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Seven More Sins?

While it’s by no means official, it appears that the Vatican is advocating an updated list of the “Seven Deadly Sins”.  These expound on the first seven, and should not be considered a replacement.

1. “Bioethical” violations such as birth control
2. “Morally dubious” experiments such as stem cell research
3. Drug abuse
4. Polluting the environment
5. Contributing to widening divide between rich and poor
6. Excessive wealth
7. Creating poverty

While a return to the socially conscious origins of Christianity is heartening, the exact contents of this list are rather puzzling. According to Catholic dogma, a “deadly” sin is one which will get you sent straight to hell if you die before repenting and/or being remorseful. A venial sin will not. But what exactly determines the difference between them?

The original deadly sins were codified by Pope Gregory around the 6th century:

1. Luxuria (extravagance, later lust)
2. Gula (gluttony)
3. Avaritia (greed)
4. Acedia (sloth)
5. Ira (wrath)
6. Invidia (envy)
7 Superbia (pride)

(Pope Gregory also decided catholic officials must be celibate…nice guy, huh?)

For a modern westerner this list seems a little arbitrary, but it is anything but. Even “Sloth”; in the Old Testament, to enter the temple without following proper ceremony was grounds for instant death. Laws surrounding the handling of bodies, food, and menstrual fluids were numerous and complex.

Ritual and Spiritual Purity were extremely important Jewish values, and this continued into the Gospels, Acts, and into Paul’s letters. There are explicit recordings of these big debates in the early church, makes for interesting reading. According Peter, the important purity laws were 1) not eating food offered to idols, 2) not going with whores, and 3) not consuming strangled or meat or blood. (Acts 15). You might consider this the first list of Deadly sins, although it is certainly incomplete.

It might forget about the poor, but at least this list and the original Seven Deadly Sins were based on firm Biblical traditions. It would be difficult to claim the same for this new list. You would be hard pressed to find more than the odd obtuse scripture that discusses Bioethics, genetics, birth control, Drug abuse, or pollution!  I mean, why is Drug Abuse on this list but eating strangled meat is not?  Are you saying Peter was wrong?

And even when the list deals with poverty, it’s redundant about it. Anyone who is excessively wealthy could be accused of “creating poverty”. Anybody creating poverty could be accused of “widening the divide between rich and poor”. And it would be easy to assume that those widening the divide are probably trying to make themselves excessively wealthy.

Here’s a Jesus based substitute: “take care of each other.  Period.” Do you actually believe in the Bible? Is someone your enemy? You must take care of him. A homeless mentally deficient bum? Take care of him. Your weird next door neighbor? Yup…this is a radical, impractical, and amazing moral stance, but it is soundly based on scripture, unlike commandments against pollution or rubbers.

A question for the church as a whole; if you’re going to start accepting moral beliefs that aren’t soundly based on ancient scripture (and I highly encourage you to do this), might I suggest the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights“? And if you are going to continue focusing on ancient scriptures, can you please cherry pick and choose even more than you do right now?  And finally, can you stop claiming that G-d always agrees with you, even when you’re constantly changing your mind?

War on Pot: $42 Billion a Year

The War on Pot cost 42 billion last year; roughly 10% of the federal deficit.

I was listening to Love Line the other night; something I do rarely now that Adam is on in the morning.  Some surfer dude called up with an asinine question, but he mentioned that he smokes pot except before during competition (They are tested for drugs, performance enhancing or not).

Drew immediately called him an addict, and started lecturing him on his pot dependency, telling him to get help.  Drew has done this a number of times; and it’s always bugged me.  Freakin’ typical, that’s what I get for listening to radio “doctors.”

Chemical dependency is a very real pysiological effect, sometimes with disastrous results.  Drugs like tobacco, heroin, and meth form dependency in almost everyone very quickly, within days or months even if only used a few times a week.

Drugs like alchohol and pot make only a few dependent, and for those people it takes years of daily use, most often coupled with depression and an overall unhealthy lifestyle.  This is well documented, and available for anyone who cares to do the research. (I recommend “Chocolate to Morphine” to start).

There are very real symptoms experienced from taking these drugs, and they have been well studied.  If Drew categorized all wine drinkers as chemical dependents he would be flame-bait.  But he can pick on the weekend pot smoker with impunity, because of this country’s perverse war on a drug with less side effects than alchohol.

PS: Washington rocks;  Obama got 2 of every 3 caucus votes.

Heath Ledger and Drug Interactions

Heath Ledger died a couple of days ago due to a tragic drug overdose. Although it is still inconclusive, it seems likely that this was an accidental overdose due to the patient not following prescription guidelines. I’ve seen pills used and abused, and I just want to warn everyone who might not know: Taking prescription pills in the wrong amount or the wrong combination can kill you!

For example, numerous times I’ve seen people at parties take a Valium and couple of Vicodin, then slam a few beers. Or a Xanax and a Oxycodon with a martini…same difference. Being the busy body that I am, I’ve tried to educate people on the dangers of taking multiple drugs that depress the central nervous system. You just might fall asleep and never wake up.

The best thing to do is not to take drugs without a prescription! But if you feel you must get high to relax, it is much more safe to take only one type of medication at a time. And be careful of mixing alcohol with anything, as it increases the effects of many drugs. Anti-anxiety medication, especially Benzo-diazepines like Xanax or Valium, can also be very dangerous; and are increasing in popularity as a recreational drug. Also remember that Hydrocodone (Vicodin) and Oxycodone are opiates, similar to Heroin or Opium. All opiates are addictive, many highly addictive in short amounts of time. So don’t take them, or if you must do so very sparingly. Kicking an opium addiction is not something you want to do (for a vivid example of this see “Trainspotting“)

At the very least, do some research before you experiment! Have fun, but please be safe.