The Rank: The Seven Deadly Sins

August 24, 2007

As anyone who has watched Se7en, or perhaps went to church, knows, there are seven deadly sins that one must avoid if one is hoping to be invited into the everlasting celestial paradise: ten cent wing day at Matty McDrunk’s down on Seventh Street. But, hey, apparently sin is fun, and capitalized Sin is even more fun, especially when it’s been detailed for you in advance. It’s the functional equivalent of the Polar Bear Syndrome. The Polar Bear Syndrome is a condition discovered by child psychologists that I just made up in my head that states that if you tell a child to not do something, they will immediately put forth as much effort as possible to do exactly that. For instance, if you tell a child to not punch a polar bear in the face, you can bet the college fund you’ll no longer need that your child will go out of their way, regardless of what hemisphere you live in, to do everything possible to find a polar bear to punch in the face. It’s the same way with sin, only instead of a reprimand from the zookeeper you go to hell.

Anyway, here’s a ranking of the sins, in ascending order:

7. Envy
It’s a sin to want what other people have. But in America, that’s hardly a sin, because anything anyone else has is pretty much already available at any local department store. It’s hard to be jealous of a neighbor’s new Weber gas grill when Wal Mart has a new shipment steaming over from China only a few days away. Sure, you can envy non-material things, such as your neighbor’s wife, but she’s actually available at retail price as well. (I asked.) A pretty weak sin, as they go.

6. Pride
Some people enjoy flaunting their sins. They shouldn’t be. It’s great to be proud of your achievements, but it’s another to rub those achievements into the ground-up remains of your peer’s shattered self-esteem, especially after showing off your awesome beach volleyball skills. Most people take their killer salary, their dashing husband and/or tasty girlfriend, or their grandiosely expensive car and parade it about like your trophy wife’s cleavage, but most modest folks don’t care quite as much as you think. Me, my proudest, and calculably, my only, achievement in life is the time I sat through an entire episode of Gilmore Girls without vomiting in my mouth. But I don’t brag about it.

5. Gluttony
I don’t like this sin because it hits too close to home. I’m no glutton, mind you; my intake is reasonably mild unless there are chicken wings somehow involved. Or steak pizza. Or just steak. Or Strawberry Quik. Or grilled bratwursts. Or pork chops at the buffet. Or thresherman style turkey. Or garlic and parmesan pita chips. Or pistachio flavored ice cream. Or peanut butter pie. Or frozen chocolate covered bananas. Or ham and cheese Hot Pockets. Hey, is anyone running to Chik-Fil-A anytime soon?

4. Sloth
Sloth is the lazy man’s sin. It’s the only sin that you commit by not doing anything, and to me that’s just wrong. Sinfully wrong. And that’s just not right.

3. Wrath
Me, personally, I don’t get wrath. I like to keep my rage bottled up inside, along with all my other emotions, and take it out on appropriate object at the proper time, such as opening a bag of garlic parmesan pita chips or watching the Detroit Red Wings. But a lot of people engage in almost glorious amounts of wrath, during particularly interesting times, including but not limited to: driving, pickup basketball games, playing Final Fantasy VII, hooking the satellite dish up to both the VCR and the television and the stereo system so it actually works right, deciding supreme court cases, resolving martial difficulties, using the Microsoft Help Feature, paying protection money, and Fallujah. Some people manifest their anger into productive activities, but most people just hit stuff, and I just can’t not endorse hitting stuff. Who could it possibly hurt?

2. Lust
Lust is certainly one of the coolest sins. Well, rather, acting on lust is, but it’s a temporary benefit (like, fourty-five seconds, if you do it right) for a long-term detriment. If you succumb to the desires of your lustful thoughts, sure, it’s exhilarating, but then you also run the risk of any number of drawbacks. You may get some form of chronic disease that, depending on what war you fought in, will be a burden to your loved ones for the rest of your life or every time your prescription runs out. You may get someone/become pregnant, which introduces no end of moral issues into your life. Or, worst of all, you may find yourself in a relationship, a self-destructive, soul-draining endeavor that will no doubt be a terrifying experience for everyone involved when it comes time to end it. Still, it’s a fun forty-five seconds, isn’t it? Totally worth it, especially if they do that thing with their tongue.

1. Greed
C’mon, now. Greed is the best sin of all. And why not? Everybody wants everything, and there’s no harm in trying. Greed doesn’t imply theft, but, rather, a unrepentant desire to change your priorities from, say, caring for your child or remembering such mundane things as your wife’s birthday or your father’s insulin to acquiring real estate property in a timely and lucrative manner. Seriously, greed is the sin that makes the wheels of life progress without grinding down to an elaborately unprofitable stop. With the other deadly sins, you enjoy yourself for a bit but are left with an empty soul filled with self-doubt and regret. With greed, you’re still full of self-doubt and regret, but at least you also get stuff. And that’s a vice I can learn to convince myself is a virtue.

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Thou Shalt Not THE LIGHT IS %@$&ing GREEN!!! GO!

June 21, 2007

In an ongoing effort to become a kinder, gentler church, the Vatican has recently turned its attentions away from such hot button issues such as abortion and birth control and turned it towards the small activities that affect our daily lives. The church recently released the “Ten Commandments of Driving,” a list of rules and regulations that good Catholics should follow.

Some think that creating such as list is kind of insulting, given how many more important theological concerns there are in the world, such as transubstantiation or whether having a reserve bid on eBay on a piece of marble toast with the image of the Virgin Mary on it is a form of usury or not. I would think they would want to concentrate more on such things like “The Ten Commandments of Not Having Sexual Intercourse With Altar Boys,” but Martin Luther kind of severed any pull I might have with the Catholic Church about five hundred years ago.

The concept of a German Pope telling us to keep ‘em on the ten and two is mildly amusing in and of itself. One can only assume that Ratzinger, at some point since his installation to the papacy, has taken the Popemobile out of the garage and took a spin around the autobahn, where traffic laws are merely suggestions and speed limits morally relative. And he even sits enclosed in Italy, where, if the motion picture industry is anything to be believed, all Italian citizens are legally bound to travel from city to city in Fiats and Ferraris, all roads are by law 90 degree turns around perpetually escalating mountings, and driver’s ed courses routinely teach young Italians how to drive with a glass of Pinot Grigio in one hand and a girl around another.

I’ve read the New Ten Commandments, and they’re actually pretty boring. Mostly it appears to be the “forgive the one who double parks” variety, which is actually kind of a shame. If I were to have directed all of the energy I’ve devoted in my lifetime to what I would do to the vehicles of double parkers, I would have invented cold fusion and been married by now.

As usual, the document itself lends to that special brand of confusing legalese that only the Catholics can produce en masse. You’d think they’d learn, after that whole “No, you can’t eat meat on Fridays oh wait yes you can” debacle from the past nine centuries. Though in this case there are a few easy translations. “Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination” pretty much means “Cancel Pimp My Ride, for the love of all that is holy, which is us.” “Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events” means “Stay off the cell phone, jackass.” “On the road, protect the more vulnerable party” I assume alludes to Geos and Fiestas. And “Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so” means take the keys from the drunken uncles. And (hey, this is the Catholic church we’re talking about) women and possibly homosexuals.

Still, it’s a little disappointing. Most of it is about forgiveness and caution, and that’s just not what everyone was looking for. The real Ten Commandments were about murder, adultery, and jealousy. The new commandants are about yielding and avoiding rubbernecking. What a ripoff, I say! I have my own personal Ten Commandments, which I’m certain you had no idea were coming:

I. Thou Shall Give A Courtesy Wave. We’re Not Barbarians Here, Now, Are We?
II. Thou Shalt Not Procure One Of Those Disgusting Novelty Set Of Testicles That You Hang On Your Trailer Hitch, Because That’s Just Plain Wrong. I Mean, C’mon, Is This The Third Grade? Was The Store Out Of Those Stickers With A Knockoff Calvin Pissing On A Competing Automobile Manufacturer Logo?
III. Thou Shalt Not Secure A Bumper Sticker Onto The Back Of Your Vehicle Whose Writing Is Too Small To Read Without Squinting Then When You Get Close Enough To Read It It Really Wasn’t All That Funny Or Interesting.
IV. Thou Shall Realize That When A Sign Says “Right Lane Ends,” For Instance, This Means “Right Lane Ends,” and not “Speed Up In The Right Lane, Then Expect Everyone To Bend Over Backwards Letting You Merge Because You Decided To Ignore The Sign Unlike Everyone Else.” Pecker.
V. Thou Shalt Not Park In The Fire Lane And Walk Into The Store For Twenty Minutes. At Least Have Someone Sit In The Passenger Side For Appearance’s Sake So You Don’t Come Off As A Complete Prick.
VI. Thou Shalt, Upon Hearing The Song “Since You’ve Been Gone” By Rainbow on the Radio, Be Morally Obligated To Drive As Fast As Your Vehicle Will Go And Sing It At The Top Of Your Lungs.
VII. Thou Shalt Not Have More Than One Beanie Baby In The Back Seat Window. And Even Then.
VIII. Thou Shall Pull Over And Let Real People Drive When You Get Scared Of Going Over 10 Miles Per Hour Once You See The First Drop Of Rain.
IX. Thou Shall, Upon Hitting A Deer, Stop, Get Out Of The Car, Heave The Carcass Of The Deer Triumphantly High Above Your Head, And Destroy all Parts Of The Deer In A Violent And Bloody Ritual In Front Of All The Other Deer So Maybe They’ll Finally Get The Message That Perhaps Jumping in Front Of Underinsured Cars Is Not The Wisest Of Career Moves.
X. Thou Shall, Upon Hearing Someone Brag About Their Hemi, Be Morally Obligated To Murder That Individual On The Spot, So That Future Generations May Still Taste Hope.

I’m not so sure if the Vatican will agree. But if a German can become Pope, anything’s possible.