"In the Church of 80% Sincerity, we understand that the basic motivating factor for all human beings is not self-preservation or sex or love. It is the desire to not be embarrassed."
I'm not sure I've ever read a more true statement. It comes around the middle of David Roche's The Church of 80% Sincerity (Perigree, 160 pages, $19.95).
Roche's "church" is a "church of choice for recovering perfectionists," he states in the introduction to the book. "We think 80 percent sincerity is as good as it gets. You can be 80 percent sincere 100 percent of the time or 100 percent sincere 80 percent of the time. It's in that 20 percent area where you get some slack and you can be yourself."
Roche, who was born with a severe facial deformity, has written this memoir as a sort of guide to self-acceptance. He's not New Age-y or touchy-feely or at all preachy. He's just a real guy who has lived through a difficult existence.
"While I may inspire others, I am not too inspiring to myself. I look over my life and see that it is full of mistakes, misdeeds (intentional and otherwise), compromises, cowardice, substance abuse, failure to love, failure to risk and risks foolishly taken," he writes. "The worst of it, in my mind, is that my misdeeds tended not to be flamboyantly risky but instead small, shameful, compromises and evasions. I find myself wishing my sins had been sins of the heart and not sins of fear."
Amen, brother. Most of us don't live against the law, committing crimes that might land us in jail, but we do move through life committing small transgressions without even thinking about it.
After growing up in a large family who never talked about his disfigurement so young David would grow up "normal," he decided he needed to confront it and move on. So, in this book and on the road in a one-man state show with the same title, Roche "preaches" what he practices.
"We have no ideals," He writes in what might be the book's most profound statement. "We do not try to change people by having them conform to an ideal. We try to accept people as they are. We adjust our beliefs and practices to conform to the reality of being human."