Friday, April 01, 2011

Riffing on sins and the ten commandments

Sins, sins, sins. They overpower us so much! Some folks say there is no such thing as sin or that they have conquered them through religion, but when I hear someone say stuff like that... I don't believe them. 

Note: religion isn't Christianity. Religion is following a set of rules. Christianity is letting God inside you do the work of purifying your soul. And this can only be accomplished through a major spiritual work and by the blood of Jesus Christ. 

I see a lot of religious people who think they've conquered sins. And atheist folks who say there is no such thing as sin, that it's all cultural, deterministic, genetic, etc. Whatever it's called, the human soul and the human will are pretty selfish and weak. Especially if one doesn't allow God to take over. People let anger take over..and sometimes they fight against anger but it comes out anyway. Humans have no control really over their worse selves. I'm sure you have done things you didn't want to do. Best to look at our own failings because they are bad enough instead of really stressing ourselves out by looking at other folks' flaws

Emotions! So closely connected with sin. It's like we have to vent them out because the emotions are so much more powerful than the good in us. There are certain emotions we don't feel. For instance, I generally don't feel greed, but I've felt jealousy. I can't understand how someone can be greedy and want things and money but I really understand jealousy. So many different sins in the world to deal with. Jealousy, lying, covetousness, greed. Mercifully not everyone has all of them...generally. I can understand anger a lot, but stealing, no.

But rationality is also connected with sin as well. Pride often goes with those who think they're rational. I always used to watch Star Trek and see how proud the Vulcans were of their lack of emotions. But isn't the very rational sin of pride in one's intellect also very emotional?

It's hard seeing a person sin...well, unless one is used to the sin. Proud people, murderous people, are comfortable with other proud people and other murderous people.

For instance, I don't lie. So when I deal with liars, I am amazed that someone would be so arrogant and cruel as to simply not tell the truth. I see "cruelty" in lying. For me, a liar is someone who is bent on deceiving...and there's a heavy hint of superiority in a person like that...that they should try to deceive someone else.

I don't feel greed either. I can understand greed, though. I've seen it in action. It's so clear that those who have this emotion are suffering because of it.  Greed, jealousy, and envy are some sins that make the sinners who are overpowered by them suffer. I know jealousy. I used to have it very bad. And the pain was awful. Covetousness is painful too. And judgemental. Someone sees another person with something and has a pain in their heart, a sense that what belongs to the other person really should be mine. There's a sense there where  it leads to envy and belittling of the person who has the "thing" because the covetous person begins by saying, "I want that person's husband, maid, house, car, etc"...and it ends with the coveter saying "I don't care if that other person gets hurt by me taking the coveted thing from them." In that way, it is idolatry. St Paul calls adultery idolatry for that reason. People simply make the thing they covet -- and they make their own covetousness-- a god.

The sin of disobeying and not honoring one's parent is closely akin to the sin of anger and pride. The person who indulges this sin often really feels they have a right that is being violated. They feel anger at their parents and pride when they rebel against what they consider unfair rules. (I'm not one who believes parents should go treating their kids like dirt, btw.)

Some sins bring joy. Lust, for instance. Whether it's  a totally raw need to hope into bed with someone and do something filthy or whether it's the more refined kind of lust which is sensual longing and carnal concupiscence. There's a strange joy and pleasure in it which can easily be mistaken for that when folks are involved in lust they often genuinely think they're in love. Stealing also brings joy, and a bit of excitement. It also brings a false healing. A covetous person gets it into her head that by stealing a thing she's healed the pain she felt when she coveted something.

Other sins bring neither joy nor pain. Most folks who dishonor God hardly notice it. It's usually a sin of omission, laziness, rationalization, or indifference.

My main characters are always sinners, but not cruelly so. I seem to have an aversion to the perfect heroes who are totally wonderful folks. In Wind Follower, Loic is spoiled rotten...but he has a good heart, and he has a short temper. In Constant Tower, Psal is a whiner and although he's a bit of a revolutionary, he doesn't fight all the wrongs in his culture. I like that. 
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