Thursday, August 23, 2007
High Definition Sin
Sister St. Aloysius is on the roof. The house is so old and termite ridden we mapped out a path for her to walk up there so she won't come crashing through the ceiling. Meanwhile, I'm moving Sister Mary Fiacre around down here in her wheel chair to everywhere Sister St. Aloysius is not, lest Sister St. Aloysius crashes through anyhow right where Sister Mary Fiacre is parked and lands in her lap. The insidious morning glories have wrapped themselves around all the wiring coming into the house and are making their way up the phone line from the house to the alley. If we don't stop them, they'll go up the phone lines and cover the planet.
This is our high tech work of the day. Which brings me to today's question:
Sister, I hope you can help me with a moral dilemma. We have satellite tv at our house and a DVR (Digital Video Recorder). We recently purchased a new HDTV and I wanted to upgrade our satellite receiver to HD also. The satellite company offers specials deals and discounts to new subscribers only. We had an unrelated problem and called for a technician to come fix it. While he was here my husband asked him if there are any "deals" for existing customers. The technician stated that he had an HD-DVR in his truck that he could sell us at half price. When my husband came and told me this (I was busy in my sewing room and had left tv matters to the menfolk) I was delighted and got out the checkbook and gave it to my husband so he could pay for the HD-DVR. Several minutes later my husband came back and said the technician can only take cash. I thought that was odd but, since there is an ATM at the corner, not a problem. After the technician left my husband told me the technician explained that his boss had given the HD-DVR to him and he didn't want it so he was selling it to us. My husband thinks the technician stole the HD-DVR (he also charged us for the service call and we later noticed the receipt he gave my husband said "N/C", so we know he is dishonest). Now my husband wants to "make it right". My question is: How? Call the police and turn ourselves in for receiving stolen property? Turn in the technician? My husband wants to give the satellite company a money order for the full price amount without explanation. What do you think?
You certainly have fallen short. You should have pressed him for some free channels and TiVo.
Both St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas believed that the worst sin is that of dishonesty. St. Augustine in particular thought that no type of lie was okay, not even the answer to, "does this dress make me look fat?"
I haven't entirely wrapped my brain around why St. Augustine thought that lying is the worst sin. My puny understanding is that in some way lying is involved with just about every sin. Certainly you often have to lie to yourself in order to march headlong into sinning. If you never lied (which also involves lies by omission), you might not sin so much. Maybe.
But in your case it could be that nothing bad happened here at all.
You didn't set out to buy a stolen HDTV receiver or cheat the DishTV people, so you didn't have the intent to sin in the first place.
I think there might be a logical explanation for the whole event that doesn't even involve sin: TV installation guys often have stuff left over to sell you at half price. He can't take a check because the money is going to him and, well, you might be dishonest and write him a bad check. Maybe he needs the cash to give to his drug dealer.
I'm kidding. But it's not particularly odd that he's ask for cash.
A smelly rat tip toes in when the Dish TV guy charges you for installation. Was that cash too? Because if it was, the rat just sat down to supper. If you made out a check to the satellite company for the installation then nothing bad has happened.
He sold you some equipment he had, charged the fee from the company for the installation and wrote "N/C" on the receipt because you weren't charged for the equipment.
If you handed that guy cash for the installation, I'm not sure you sinned at all. You were just suckered is all. Maybe you'd rather feel like a sinner than a sucker.
Here's where St. Augustine comes in. If you are handing that guy cash for installation, you've smelled the rat and kept your yapper shut...maybe that's a sin.
If you paid cash for your installation, call the company and tell them the story. I imagine you have a nice telephone, since your lovely high definition TV comes in through your phone line.
If you still feel like you've sinned, go to confession. Give some money to the poor who don't have big fancy high definition TV's.
I'd be interested in discussing St. Augustine's point of view if anyone is up for it. Here are the two main points:
1. Lying is the worst sin.
2. No lie is okay because if you can make an excuse for lying you can make an excuse for, say, murder.
I want St. Augustine to tell me how to answer the question, "Is the Frank family hiding in your attic?"
Otherwise I'm on board for, "Your dress isn't very flattering, dear."
By the way, can we all come over and watch "Harry Potter"?