Archive - Mar 18, 2008

If You Haven't Sinned It, It's New To You

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Memo to the Catholic Church and the news media: YOU ARE DUMB.

I'm telling you, you hear the phrase "seven new deadly sins" and the comedy mind starts kicking into overdrive. Especially when you hear intimations in the media that Seven Deadly Sins Classic are getting a makeover for modern times.

Right out of the gate I assumed that the Pope and his Cardinals, all with their quavering, Vatican fingers straining toward the pulse of modern culture, would be condemning hip new sins like skateboarding, grunge music, Mortal Kombat, and raves. Oh, how my hopes got up. Oh, how quickly those hopes were dashed.

I understand the media's confusion. Really, I do. It's difficult to hear that there are new sins, they're deadly sins, and there are seven of them, and not draw the conclusion that there are seven new deadly sins. On the other hand, I have the theological training of an atheist and the journalism training of a very lazy college student, and it took me about five minutes of reading other people's shitty stories to realize that the Seven New Deadly Sins were, at best, additions and clarifications, not replacements for sloth, gluttony, lust, and the other four bad guys from Fullmetal Alchemist.

This is not to say that the list doesn't have comedy value. These are in fact additions to the mortal sins, the felonies of Catholic law. The ones you have to go to confession to be absolved of. Sure, the cynic in you might think that they're just trying to increase foot traffic to the confessionals, and the subsequent donations. You know, the way cities increase the fines on parking violations to help balance the budget. But let's pretend we're not cynics, and the Catholic Church has decided that these really are modern-day ills what need a good Papal cracking down on. What did they go with?

POLLUTING: Fair enough. Won't do any good, really. I could play the game the right plays with Al Gore and question whether the Popemobile is a hybrid, but that would be intellectually dishonest. I will point out, though, that if the fine people at Exxon were actually worried for a moment about going to Catholic Hell, they wouldn't STILL be fighting the court damages from the Exxon Valdez spill. I'm guessing the final disposition of their incorporeal soul is not on their priority list.

GENETIC ENGINEERING: I'm convinced that the main reason the Catholic Church is anti-science is because science makes people live longer. And if people live longer, then Popes live longer. And if Popes live longer, then the changeover rate of Popes goes down. And when that happens, the odds that any of these bastards making these rules might get to wear the Big Hat someday drops like a rock. Ergo, genetic engineering gets fucked.

HUMAN EXPERIMENTATION: Depending on which sloppy-ass media account you read, this is also phrased as "morally debatable scientific experiments", which I think makes for an interesting contradiction - if the Church has decreed "morally debatable scientific experiments" to be a mortal sin, then that effectively ends the moral debate. Which means the experiments are no longer morally debatable, which means they're no longer mortal sins, at which point they BECOME morally debatable again, and so on, and so forth, until the Pope's head explodes and his hat achieves low earth orbit and generations of children point to it in the sky as evidence of a miracle.

SOCIAL INJUSTICE, CAUSING POVERTY, EXCESSIVE ACCUMULATION OF WEALTH: Just because the Catholic Church felt the apparent need to pad its list out to seven by saying the same damn thing three times doesn't mean I have to follow suit. Anyway, it's nice of them to say it, even though it does strike my cold, atheist heart as a cynical ploy to beef up their "Jesus cared about the poor!" street cred while still supporting the kind of reactionary politics that leads to social injustice, causing poverty, and excessive accumulation of wealth.

Plus, you know, I'd love to let 'em off the hook for their own hefty global coffers, but it turns out massive payouts to the victims of sexual abuse is not actually a form of wealth redistribution that lets you claim any kind of moral high ground.

THE TAKING OF AND DEALING OF DRUGS: I can only assume they mean recreational drugs. And by recreational drugs, I can only assume they mean those substances which are traditionally illegal and considered morally objectionable. Marijuana, not Oxycontin. Ecstasy, not Cialis. Dude on the street corner, and not Glaxo. Again, not sure the people this is aimed at are going to give a shit about the Pope's newfound disapproval, but what the hell. Nice to see the Catholic Church step up on an issue and, at long last, take the position of a South Park character circa 1997.