The religious ego — our ‘inner Pharisee’ — demands perfection, is embarrassed by our failings and punishes us for them with self-loathing. Co-opting the God-given conscience, it ascends to the judgment seat reserved for Christ alone and points the accusing finger of condemnation. The fruit is anxiety, shame and an intense desire to shrink back, to burrow into the mud and hide out our years. It reminds us of our inadequacy and sets up this ordinance of hypocrisy: “Your failings disqualify you — how dare you ‘let your light so shine before men,’ knowing that your life is unworthy of the message you carry.” The religious ego would humiliate us into a shroud of perpetual silence.


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