Wednesday, March 12, 2008
The New Deadly Sins
About four years ago I wrote up a list of Sins for the New Millenium. I realize I sort of missed the actual onset of the New Millenium. What can I say? I'm very busy. It took me awhile to write it all down. We have new challenges brought about by changes in science and technology that are newly available.
Maybe not so new now.
Anyhow, I had things on the list like attending Mass for Shut-ins when you are not shut in and plastic surgery for vanity's sake. (If you are that ugly, join the clergy!)
So you can imagine how my interest was peaked by the headlines that the Vatican had come out with a list of Sins for the New Millenium! "New Deadly Sins!" I was a little disappointed when it turned out that there was no actual list, but the lack of a list didn't stop goof ball news people from saying things like:
"Forgive me Father, I don't recycle."
What is with the list released from the Vatican where environment abuse is a mortal sin?
Actually, this is a question from a reader, who must have been listening to Wolf Blitzer scream the news. Let me get this straightened out.
There is no list. It's just news spin, like when you hear one candidate "slammed" the other candidate and it turns out they were just mentioning why you should vote for them and not the other guy. Wolf and pals have to scream about, "slam", "attack", "rip into"....anything to make this boring dragged out campaign season seem compelling.
Here is what actually happened. Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican body which oversees confessions and plenary indulgences, had a seminar for priests to discuss sin and the modern age. What they were really talking about, which is VERY interesting, is the idea that sin used to be a lot more personal. You sin, God is sad. Your sin has an affect on other people in a limited fashion.
And now, with so many people and the internet and whatnot, you can really get your sin out there. You can email it, blog about it, self publish it, make your own flyers for it, get yourself a tax exemption for it, and sell ad space. Right from your lazy boy. Or your desk if you don't have a lap top.
Within this discussion were some big deal sins that couldn't have existed just a few years ago, like genetic engineering and cloning and invitro fertilization.
And the environment.
What makes me giddy, however, is that the guidelines of what is a sin and what isn't work just as well right now as they did from the start.
The Catholic Church. On the Cutting Edge Since 300 A.D.
For example, the Church has always taught that man is meant to be the steward of his environment, warning against waste and clutter and plunder. Does that mean littering is a mortal sin?
I guess it does if you are Wolf Blitzer. Or that crying Indian.
Could environmental abuse be a mortal sin? Sure it can. In India, the Coca Cola company has ruined the water of the area in which it bottles it's products for India. Hundreds of people have become sick and begged the Coca Cola company to do something about the problem. Their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
Which leads us to the next area of discussion. Somehow, the news goofs twisted the Church's concern that the gap between rich and poor grows ever more wide and deep into "it's a mortal sin to be crazy rich." I would raise my hand shyly and say that I've noticed that, at least here in the US, excessive wealth is not only not considered sinful, it's believed to be a virtue.
Why does the Coca Cola company stick their fingers in their ears and hum while mothers and children die? Crazy rich has something to do with the answer, don't you think? "I'd like to buy the world a Coke, and keep it company!"
Not so much. "We'd like everyone in the world to buy a case of Coke every day. What pesticides?" Now there's a jingle!
Which brings us back to square one of the discussion. The sin of a small group of executives, or maybe even one guy, has an effect reaching around the globe. Teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony, indeed. Do I boycott Coke? Don't they also own the orange juice? Do I have to spend all day researching everything Coca Cola makes and does? And Exxon oil? And General Motors? Should I still not take Bayer aspirin?
That's what the bishops were talking about, sin is less and less between just me and God. It's about me, some executives, women and children in India, and how my choices affect them. New Deadly Sins.
Here's a sin I'd like to ad to the list: Dumbing Down.