Posts Tagged ‘seven deadly sins

03
Sep
09

Why People Worship Money

Money is powerful. Money is generally good (to the one who has it). Money is everywhere (or more accurately, it is recognized almost everywhere). And those with the Money know everything, or at least they know a whole lot more than those without. More importantly, what they know are often things that would point them in the direction of even more Money.

Ah, Money. Almost omnipotent, generally omni-benevolent, virtually omni-present, practically omniscient. Money’s ‘omnis’ may have qualifiers, but its powers are unmistakably tangible and immediately detectable. And Money begets more Money. No wonder people worship it.

Now it is written in the Bible: The love of money is the root of all evil. But is it? How about Lust? Isn’t that a root of the evil of rape? How about Anger, Envy, Pride? Surely more horrid things had been done out of these than for the love of money.

Now I could almost hear the atheists say, “And even more terrible things like murder and genocide had been done in the name of god”. Well, I think ‘in the name of religion‘ would be more accurate. Because how can different people supposedly created by the same God receive separate ‘instructions’ from their ‘God’ to kill each other just because the other is an idolater or infidel?

And now I could almost hear the theists say, “But greater evils were done by Hitler, Stalin, and Mao who were all supposed to be atheists!” Well I think these atrocities had nothing to do with whether or not these leaders believed in God but rather on how they controlled their subjects in a cult-like fashion not unlike some religions – by striking the fear of death into their hearts. The only difference is that while the death the dictators deal is corporal, the death that religions use to threaten the unbelievers is eternal. I wonder which one is more effective in controlling legions and enforcing the leader’s will.

But I guess the more important question is, why do monarchs as well as religious cult leaders have to use the fear of death to control entire populations? Ah, for the love of money. And so while the monarch says, “Give me your money or else you will die”, the religious cult leader says, “Your money will only weigh down your soul and lead to your eternal damnation. Give it to me and worship me instead”. inner minds

14
Jun
09

Am I A Bad Person?

(First published in October 2008)

Now this is a very tricky issue, mostly because of the meaning of the word “bad”. I remember this book titled “Straight and Crooked Thinking”, and one of the chapters talked about The Meaning of Words. It said that most arguments can easily be resolved simply by asking both parties to define the key word in the issue they are arguing about. For example, if someone says that I’m a bad person while another insists that I’m not, they will never stop arguing until each of them gives his or her own definition of the word “bad”. And then something magical happens: each of them will say, “Ah, if we use your definition of the word, then I agree with you that Jong is a bad/not bad person.”

I believe we are all “bad” in some way, based on a certain definition of the word. I also believe there are two kinds of “bad” people: those who are basically good but are just overcome by circumstances and their own human nature; and those who are inherently evil.

Early Christian teachings talked about The Seven Deadly Sins: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Sloth, Envy, and Pride. Among these “vices”, I believe that the first four can be committed by a basically good person while the rest are the mark of something more sinister.

For me, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, and Anger are just human survival traits carried to an extreme: Lust comes from our instinct for procreation, but when uncontrolled, turns us into fornicators and adulterers; Gluttony is just our basic survival need to feed ourselves stripped of the brake pedal; with Greed, we start off with the noble intention of being able to provide for ourselves and our families but end up always wanting more; and Anger must come from our survival instinct to protect ourselves and our families from attack and aggression but brought to the point of revenge and spite.

But as for Envy and Pride, well that’s something else. While it is somewhat related to Greed, Envy is more of a resentment of what others have. Dante defined it as “love of one’s own good perverted to a desire to deprive other men of theirs.” For Pride, Dante’s definition was “love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one’s neighbor.” Now how could depriving others and feeling contempt for one’s neighbor be essential to one’s own survival and prosperity? This is not basic human survival nature; it is something alien and reeks of malice.

And now we are left with Sloth. Although Dante described it as the “middle sin”, characterized by an absence of love rather than the presence of hatred, I still believe that it is more sinister than Lust, Gluttony, Greed, or even Anger, because Sloth is ironically an “active” denial of the blessings of God that are just waiting to be harvested. Again, Sloth is against human nature, because in order to live and prosper one has to move.

Now being a Christian, I was taught that there are no small sins and no big sins. I was also taught that there is nothing impossible with God. But for the practical side, I guess it helps to know if we or our friends are about to cross the line from being basically-good-but-sometimes-overcome-by-human nature to becoming what can be called as evil.

And for all my sins, I still believe that I am not a bad person. Are you?




Attempts at uncovering the underlying simplicity beneath apparently complex concepts as well as the core complexity within seemingly straightforward issues

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