#5–Cardinal Sin and its Counterpart

You know, these sins we’ve been writing about are downright depressing.  But we think there is one that is almost funny that we can write about today–SLOTH.  Ahhh, yes, SLOTH.  SLOTH  would have the synonyms of laziness, idleness, indolence.  We can live with those and sloth itself.  Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?  That you can live with a sin you commit?  Well, don’t be too quick to judge.  First, we have to admit that when we found out sloth was a Cardinal Sin, we wondered how that cute little, slow-moving little, love-bug type animal could ever be sinful?  Oh, yeah.  Sloth didn’t mean that endearing animal.  It meant us lying around, disinclined to work, or even move if not absolutely necessary.

If you think about a person continually being in that form of existence, we guess it could be a sin.  For us, however, being a sinner by exercising sloth, has been encouraged and we have even been told to commit slothfulness!  When we don’t get everything done on our list, we feel we have committed the sin of Sloth, then we make mental lists of how we can get it done the next day all through the night.  Furthermore, we have always admired those who can just sit and watch TV and eat all day, or whatever, with no urgency to get things done!  How lucky not to worry and be doing all the time!  We feel overwhelming guilt if we watch a movie that runs over two hours!  Oh, to commit the Cardinal Sin of SLOTH!  We’ve been told we would actually live longer if we committed the sin of SLOTH.  So…

In researching SLOTH as a sin, we will admit we can see where it can most definitely be sinful.  We remember working at a job when we were younger where we felt Sloth was most assuredly a sin.  We and another person were hired at the same time to clean and restock at a smaller grocery store.  Believing honest work for honest pay, we did everything we were asked to do, eager to please the boss.  Our co-worker, though, was continually sitting in the back of the store on boxes of product that were to be set out on shelves.  We asked when he was going to start restocking the shelves and received a smirking grin and, “You’re whipping around here doing a great job!  The boss will never know you did it all and I don’t feel like doing it anyway.  So no big deal, right?”  We stood there with our mouth hanging open.  Sure, we were “whipping around” to do everything–but that was what we were hired to do!  At the end of the day, the boss came by as we were clocking out, with our co-worker (?), and said, “You guys did a great job!  See you tomorrow.”  The co-worker smiled a charming smile and said, “Thanks Boss!  See you bright and early!”  We just mumbled thank you in shock that the person who had done nothing at all except take “breaks” from sitting on boxes and a lunch hour during a 30 minute allowed lunch, could stand there and take credit for our work!  But we said nothing and watched.  Well, it happened day after day, right up until the day we were to be paid.  Outside the store, he asked, “How much did you get?”  We countered with, “How much did YOU get?”  Then added, “For doing nothing.”  He laughed.  When we realized he made as much as we had, we were furious!  So, not even knowing SLOTH was a cardinal sin, when he asked again how much we had made, we hissed, “Go To Hell!”  hoping beyond hope it was sooner than later.

Did we continue doing all the work?  Well, we continued working, for sure, but we worked wherever the boss was or close by.  He would ask where our co-worker was and we would quietly reply, “Probably on break–again.”  By the third day of this, the boss went looking for him because we would say, non-accusatorily, probably on break again every time we were asked.  Joy of joys!  The jerk was in the back, sitting on the boxes, as usual, listening to his transistor radio.  He never saw or heard the boss approaching, which we watched through the plastic slats on the storeroom door.  IT WAS BEAUTIFUL!  Oh, the rage of the boss!  Oh, the stammering of the sinful caught in the act!  Our co-worker scowled at us as he stormed out, jacket and transistor radio in hand–and no paper check!  The boss told us we should have told him and we said, honestly, we had been too busy to rat on the guy.  The boss smiled and nodded.  Next payday, we received a hefty raise.  Heh hehe.  Just sayin…

SLOTH is a sin when your laziness and idleness makes others do your work or work twice as hard and you reap the benefits of others’ work.  SLOTH is a sin when it is your duty or obligation to accomplish a task or make decisions and you simply are too lazy to be bothered.  SLOTH is a sin when you take on a job and won’t be bothered to do it because you want to golf, or go to the beach, or watch TV and your lack of doing the job you acquired hurts or penalizes others’ welfare due to your laziness and indolence.

Today’s culture shows us the perils of the sin of SLOTH.  Many of us are victims of the person who will not do their job.  When a road is to be paved and potholes filled and as you pass you see workers standing, arms propped on shovels and doing nothing, you and your car suffer as the job they are being paid to do is not being done.  Or you contract to have a roof repaired and the workers decide to leave early, having done minimum work and you sit under a dripping ceiling because it is raining but they still want their money.  And forgive us, when the government is shut down, but you still have to work the basic jobs, free of charge and without pay because certain people won’t do their jobs to reopen it until they get what they want without working for it.

But there is an opposite action and virtue to SLOTH.  That virtue is DILIGENCE.  DILIGENCE shows itself in the furloughed workers during the government shutdown.  The workers involved kept the White House bathrooms clean, kept the planes in the air, kept security going at airports, kept protecting the president from outside harm, kept running his errands.  DILIGENCE is the doctor that cared for you during a health crisis that stays with you all night, sleeping in a chair by your bed to make sure you are all right before he leaves to rest at home.  DILIGENCE is that friend who takes you to the doctor’s appointment and waits for two hours with you though there are so many things they need to do.  DILIGENCE is that teacher who stays to teach the youngster the difference between spelling a word one way versus another, or to explain negative numbers and decimals.  DILIGENCE is not leaving a problem to another, but rather hanging in there to help find a solution.

DILIGENCE is the virtue that one has that shows others that you will do your job.  DILIGENCE shows others you are dependable, can be trusted, can be relied upon.  In short, diligence shows you make things happen!  Diligence is also the mother sitting by the sick child, never leaving.  Or the father showing  time and again a child how to make model come together.  Most importantly, DILIGENCE shows love and caring for others, with or without pay–a sense of responsibility to self and others.  It is the thing that keeps the universe circling as it should.  People, parents, who are diligent do not laugh at others in pain, but show others how to accept and help others.  Diligence doesn’t blame or bully.  Diligence offers a path to confidence and compassion.  It never is superior; it is quiet love–for self, the world, for living beings–so that all may benefit from work and working together.

So–are we committing the Cardinal Sin of SLOTH?  We don’t think so.  And is taking a day watching TV, sunning on the beach SLOTH?  We don’t think so.  We don’t think we would commit the sin of SLOTH unless you said we could be with those cute little sloths if we promised not to work at all.  Or said we could live with animals.  Or just be in nature forever with all its creatures.  Yeah–then we would sin…

See you tomorrow and we can explore yet another sin.  Wonder what we’ll pick for tomorrow?  Come back and find out 🙂  (Enjoy a movie at home and know we don’t think you are sinning)

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#4–Greed as a Cardinal Sin and its Counterpart Virtue

Well, GREED definitely has some synonyms.  One that many of us are familiar with is “avarice.”  Most of the people we know, when asked which is the number one Cardinal Sin, will say GREED.  Let’s face it, Greed does not have even a slightly favorable connotation among all us sinners.  We have to wonder if it is because it is so very bad or because we are jealous and envious of those that are greedy and seem to have so much while the rest of us have so little in comparison?  In the days we currently live in, we think it is probably about 50/50 since the economic divide is so great.  This is sad, but is truly a byproduct and result of the Cardinal Sin of GREED.  Do you think it is possible that rich and poor alike can be and are greedy?  This is a hard one.

We see the effects of Greed in our nation today.  Simply look to our government.  Could YOU afford to run for a government office?  Sadly, it takes money to run for office and we are made aware of this by pleas for money to support this cause, this person, this law, that law.  Reasoning and morality of an issue or person are secondary–you want to win, you gotta have money.  And money equals power.  Can you see how these two intertwine to create even more greed?  The trickle-down theory does not work to create equality, but it does to create greed.

GREED divides and has a ripple effect in every area of humanity.  Look at the ways we encourage it.  Right now, we are seeing Girl Scouts selling cookies to raise money.  The troop that sells the most cookies will be rewarded.  The girl within the troop that sells the most cookies wins a prize and recognition.  So these innocent little cookie sellers try hard, then harder to be number one in bringing in the most money!  Yes!  The more money the better!  The shy little girl, the girl whose parents do not know people who can afford to buy a case of cookies, the girl who has no one to walk her door to door–what a loser!  Suzy sold 30 boxes of cookies last Friday.  Janie only sold one–to her uncle who felt sorry for her.  Suzy proudly turns in her cash to the troop leader.  Janie shyly puts her money in an envelope and slides it to the troop leader.  Yay for Suzy!  Boo for loser Janie!  Suzy has seen what money does for her standing among her peers.  So has Janie.

Janie and Suzy enter junior high school.  Both try out to be cheerleaders.  Both are happily accepted.  The cost of the cheerleading outfit is $250.00 for everything.  Suzy goes home with the slip showing costs and is excited, as are her parents.  Janie takes the slip home with her and throws it away.  Her parents ask how she did at tryouts.  Janie says it was okay but she decided she didn’t want to do it after all.  She says she doesn’t have time,  wants to concentrate on school work to get the best grades and her parents tell her how proud they are that she tried out anyway and nothing is ever questioned.  But Janie knows with her parents both working and saving for an actual house, with younger brothers and sisters, there is no way they can afford for her to be a cheerleader.  Janie is very aware of money in her home and how far it will go.  She’s learning again how money is power and standing.

Suzy and Janie become adults.  Both have educations and careers.  Suzy went to the Ivy League colleges.  Janie worked her way through local colleges and got scholarships and feels equal to all her peers.  Both women become doctors.  During residency, they choose their fields.  Suzy wants to become a dermatologist where she can have easy hours and rake in the money.  Why not?  She went through school to get to this point and make money–the most important thing.  Janie chooses obstetrics and gynecology as her field of work.  She knows from experience what women go through with health problems and childbirth and wants to be of service there.  Suzy moves into a practice in Beverly Hills where the rich will pay to look better and younger.  Janie also moves into the L.A. area but sets up a free clinic in a barrio of East L.A.  Suzy marries well and is ready to retire at forty years of age, having acquired more money than she will ever spend as she lives out her life.  Janie marries a recovered addict who she helps put through law school and they both reside in the barrio, where they are close to the people they help.  They laugh that one day they will retire, so they can attend their own funerals.  And they keep helping those who need them most.  When asked if she and her husband are greedy, Suzy replies, “What’s wrong with wanting money?  I want it and I love having it and the power and prestige that go with it.  I worked for it!  It’s mine!  The more I have, the happier I am!  I can make money hand over fist from the people that want to be pretty.  Why shouldn’t I charge exorbitant prices?  I love it!”  When Janie and her husband are asked why they don’t move into more lucrative and money-making positions as doctor and lawyer, Janie responds, “Why would we when we are helping people here?  Women’s health is better now, babies are born without as much risk, people are staying out of jail now and working toward a better life.  If we weren’t here, would it be the same?  We just want to make a difference and we are so rich to live with these people.  They are our family and friends and no amount of money can replace them!”

We look at churches.  You know, as an actual fact, we have never been to a fundraiser or dinner at church that wasn’t used to raise funds to build a bigger, more modern and beautiful building.  Surely we aren’t the only ones!  (Sorry to call you shirley)  We can recall huge drawn thermometers showing how much has been collected to build the new church.  Every Sunday, every service, the red coloring creeps up the thermometer to show how much money has been acquired.  Adults were always excited and talked of the new building, what the new facilities would look like–how many more people could be held.  As kids, we would watch this.  Then after church, we would see someone sitting on a curb, or pushing a bicycle with all their belongings, with a sign asking for help.  We remember asking if we were going to stop and help.  And we remember being told, “We already gave at church.”  Ooookay.  They gave at church for a new building.  What did that have to do with the poor hungry people with no houses?  It never quite made sense. As we got older, it made sense, but not the way they wanted it to.  We began to see the churches as greedy, money-grubbing buildings that had nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus or the Bible.  It was GREED.  “Hey!  Did you see our church?  It’s the biggest in town!”  And we hate to point this out, honest truth, but ever seen Joel Osteen?  Pat Robertson?  The Falwells?  Franklin Graham?  Seen the great buildings?  Ever seen them feeding the homeless?  Sheltering the homeless and sick?  No.  Great buildings built with GREED.  Great mansions for them built with GREED.  Just sayin…  A verse in the Bible we were required to memorize said,”…man cannot serve God and mammon.”  Just for clarification, Mammon is the demon associated with Greed and Avarice.

So are you Greedy?  Do you want more and more money so you can have more and more power?  And what is wrong with wanting a secure home, food, shelter, etc., by having more money?  It is when it is used to wield power, to buy behaviors, to serve the one who has it and only that person that it is wrong.  Are we greedy?  Yep!  We, too, desire to live a comfortable life without worrying should an emergency or special need come up.  But we will never amass a large amount of money.  It slides too quickly to buy food for a stray dog or cat, to buy a meal for a hungry person.  It goes quickly from our hands to the shy girl scout at the back selling  her cookies who takes it hesitantly but gratefully.  It goes to the woman who can’t buy all the groceries she needs with a baby on her hip and one in tow as we see her start putting items back–like the apples they don’t really need in favor of another gallon of milk.  Yes, we are greedy!  We want enough money, to have enough to share EVERYWHERE!  We want enough to put people up for the night somewhere warm instead of the street.  We want enough to buy new shoes for the poor man pulling his shopping cart behind him because he only has a holey, slim piece of shoe sole between him and the pavement.  We want enough to buy that cough syrup for that child that can hardly breathe for coughing  so hard.  We want enough to throw money into research for cancer for our friends and those we have never met!  We want enough to throw into education about trans persons, the LGBTQ community.  We want enough to buy lawmakers so they listen to us instead of the persons filling their pockets now.  Yes!  We are GREEDY!

We have no way to amass the money needed for power.  But we do have a way to amass its opposite, the virtue of CHARITY.  We can remember when, as a child, we traveled on the Watkins route our beloved aunt had from home to home.  She served the poorest of the poor.  She was the epitome of CHARITY,  but said we should never offend someone by using the word charity itself.  Her form of charity was to offer something needed, but require some form of payment.  She said this allowed them to maintain their dignity while accepting what they needed.  She would “sell” them Watkins items, but forget to be back to collect the money for it.  And she would apologize to them for her neglect and forgetfulness if they brought it up.  Then she would say would they mind if she didn’t collect until later because she didn’t have her book … or some such contrived face-saver.  She took us along to do her deeds for two reasons: 1. people wouldn’t turn a child away offering them something (can’t hurt the kid’s feelings, right?)  2. we needed to see how fortunate we were and realize circumstances don’t determine good or bad people.   Well, we thoroughly enjoyed being her “shill” and getting people to take foodstuffs, clothes, toiletries from us, immediately putting out puppy dog eyes if they started to refuse our gift and then grinning from ear to ear when they accepted.  Why did we enjoy “CHARITY”?  Because we probably got more hugs and love from those people than we had ever gotten in our lives!  And it felt sooooo good to give and receive!  So far as her second reason–it came naturally and easily and we had no problem whatsoever seeing that the woman with the torn and faded dress was a kinder, more loving person than the one that had shoved ahead of us rudely, wearing her fancy new dress and shoes.  The old man in torn britches, hunkered down as he rubbed liniment into aching elbows, reeking of urine and tobacco, told us wonderful stories without telling us to leave him alone as the man had in the suit when we asked where the bathroom was in an office.  And the kids our age?  No problem!  We had gum!  We shared the gum!  We had toys, we gave, they received, and we played and played and they and us sadly waved goodbye to each other as we left with our aunt.

Charity gets a bad rep as being something bestowed on someone less fortunate.  No, charity works in the spirit as well as with material things.  One example our aunt used was to remind us of that one time, knowing a woman with seven children was out of flour, sugar, and some other stuff she needed until the end of the month, we trudged up broken steps behind her with all these, fearful we would be turned away as soon as the woman saw us.  Instead, as soon as that door opened, our aunt said, “Oh, Lordy!  Could you take some of these things and help me out?  And could you do me a favor?”  The woman silently and suspiciously helped our aunt and looked at us and motioned us indoors.  Then my aunt said, “Remember those biscuits and flapjacks you said you’d show me how to make sometime?  Well, I brought my niece and I need her to know, too, so could you please ma’am show her and me how you do it because my honey said they were the best he ever tasted and I burn everything anyway and poor man…” and the woman started laughing and told our aunt she could do that.  Our aunt hugged her and kept saying thank you and we left 15 pounds of flour, two big jars of molasses and 20 pounds of sugar along with whatever we carried in and went home full of the best flapjacks and biscuits we’d ever eaten and her kids were stuffed, too.  That wasn’t charity, that was what we came to know as sharing with both sides getting something good.  (And yes, our aunt told the truth–she burned everything she cooked)

Charity is a beautiful virtue, done in the right heart.  It isn’t superiority and an “I have, you don’t” thing.  It is one heart reaching out to another, saying, “I care for you.  I want to help and I know if I am in need, you will help me.  We care about each other.”  And it speaks directly to greed by not accumulating money or wealth, but by spreading it around so no one need feel less than or debased.  Charity does not see race, religion, sexual orientation, beauty/ugliness, richness or poverty.  Charity sees the soul and reaches out in love.  That is probably the easiest virtue of all.  Don’t you just love it?  If we all did it, exercised it—wow!  Wouldn’t that just be the coolest thing ever?

See you tomorrow for another dive into sins!  Dream sweetly!

 

#3–Gluttony/ a Cardinal Sin and its Opposite Virtue

Are you ready?  EVERYBODY KNOWS ABOUT GLUTTONY.  Do we really need to write or blog about this?  There aren’t any synonyms listed in the Cardinal Sins list for Gluttony.  That tells us a lot–how about you?  Okay, while we chew on this (pun intended) we will give you another little historical fact about the seven Cardinal Sins.  Remember, Pope Gregory I first had them listed in the 6th century.  But did you know they were updated and elaborated upon in the 13th century by Saint Thomas Aquinas?  Yep.  Evidently people were not taking the Catholic Church and the sins seriously enough.  You’ll also note here that they have not been updated since.  Hmmmm.  Maybe more confessions and less sinning?  We doubt that, but it is interesting, isn’t it?  Or–and more likely here–nobody wanted to be reminded or updated about sins so they kind of faded away except in the minds of the devout.  That would seem obvious looking around today.  But that’s another blog.

GLUTTONY is simply, by definition, overeating.  Well, let’s be honest here–Thanksgiving is a celebration of gluttony that we endorse, look forward to, and usually enjoy to the point of pain in the stomach, and lower parts of the digestive system.  Remember, a sin is an act that is deliberate and purposeful as it violates the will of God.  Awww–come on!  God realizes it’s a holiday after all–and one where we are thankful for things, which is the whole point, right?  We buy this and you probably do, too.  One Thanksgiving we remember being asked what three things we were grateful and thankful for.  They had gone around the table, Gramma asking each of us and forbidding a mouthful until the task was complete.  We say “task” because there we sat, slobbering as we looked at the spread of food.  Pavlov’s dogs had nothing on us!  It came our turn, finally, and we blurted out, “Turkey, dressing, whip fruit salad!”  Gramma was not pleased, but the people around the table waiting and also slobbering said, “Aw, come on Glady!  We’re all grateful for the same thing!  Let’s eat!”  Gramma, who had been standing, shook her head in dismay, sat down, and forks appeared, stabbing turkey, as hands grabbed for the various bowls of tasty food.  No one spoke.  It was silent except for the quiet, “mmmmmm” and an occasional compliment on a particular dish.  We could hear the clicking of dentures, slurped iced tea or milk or coffee, and one great aunt would audibly swallow.  As heaped plates were emptied and scooped clean, and refilled, some small conversations started to take place, but now around slower bites of food.  If ever there was a definition of gluttony illustrated, it was when we were five years old, imitating the adults around the table, shoveling food into our mouths with both a spoon and fingers used to keep as much balanced on the spoon as humanly possible.  We had no clue this constituted the sin of GLUTTONY, but the moans and groans following second and third helpings by the adults with some food actually left on a plate said they knew.  There were remarks, “Never again!  I’m miserable!  I won’t eat for a week now!  But oh, it was soooo good!”  and “I knew better!  My poor stomach!  But if the food hadn’t been so good, or less offered I would have used better judgment.”  (That one made us laugh at age five as the person saying that had been almost whining there wasn’t enough dressing for everyone to get their fill.  We’d made an “oink” sound when he said that.)  Nevertheless, that is gluttony in action.  It happens among Christian, Jew, etc., household in America every November.  Gluttony is a cardinal sin.  Excuse it as you will, it’s still a sin.  Everybody ready for dessert?

When we were nine, sitting in a Baptist church, hot and itchy, bored to tears, our ears perked up when we heard the minister talking about sin and how smoking and drinking were an abomination to God.  We actually focused on him and he listed these as a form of gluttony and said they destroyed the body, which was the temple of God.  Yep, your body, our body, everybody’s body, even old Miss Jean’s body all shriveled up, were the temples of God.  We looked at him closely.  Our dad smoked, Roberta’s dad was known to go on weekend toots with moonshine, and we knew old Miss Jean was half crazy putting certain “drugs” into her body to rise, for pain, and to go to sleep.  The only time she accepted visitors was when she needed someone to go to the drugstore for her.  We kept looking around the church and figured everybody over age twelve must be a sinner.  We had a year or two since we were already on the path of sin.  The preacher promised everyone the fires of hell for committing these sins of gluttony, abusing the temple of God.  Mind you, this was simply an unbiased observation on our part, looking around.  But we were intrigued.  We looked at the preacher, whose suit jacket could not be buttoned over his belly, who couldn’t sing more than one verse of any hymn without sweating and having to sit down, and guessed him to weigh about 300-350 pounds.  Later, subversively innocent, we asked and he weighed 375 pounds.  But that was because he ate at different parishioners houses all the time, don’t you know?  Looking at his red face, watching him wipe his face with a sodden handkerchief, huffing and puffing about abusing your body as the temple of God and the sure descent into hell because of it–we laughed–aloud.  We were envisioning him bending his elbow to put that fork in his mouth.  Without restraint, without hesitance, and wondered how long all that fat would burn as the fires of hell melted it off him.  Without question, we were hauled outside, told how embarrassingly rude we were and kept laughing to ourselves at the preacher burning from his gluttony.  Until we got a whipping.  Then we laughed inwardly, but it was worth every hit.

Gluttony wasn’t our dad smoking, or Roberta’s dad drinking, or even half-crazy old Miss Jean.  Gluttony had stood in the pulpit, condemning others, and being invited to someone’s house for Sunday dinner after the service.  We do know he died of a heart attack and we’ve always wondered where he went afterward.  (Like we don’t know 🙂 )

So, in truth, is gluttony a sin?  We think yes.  There are so many people that feel it is today.  First, it is bad for your health.  It can literally kill you.  We aren’t talking metabolism or genes if someone is overweight.  As has often been said, “I can look at a lemon meringue pie, never touch it, and gain five pounds.”  Overweight is not synonymous with Gluttony.  But to sit and eat, overeat, while others are denied any food at all, or only crumbs, is a sin.  We can think of so many examples of gluttony being a sin.  We don’t tend toward gluttony, except at Thanksgiving, but we found ourselves feeling like gluttons when we would come home from feeding the homeless and their pets, open our refrigerator and see its supply, and know we had more than enough to feed at least five more people and still not be hungry ourselves.  We know–we couldn’t feed everyone.  But we were shamed that we had much more than enough to eat.  They had so very little.

People weep over children starving here in the USA, are aghast at skeletal figures digging through dumpsters behind the same restaurant where they could not eat all of the meal they paid for.  They are not sinful in this.  It becomes a sin when they overeat and do not see the child or skeletal adult, have no compassion for their plight, or totally avoid places where they will see the starving and hungry.  When our bellies being full takes precedence over those who would be grateful for a half a peanut butter sandwich, sating our stomachs by overeating is a sin.  Nothing in WWII was more disgusting than to see Nazis and Gestapo and even soldiers gorging on fine food and wines while people who they held captive would have given anything for an extra hunk of bread for the DAY.

Gluttony is a sin in that it is deliberate and selfish self-gratification while others are ignored, not seen, and shown no compassion in the way of a bit of food.  Do we think we should all feel guilty for eating when others can’t?  No.  But we don’t have to stuff ourselves to the point of being sick just because we can.  Often, we will carry a lunch in our car.  We are not hungry.  But right now, in our present times, we know we will see someone who is.  It is not a big deal and we are not to be thanked for it.  It is what we would hope someone would do for us should our roles be reversed.  Besides, the image of that person will remain with us even as we sleep.

So what is the opposite of Gluttony?  The Virtue that opposes Gluttony?  It is TEMPERANCE.  Maybe you would prefer the synonym of “moderation.”  If we are moderate, we will have enough to eat and have some left over.  Even the homeless we helped feed were not gluttonous.  They would take what they needed, and share with others who were also homeless.  They did not gorge on three or four lunches because they could.  They showed temperance, and they showed compassion and love towards their fellow persons.  Temperance is wonderful virtue to us.  It means if you have enough, and we have enough, we can both share with others so they, too,  have enough.  It is a coming together in both the physical and spiritual sense.

Gluttony is overeating.  Temperance is saying, “I’ve satisfied my hunger.  That is all I need.”  One need not make excuses for either but just be aware, gluttony becomes a sin as you focus strictly on YOU and YOUR NEEDS.  Do you really want to live like that in a world that is so needy and starved?  If you do, EAT to Gluttony.  We would rather not be at your table.

 

See you tomorrow for another chaotic ride into sins!  Oh my!  They get more personal each day!  Oh my oh my…

 

 

Cardinal Sin and Contrasting Virtue #2

The second Cardinal Sin listed in Proverbs 6:16-19, is listed as a lying tongue.  Oh boy!  Here we go.  However,  before we go on, we want to clarify a few things–in the interest of TRUTH.  So, we came up with this blog topic, not on our own, but as a suggestion from our good friend, fellow blogger, and someone with a great sense of humor and inquiry, Natalia Corres.  She thought it would present a challenge, and we do love a challenge.  Hence, the blog topic.  Secondly, we can take no credit for these sins and their definitions since they stemmed from the Catholic church and specifically Pope Gregory I in the 6th century.  So take heart!  If the pope was concerned about the morality of humans in the 6th century, we are definitely not an aberration in the 21st century.  That, having been clarified and set out for you, we will now expound or hide in shame over the Cardinal Sin of having a lying tongue.

Lying is called an abomination to God.  It is stated that God will not deign to look on a liar.  A very telling synonym is “vainglory.”  Now, one more point to offer.  The very definition of sin, according to scripture and the Catholic church is that it is something done as a deliberate and purposeful violation of the will of God.  Hmmmm.  That seems to leave some wiggle room if one can say it wasn’t exactly “deliberate and purposeful” against God.  And yet, if you believe God sees the heart,  it’s kind of hard to say you made a goof when you knew what you were doing.  So–on to LYING.

Judith Viorst wrote an essay on lying.  We taught students that particular essay and totally enjoyed their responses to it.  The essay covered white lies, protective lies, and the all inclusive triangle lies.  Insofar as the white lies–can you declare innocence?  Your friend comes up, wearing a new hairdo that makes your mouth drop open, and says, “How do you like my new hairdo?  Isn’t it great?”  Do you lie and say “Oh, yeah.  You look great!”  as you wonder how fast you can get away from such a freakish do without getting called out on your lie?  Hey, this is just a little white lie.  But if you’ll lie about this, will you lie when something more serious needs truth to be told?  Hmmmm.  But who wants to shatter this friend’s obvious joy and happiness by saying, “My god!  What did you do to your hair!”  We have lied.  Let someone else tell them the truth that isn’t their friend.  Is it worth it to tell the truth and bring the friend down?  You take on the vainglory of deciding whether the friend merits the truth or not.  It is deliberate and purposeful–and selfish because you don’t want to lose a friend.

Then there are lies where you again decide you are the best judge of what truth shall be told when you know a friend is going to face something catastrophic and you decide they should not be told.  This often happens when a doctor friend or someone who has test results regarding a family member decides the truth should be hidden.  We have heard, honestly heard, a family member tell the person that is terminally ill, “The doctor says it is a virus and your weakened immune system is just responding poorly.  No worries.  We can just wait it out and help you and you’ll be fine.”  It is an out and out lie.  It is deliberate and purposeful and robs the person with the illness the chance to deal with what is happening and untowardly keeps them thinking the liars can be trusted and keeps them in a state of wondering what is going on with no truth afforded to them.  The liar has assumed the role of the wise one in knowing what truth can be told and what cannot.  And, unfortunately, physicians will become complicit, not wanting to tell the truth either.  So the game of lying goes on, to the detriment of the individual being lied to.  It happens most often with shielding and protecting children and the elderly from unpleasant truths.  HMMMMMM.  Who is protecting whom?

The lies nearly everyone participates in, similar to the white lies, are the triangle lies.  These are deadly.  We remember a friend asking us to say we were having her overnight for the weekend so she could go out with her boyfriend because her parents didn’t understand her love for him and forbade her to date at 15 years of age.  Now, no one is more sympathetic to being misunderstood by parents or caregivers than one teen for another.  So we agreed.  And unbelievably, sooner or later you and your cohort get caught and then two families, plus the boyfriend and his family, are enraged and everyone involved suffers.  Worse, though, is not learning what this should have taught us and becoming adults and participating in triangle lies.  Your friend confides in you that her husband is knocking her around and is being unfaithful.  Your heart goes out to her.  She then confides she has found Mr. Wonderful and if called, will you say that she is doing something other than having a romantic tryst and watch the kids for her so she can go to Motel 6 for the afternoon?  A knot forms in your stomach, you look into her desperate eyes, you know how her husband is, and…you agree.  Unfortunately, in our circumstances of being a third party to the triangle of lies, the guy who was Mr. Wonderful was simply a replica of the husband, her husband got shook and went to counseling with her, their marriage was saved, and we became the enemy that could no longer be trusted because we lied.  Hard lesson learned.

But the one lie that always threw our students and caused the most consternation among them– and some wonderful essays submitted– was one simple lie–Santa Claus.  Was it harmful?  It was most assuredly intentional and deliberate, loaded with a purpose.  It was extremely interesting to see the adamant reactions to being told there was a Santa Claus as a child and those who were told the truth.  Some said they never believed parents again after finding out at school they had been played the fool and ridiculed for believing parents.  Others said they loved the lie, even after facing the truth because it made Christmas magic for them.  Those who were told the truth and enjoyed the myth with full knowledge said it was no problem, 100%, but they never felt the urge to enlighten their peers and just enjoyed it all.  You gotta wonder, don’t you?

Now you’re going to ask if we told our kids the truth, our friends, and if we ever got into a triangle of lies again.  You should!  We fantasized right along with the kids until the day they asked if it was a lie–was there or was there not a Santa Claus.  We were prepared and gave them the history of Saint Nicholas and the other names, and then said yes, they were dead and gone, but it honestly gave us a chance to show them love without putting to ___ from MOM, but rather Santa.  It made it special for us as well as them.  Even two of our kids who were angry in the asking seemed to understand our explanation.  One of them, and god how we loved this question, went further, and asked if we would lie about other things, too.  We could honestly say NO.  Truth would always win out.  And that was accepted and the end of the discussion with all satisfied.  We became more creative with our friends to avoid lying by being asked if we liked an outfit, haircut, etc., by saying “You look so happy!  If it makes you happy it makes me happy.”  It was said sincerely and they sincerely accepted our answer.  Don’t lie, but don’t destroy them.  Be honest that it does indeed make you happy that they are happy.  You’re not required to offer an opinion and that’s where the old adage, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, comes in real handy and life saving for a cherished relationship.  The triangle lies?  Oh, those are traps and once the trap has snapped on you, it is easy to say, “No, I can’t participate, but I wish you the best.”  The asker will find another person who will bite, so you aren’t in danger of destroying a friendship or becoming the enemy.

The lie to keep the truth, as bad as you deem the truth to be, from a person who needs to make choices regarding their last days or not, is not one we have wrestled with.  It has always been a no-brainer to us.  We know what it is like to wince from the pain of the truth.  But we know if someone had not been kind enough to let us decide what to do with truth, we would not be where we are today or the persons we are today.  We would have been literally fleeced and broadsided by not knowing the truth.  Our friends, one who died from cancer, and one who is dying now, each asked us to be honest about how we felt and what we would do in their position.  The answer to both was and is, “We are not in your body or mind.  We aren’t experiencing your anguish or pain.  We do not feel qualified to say what we would do because we have not faced this.  But… we can honestly say that we believe you know best for yourself and your body and mind.  No one knows you better than you and whatever you decide to do or not do, we are 150% with you and will support you no matter what you decide!  We love you and always will.  We trust you to know what you can and want to do.  We are here for you!”  When asked if we would be scared, too, we have no problem saying, “Damn straight!  We are scared for you!  How much more if we faced what you are facing!”  Truth.  It can hurt or console.  Lying destroys trust, belief, sows doubt.  We see why God will not look on a liar.

To lie to further personal ambition is even more destructive.  Do you want a doctor operating on you who lied and cheated to get his M.D.?  Do you want a minister who tells you the wages of sin are hellfire and then is caught in a rest stop molesting a young boy or girl?  Do you want a boss who promises you a fair wage and lies as you have more hours and less money?  Do you want people to dictate your life choices and manipulate you with their lies?  Would you look at your child and tell them daddy was just showing love to him/her when he molested them?  How far will your lies carry?  We have all lied.  We will lie again.  But to do it willfully and for selfish gains is a cardinal SIN.

The opposite and the virtue opposed to lying is integrity.  Integrity says you value your fellow human by being honest with them.  As we said earlier, the truth, integrity with our answers and actions, can be painful.  Excruciatingly painful!  But we cannot live in a bubble of lies and good wishes.  We will never grow.  Remember the teacher who wouldn’t give you the A because you were capable of better work?  Oh, how you hate that teacher!  But you work, you push, you doggedly become determined to get that A out of him or her!  You will not be told you can do better!  You will not be put down by another!  And then one day, you get the A.  No compliment, no adulation, just the A.  You rise.  You are triumphant because someone dared to tell you the truth and demand you honestly try to meet their standards–and YOU DID!  Had that same teacher/professor given you the A on the first paper, you would never have learned, pulled on everything within you to show him/her!  The pain of the truth is a great motivator.  The shame of living a lie, being beguiled by a lie is the most humiliating thing a human can experience.

We would add one more thing.  We hold a special place in our heart for animals–all animals.  Animals cannot and do not lie.  We may, as humans, try to lie to them, but they will quickly know.  Animals do not lie to people, and do not lie to each other.  This is a cardinal and detestable sin of humans only.  What do you do when an animal comes to you?  We gently touch it, talk to it calmly and with love. It responds in kind.  Its owner can lie to us, saying it is untamed or vicious, but we believe the animal and it’s response to us.  It won’t lie.

So you can lie or you can operate with integrity.  For us, integrity is what it is all about.  Come back to our blog tomorrow–we’ll explore another detestable and cardinal sin and its opposing virtue.  Think about lying.  It’s a long, deep subject  🙂

 

 

 

Cardinal/Detestable Sin and its Counterpart

Since so much of today’s culture is caught up in what God wants, doesn’t want, and loves to quote scripture by cherry-picking what backs up a belief, we decided to take on one “sin” a day for our blog.  It has been great fun exploring the sins!  So today, the first day of the blog challenge, we will address one that is listed.  No particular order takes place so we get to pick.  And we choose–“haughty eyes” as stated in Proverbs 6: 16-19.

Ah!  Haughty eyes!  This is also known as Pride or Hubris.  (You have to absolutely LOVE the synonyms!)  Anyway, we’ve all heard how pride, and excessive pride especially, will dethrone a person eventually because someone will call them on it at some point.  But nearly everyone has also committed this sin of pride.  And when you think about it, it is sort of fun to “one-up” the local/resident know-it-all.  Because those times are a rarity, what a cool thing, huh?  But…beware!

We remember being scolded and told to look the scolder in the eye when they were berating us. One scolder, in particular, would say, “Don’t look at me in that tone of voice!”  We always wondered WHAT? until NOW!  Now we know!  She must have thought we had “haughty eyes!”  We think that is absolutely the coolest!  We had no idea we could do that!  We thought our disgust and anger were mirrored in our “look”.  We tried to never show fear.  But whatever she saw sure would set her off.  🙂

In all seriousness, however, we have all known those individuals who know everything about everything and are so full of themselves–so Prideful–that they become boorish and repulsive.  Pride stops one from learning, from acquiring more knowledge about nearly everything because the one with Pride thinks they have no need of any knowledge and their limited intelligence actually bites them in the butt–to be trite.  The sin of Pride creates problems for everyone when it is forced on everyone with no one allowed to criticize, attempt to educate, or dissuade the sinner.  There is no redemption for PRIDE when it is all encompassing of the individual holding onto it.  It creates unreasonable actions, impetuosity, outbursts, angry retaliation.

And then there is the good side of pride.  Look at the child who draws the card to be given to dad or mom.  They are so proud of the accomplishment!  And should be!  There is no sin in enjoying a job well done!  If, however, the child at 16 is still drawing the same card to give to mom or dad and is prideful about it–well, that’s just sad!  Somewhere along the journey, the card should have been enhanced, improved upon, become a symbol of what has transpired since kindergarten.

We should encourage those who do a good job, who put in great effort to do the best they can, who strive to make things even better still, and tell them to be PROUD of themselves and their efforts.  They need to be acknowledged!  And they will go on to accomplish even more!  That is GOOD!

Which is what leads us into the counterpart of haughty eyes, pride, hubris.  Humility is the virtue to be instilled.  Humility can take pride in a job done efficiently, but it will seek to go further, learn more, accept criticism positively, and always acknowledge that others know more, but they are to be learned from, not tossed aside.  Humility allows growth, compassion, a world beyond oneself.  Humility says, “Let me share what I know with you to help you, even as you share with me to help me.”

And now the question is–which/who will you gravitate to?  Will you try to follow the blustering PRIDE and hope you receive something from it?  Or will you try to come to the person of humility, join with them, share, learn together?  It’s pretty safe to guarantee that you will be looked at as “less-than” by those with haughty eyes.  It is safe to say you will be welcomed with open mind, heart, and arms by the person of humility.

See how cool these “cardinal sins” are?  We can all relate at some point and we can also see why they are the biggies in life.  Come back and We’ll explore another one together.

Oh!  Be careful how you look at someone today!  You just never know what your eyes are saying…

Feeling it…

Our hearts go out to

the dear friend fighting the pain of cancer,

the dear friends searching for housing and waiting, ever waiting;

We shudder in remembrance of a lesser cold that chilled to the bone

as we know the homeless are freezing and have no shelter.

Our hearts go out to

dear friends who are battling the loss of their loved ones with aching hearts.

We mourn for the dear friends

who are now in homes, alone, because they cannot remember anymore.

We empathize with those who we have not seen

who are trafficked, separated from children,

lied to as they are abused and slandered.

We cannot say we know what it is like to be a person of color,

but we have felt the evilness of those who love to abuse.

We see animals abused with no thought,

People torn, destroyed by the uncaring and cruel.

Our hearts crack, bleed, cry for all, and ourselves.

We have watched–it all happened inch by inch,

in life after life.

Yes, we feel it deeply, painfully.

We cannot stomach anymore.

Kindred souls must stop this!

We will fight.  We will change this.

Then, and only then, will we

Feel it…JOY…BROTHERLY LOVE

PEACE FOR ALL.

No Words

1950s

“Why isn’t Effie eating with us?”

“She’s a n*****.  Shut up and sit down and eat.”

“But she cooked the supper.”

“I said sit down and eat.”

“But why can’t she sit by me?  There’s room.”

“I SAID SHE’S A N*****!  SHE KNOWS HER PLACE!”

“Where is she supposed to eat?”

“In the kitchen.”

The plate is picked up, along with the silverware and the child rises.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

“To eat in the kitchen.  With Effie.”

The child goes to the kitchen, Effie waving her back, furtively.

“You go in there and I’ll blister your sassy bottom!”

The child sets her plate on the table in the kitchen, smiles at Effie.

“I love you best, Effie,” she whispers and smiles.

Effie’s eyes are full of tears as she shakes her head no.

The child is yanked off the chair, whipped, and sent to bed with no supper.

Effie looks down and wipes her eyes with her napkin.

No one speaks.

NO WORDS

 

2016

“Stop those animals, rapists, murderers from crossing our borders!”

The child, now woman, takes water to the gardener who lovingly cares for her yard.

They sit together in the shade, together, and she speaks,

“How many yards do you do, Emilio, in this heat?”

“As many as I can,” he smiles shyly.

“You must be superman or something!  Don’t you get tired?”

“No, señora.  Happy to work here.”

“You sure are a great guy!  Look at this yard!  I mowed lawns as a kid.”

“You, señora?”

“Yep!  If I wanted store clothes, I had to buy them and I had to work.”

A moment shared, an appreciation of each other.

“Come on inside.  We have more cold water.”

He shakes his head no.  Looks down.

“I’m sorry, ” she says.  “I didn’t mean to offend you.  Honest.”

He shakes his head no again, then says,

“I no go in house.  Not right.”

She remembers Effie’s sad eyes, sees the same eyes in Emilio.

This time, it is she who wipes away the tears with her shirt sleeve.

As long as hate, fear, name-calling and labeling go on,

the people she cares for will be forced to

stay in their place.

Emilio pats her arm,

“No cry, señora.  Is all right.”

The tears gush as she shakes her head no.

“You are my friend.  It is not right.”

He nods, then turns and goes.

NO WORDS