Sunday, September 04, 2016

The Deadly Sins

Hmmm ... so now I am to write of the seven deadly sins: pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth.

First, I should try to figure out the difference between covetousness and envy ... OK ... Google is my friend, and it seems to tell me that the former is about wanting more goods, and the second is about wanting what someone else has. It seems like a fine distinction to me.

Anyway, now that that is sort of sorted (see what I did there?), let me say that I think  that I (and assume everyone) has suffered from all of these sins. But mildly in most cases, I also assume.

I mean to say, if you haven't experienced a hint of pride in some accomplishment or possession or your grandchild, then you aren't terribly human in my opinion. In other words, you have inded experienced this because you are human. But I think for most of us, it's a good sort of pride. You persist in some task and eventually succeed at it, and you experience a healthy pride. It doesn't mean you are proud as in haughty and disdainful.

I go through the list, and I have committed each one of those supposed sins — multiple times. But they are really all in passing. They are little sins if indeed they are sins at all, and not necessarily deadly or besetting sins.

There are some in the list that I have to think about a little more deeply: lust, for example. Is my appreciation of a pretty woman, which entails a longer than usual glance, lust, or is it just only that — an appreciative glance? Is something beautiful not to be appreciated? You look at art or hear a piece of music, and you appreciate it. You don't call that appreciation lust.

What about gluttony? Of the list, I may be closest to this. My belly is too big, so, therefore, it would follow that I eat too much. But do I? I don't think so, really, for I am dispositioned to not like veggies and to love fatty and fried foods. I wish it weren't so, but it is so. So, I don't think I overeat so much as I eat the wrong things. And these days anyway, I can't really exercise the calories away. It's not as if I eat plateful after plateful of fried chicken or a whole box of chocolates at a sitting. (Although, should I choose to blog about my birthday weekend, you might see that food is greatly involved.)

Of course, the sin list comes from a time past when certain religionists were obsessed with trying to emulate whatever their theology told them that Jesus was like and how to find heavenly favour with him. There were those who agonized over their grave sins, even going so far as to self-flagellate although I am not sure how useful that would have been.

However, the emerging scientific consensus seems to be that free will is an illusion; every predilection and decision springs from a combination or our genes and our experience. In other words, if you were to go back to that bad decision that you made and now wish that you hadn't, you would do it again. It would be groundhog day. We like imagine that we would make a different choice, but that is wishful thinking from our retrospective viewpoint. Sure, if you could bring your present brain, experiences and thought back with you, you'd likely make a different decision, but if you could be placed back in exactly the same circumstances as you were then, you would always make the same decision.

If that's the case, and I think it is (or nearly enough anyway), the concept of sinning is dead wrong. Sinning implies choice, and it seems that we don't have choice. I know that it sure seems that we have the ability to choose because we can think and reflect, and that makes it seem as though we have choices, but we probably don't. Yes, when certain bad actions affect society harmfully, then there needs to be behaviour modification, even if the perpetrator couldn't help himself (more often than not a 'him' it seems). You need to forfeit your allowance, serve a detention, or go to jail. That changes your experience and may hopefully result in improved behaviour in the future. But it should also change our view of crime and punishment ... which is another story for another day.



10 comments:

Jim Flack said...

I like the way you think, AC. We are free thinking, therefore, we probably sin. I look back, and know I made some really bad choices, but with the same mind then and same place, I would do them again. Damn! Thank the gods for maturity. If being lazy, having a dusty house, though neat most of the time, is regarded as sloth, the, I'm guilty as charged. As for the rest, I can recall sometimes that I probably fit all, but now, not so much. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, and perhaps, wiser!

KGMom said...

First one to blog on seven deadly sins, eh? Hmmm. Methinks that is significant.
I do agree with you on the likely origin of 7 deadly sins. No doubt these were precisely the things that the early church fathers wrestled with. So, hey, let's condemn everyone on this!

Marie Smith said...

Self reflection in life is a big deal, isn't it? Sometimes I wish I wasn't so inclined to beat myself up about things. Good old Catholic guilt! Forgiveness of self is as important as forgiveness of others. Is that pride! Lol.

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

There is coveting and then there is hoarding!

I talk to hubby about his education in Catholic school, and being an altar boy. Horrible childhood, really. He gave up Catholicism for Lent 40 years ago!
(ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

Donna said...

Well, even "groundhog days" are able to be changed. You just have to find the right "note".
Sloth...I find that one interesting... ;o)
hughugs

Linda Kay said...

This reminds me of the movie "Seven" with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. Very creepy.

Vicki Lane said...

The best depiction of the the Deadly Seven was in the original BEDAZZLED with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore/ And Rachel Welch as Lust.

Jayne said...

I, too, feel that too much focus was on what we are NOT, and not on what we are evolving to BE. I have no real use for the seven "deadly sins" and they do not factor in the way I live my life.

Mage said...

Dear AC, you know that you do not have to follow the prompts. LOL

Mary Gilmour said...

I think it is the degree of the sin and not the reflexive action that is important. You have a wonderful grandkid and you celebrate. Sure, that's pride. But if your celebration leads you to put down some other little kid, that's shameful. (I have never seen you do that, just for clarity.)
Same for the rest of the list.
I do wonder who worked out the list. If it was St Paul, he is responsible for a lot of harm, the nasty misogynist that he was.
Re lust. If your husband comments favourably about some woman who has a better figure than you do, is it a sin to whack him with the rolling pin?