Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Sin, Ancient and Modern

 

Cain killing Abel, marble relief on the facade of the Milan Cathedral, Duomo di Santa Maria Nascente. (Shutterstock.com)
When Cain becomes sullen and angry because his offering of the “fruits of the soil” is not as well received by God as his brother Abel’s offering of the “fat portions” of his sheep, God tells Cain that “sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you, but you must master it.”

Well, we know how that turned out.

Sin always seemed to be couching at the door of those ancient Jews. Here they were, tough men and women, eking out a precarious existence among enemies in a semi-arid land — and they obsessed, absolutely obsessed, over their sins. You’d think that kind of excessive and painstaking attention to sin, personal and communal, would be the last thing on their minds. They had weapons to make, borders to protect, sheep to tend to, clothes to weave, land to cultivate — and they apparently found time to agonize over their sins.

At least that’s the impression I get from reading the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible). From beginning to end, the Bible is glutted with the Israelites’ attempts to deal with sin—how to resist it, how to perform rituals associated with it, and how to atone for it when it occurred.

One way they had of atoning for their sins was to kill and roast an animal. Sometimes this sacrifice was used as a “sin offering.” (Lev. 4:1–5) At other times it was used as a “guilt” offering. (Lev. 7:1–10). In both cases, God was said to be pleased with the smell of the smoke that wafted upward from the roasting animals. That was apparently an indication that the offering was accepted and that the sins of the person or group who offered up the animal were expiated, for the moment at least.

They could also atone for their sins through the use of a substitute, a scapegoat. When the scapegoat was destroyed, the sins it carried were also destroyed. It worked like this: One of two goats was chosen by God (through the casting of lots) and sent as a “sin offering” into the wilderness to die. (Lev. 16:7–10) The scapegoating passages in Leviticus 16 are, to this day, read in many synagogues on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, a day of fasting and prayer when Jews petition God for forgiveness of their sins.

No one hated sin the way the prophets hated sin. Here’s Isaiah inveighing against heavy drinkers and flute-playing party-goers: “Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine. They have their harps and lyres at their banquets, tambourines and flutes and wine, but they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord…. Therefore my people will go into exile … their men of rank will die of hunger and their masses will be parched with thirst. Therefore the grave enlarges its appetite and opens its mouth without limit. (Isaiah 5: 1–21) The grave is hungry, Isaiah says, for those who party too hard. Now that’s what I call a tough-minded prophet. But then all of those Hebrew prophets seem to have been tough-minded.

Well, you get the idea. The Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, is rich in passages that deal with sin and atonement, but I want to move on now to a consideration of sin in its post-Biblical milieu.

Some post-Biblical societies like the 17th-century Puritans took the Biblical focus on sin very seriously indeed. It was sinful, according to the Puritans, to hang garlands on a Maypole, to fly a hawk, to hunt a stag, to play chess, to wear lovelocks, and to put starch in a ruff (Macaulay’s History of England) Perhaps you remember H. L. Mencken’s definition of the Puritan mindset: ”The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

The contemporary Christian order that places the most emphasis on sin and repentance is, of course, the Catholic Church, where it is centered on the confessional booth. It is there where one’s sins, both mortal (those sins that will result in hell if not atoned for) and venal (everyday sins) are confessed to a priest (temporarily God’s representative). The sin is not completely forgiven until the penitent completes his penance, given to him by the priest, of fasting, the giving of alms, or the recitation of prayers.

But for the most part, sin has fallen on hard times. Some mainline Christian churches rarely touch upon the concept of sin and its consequence at all. Sin has become as old-fashioned as a Puritan ruff. When a person lies in a court of law, very few people think, “Well, there’s a sinner.” But in fact, the liar, in Biblical terms, has broken the 8th Commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbor.”

What I’m curious about are your thoughts about sin. As a “middle to right” political web site, we probably have more religious folk than your run-of-the-mill website. We’re a religious people, we Ricochettti, so we should have much to say.

Let me tell you about my feelings about sin first; then you can discuss yours.

I’ve lead a rather easy and untroubled life, which is not the kind of existence that leads to great sins. I was a literature professor (don’t judge) in a quiet college town, with an easy-going wife and two nice kids.

Naturally, as a male, I think lascivious thoughts about women — much more when I was younger than I do now — and if I were a Catholic, I could confess that I have had impure thoughts. But really, I’ve never thought those were sins. It’s just something we men do. No harm, no foul. But to please the priest, I might confess that I’ve harbored impure thoughts. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have much to talk about. I’ve always hated to disappoint people. 

There are a few things that have worried my conscience all these years. I shouted a few times at the dinner table at my daughter Annie about 40 years ago (I didn’t understand what she was going through), and I mistreated a dog about 70 years ago. I am truly sorry for those two offenses against man and beast. I would do penance if I thought it would do anyone any good.

Well, there is one more thing I do that I consider a sin, at least for me: the killing of animals for my food. I’ve been a vegetarian for the past, oh, twelve years or so. But lately, in the past few months, I’ve put on weight so I’ve been trying the keto diet. It’s almost impossible to be on a keto diet, which focuses on meat and fat, and be a vegetarian at the same time. I’ve lost some weight but my conscience bothers me about eating meat, so I’m returning to my vegetarian diet. I just don’t want to be complicit, in even the slightest way, in the killing of animals, animals who want to live as much as I want to live. (By the way, I don’t think any less of you if you eat meat. Vegetarianism is a personal thing with me, strictly between me and my conscience. My wife eats meat and I like her a lot.)

When I was a kid growing up in Compton, CA, I did a lot of juvie stuff, but that stuff doesn’t count, does it?

Small twinges to my conscience occur occasionally. A few hours ago, in the middle of the night, I ate the last piece of a cheesecake that I found in the refrigerator. I think Marie might have been saving that piece for herself. I’m a little sorry for my gluttonous act of thoughtlessness. But Marie has more of it that she plans to sell at a church bazaar. If she wants a piece so badly, she can take a piece out of that. I’ll confess to her in the morning. Maybe I’ll leave a cute message on the empty plate. I’ll have to think about that. I do feel somewhat guilty about the whole thing.

If I were a Catholic, I don’t think I would confess the cheesecake theft to a priest. It just seems too petty. Besides, the priest might laugh at me.

Is schadenfreude a sin? I’ve done a lot of that. Actually, I haven’t. I just like the word.

During the course of writing this post, I took a good look at the Ten Commandments. I’ve broken eight of them at some time or another in my lifetime. I’ll leave it to your imagination which two I’ve haven’t broken. What about you?

Why I Don’t Sin Very Much

That’s my front yard below. Can a person with such a tidy lawn, a faithful dog (see photo), and a statue of an antelope of some kind be a big sinner? I don’t think so. That tidy yard and sinning just don’t go together. Moreover, I have to walk the dog twice a day, vacuum the lawn once a week, trim the vegetation as needed, and cater to a sometimes cranky wife who needs a lot of love and attention. I really don’t have time to sin very much. Finally, I’m old. Old people just don’t sin as much as young people do. We aren’t spunky enough to sin very much.

So what do you think of all of this? Perhaps I’ve been more flippant than you prefer. I’m sorry. I lapse into flippancy too often. It’s a bad habit of mine. I don’t, however, consider it a sin. Just an annoying habit. It annoys Marie, so there’s that.

I’d like to hear your take on sin, as long as you don’t get all testy, especially about my vegetarianism. I’m a bit thin-skinned. Oh, go ahead and flail away. I‘ll buckle up.

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There are 63 comments.

  1. I Walton Member

    Definitely a sin to not eat meat.

    • #1
    • November 28, 2019, at 7:46 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  2. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Definitely a sin to not eat meat.

    Practicing Catholics don’t eat meat on Friday. (They do eat fish, of course, which they apparently don’t consider meat.). I’m speaking off the top of my head, which I do with some frequency. 

    Your photo and moniker tell me you like to suffocate fish. Just kidding, Mr. Walton. That’s the way we vegetarians talk to one another. Whoops, I’m talking off the top of my head again. I actually don’t know any vegetarians. But I bet that’s the way they talk to one another.

    • #2
    • November 28, 2019, at 8:02 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  3. sawatdeeka Member

    Very interesting discussion, Kent. I get where you are coming from. Probably a lot of us think about these things, as I have, also, and have a lot to say . . . but it would take up a lot of space.

    I’m sure you meant your OT summary as tongue and cheek, and already know this, but I’ll take it seriously. There was a reason behind the obsession with sin in the ancient Israelite system. God used the concrete-rituals, festivals, etc.-to remind the people day after day of spiritual realities: namely, that He was holy and separate, and they were not. Hence, the hand washing, sacrifices, forbidden areas, and things that made one “clean” and “unclean.” Ultimately, though, the following of the law to the letter was supposed to flow from a heart that loved the Lord their God with all their might, and loved their neighbor as they loved their own selves.

    Also, they were God’s own people, and they were supposed to be separate from the Canaanite culture around them. Any mixing was forbidden, and Israelite law reflected that, too. Not because God didn’t like parties and fun (he mandated yearly festivals where there was to be feasting and rejoicing before God), but because the Canaanite’s idol worship resulted in horrifying practices that God’s people were to have nothing to do with. The system of law and regulations the Israelites were given were a constant reminder to them: remember what God did for you, in bringing you out of Egypt and giving you this land. But Deuteronomy says that despite the warnings and intricate system of (gracious) reminders, the people were going to drift to the idol-worshiping practices of their neighbors. And drift they did. Constantly. Besides idol worship, the prophets decry the injustice and oppression of the poor.

    Despite being gifted with this tremendous and beautiful law, and giving hearty verbal assent to it, the Israelites as a people were never able to produce works that came from God and neighbor-loving heart. Deuteronomy also says that although the Israelites would fail and be scattered amongst the nations, there would be a future when God would replace their hearts of stone with hearts of flesh. In the New Testament, our inability to even begin to follow the law drives one to look in faith to a Savior who fulfilled it perfectly, who was the ultimate Passover sacrifice who carried the sins of His people, and who rose to confirm the finished work and the end of the need for sacrifices and reminders. Instead of requiring conformation to an external law, on which basis the nation of Israel with all its advantages proved that no one with past and present sins were ever able to approach a holy God, God draws individuals to faith and fully accepts them based on the perfect work of Jesus Christ. With these changed hearts, we are enabled to begin to love God and neighbor.

    • #3
    • November 28, 2019, at 9:57 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  4. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    sawatdeeka (View Comment):

    Very interesting discussion, Kent. I get where you are coming from. Probably a lot of us think about these things, as I have, also, and have a lot to say . . . but it would take up a lot of space.

    I’m sure you meant your OT summary as tongue and cheek, and already know this, but I’ll take it seriously. There was a reason behind the obsession with sin in the ancient Israelite system. God used the concrete-rituals, festivals, etc.-to remind the people day after day of spiritual realities: namely, that He was holy and separate, and they were not. Hence, the hand washing, sacrifices, forbidden areas, and things that made one “clean” and “unclean.” Ultimately, though, the following of the law to the letter was supposed to flow from a heart that loved the Lord their God with all their might, and loved their neighbor as they loved their own selves.

    Sawadeeka, thanks for your thoughtful comment. As you know, I’m not a very religious person, but I’m always interested in hearing what religious people have to say. I suspect You know the Bible better than I do.

    • #4
    • November 28, 2019, at 10:08 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  5. sawatdeeka Member

    Also, it makes sense that as we look back on our lives and see that we’ve been pretty good, overall, why should we assess ourselves as rank sinners who need to confess, repent, be saved, and all that? There are a lot of us who do not indulge in a life of crime, if we’re ever abusive toward others we feel bad and apologize, we help people in need. I know a lot of really decent people like you, Kent, who take care of their families and contribute to society. In fact, you may live more uprightly than the professed Christian next door.

    The answer that I’m capable of giving (I’m sure others could add to it) is multi-layered. First, here are a couple of foundational theological truths bearing on your question that seem abstract, but work themselves out in actuality no matter how far in or out you zoom in on human history. 1.) We all inherit a sin nature from Adam’s original sin. The tendency to rebel against God’s created order is there, and we will act it out at one point or other in our lives. Like you, we can all look back and name some actions we don’t feel proud of. 2.) Not only do we have a sin nature that ensures that like Adam, we die, but we also have made conscious choices to act out that nature, to do what we know is wrong. The degree and frequency of our sin often relates, if we’re honest, to our environment and our circumstances. Given the right set of pressures, you and I will blow, and the stuff coming out of us will not be attractive. Also consider the subtlety of many acts that harm our neighbor–not speaking up, not helping, acting out of discontentment, etc. The relative orderliness of our society, kindness in our personalities, our ability to give to others, the fact that humans don’t always behave as horribly as they could–are all due to God’s graciousness. He created humans with dignity and purpose, and we can still express some of what He originally intended for us, even while not acknowledging Him.

    • #5
    • November 28, 2019, at 10:35 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  6. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    KentForrester: At least that’s the impression I get from reading the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible). From beginning to end, the Bible is glutted with the Israelites’ attempts to deal with sin—how to resist it, how to perform rituals associated with it, and how to atone for it when it occurred.

    I dunno. From my reading of the Old Testament I get a glut of stories about the Israelites being punished for not worrying about sin enough.

    • #6
    • November 28, 2019, at 10:40 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  7. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Practicing Catholics don’t eat meat on Friday. (They do eat fish, of course, which they apparently don’t consider meat.). I’m speaking off the top of my head, which I do with some frequency. 

    I once heard that in ye olden tymes dolphin was a popular Friday meal, because it was fish that tastes like flesh.

    I have absolutely no citation to back up the claim.

    • #7
    • November 28, 2019, at 10:42 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. sawatdeeka Member

    More theology: 3.) Our acting out of our state of fallenness–our degree of sinfulness–is not compared to other people, but compared to God. OT figures exposed in any way to God’s holiness were terrified, and so we would be too, when fully cognizant of ourselves in the presence of that pure goodness. We are declared to be what we are–in desperate need of rescue–even if we don’t recognize it or feel it. 4.) That sin nature and those acts of sin have to be dealt with before we can be made right and justified before God. That justification came at the expense of Christ’s sacrifice, and those justified by faith have ongoing fellowship and heart change based on the death and resurrection of Christ. Faith in what God said was always the basis for a new relationship, as in the example of Abraham the patriarch, who “believed God, and it was accounted to Him for righteousness.” Hence, when we are enabled to respond to God, there will be thankfulness, not an accounting of what we’ve been able to do well. 

     

    • #8
    • November 28, 2019, at 10:50 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  9. sawatdeeka Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    sawatdeeka (View Comment):

    Very interesting discussion, Kent. I get where you are coming from. Probably a lot of us think about these things, as I have, also, and have a lot to say . . . but it would take up a lot of space.

    I’m sure you meant your OT summary as tongue and cheek, and already know this, but I’ll take it seriously. There was a reason behind the obsession with sin in the ancient Israelite system. God used the concrete-rituals, festivals, etc.-to remind the people day after day of spiritual realities: namely, that He was holy and separate, and they were not. Hence, the hand washing, sacrifices, forbidden areas, and things that made one “clean” and “unclean.” Ultimately, though, the following of the law to the letter was supposed to flow from a heart that loved the Lord their God with all their might, and loved their neighbor as they loved their own selves.

    Sawadeeka, thanks for your thoughtful comment. As you know, I’m not a very religious person, but I’m always interested in hearing what religious people have to say. I suspect You know the Bible better than I do.

    Thanks, Kent. That is gracious of you. Not sure I would do this any place other than Ricochet.

    • #9
    • November 28, 2019, at 10:51 AM PST
    • 1 like
  10. sawatdeeka Member

    Kent:

    It was sinful, according to the Puritans, to hang garlands on a Maypole, to fly a hawk, to hunt a stag, to play chess, to wear lovelocks, and to put starch in a ruff (Macaulay’s History of England) Perhaps you remember H. L. Mencken’s definition of the Puritan mindset: ”The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

    Whatever the degree to which the Puritans had the mindset you describe, it was unbiblical and harmful. God is the author of all that is enjoyable. He created even mundane necessities like eating, sleeping–and sometimes even work–to be pleasant to us. The tricky part is to recognize and seek after the creator of those things instead of the things themselves, as good things become wrong when they are sought for their own sakes and at any cost to oneself or others.

    I Timothy 6:17: Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.

    • #10
    • November 28, 2019, at 11:02 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  11. I Walton Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Definitely a sin to not eat meat.

    Practicing Catholics don’t eat meat on Friday. (They do eat fish, of course, which they apparently don’t consider meat.). I’m speaking off the top of my head, which I do with some frequency.

    Your photo and moniker tell me you like to suffocate fish. Just kidding, Mr. Walton. That’s the way we vegetarians talk to one another. Whoops, I’m talking off the top of my head again. I actually don’t know any vegetarians. But I bet that’s the way they talk to one another.

    I don’t eat Dolphins, I throw trout back except toward the end of the day, when I decide to keep some for dinner, but that always ends the catching, so I return to cook a steak. 

    • #11
    • November 28, 2019, at 11:23 AM PST
    • 1 like
  12. Jim Beck Member

    Afternoon Kent,

    Paul Tripp wrote a wonderful book on parenting titled “Parenting”. He says before you use the usual tools of behavior control on your children assess their current condition. They are lost, like sheep without a shepherd, they by nature resist authority wanting things their own way being their own god, they are foolish without wisdom, they behave selfishly because their character has not matured enough to know their obligations to God and to others, and they chase the false gods the world offers. Then Tripp says we are like our children, we need Christ and we are to be His ambassador to our children. Well, in the Evangelical community we to which we belong, it is preached that we are the biggest sinner we know. Me, I although I control my tongue, am impatient, sinning daily, hourly that I need to add more information, I am sinfully lacking in gratitude given the shepherding I have received. Even as I pushed to live a life like the Prodigal Son, I was shielded from my own goals. I have been and am loved more than I deserve, and I live without having that tattooed on my forehead. I sin when I am frustrated as if God is blocking something I deserve, and when I act like I am somehow not dependent on God. I can not look back at today without thinking about where I a failing and when I look back on the 20+ years when I was an atheist and lived an absurdist’s life and thought God was an ironic joke, I think I was the opposite of an ambassador for Christ.

    • #12
    • November 28, 2019, at 11:33 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. Al French, Count of Clackamas Member

    KentForrester:

    Finally, I’m old. Old people just don’t sin as much as young people do. We aren’t spunky enough to sin very much. 

     

    I’m almost as old as you. I look forward to the age when I don’t sin as much. But I don’t look forward to the age when I stop sinning, as then I’ll be dead.

    • #13
    • November 28, 2019, at 12:02 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  14. Western Chauvinist Member

    I was thinking of writing a post on sin and sacrifice and here’s the If/Then statement I’m borrowing from St. Augustine’s thinking on sin:

    If all sin is an act of the will (and it is)
    And all love is an act of the will (and it is)
    Then all sin is an act of disordered love.

    In your case, Kent, your disordered love for Marie’s cheesecake. 

    If Catholics seem obsessed with sin, we’re only giving you half the story. We should also profess the joy we have in a Savior who lives to forgive. He’s waiting in anticipation for our confessions, making them our way to express our love to him. Too many see confession as a “have to” and not a “get to.” 

    • #14
    • November 28, 2019, at 5:09 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  15. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Your antelope statue looks suspiciously like a golden calf. You might need to check the covenants – Biblical or possibly HOA. 

    • #15
    • November 29, 2019, at 12:33 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  16. E. Kent Golding Member

    I sin continuously. Sins of commission. Sins of omission. I pray too little, and my prayers are shallow and petty. I do not worship the Lord with focus and delight.

    The sad part is I put a lot of effort into not sinning and into worshiping the Lord with focus and delight. And I do pray.

    • #16
    • November 29, 2019, at 4:20 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  17. She Thatcher
    She

    A wise friend of mine, recently shared a prayer which is perhaps germane to some of the discussion here: “Lord, grant me mercy for my sins, not justice.”

    It seems to me that an overly-fastidious search for “justice,” and a single-minded insistence on enumerating and nailing down every single jot and tittle of “wrong” that’s been done by others, particularly as it been done to ourselves, is at the root of a lot of the misery, particularly self-inflicted misery, in the world.

    I pray mercy for myself, and then try to remember to pray it for others. It doesn’t always work, but I try.

    • #17
    • November 29, 2019, at 4:32 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  18. Western Chauvinist Member

    When St. Augustine’s best friend died (though he had converted on his deathbed and received the sacraments), he was devastated and mourned to the point of trying to pray his friend out of heaven and back on earth. This is when he realized the nature of sin — disordered love. Authentic love is willing the good of the other even when it costs you your greatest desires — especially then. This is why we recognize Jesus as the Meta Hero. 

    The awareness of sin has many benefits, not least the development of humility — all good comes from God, not from us. Having spent the first half of my life as an atheist/agnostic, I recognize the various ways people struggle to approach God, as they were mine, too. If you’re expecting a lightning bolt conversion, like St. Paul being knocked off his horse, you’re probably not going to get it. St. Paul certainly wasn’t looking for it on his way to persecute the Christians. If you demand scientific evidence of a supernatural Person, you’re going to be disappointed. What person responds to demands for hard evidence of who he is? If you think God is too demanding or cruel to allow suffering, you’re unlikely to understand the proper order of the universe and your place in it, and you will not deal well with the suffering you’re allotted (and we’re all due for some).

    I finally came to realize I loved God all along, because I loved excellence whenever I saw it in others or in nature. God’s nature is Being itself: “I am.” He is Beauty. He is Goodness. He is Truth. He is also Justice, Mercy, ComPassion, Sacrifice — all the Perfections we can imagine. All the evils are a lack of those perfections, and they’re often found in us. That is sin, or missing the mark.

    I can’t imagine you’re indifferent to excellence, Kent. You might be more “religious” than you think.

     

     

    • #18
    • November 29, 2019, at 5:52 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  19. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I finally came to realize I loved God all along, because I loved excellence whenever I saw it in others or in nature. God’s nature is Being itself: “I am.” He is Beauty. He is Goodness. He is Truth. He is also Justice, Mercy, ComPassion, Sacrifice — all the Perfections we can imagine. All the evils are a lack of those perfections, and they’re often found in us. That is sin, or missing the mark.

    I can’t imagine you’re indifferent to excellence, Kent. You might be more “religious” than you think.

     

    Well, if you put it that way.

     

    • #19
    • November 29, 2019, at 6:09 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  20. Western Chauvinist Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I finally came to realize I loved God all along, because I loved excellence whenever I saw it in others or in nature. God’s nature is Being itself: “I am.” He is Beauty. He is Goodness. He is Truth. He is also Justice, Mercy, ComPassion, Sacrifice — all the Perfections we can imagine. All the evils are a lack of those perfections, and they’re often found in us. That is sin, or missing the mark.

    I can’t imagine you’re indifferent to excellence, Kent. You might be more “religious” than you think.

     

    Well, if you put it that way.

     

    I mean, look at how you love Bob, the doG! 

    • #20
    • November 29, 2019, at 6:11 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  21. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    She (View Comment):

    A wise friend of mine, recently shared a prayer which is perhaps germane to some of the discussion here: “Lord, grant me mercy for my sins, not justice.”

    It seems to me that an overly-fastidious search for “justice,” and a single-minded insistence on enumerating and nailing down every single jot and tittle of “wrong” that’s been done by others, particularly as it been done to ourselves, is at the root of a lot of the misery, particularly self-inflicted misery, in the world.

    I pray mercy for myself, and then try to remember to pray it for others. It doesn’t always work, but I try.

    You pray, She? Good for you. I try occasionally, but it goes nowhere. But even when it goes nowhere, I feel as though I’ve done something good. For my soul? For my psyche? For my well being? For something or another. I don’t do it as often as I should. 

    “Lord, grant me mercy for my sins, not justice.” That’s good. I told Marie about that one.

    I like your second paragraph. The “single-minded insistence,” etc. is puritanical and has caused untold misery in this world. Extremism in pursuit of religious purity is a vice (in remembrance of Barry). 

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. 

    • #21
    • November 29, 2019, at 6:18 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  22. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I finally came to realize I loved God all along, because I loved excellence whenever I saw it in others or in nature. God’s nature is Being itself: “I am.” He is Beauty. He is Goodness. He is Truth. He is also Justice, Mercy, ComPassion, Sacrifice — all the Perfections we can imagine. All the evils are a lack of those perfections, and they’re often found in us. That is sin, or missing the mark.

    I can’t imagine you’re indifferent to excellence, Kent. You might be more “religious” than you think.

     

    Well, if you put it that way.

     

    I mean, look at how you love Bob, the doG!

    Mr. Chauvinist, I just barely caught the implication of your statement. I only caught it when I asked, “What’s with that capital G?”

    • #22
    • November 29, 2019, at 6:22 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  23. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    I sin continuously. Sins of commission. Sins of omission. I pray too little, and my prayers are shallow and petty. I do not worship the Lord with focus and delight.

    The sad part is I put a lot of effort into not sinning and into worshiping the Lord with focus and delight. And I do pray.

    Kent, is there a typo in the second to last sentence? It seems to contradict the last sentence of your first paragraph.

    Or are you saying something profound that I’m not profound enough to follow?

     

    • #23
    • November 29, 2019, at 6:27 AM PST
    • 1 like
  24. Western Chauvinist Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I finally came to realize I loved God all along, because I loved excellence whenever I saw it in others or in nature. God’s nature is Being itself: “I am.” He is Beauty. He is Goodness. He is Truth. He is also Justice, Mercy, ComPassion, Sacrifice — all the Perfections we can imagine. All the evils are a lack of those perfections, and they’re often found in us. That is sin, or missing the mark.

    I can’t imagine you’re indifferent to excellence, Kent. You might be more “religious” than you think.

     

    Well, if you put it that way.

     

    I mean, look at how you love Bob, the doG!

    Mr. Chauvinist, I just barely caught the implication of your statement. I only caught it when I asked, “What’s with that capital G?”

    It’s Mrs. Chauvinist (see the pretty lady in the avatar?). But, I forgive you.

    • #24
    • November 29, 2019, at 6:34 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  25. She Thatcher
    She

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    A wise friend of mine, recently shared a prayer which is perhaps germane to some of the discussion here: “Lord, grant me mercy for my sins, not justice.”

    It seems to me that an overly-fastidious search for “justice,” and a single-minded insistence on enumerating and nailing down every single jot and tittle of “wrong” that’s been done by others, particularly as it been done to ourselves, is at the root of a lot of the misery, particularly self-inflicted misery, in the world.

    I pray mercy for myself, and then try to remember to pray it for others. It doesn’t always work, but I try.

    You pray, She? Good for you. I try occasionally, but it goes nowhere. But even when it goes nowhere, I feel as though I’ve done something good. For my soul? For my psyche? For my well being? For something or another. I don’t do it as often as I should.

    “Lord, grant me mercy for my sins, not justice.” That’s good. I told Marie about that one.

    I like your second paragraph. The “single-minded insistence,” etc. is puritanical and has caused untold misery in this world. Extremism in pursuit of religious purity is a vice (in remembrance of Barry).

    Thanks for your thoughtful response.

     

    • #25
    • November 29, 2019, at 6:34 AM PST
    • 1 like
  26. She Thatcher
    She

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Extremism in pursuit of religious purity is a vice

    I did not expect that.

    (See what I did there?)

    • #26
    • November 29, 2019, at 6:35 AM PST
    • 1 like
  27. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    She (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Extremism in pursuit of religious purity is a vice

    I did not expect that.

    (See what I did there?)

    Uh uh. 

    • #27
    • November 29, 2019, at 6:44 AM PST
    • 1 like
  28. iWe Reagan
    iWe

    OK, I’ll jump in here:

    I disagree with the premise. Jews did not obsess about sin. It is only an impediment inasmuch as it gets in the way of having a deep relationship with G-d.

    Besides Cain and Sodom and Gomorrah, the word “sin” is not found anywhere else in the Book of Genesis!

    Christians care! Jews – not so much. We are mostly concerned about what we do next, and we only care about sin when it gets in the way of good works.

    • #28
    • November 29, 2019, at 11:48 AM PST
    • 1 like
  29. Front Seat Cat Member

    TBA (View Comment):

    Your antelope statue looks suspiciously like a golden calf. You might need to check the covenants – Biblical or possibly HOA.

    That’s hilarious – I thought the same thing. Kent – for not being a very religious person, you read the Old Testament? That’s a serious read, even for the faithful. Why did you read it then?

    • #29
    • November 29, 2019, at 6:06 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  30. Front Seat Cat Member

    Comment 12 by Jim Beck is a good analogy, comparing rearing children to our faith in God. We are born into the world, but we flounder. We need constant care. One day we are grown, and our parents hope they gave us what we needed to have a good life. They hope we will love them as we go off to make our way in the world, with the love and support and tools we need. Many times we can’t make it so we go back to the parent, we mess up, we need help or just reassurance. The roles of parent and child are the same. God gives us what we need and we still mess up. We have an instruction manual in fact – the Bible. Many will say you don’t need it. Imagine our world without it, from the beginning, and people in charge of creating the manual. Where have we seen in history this very situation? Some say we are here – post Judaeo-Christian. We don’t need it. What is happening to our world as we move away from faith? I think we are living in that time period.

    • #30
    • November 29, 2019, at 6:16 PM PST
    • 1 like