ANOTHER SIN FOR OUR NEW WORLD

I did a some quick, shallow research on the original seven big ones, known lovingly as “the seven deadly sins.” Here is a quick reminder for those who didn’t do Dante, or who have forgotten:

Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, Pride.

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The original sins are more than words. They are concepts.

Starting from the top, we find Lust. It isn’t merely having indiscriminate sex. Or doing it with people to whom you aren’t married. Or with sheep, for that matter. Lust is not just for horny teenagers, starlets, or white-collar men having a midlife crisis.

Lust is an intense desire. It is a general term for desire. Therefore lust could involve the intense desire of money, food, fame, power or sex. In Dante’s Purgatorio, the penitent walks in flames to purge himself of lustful thoughts and feelings. Perhaps ambition fits nicely into this category? Just a thought.

On this earthly plane, there’s a lot of lusting going on and sex is the least of it. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say sex is the best of it. Possibly the only piece of the “lust sinology” that’s fun and might do somebody some good.

So how about Gluttony, eh? If you think it means you eat too much, you’d be right, though eating is a just one of many gluttonous activities in which you can indulge.

Derived from the Latin gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow, gluttony (Latin, gula) is the over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste. Gluttony can be interpreted as selfishness; essentially placing concern with one’s own interests above the well-being or interests of others.

As far as I can tell, our whole society has been doing a lot of gulping … of natural resources, of fancy cars, houses, gadgets, widgets. We also eat too much, but in the overall scheme of things, food is the least of the problems.

Moving along, we get to a perennial favorite: Greed. You can’t go wrong with greed. For thousands of years, greed has been on the “most popular sin” list for most people. It’s probably the single most motivating of the sins, having lost its evil connotations and been enshrined as something wonderful to which we all ought to aspire. Greed rules the “bottom line.” It is idolized, enshrined, canonized by corporate America. It is not a sin, but a goal to which everything is in service. Yet it’s one of the seven deadly sins. What a world, eh?

Greed (Latin, avaritia), also known as avarice, cupidity or covetousness, is, like lust and gluttony, a sin of excess. However, greed (as seen by the church) is applied to a very excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of material possessions. (Like money and profit?) Scavenging, hoarding materials or objects, theft and robbery, especially by violence, trickery, or manipulation of authority are actions likely inspired by greed.

According to Gordon Gecko, “Greed is good.” Not to worry. If Hollywood promotes it, it must be good.

Sloth is charming. It hardly seems worthy of mention in such awe-inspiring company.

Sloth (Latin, acedia) can entail different vices. While sloth is sometimes defined as physical laziness, spiritual laziness is emphasized. Failing to develop spiritually is key to becoming guilty of sloth. In the Christian faith, sloth rejects grace and God. Sloth has also been defined as a failure to do things that one should do. By this definition, evil exists when good men fail to act.

Wrath is a big deal, the cause for much of what ails America these days.

Wrath (Latin, ira), also known as “rage”, may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. Wrath, in its purest form, presents with self-destructiveness, violence, and hate that may provoke feuds that can go on for centuries. Wrath can persist long after the person who committed a grievous wrong is dead. Feelings of anger can manifest in different ways, including impatience, revenge, and self-destructive behavior, such as drug abuse or suicide. And ranting on social media.

We seem to be in the middle of an epidemic of wrath in the U.S. Politically and socially, we are an angry, hate-filled people. Scary stuff.

Ah Envy! The motivator of crime, the inciter of ambition.

Like greed and lust, Envy (Latin, invidia) is insatiable desire. It is similar to jealousy in display discontent towards someone’s traits, status, abilities, or rewards. The difference is that envy also desires the entity — the thing or person — and covets it. Envy can be directly related to the Ten Commandments, specifically, “Neither shall you desire… anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Stop staring at your neighbor’s ass.

Pride is the downfall of smart people. If there’s a sin to which I am devoted, it’s pride. It pops up in so many ways. Believing one is smarter than everyone else, that one is really in control of ones fate (yeah, right!). It is the sweetest of sins, the most comfortable sin, the beloved of the educated and sophisticated set. My personal favorite.

If it turns out a Judeo-Christian God is truly in charge, this sin guarantees I will not make it to heaven because that particularly wrathful deity was firmly again anyone’s pride but his own.

In almost every list, pride (Latin, superbia), or hubris (Greek), is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins. It is the source of all other sins. It is identified as believing that one is essentially better than others, and failing to acknowledge the accomplishments of others, as well as excessive admiration of the one’s self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God). 

What could I add to this prestigious list?

Allow me to suggest Willful Ignorance, a determined blindness to facts, reality, and knowledge. Willful Ignorance comfortably works in concert with Wrath, Envy, Lust, Pride to virtually define the modern era.

I have been offered the opportunity to become the President of the International Internet … sort of a virtual uber-President of Everything.

As a devotee of pride, I’m definitely qualified for this job. What could God possibly know about computers? They were not part of the original creation, so I’ll take the job.

Speaking of greed, this comes with a gigantic paycheck, right? And, sloth speaking here, I’ll have assistants to do all the real work, won’t I?



Categories: Ethics and Philosophy, Religion

Tags: , , , , , ,

49 replies

  1. You have put a new slant on Dante. Love it.

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  2. This was an interesting study on the 7 deadly sins Marilyn. There’s not a single human being in existence that doesn’t fall prey to one or more of these traps of men in their lifetime. Understand the the term “men” is better interpreted as “mankind” just so that women don’t think they get a free pass here.

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  3. The seven deadly sins seem to be alive and well everywhere, especially in government. My mother used to say that the world would be destroyed the second time with f ire, well this was in the early sixties when it seemed quite likely I expect. I just wonder, if there is a God, if just leaving us to live with the mess we’ve made wouldn’t be a greater punishment.

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  4. Willful Ignorance. AMEN!

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  5. I am familiar with all those sins, having had first-hand knowledge as a young Catholic/old Catholic trying them all out. Yup! Those “Seven Deadly Virtues” sung about in Camelot. Ya’ know, just plain Stupidity should be there. Stupid! “How can he be so stupid? Does he think we are that dumb”–as he tries to get us to deny the holocaust, slavery, oceans rising, ice melting, bad fracking, and on and on. You see, We don’t need no education, parenthood clinics, Medicaid, …. This was a great piece!

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  6. “willful ignorance”…priceless 🙂

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  7. Ah, but then there are the seven virtues… which are said to protect against the seven deadly sins… and, to answer the question someone asked earlier, they’re deadly because if you practice them in life, you don’t get into heaven therefore, your soul dies in Hell and does not get granted eternal life with God. Or something like that.

    Anyway, seven virtues — chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility.

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    • What if you manage both? You are prideful, but patient. Charitable with a really bad temper. Kind and humble, unless someone annoys you, at which point you turn into … you know. Because nobody is so simple as to be definable by a little list. Not 700 years ago and not now, either.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m guessing they’re suppose to cancel each other out, no? It’s meant to be about balance from what I understand. You balance pride with humbleness, wrath with patience, etc… It’s when someone becomes, say, greedy to the exclusion of all else that it becomes a deadly sin. Or, on the other hand when someone takes pride in how humble they are before God that they walk that thin line of hubris… So yeah, it’s a balancing act.

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        • I think you are over-thinking this. I don’t think these “sins” were supposed to do anything but scare people into compliance. The virtues were a goal, based on Christ as perceived by the Church and Christians are all about an imitation of Christ. This stuff was kind of like the social media of its day. Popular and simplified versions of religions to scare people out of doing bad and tempt them into doing good. It worked, too, sort of. The rich and powerful always ignored this stuff and still do.

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  8. If these sins are so deadly… then how come all of the greedy, lustful, envious, slothlike, angry, gluttonous, prideful people are still with us? Sounds like false advertisement to me….

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  9. I’m in deep, deep poo poo….. 🙂

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  10. I like your choice.

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  11. How about cruelty (in addition to willful ignorance)? In my opinion, cruelty to other species and to each other is the #1 sin. IF I believed in any religious crap, which I don’t, although I do believe in reality. I don’t have FAITH in humanity to do the right thing. Humans killing humans, humans killing animals. It’s all too disgusting. Now you’ve initiated a rant, sorry!

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  12. I like Willful Ignorance. It should have been on HEDley Lamarr’s prerequisite list when signing up the worst of the worst in “Blazing Saddles”.

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  13. Can I be your deputy? You can do the organising and I will upload it all – say 50:50?

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