Traditional views about religion and sin may be in decline, but the human behavior catalogued as the Seven Deadly Sins remains very much with us. The sins and their synonyms provide writers with words to analyze and discuss the bad things people do.
Here is the list as revised from earlier versions by Pope Gregory I in 590 CE:
This is not the healthy pride one feels in a job well done or in the achievements of a child or friend. The sin of Pride is the conviction that no one else is as intelligent or as worthy as oneself.
The sin of Envy is evinced by feelings of humiliation and ill-will when contemplating a person who has superior advantages of mind, wealth, friendship, or the like. Envy is prompted by fear of losing something of value to a rival. It includes the idea that someone else’s good fortune somehow detracts from one’s own. Envious people gloat when others experience misfortune. Schadenfreud is a form of Envy.
The sin of Wrath manifests in violent anger; intense exasperation, resentment, or indignation that goes beyond ordinary anger. The wrathful person seeks revenge for imagined or minor slights.
The sin of Sloth does include physical laziness, but that is not what makes it a sin. The word comes from a Greek word referring to a non-caring state of mind. The Latin form is acedia. This kind of sloth is a sin because the person who gives in to it neglects duty and responsibility. A workaholic can commit this sin by not making time for things that are truly important.
The sin of Avarice dominates many of the daily headlines. This is the sin of the inordinate desire to acquire and hoard.
Although chiefly associated with the vice of excessive eating, the sin of Gluttony bears a similarity to Avarice. People can be gluttonous about other physical pleasures. I suppose even binge-watching a favorite TV series is a form of gluttony.
The word lust is Germanic in origin. Its original meaning was simply pleasure or delight. Through its theological use, it came to mean specifically “sexual desire leading to sin.” In current use, the word applies to behavior deserving of intense moral reprobation. Like the sin of Avarice, that of Lust grabs plenty of headlines these days.
Some of the less familiar synonyms do appear in the news:
The option drew ire from some residents who feared it would mean tax increases. Post-Gazette
If the capital’s taxis could be converted to run on choler, they’d have an inexhaustible supply of fuel. Time
Some commentators in these matters rely on spleen, others on lofty remoteness. Time
To combat what she calls the vice of acedia, Norris armed herself with religion. New York Times
Mr. Dempsey’s nonstop jocularity can be tiring. But his enthusiasm for his new friends and new life are winning in the end. He learns to care about weather fronts and wind patterns and teaches himself for the first time to look and listen. Urban hebetude, he discovers, can be cured at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Travel article, New York Times
[P]leonexia and the wealth inequality that accompanies it has become central to the economic feedback loop and that altar upon which all else is sacrificed, or so it would appear. nakedcapitalism.
Why the passivity of governments, is there an expectation that the voracity of the speculators can be satisfied? Guardian
The court that du Plessix Gray brings to life is filled with intrigue and concupiscence. Book review, Washington Post
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