Septamal

So-called “western” culture contains the notion of “sin”, for example the list of Seven Deadly Sins. I’m not religious, so I don’t fear offending magical beings, but I am aware that some peoples’ behavior sucks because it harms others, while other peoples’ behavior shines because it helps others. If I had to come up with simple hallmarks, “sin” would be taking a positive-sum game and rendering it zero- or negative-sum, whereas virtue would be taking whatever game is underway and improving its return. How do I fancy my status as a “Seven Deadly” sinner?

Pride. Some people are proud to be of their nationality, or to support some athletic team. I don’t understand this, although I understand being happy to belong to a certain culture or group. To me, pride derives from accomplishment. I am proud to have a Ph.D. and to have Walked Around Mount Rainer in Nine Days, among other things. I am happy I grew up in the Willamette Valley, and that my excellent wife chose me. Score: +0.

Greed. Beyond having what might be called a vaguely middle-class lifestyle, I don’t aspire to more money or possessions. Additional consumption causes a corresponding increase in carbon footprint, which is currently unethical insofar as it involves burning fossil fuel. Compared to most people with more excessive lifestyles, I am thus more virtuous, and I am proud of that. Score: -1.

Lust. Evolution has provided males with an ongoing “shouldn’t I be trying to get my sperm into that thing?” feature, which I suppress due to receiving various forms of training and negative feedback, and a desire to not be creepy and manipulative. Still, non-objectification of other persons requires attention. I love sitting in a congenial beverage establishment, sipping a favorite and doodling. I invariably become lost in thought, but sometimes snap out of my reverie to note that I have inadvertently been male-gazing some shapely person. Embarrassed, I swiftly pretend to return to my doodling, needing several moments to recover before starting to return to my groove. In never act on this and sometimes apologize. Score: +½.

Envy. I fleetingly have wishful thoughts about being more gregarious or less phone-phobic (like others more successful at things I strive to be more successful at), or about having a nicer house or yard or car (like most people I know), or the erotic attentions of Mensa supermodels (even more desirable or intelligent than Mrs. Dean). These thoughts “just happen”, and detract from my humanitarian efforts, and I generally roll my eyes at myself for them. Score: -1.

Gluttony. I am overweight, not obese. Though finicky, I am a gourmand and a gourmet. I enjoy Oregon-style craft beers, rib-eye steaks, peanut butter pie. Eating enough vegetables gives me the emotion that a few gravy-drowned schnitzels are just fine. I try to control myself and sometimes succeed. Score: +½.

Wrath. I have to actively avoid certain conversations, websites, comment sections, news items, etc. Deliberate ignorance and stupidity, cults of personality, surrender to mystical bullshit, and a host of other crass populist wankings infuriate me. Littering, fire-lightin’ dog-bringers, spurious car-honking, filling out the same information multiple times on pages of medical forms. I attempt to conceal it, but I am full of wrath. This probably affects my blood pressure. Score: +2.

Sloth. I sleep in too much. I take too many naps. I don’t mow the lawn on schedule. I delay or even defer anything requiring human interaction. However, I obsess about my writing (code or humanish). Score: 0.

My overall sin score is 0 – 1 + ½ – 1 + ½ + 2 – 0 = 1. If there were a hell, I’d be worried.

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