29 January 2010
Another Australian Victory: Most Sinful Nation on Earth
The Sydney Morning Herald reported today another Australian victory. Seems our country is #1 in the world in .... the Seven Deadly Sins.
Australians have come out on top as the world's most envious people in a tally of nations viz the seven deadly sins.
BBC magazine Focus found Australians also scored highly for the other six sins, making Australia the 'most sinful' country on Earth.
"Sin-prone" Australia was followed by the US, Canada, Finland and Spain.
Researchers used a points system to determine which countries committed the seven deadly sins (lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride), the most.
A bit of history, if I might. According to Sacred Origins of Profound Things, by Charles Panati, Greek monastic theologian Evagrius of Pontus first drew up a list of eight offenses and wicked human passions:. They were, in order of increasing seriousness: gluttony, lust, avarice, sadness, anger, acedia, vainglory, and pride. Evagrius saw the escalating severity as representing increasing fixation with the self, with pride as the most egregious of the sins. Acedia (from the Greek "akedia," or "not to care") denoted "spiritual sloth."
In the late 6th century, Pope Gregory the Great reduced the list to seven items, folding vainglory into pride, acedia into sadness, and adding envy. His ranking of the Sins' seriousness was based on the degree from which they offended against love. It was, from most serious to least: pride, envy, anger, sadness, avarice, gluttony, and lust. Later theologians, including St. Thomas Aquinas, would contradict the notion that the seriousness of the sins could be ranked in this way. The term "covetousness" has historically been used interchangeably with "avarice" in accounts of the Deadly Sins. In the seventeenth century, the Church replaced the vague sin of "sadness" with sloth.
You might think I'm being a bit worrisome about whether there is an order or even a batch of sins which warrant noting. After all on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, we spend literally hours listing and shamefully renouncing a litany of dozens of sins. The "Al Chet" confession of sins is said ten times in the course of the Yom Kippur services: Following the Amidah of the afternoon prayers of the day before Yom Kippur; just before sunset on Yom Kippur Eve; and twice during each of the following services--the evening service of yom Kippur eve, and the morning service, the Musaf service and the afternoon service of Yom Kippur day--once at the end of the Silent Amidah, and once during the cantor's repitition of the Amidah.
So if a short listing of 7 is tiring for you, imagine that Yom Kippur listing, whilst fasting at that!
I'm not necessarily agreeing with the Focus people of the UK, but if I had enough time, I should want to ponder the alternative.
Are there seven virtues? Where else do we go but user-defined, content-driven space Wikipedia. There we read: "In Catholic catechism, the seven virtues refers to one of two lists of virtues, most commonly referring to the 4 Cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Restraint or Temperance, and Courage or Fortitude, and the 3 Theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love or Charity; these were adopted by the Church Fathers from virtue as defined by the Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle." Thanks Wiki!
Yes, those sound like things a nations should strive to attain. I'm not a Catholic, but I like all seven of those. Justice, (ever give it, never demand it), Restraint (self-control, that's a worthy goal), Courage (I so admire guys like the Apostle Paul, a no-matter-what kind of guy), Prudence (the beginning of wisdom is.... get wisdom!), and faith, hope and love.
I'm wishing we could be known as a country full of those. Where even the idea of a virtuous country would be held in honor and esteem. Where at a party of friends, the topics of prudence would be met with story after story rather than dismissal. Or after 18 holes of golf, the fellas would talk about courage and restraint rather than #19 in Tiger's list.
Listen, it starts with one person. You. And it grows one person at a time. Share what matters, what is value-able, to the person near you. Don't mock; don't listen to mockery. Faith is admirable in Haiti just now. Love from all corners of the world to the half-island nation is glorious and ought to be heralded.
Let's do this. Let's make Australia a glorious nation, known for justice and hope, for us and for all mankind. Then I'd still call Australia 'home.'