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Surveying what we think is a sin

By TJ Ray

May I share a recent email I sent to some folks? As the last paragraph says, I hope getting my query does not reduce the number of folks on my Friends list. And I’m still hoping the very sparse crop of responses is not a sign of dismissal.

The following paragraphs are what I sent to friends:

“If you are reading this, then you know me. As I am unable to chase birds and flowers with my camera at night, I spend much of the dark time in front of the tube.  I almost overcook the control thing switching channels.  Of late I have been fascinated trying to compare the offerings on channels that present different views of the same topic.

“For instance, I switch a lot between CNN/NBC and AON/Fox. It’s fascinating to hear the same story discussed from two opposite predispositions. I’ve found a similar variety of presentation among religious broadcasts.

“As I’ve watched, the awareness has settled upon me that there are two distinct camps in the preachings of churches with a cross on their roof.

“The detail of their supplication that I want to explore with your help is their use of the word ‘sin’ and the examples they give of it. And so, I’m here asking if you would aid me in exploring what sin is. You are, of course, welcome to send me your definition of the word. However, what I’d really like to collect is a list of what individuals consider examples of sin.

“Whatever answers I get will be sorted — along with any definitions that might come along. I’ll be happy to share my findings with you.  If you care to note any of the TV programs that make much ado about sin or make no mention of it, please do so.

“As I am sending this exhortation to everyone on my Friends list, I can only hope the list will not shrink through this study.”

Growing up in a Southern Baptist church family and attending a Baptist college, I had serious instruction in the matter of sinning. In graduate school, I learned about venial/deadly sins. The Seven Deadly Sins became a litany for me.

With all the strange variation in the matter of human relationships, one might decide one of the seven [adultery] is no longer a sin. Personally, I think a replacement for it might be Self-abuse. From drugs to ink injection to ornament embedding, the body is under attack.

Perhaps we might revisit this topic after I’ve digested the responses from my friends. You’re welcome to join in the study.

Let me leave a quickie synopsis thus far. One response said that doing anything illegal is a sin. I suppose that would give us misdemeanor and felony sins? Think of that the next time you ignore a STOP sign at 3:40 a.m.

For many of my friends, THE SIN is violating the Golden Rule. To which many of the congregation might say as one, “Amen!”

TJ Ray is a retired professor of English at Ole Miss.