Tuesday, 29 May 2012

So I guess I'm gonna fall any second now, right?

Because, you know, pride goeth before a fall and all that stuff.
So, seven deadly sins. Or seven cardinal sins is an alternative term for them which I think is more fitting. Because as I understand it the concept of the seven cardinal sins is not that they're the worst things you can possibly do (Which 'deadly' could be taken to kind of imply), but rather that they are the basis and cause for the really bad sins. And that's something I can definitely buy into as an idea. Whereas I would say that in and of themselves? They're not bad things.

OK, so a while back I think it was one of those kinda meme-y things that was going round - going through the seven sins and picking out things about yourself categorised within each. I didn't want to do that, but it's relevant to what I'm sort of saying here, because it is the kind of thing which pretty much anyone could do. Or to put it another way, everyone is guilty of the seven 'deadly sins' to some extent. They're just natural elements of the human condition. So, yeah, I have issues with nomenclature, because the seven 'sins' are not sinful. They may cause sinful behaviour but they are not sinful in and of themselves. And as far as things causing sinful behaviour is concerned, don't people also say that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions?

OK, gripes about nomenclature aside, let's talk about them for a bit.

Pride goeth before a fall, as I already said. I imagine that's a phrase which could get annoying for me if it were used more, because I am prideful. And it's the kind of thing people could just throw out without thinking, as a blanket statement saying "Lol, pride is bad." Which it isn't, that being kind of my big point here.
Pride is probably the sin (Yeah, I've bitched about the nomenclature, but it's established so I'm using it) I'm most guilty of. But, is it such a bad thing? This is really the one I have the greatest issue with. I guess maybe in calling it a sin, they conflate pride with arrogance. But one can be prideful perfectly legitimately. I take pride in the good things I do, good qualities I have. I'm proud of my G&S performances and the related fact that I'm a decent singer and actor. I'm proud of my abilities at chess, however lapsed, and my abilities at video games, however minor. I'm proud of the fact I'm intelligent. Isn't all that perfectly reasonable? If you think not, feel free to explain to my why  a natural reaction to positive things is inherently bad, but... I doubt I'll be convinced.
So, yeah, I see the issue with arrogance, I can see an issue with being too boastful maybe, but pride? No. Pride is fine, and indeed I would be concerned for someone without pride. So, I can see why it's in the list of seven, but it's really another misnomer, where what it really means is arrogance or hubris.

(As a sidenote, I don't think this is really directed at anyone I've ever met. I guess it is all just the nomenclature causing me to be all like "But these things aren't inherently bad!" Whatever, I'm writing this because I feel like doing so)

Now this one I can see more how it's bad. You envy someone for something, the most direct means of resolving those feelings is to take that thing away from that person. So, yeah, that's bad. But of course, this is again a case of it being the cause of the bad stuff rather than being bad in itself. Another, better response to being envious of someone for something is to work hard to get an equivalent thing for yourself.
So, I envy people their jobs. Sometimes I envy people their relationships. I certainly envy people their facility in social situations. I envy them their opportunities. I envy people their good computers, I envy them their talents, annd I envy how things seem to come easier to some people (Though I'm sure they actually don't).
But if I come to think of all this, I just try to use it to drive me. Envy may be by nature a negative thing, but it can be put to good use.

And again, I'm not sure how it's a sin. I mean, it's bad, sure, but... well I guess you can sin against yourself as well as against others, and it applies in that sense. I have serious issues with sloth. I mean, I said I try to use my envy to drive me? In  practice, a lot of the time I don't, because... sloth. Lethargy. Laziness. Other synonyms for this. I sleep too much, I get carried away with my leisure activities and don't stop to do more important productive things. I shy away from difficulties and take the easy, sedentary path to a life full of regrets. ****, that's depressing now I come to write it out.

Now this one is obvious. While, like envy, anger/wrath can be directed to productive activities, acting purely based on anger is almost always a bad idea. This is probably the least applicable to me of the seven. Certainly in terms of how much they dictate my actions. I don't act out of anger a lot. In fact, I try not to act out of pure emotion that much. Of course, it does occur to me that perhaps I might feel better if I did act out of anger from time to time, just to vent it... but I'm not really interested in dealing with the situations likely to result from it. Maybe that's my sloth coming into it again.
I do get angry about a bunch of things though, most of which boil down to stupidity. Especially wilful stupidity. But generally I just seethe quietly.

Now, this one can get a bit confusing as to the distinction between gluttony and greed. I guess the point is that greed is more about wealth, and about hoarding things, while gluttony is about over-indulging. Again, I don't really see how it's such a bad thing. I mean, it's bad for you, if you do it too much, but just from time to time? There is no problem that cannot be solved with chocolate, am I right? (Well, except for feeling sick, I guess. Or if you were allergic to chocolate something, then you should go for ice cream instead) So, yeah. Indulging is nice sometimes. Get really drunk with friends, or binge on chocolate or ice cream when you need cheering up, whatever other indulgences you may think of.

Now, I think this one isn't quite what people think it is. Because I think (though I'm not sure from where I garnered this impression, so take it with a pinch of salt) that this is supposed to be more about, like, miserliness and hoarding things than wanting them. Since that would fall more under Envy, I guess. It's actually in what used to be the distinction between envy and jealousy - Jealousy is about things you already have, "Jealously guarding" things, whereas envy is wanting someone else's stuff. Only now people use jealousy to mean envy as well.
I DIGRESS. This one is pretty clear-cut bad if taken to extremes. I mean, it's like Scrooge pre-Christmas Carol. Hoard things enough, you are depriving other people of those things, where really you should be more charitable and spread it around... OK, that sounded potentially dirty the way I phrased it... I wonder how charity and sharing stuff featured in the days when wives were basically considered property...
I DIGRESS REALLY BADLY. While it's bad to hoard things against others, our whole culture is kind of built on the basis of people owning things, so a certain level of greed is natural and not unreasonable. I like my things. They're mine.

No bad thing I don't care what any religion may have to say about it (It's totally fine by the Church of the Written Word though because I'm the High Priest and I make the rules, haha! Plus I'm basically certain Curly would back me up on this). Natural urges are, well, natural, and two or more consenting adults acting on those urges is in no way sinful in and of itself. I... don't think I actually have anything more to say about this.
Oh yeah, I guess talking about the 'sins' in relation to me was a thing. Yes, I lust after people. I have attractive friends and I'm not asexual, so, what else do you expect? As to it's prominence in determining my actions... not so much really I guess. I'm more for more meaningful relationships rather than just basically satisfying my carnal urges, much as I would like to do that as well.

So, yeah. The so-called seven deadly sins. I question outright the sinful nature of four of them, and the other three there's still some ambiguity depending on the degree of them. Misnomer indeed, though I suppose the "Seven personality elements of variable moral provenance" doesn't have quite the same ring to it. So maybe we just reclaim the word or whatever it is you  do. Go out and sin away!


  1. I think I've tended to view them as being sinful when they start impacting on others. So...
    Greed: wanting stuff and liking having things is okay, until you start depriving others of stuff.
    Gluttony: enjoying food is fine, until you start depriving others of food.
    Sloth: being lazy is okay, until you start making other people do things for you.
    Wrath: being angry is okay, unless you lash out at others.
    Envy: wishing you had things others have is fine, unless it causes you to be nasty to them.
    Pride: it's fine to be proud of your accomplishments, unless you consider others diminished in comparison.
    Lust: it's okay to have carnal urges, but... well, religion has all sorts of issues with sex anyway. The obvious extreme is foisting your lust on someone unwilling, but I guess going around "lovin' 'em and leavin' 'em" would come under* it too.

    As an aside: mine are Sloth and Gluttony. Guess why I'm overweight :I


  2. Yeah, but that just matches up with what I said about how they're not sinful in and of themselves, but they can potentially *lead* to actual sins.