Monday, January 17, 2011


Here's something I've been noticing in my long road of conversion: only Catholics seem to really sin.

We have sinning down to a science. It's categorized very scientifically by its relationship to your soul, the effects  your sin has on the world, the consequences attributed to sin, all kinds of ways and means of classifying sin. And so it should be scientific: The Catholic Church invented our science system. (Oh yeah? Yeah...)

Over the years of talking to various groups, none of them seems to have a handle on the various forms of missing the mark. With the exception of the conversations with the Jewish folks I've known. They know from human frailty.

This is by no means a lofty or even an accurate list, but I'd sure like to discuss this with anyone who's interested. Human weakness intrigues me. Probably because of my daily (hourly, breath by breath) struggles with mine. I got the same old, same old sins I've struggled with each and every day I decided I didn't want to be a slave to my every whim.

My Observations

Protestant versions of the human struggle to improve:

  • Variation One Sin is general. We are all "sinners" in the general sense, but me specifically and right now specifically? No, I've been saved. I don't sin.
  • Variation Two Sin is general. We are all "sinners" in the general sense, and pretty nasty, too, but Jesus throws a cloak over me and I'm good enough. My sins don't matter. I've been redeemed.

NeoPagan versions of the human struggle to improve:

  • Variation One Sin is a Christian thing. If you mean actions counter to self-improvement and enlightenment, I'm well on my way. I cycle back to old issues, but I'm always on a new place on the spiral. Onward and upward.
  • Variation Two I'm beyond sin. Other people might think they sin, but that's just because they aren't far enough along the path (like I am). 

Atheistic/Humanistic versions of the human struggle to improve:

  • Variation One Sin is a waste of time. We all are basically working toward survival of the genes and whatever gets us evolving is fine. Do what you want. If your genes survive, fine, if not you're out of the pool.
  • Variation Two Sin is what society agrees it is. It's different for everyone and every culture. If you don't like it here, change it or leave it. 
I may have missed something in my journeys through these various groups. (Admittedly, I wasn't an Atheist ever, merely a bad and poorly catechized Humanist.) Other than the touches of arrogance here and there, the main problem I saw was that people were all considered to be bad from their starting point--or neutral at best. Or that children were somehow revered as "pure human" and "perfected" until society screwed with them. These views all ran counter to my intuitive understanding of human nature. The more I found out how the Catholic Church views people and our nature, the more I realized they'd been what I'd been looking for all along.

So, instead of just giving you my opinion, I'll just restate in my own words a brief (there's 2,000 years of this stuff, folks) description of what the Church has to say about people.

  • We're created good. Yeah, hold a baby. You can tell that one right away.
  • But we have a tendency to screw up. Sure, check in on that baby as soon as she can start making any kind of behavioral decisions and you've got "naughty" on the radar.
  • We're all sinners and we're all in this TOGETHER. We can screw up, be sorry, try again, and still be in the same building? You can be forgiven for stuff and then move on? Together? That was a revelation for someone who grew up in a world where as soon as sin entered into the picture, someone got fired, you changed churches, or there was a church-ectomy and part of the congregation split off to be a better church than the rest of you. Let me tell you what a revelation that was coming into the church in the years after the fallout from the Priest scandals was in full force. (I came in Easter 2003)
  • We have to struggle or we're a slave. Someone gave me a simple definition of sin. It's when you love yourself more than God. I get that completely. When I don't get my butt off the computer chair and immediately go admire that 5 year old's Play Dough flower because, by golly, I have a blog people read, I'm not serving my family. I'm serving my pride. It ain't pretty. God blessed me to be a married woman in a family and that is how I best serve Him. It's so easy to get tangled up in that pride, I'm telling you. Like any sin, you indulge it once and you've got the burden of a little practice to overcome the next time. Indulge in it frequently and you are building up so much momentum, you're becoming habituated. After it's a habit, you are pretty much stuck in a groove and a slave to that impulse because you're bound to react the same way every time that impulse hits.
Well, that barely skirts the topic, but I'm done writing for now. It's late and all. Besides all that Blogger just ate my really cool ending. I'm too tired and lazy to recreate it just now. You'll have to trust me that I managed to pull it all together in this neat little package for you. I'm really cool that way, you know.

And no that doesn't count as Pride. It's sarcasm.

....and just maybe Sloth.

(Dang it!)


  1. St. Thomas Aquinas would be proud of you. In a good way. :-)

  2. What a great article! I'm stealing it...oh wait....borrowing it.

  3. Sure thing, Mr. Truth! Have at it!