Confess your eco-sins!

A few weeks ago we looked at a public relations campaign — and how it was covered — by the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Miami. Now, private confession and absolution is a serious thing among certain religious adherents. My Lutheran pastor offered extra hours for confession during Lent and even more during Holy Week so we could avail ourselves of the opportunity. This is a regular part of worship life for many of us but is widely ignored by many mainstream media.

So I was pretty surprised when I saw this clip of CNN reporter T.J. Holmes making a powerful confession of sins on national television. It is, perhaps, one of the more religious things you will ever see on television. The bit is embedded in the post and here is the transcript:

T.J. HOLMES, CNN anchor: Well, in today’s “XYZ,” I’d like confess my sins.

I drive a Chevy Tahoe. It gets 15 miles to the gallon in the city. While some people have SUVs to haul their large families around, it’s just me driving by myself to work every day.

I have a number of TVs in my high house and leave them on just about all day, every day.

I often turn the water on in the shower, then I walk downstairs to maybe grab breakfast, leave the water running, then I go back upstairs to take a shower.

I buy 24 packs of bottled water at a time. Then I throw those bottles away without recycling.

In the winter I crank the heat up to 75 or 76.

All the light bulbs in my house are still the old school, less efficient incandescent bulbs.

Those are my eco-sins. I’m confessing them to you because tomorrow is Earth Day. It often goes ignored by many of us, including me. Not going to ignore this year. Why? Well, maybe it was an awakening. Maybe I was scolded recently by an environmentalist. Maybe I’m tired of wasting my own money.

Whatever my reasons, whatever yours, happy Earth Day.

Brooke, I just confessed to you on national TV.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN anchor: I’m impressed, it was just 60 seconds of confessions, friend. Oh, T.J. Holmes.

HOLMES: There’s some other stuff.

Now, I’m not entirely certain what to say about this. Is confession, taken very seriously by Christians such as myself, something to be done so flippantly? Was this flippant or was it serious? It was done to coincide with the Earth Day holiday. Is there some larger point about media treatment of sin and confession? About the holiness of Earth Day and the religious significance of environmentalism? And can you imagine how a real confession of sins — where the deepest, darkest thoughts and actions against our spouses, family, friends and others were brought to light — would be taken on television? I don’t think CNN, or really any network, would be capable of even handling it. My private confession would probably be scandalous if put on national television. And I’d be humiliated. It would also be inappropriate, of course. What are your thoughts about this curious confession?

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  • Dan Crawford

    The “confession” reminded me a “reconciliation service” in the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming in 2001 where the participants beat their breasts and confessed sins of “rigid thinking”, “non-inclusive attitudes”, “judgmental attitudes” and other offenses against political correctness, while not one mention was made of any of the ten commandments. I confess I don’t take the “confession” seriously.

  • Mike

    Can we vote online on whether to forgive him?

  • Jerry

    Mollie, you and many use the word “confess” in a specific, theological sense. But the dictionary defines the word in a much broader sense. So I must confess that I disagree with your umbrage about this piece.

  • Jon in the Nati

    This is a fitting companion piece for this GR report from a few weeks ago.

    Nothing like mixing one of the most historic and importance Christian observances with a rinky-dink political holiday just because they happen to fall on the same day this year.

  • jfh

    Are those really his own “sins?” Or is he speaking as a “representative” on behalf of his fellow sinners? In other words, is this a priestly/mediatorial act, in which the priest stands before God on behalf of the people?

  • Dale

    Honestly, this clip sounds like it came from ONN’s Factzone.

    It even has an unnaturally perky female anchor named Brooke.

    Back to you, Mollie.

  • Dave

    I would say Holmes is not seriously repenting his ecological sins but stops one step short of outright facetiousness that would be offensive to an environmentalist. Whether it’s offensive to a Christian depends, I suppose, on the Christian.

    As a Pagan I don’t engage much with the concept of sin but, if pro-environmental actions are good (and I believe they are) then I suppose the deliberate opposite are sins. I give Holmes credit for accurately identifying his actions that fall in the latter category as well as for recognizing that his eco-laxitiy costs him money.

  • Kunoichi
  • Bram

    Gag me with a (biodegradable) spoon.

  • R9

    What Dave said, more a “note to self: must do better” list with some genuine intent but not the solemnity of a someone who feels a terrible need to be personaly forgiven.

    of course, we have to wonder how people a hundred years from now might look back on us, and how we treated the planet and its resources. Maybe they’ll regard us as pretty sinful.