Escaping Desire: Christianity, Gnosticism and Buddhism
By the time of the early Christian ascetics, mutability has become
savage; now, inextricably bound up with sin, it is the active agent of
death, which is now located firmly i n s i d e desire.
A secular repudiation of the Christian idea of sin has resulted in a
secular misunderstanding of it, and a failure to realize the extent to
which the psychology of sin, far from being cast off with the religion
which invented it, still informs contemporary culture. The underlying
significance of sin in Western culture is a paradoxical one: the concept
of sin becomes culturally prominent as human beings begin to take
responsibility for what they cannot, as well as what they can, control;
there is a sense in which the idea of sin, even at its most abject, is
hubristic. When the innocent submit to guilt and remorse, they can
strangely empower and energize themselves through the very abjection
which is also the expression of their impotence.