Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The wages of sin

'Look at them – they're as miserable as sin.'

Just where does this come from? I know it's Lent and we're all supposed to be feeling pious because we've given up something for a short period of time in order to win spiritual brownie points with the Big G. But sin is miserable?

Oddly enough, I've never found that to be the case. Indeed, I find quite a bit of sin to be rather good fun.

We all know that, when the religious start talking about 'sin', what they really mean is sex. Well, what can I say? Sex doesn't make me feel miserable.

But then again, quite a lot of sins are 'forbidden' pleasures.

According to one Father Roberto Busa, a 95-year-old Jesuit scholar, men and women sin differently.

For men, it's a case of lust first, followed by gluttony and then sloth. Anger, pride and envy follow, with greed taking up the rear.

For women, it's pride, followed by envy (Damn! I really want the handbag she's got!) and then anger. Lust comes a poor fourth.

Mind, the poor dear probably doesn't get out much.

And he hasn't met me.

Or quite a few other women I know.

How extraordinary though – that a (presumably) virginal 95-year-old should be such an expert on sin, after living an exemplary life of contemplation, scholarship and piety.

I'm going to admit something here: it has sometimes crossed my mind that would be a rather good ruse to take confession – just to see how quickly I could make the priest's hair curl.

And confession is good for the soul, so they say.

But then again, probably not half as much fun as a bit of sin.


  1. Am reading Melville's Omoo; have just read a passage where he discusses why Christianity is ill fitted for Tahitians; amongst other things because restraint, discipline, austerity, badly fits such a gentle people. Ha. I don't think you can make a priest's hair curl, btw. Catholicism in many countries, here, too, has a strong culture of being able to do the worst things because one has the confession to fall back on. I think that priest is likely to've heard a WHOLE lot.

  2. I've sometimes thought that the whole confession thing is one of the more civilised aspects of Catholicism – on the basis that it effectively allows, as you say, for sinning.

    The non-conformist sects have no such outlet – it's all between youj and your personal god.