Wednesday, January 20, 2010

putting the (dumb-as)S in Saligia

I've never quite understood the Seven Deadly Sins. But, as with most things I don't understand, I'm fascinated by them.

For instance, I was surprised to discover that Sloth wasn't even on the original list as such. It was Despair, or even, depending on the interpretation, Sadness -- essentially, the more you read into it, clinical depression. Somebody got smart after a while and decided it was more than a little cruel to condemn someone's medical condition as an A-ticket to the Abyss, or at the very least that adding guilt to sadness rarely accomplished anything but more sadness. So they shifted the sin to one of the more problematic symptoms, and one that's hardly restricted to the depressed. (Note: Dante himself envisioned a cure for melancholy or clinical depression or whatever in Purgatorio: Running continuously at top speed, a version of which works pretty good for me. Whatever that's worth. Bugs the shit out of my wife when I recommend it for others, though. No word on how Mrs. Dante felt.)

Indeed, while there's much to be said for Laziness (frankly, all of the Deadly Sins have their merits if used right), laziness gets my vote for the awfullest of them all. But the Sin Wranglers put it last, at least according to SALIGIA. SALIGIA is a mnemonic acronym, a, uh, lazy man's way to keep track of the naughties. Take the first letter of each sin, in Latin of course, put them together and you've got SALIGIA. Easy! But Sloth, or Acetia, shows up last on the list even though they could have swapped it with the other A and at least put it second. (The other A being Avaricia, or greed, which does, I have to admit, make a pretty good case for itself.)

The first sin on the list is Superbia, which is not (yet) a sedan from Hyundai, but Pride. This I don't get. Sure, Pride has its ugly side, but living a life in which you can hold your head more or less high sounds like a motivation more virtuous than deadly. Do not more of the world's ills come from incompetence (the #1 outcome of sloth) than malice (borne often enough of pride)? A great man once said exactly that. Of course, that great man was Napoleon, who did as much as anybody to muck it up for Pride, so maybe we need to let that go.

Besides, I'm quite capable of mucking up Pride all by myself. In Monday's edition, I was proud enough to scan my plaque from the Snowflake 10K to show the world. My water-soluble and melting plaque, if you'll recall. And so yesterday, as I was furiously trying to scan and send a week's worth of Frazz to the syndicate in time to make it to swim practice, I got smited. The plaque wasn't done melting by a long shot, and all my scans were emblazoned with a sketchy, backward "AWARD WINNER" smack in the middle, surrounded by reversed snowflake shrapnel.

Such is the Gods' wrath. That's Ira, by the way. Second-to-last, just ahead of Acedia. I'm just sayin.'


Anonymous said...

I've always thought the superbia of the "7 deadlies" referred more to arrogance or hubris than simple pride. In any case, I don't think scanning an award you earned so you can share it with your readers qualifies. Also mild glass cleaner sprayed on soft cloth (then rubbed on scanner glass, then scanner glass dried with soft cloth) should solve the problem (if you haven't already solved it).

La Professora said...

Took a break from grading to watch a documentary you might enjoy:
NOVA follows 13 sedentary people through a nine-month regimen designed to prepare them for the grueling Boston Marathon.

From Sloth to Boston in 9 months. Do-able!

JohnQ. said...

I don't care what language you use. If you want to see sloth in (in)action, come watch me try to get out of bed at 5:45 a.m. on run interval day...

Liz said...

Those medieval Catholics were big on humility. I think the reasoning behind Despair as a sin was, "If you despair, you're not trusting God to fix everything, therefore you're faithless, therefore doom." Which, you're right, really doesn't help. Although I'm not sure the modern (so-called "Western") approach to mental troubles is a huge improvement.