT. Hypocrisy and all. If God is real, I can't help but feel he appreciates the effort, and if not, he's not going to mind.
Do you think that's hypocritical of me? Is the fear of hypocrisy stopping you from doing good things?