December 18, 1997
...in which a friend of "Madame W" posits a stunningly-researched analysis of Lust and Anger, most of which he plagiarized from the "Language Comprehension" section of last year's SAT test.
To the keeper of the flame:
I write today to interject a little revisionist history: while I appreciate your choosing a time-honored source for which 7 sins are considered deadly, I personally think it's time for anger and lust to be de-listed. Few people to the left of Bill Bennett do not secretly enjoy both of these sins, and I dare say that the reason this is so is more wholesome than most people think.
Lust and anger are irrational emotions, powerful forces from deep within us which, when triggered, often overwhelm the array of obstacles we've painstakingly placed in their path. Lust and anger are like wild rivers, channeled in their moribund state, storing up energy for that day when, at last, they bust free and run roughshod over the emotional landscape. Like those flooding streams, the outcome of their having run amok is the violent but thorough scouring and remaking of the emotional landscape. They are emotional reset buttons. They correct the transgressions of other emotions, preventing such elements as self-control, guilt, envy, etc. from overreaching. They kick serious ass.
As my analogy suggests, I believe lust and anger are completely natural elements of any human being, and as such deserve their due. Of course, society (or at least white anglo society) doesn't see it that way: lust and anger have a bad rap. The reason for this, I believe, is that people like life to be predictable -- keep the stream in its channel -- so for the same reason we dam (and destroy) rivers, we dam up these two vital emotions. Lust and anger are unpredictable, so third parties don't always appreciate witnessing them. If A expresses lust or anger at B in front of C, C's reaction may range from titillation to annoyance to repulsion. But for C to assert that A and B should forego lust and anger is selfishness on C's part, putting their comfort level (sloth?) above the needs of A and B to let lust or anger reshape their relationship. I assert, therefore, that selfishness is a doubly deadly sin, for dragging lust and anger down with it.
We live in a controlled society, where lust and anger are kept on the run. Yet all around us (well, not in Canada, but everywhere else), lust and anger play their proper role, to the detriment of the economy but to the immense benefit to the souls of those who live there. Compare the narrow American vision of lust and anger (Jerry Springer, Morton Downey Jr.) with the view of the rest of the world (Like Water for Chocolate). Lust and anger keep things lively, keep our minds tuned in, and give us something much better to think about than shopping. They can be ugly at one moment, but rather than focusing on the uglier aspects, if you hang with them through the initial shock, you will find that they take you someplace you would have been otherwise unable -- or unwilling -- to go.
So, I say give lust and anger their due. In the short run they feel like sins, but to those who are willing to pay the price and allow lust and anger to run their course, they are ultimately virtues. My $.02.
We at the Seven Deadly Sins Homepage do our best to insure that you can understand the analogies used by our guest contributors. For those of you who are uncertain about the final metaphorical arrangement of persons A,B, and C, diagrams are available here.
Also, we'd like to add that this person might well be the Devil. Satan won't tell you to act bad, he'll just tell you to act any way you want, and let you do the rest...