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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

7 Deadly Sins

For the last one and a half millenia, the "Seven Deadly Sins," in no particular order, have been commonly understood to be:

Lust
Gluttony
Avarice (Greed)
Sloth
Wrath (Anger)
Envy
Pride

These were first recorded by Pope Gregory the Great in the sixth century and although they are not officially a part of Catholic Church doctrine, they have long been a staple of Christian teaching and the moral code of western culture. According to tradition (note to religious scholars: please bear with the oversimplification), dying with any of these sins on your rap sheet would indicate an asbestos-lined coffin.

We are recently informed by Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti that we now have a new set of deadly sins, intended to complement, not necessarily replace, the original set:

Pollution
Drug Abuse / Sales
Inequitable Distribution of Wealth
Genetic engineering, incl. human experimentation
Abortion
Social Injustice
Pedophelia

It never would have occurred to me that such a fundamental concept of Chrisitian tradition would be open to debate! But apparently it is.

The new list was developed in response to concerns about globalization and the effect we have on others, not just on the individual level but on the societal level. Truth be told, I think the apparent veracity of the new "seven deadly sins" is more a result of a zealous reporter latching onto some off-the-cuff comments from a Vatican bureaucrat and portraying them as doctrine than their actually being such. Plus, the additional list has a fairly clear 21st century ring to it, and it sounds like the Archbishop cares a bit more about WWBD (What Would Bono Do) than WWJD.

But I'm in a bit of a quandary here: although I try to be a good Christian, and believe me, I'm not bragging, but given the thresholds indicated by Jesus Christ Himself, in the Sermon on the Mount (Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-7), I have committed all of the original seven at one point or another, and commit at least a couple of them on a weekly, if not daily basis. But the new set of sins, some I couldn't commit even if I tried, and yet in our postmodern dystopian intellectual culture, I feel as though I've already been judged guilty, by association, of most of them:

Pollution - you can't not pollute, even if all you're doing is breathing; every time you exhale you emit carbon dioxide, the bogeyman du jour of the global warming hoax.

Drug Abuse / Sales - I assume this implicates the illegal drug trade, although I consider the legal pharmaceutical industry, of which most of us are customers, only about 10% more respectable.

Inequitable Distribution of Wealth - as long as somebody, somewhere has a nickel more than someone else, somebody, somewhere is going to have their shorts in a knot.

Genetic engineering - does this include raising kids?

Abortion - federal grants, which come from your tax dollars, partially support Planned Barrenhood, a major player in the infanticide industry.

Social Injustice - this is a broad indictment of any person or group who you don't like and wish to blame for any event or condition of which you disapprove, in the absence of actual illegal or objectively-defined unethical or immoral activity.

Pedophelia - not guilty, although in the American legal system, this is one crime where the accused is guilty until proven innocent.

So, what have we got? We have the original list of mortal sins which are basically committed by an individual,and mainly affect the individual and some of those unfortunate enough to be in his or her immediate sphere of influence. Then we have the augmented list containing crimes committed by the individual or society, and which impact some individuals but largely the rest of society. So what's missing? A list of sins which individuals or society commit against Bruck, of course! That's right, there is no list of society's sins against your faithful editor, and I intend to rectify that situation.

Bruck's 7 irritating infractions:

Self-righteousness
Walking (slowly) three abreast, oblivious to the growing crowd behind you
Smoking in the car ahead of me
Imputing guilt on me for things I didn't do
Talking loudly on a cell phone anywhere near me
Olfactory offenses
Virginia driving.

Being a reasonable person, I don't personally condemn the violator to an eternal broasting for these violations, but in the spirit of negative reinforcement (which has worked so astoundingly well for fifteen centuries), I issue the following sanction: an unmitigated violation obligates the offender to one day in Bruckatory, which is a crowded elevator with a crying baby in need of a diaper change.

That's not so bad, is it? A darn sight better than being condemned to an eternity of unimaginable torture in Hell, just for leering at your neighbor's new wife or Lexus, wouldn't you say? But, you still might be wondering, "I've already committed several of these infractions, how can I escape this punishment?"

Glad you asked.

Ever hear of "carbon credits?" These are modern-day indulgences which you can pay to organizations that help the environment by selling carbon credits, to offset your personal "carbon footprint," i.e., the marginal impact you inflict on the environment due to your personal consumption of energy and production of carbon-base emissions. Carbon credits are pretty inexpensive - they can be bought for as low as $4.00US per metric ton of carbon-based emissions (some naïve fools pay up to $35.00US per ton, haha, can you believe that?). Your car probably produces three to five metric tons of pollution per year, so we're talking $20, is that so much to ask? Okay, double that to include emissions from heating your home, add half again for the electricity you consume. Wait, add another $20 for the heat in your office, and the electricity you use there. And the Chinese-manufactured merchandise you bought at Walmart this past year, it all took energy to produce, in plants with no emissions control - better cough up some more greenbacks! I think you see where this is going…

Well, I've got a much better deal for you - Peeve Points! I'm only asking for $1.00US per infraction, payable by cash, money order, check, visa, mastercard, paypal, or sliders (3 sliders per peeve point). And for those of you who expect to commit multple infractions, or wish to buy insurance against unwitting offenses against your faithful editor, I'm offering volume discounts - 12 Peeve Points for $10.00US, or, the best value, 25 Peeve Points for $20.00US!

So, stock up on Peeve Points now and you can die in peace, knowing that you will not have to spend an indefinite amount of time in a confined space with a pungent, loud baby in Bruckatory!

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