This Week’s Mtg: What Is Sin? (10/7/10)

This one may end up being a continuation of our last meeting on free will, since I suppose sin implies freedom to choose, regardless of whether the sin is driven by internal weakness or external (e.g, Satanic) force(s).  For me, I’m interested not in the sinner but in he/she who is sinned against. Sin is a failure to live up to whose standards: A deity’s, one’s own, or society’s?  The articles below address this, especially the one from the NYT — although it requires a free sign-up to access.   Also, try the one from USA Today.  It’s light and breezy but interesting.

Of course, I’m not going to lecture on sin.  I’m too pure.  But, maybe I’ll take two minutes to list a few different ways of thinking about the topic, which might help us in the beginning.

FYI, I will be out of town next Thursday, October 14 for our meeting on the relationship of cooperation and competition.  Does anyone want to moderate that one? 

LINKS —   [UPDATE:  See next post, below, for more]

Norms encoded hundreds of years ago to guide human behavior in a small-scale agrarian society could not account for a globalized postindustrial information economy. Polluting the environment, drug trafficking, performing genetic manipulations or causing social inequities, new sinful behaviors mentioned by Msgr. Gianfranco Girotti, regent of the Vatican Penitentiary, are arguably more relevant to many contemporary Catholics than contraception. “If yesterday sin had a rather individualistic dimension, today it has a value and resonance that is above all social, because of the great phenomenon of globalization.”

  • The notion of sin is even more difficult to define now that many Americans practice elements of different religions simultaneously, as this new poll shows.
  • Still, the notion of sin still drives many Americans’ notions of key public issues, notably homosexuality and gay rights.  About 55% of Americans say that homosexuality is a sin, including 64% of Catholics, 79% of black Protestants, and  almost 90% of committed White evangelicals.  Only 30% of us say it is not a sin.  On the bright side, three-quarters of Americans believe that racism is a sin.  How many of them recognize their own racism is, of course, another question.

See you there.


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