“Who, me?” blurted both Adam and Eve upon getting caught eating the forbidden fruit. “It was the snake’s fault,” they insisted. From the beginning of time we pass blame to another, enjoying temporary release only to discover, eventually, long term self-destruction.
Be honest, is the counsel of Martin Luther. The essence of the Reformation and the heart of the gospel is found in the Latin formulae “Simul justus et pecator,” meaning, we are at the same time sinner and redeemed. In the words of Phil Anderson, we are each a “mixture of pearls and garbage.” We do what we shouldn’t as did both Adam and Eve; it’s in our nature.
None of us want to expose the “pecator” within, preferring our “justus” to be our face to friends and family. “Who, me?” We hide our “garbage” or blame the snake. Relationships suffer.
The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia displays our “garbage” for all to see. In an unimposing storefront a short walk from the center of town, visitors are welcomed into room after room of intimate stories divulging broken hearts. Adam and Eve’s story is everyone’s told in differing words.
On its webpage, the Museum is described as “a physical and virtual public space created with the sole purpose of treasuring and sharing your heartbreak stories and symbolic possessions. It is a museum about you, about us, about the ways we love and lose.”
Luther would be pleased. Our bias is to be liked and desirable, to tell stories of winning, not losing. But such is only a part of who we are. If Luther is correct, we will find greater peace within, with others and with God if our self-disclosure (confession) is honest, truthful and complete. A wander through the museum can be freeing. “…And the truth will make your free,” Jesus said to his disciples (John 8:32). In the end, our value, worth, meaning and significance is a gift from God and not something earned. The good news is that despite the “sinner” within, each of us is adjudicated by God as redeemed. We are each “simul justus et pecator.” That truth is proclaimed in the story of Jesus’ death on the cross.
A Los Angeles branch of the Museum of Broken Relationships was founded in 2016. A traveling exhibition has visited 50 cities worldwide, including New York City; Pittsburgh; Boise, Idaho; Boulder, Colorado; San Francisco; Bloomington, Indiana; St Louis; and Houston. On June 7, 2017 the Museum of Failure, inspired by the Museum in Zagreb, opened in Helsingborg, Sweden, showcasing “innovation failures,” including Harley-Davidson perfume, the Ford Edsel and the Itera plastic bicycle.