living + teaching in the bible belt, i expected the adult students in my evening class last night to respond differently to the essay i assigned them in our reader.
in it lisa frank discusses, tongue in cheek, the seven deadly sins, as enumerated in the sixth century by pope gregory the great. she argues that in the modern world "we work with our vices instead of against them, not only accepting them as the core of who we are + what is natural within us, but also as a measure of what we're capable of."
to a person, my students accepted this thesis without blinking.
in the 21st century, you need pride, envy, greed, + a certain level of aggressiveness (wrath) to function in a corporate culture.
on tv, what used to be meanness passes for cleverness.
the entertainment industry revamped our superheroes batman + superman to mirror our change in values--now vengeance + sex, not truth + justice, motivate their heroism.
the moralizers of the middle ages saw gluttony + lust as self-exhausting + therefore relatively minor sins of the flesh, when compared to sins of the spirit like pride or envy. today's busybodies, on the other hand, see them as the worst sins of all. our moralizers regard food + sex as the worst temptations we have. the government would rather control our portions + our passions + let our greed + envy accrue interest at a favorable rate.
but apparently i no longer have to worry about my own personal kevin spacey pumping me full of spaghetti-o's or slicing me apart with a porcupine dildo.
so, frank's essay inspires me to contemplate, nonjudgmentally, + in the interests of full disclosure, the not-so-very-deadly sins i've committed over the past 24 hours:
lust--according to dante + other medieval ethicists, lust is the least deadly of the seven. it used to be my deadly sin of choice, until i hit 45, or so. it's now dropped down to the number 2 spot.
yesterday, in the fires of lust, i beat off, twice in 18 minutes, to a video of aaw pro wrestlers tyler black + danny daniels fighting, speedo vs. speedo. not everyone's porn, admittedly, but hot as hell to me.
gluttony--now that i am well into middle age, this is my number one sin. i spend too much money, pile on the debt, + take a feast or fast, all or nothing, approach to eating + consumerism.
yesterday i wickedly took a second breadroll at pulcinella's, a nearby mom-+-pop italian restaurant, on top of the full plate of eggplant rollatini, oozing with olive oil, ham, ricotta, provolone, + mozzarella.
greed--even though i was an only child, i never really had this problem, though i'm beginning to regret lending my friend ann my planet earth series dvds. it's been months now + she hasn't even got through the great plains.
sloth--ok, i skipped a workout today. yesterday, too. oh yes, nothing on monday either. in all areas other than health + fitness, though, i'm reasonably diligent.
wrath--i'm an ironic + easy-going guy, so usually ire is the least of my sins, but yesterday this skinny-assed girl in my freshmen comp class pissed me off, deluxely, by not only forgetting her fucking rough draft for a long-scheduled peer review, but also trying to front her way out of it by claiming nobody (meaning me) had told her about the assignment--it's been in the class schedule since mid-august, bitch, + pretty much repeated in every goddamned class since. then she had the effrontery to insist that her mere presence in class should satisfy the course requirements for participation. right then in my imagination i made the little cunt's head explode.
envy--big problem for me, probably number 3 in the countdown. i fluctuate between being usually well content in my life as it is + occasionally, to take one example, wanting to suck the blood from the studly veins of 3 or 4 of my strapping ephebes this semester to rob them of their youth + poetically hard, round muscles.
pride--the biggest sin of the middle ages, the sin of satan, now has parades nationwide in june. i'm a little too unassertive (not to say humble) for my own good sometimes, but i do suffer from pride on occasion.
just this morning, for instance, i felt a fleeting flash of unwarranted superiority to dr. andrew cappuccino, when i heard on npr that, after monday's fucked-up prognosis that buffalo bills reserve tight end kevin everett may never walk again, he called it a "minor miracle" (!) that everett, out of sedation now, can move his limbs.
a faith-based hallelujah to cover reality-based incompetence.