Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Seven Deadly Sins Get a Facelift

In case you haven't heard, Pope Benedict has recently released a new set of deadly sins. Here is the new list and my issues with each:

1) Genetic Modification: This totally ignores the huge benefits to genetically modified foods. Plus, what is the difference in what researchers are doing and what breeders do?
2) Experimenting on Humans: Does that imply nonconsensual experimentation or is consensual ok?
3) Polluting the Environment: To put it plainly, some pollution is good. In fact, some pollution is entirely unnoticeable. To ask for zero pollution is non-sense. Then there is the difficult task of deciding how much is too much.
4) Causing Social Injustice: Of the seven this makes the most sense to me, though it is a little vague. Is this trying to outlaw unfairness? What is unfair? Bill Gates makes more money in a day than I will make in a lifetime. Then again, I make more in a day then most sub-Saharan Africans will make in a lifetime. Is that fair? At least Bill Gates has helped to usher in one of the most important technological changes in the world?
5) Causing Poverty: I agree. But I wouldn't blame who most people blame. Poverty is not caused by greedy corporations; it's caused by bad governments who don't allow greedy corporations to make money.
6) Becoming Obscenely Wealthy: Again, thank you Bill Gates for helping me to have this blog. Might I also add we are all obscenely rich.
7) Taking Drugs: Don't tell my wife this; she loves her Tylenol, birth control, and Coca-Cola.

Not that the original set was God breathed or anything, but these new ones just don't have the same ring as the old. I also don't think Brad Pitt and Morgan Freedman will be signing up for the remake of the movie Seven using the new list. Wrath, envy, sloth and the other four seem to all deal with the heart, whereas these new ones are focused on the action. Maybe that's telling of the world today. We deal with our actions on the outside (behavior modification), but the motivations of the heart are rarely considered. Nevertheless, in the spirit of the day, here is my own list of the new new deadly sins (and by deadly I mean especially harmful):

1) Absolving yourself from your most basic parental duties
2) Forming your own religion based on ideas you have personally created
3) Hindering progress in protection of your own interests
4) Blaming the infamous "them", ex: terrorists, corporations, China
5) Being unproductive. If people wouldn’t pay for your services, you may not be producing anything
6) Telling people what they want to hear, instead of what they need to hear
7) Making your own list of sins based on your own ideas and not those of scripture


  1. "Facelife" sounds like a new social networking phenomenon which combines Facebook and Second Life. That could be huge.

    I like your list, except #5. And I think the Pope's list is fine except #6.

  2. Woops. I mean facelift. But yeah, I totally tagged a picture of you on my virtual house on Facelife.

    Dude, I'm just saying too many are content in jobs where they don't really produce anything of value: DARE program, DMV, some public schools

    Surely you don't think drugs, not recycling, GMO's are all bad.

  3. Graydon10:19 PM

    First of all, your blog has become part of my daily rotation. Well done my friend.

    I agree about this new list of the 7 deadly sins being ridiculous and pointless. Was it even necessary? Were people clamoring for a new list of sins? This new list mentions more specific issues, but is somehow more vague, while the old list had more general themes, but was a lot more precise in that it left no gray area, or at least the gray area was left up for the individual to decide. All of the root ideas of what most of what the new list is attempting to highlight can be traced back to the original list, so why make a new list? Seems to have too much an agenda behind it...

    So my beef is the list was unneccessary, wasn't an improvement on the old list, and is not specific enough to what it's really trying to say.

    As for your list...

    1. parental duties- I like this one the most, although it's arguable what basic parental duties really are. I'm assuming you mean food and shelter, and I would add love to that mix as well.
    2.forming your own religion- agree
    3. hindering progress- I agree with this one whole heartedly, but not sure if it should be a sin; progress would have to be defined more clearly

    ***side note: i've been meaning to ask what you think of eminent domain, because I'm for or against it, but I think it should be a case by case basis, and here's why...the Riverplace development in downtown Greenville which pretty much transformed the whole face of the city, what with the park, condos, retail etc., occurred because the City utilized eminent domain to acquire the old buildings deemed structurally unsound that were in the way of the development. The City offered fair market value for the property, but the owners didn't want to's clear to me that the property owners were in the way of progress because the results of such a development were increased tourism, more vibrant economy, and generally benefitted the greater good of the City's citizens etc. I'm assuming you are against eminent domain, but was it wrong for the city to utilize eminent domain in this case? If we are using your "sin" to apply to this case then it seems to me that the property owners were in the way of progress for their own interests, and eminent domain corrected this...

    4. blaming "them"- eh...not sure if this is a sin, but more stupidity (which I don't think should be on the list). I certainly think that in general blaming others for your plight is short-sighted and an easy answer, and oftentimes we need to look at ourselves first
    5. being unproductive- I would agree with this in principle, but you have to define what productivity is...
    6. telling people what they want to hear- this is a good one, no beef with this one
    7. making your own list- if the list is completely devoid of scripture, and is not using scriptural truth as its basis, then of course this no good...

    Your blog rocks...

  4. Thanks so much for the input man. I love it when this place feels more like a discussion than a personal rant. Couple of things:

    * Eminent domain, sounds like a good idea for a future post to me!
    * Yeah this new list is pretty useless, but has anything good come out of the papacy? In fact, I willing to assert the papacy do more bad than good. One of the things I appreciate about the PCA is they recognize man's sinfulness is reason enough to give one person too much power.
    * When I put hindering progress, I was thinking of people who demonize immigrants, or halt trade, and things like that for special interest purposes. Like people who tried to stop the mechanization of industry to keep their low paying manufacturing jobs.
    * I think when I said blaming "them", I meant it in a more vicious way. People, who blame others, typically do so with extreme prejudice and to people who are not like them.
    * Being productive is tough to measure. The only way I can think of is whether somebody would pay you for your services (and it's not morally objectionable)

  5. -I think using illegal drugs is sinful because it's illegal, and becoming addicted to harmful drugs is sinful is well. I think this gets to the heart of what the Pope was going for - or maybe it doesn't. I wouldn't say smoking pot in Jamaica would be sinful, but he would.

    -Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking. Genetic modification is not intrinsically sinful. Using and discarding human fetuses I would say is.

    -I think willfully, extremely damaging the environment (like when Kodak dumped mercury into a lake in Nicaragua which has poisoned local children for decades) is sinful.

    -I think there are plenty of noble causes out there which no one will pay for. Isn't this the whole idea of "non-profit?" Profit is not always directly related to how good a job is for society (school teachers salaries). There is a wealth of people out there living on next to nothing so they can serve broken communities and help people. This is where you and I fundamentally disagree. I do not believe the market is in everything. Money does not make the world go 'round.

    -I completely agree with you on eminent domain. No matter how good it might be for community, the government should not have the ability to take your house/business away based on what they think is best.

    -Despite the fact that I agree with the Pope that some of his ideas are sinful, the whole idea of having a new 7 "deadly" sins list is pretty silly.

    -You rock.

  6. Ok I'll concede that the market won't take care of everything people desire to happen. So I'll add a charity clause to the produce something of value sin. Don't get me wrong, I support charity.


You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.