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in our days we formed insignias
the passing glance unstamped
we'’ve rendered ourselves powerless, fortunate
the useless mend the fixed

and on every hour it detonates
my courage goes unlooked
the ride home through perilous
the land it goes, i will...
~coheed & cambria

i had an interesting conversation the other day, and perhaps some of you could help me. the talk was about sin. a friend of mine said that it was stupid that any sin could damn one to hell. he believed that lying about taking a cookie was better than killing someone.

on the grand scheme of things i think that lying about taking a cookie does seem less terrible an offense than killing someone. however, the sin is sin. i tried to break it down to him this way- if you j-walk, you are breaking the law. if you murder someone, you are breaking the law. in either case you are breaking the law and are subject to penalty. if you lie about a cookie, or murder someone, you are subject to penalty.

does that make sense at all?

and how do you really know that the stolen cookie doesn't kill someone? huh? you don't know.

I totally agree with you, and it makes perfect sense to me. A sin is a sin, whether that sin is breaking the law by speeding, or robbing a bank.


1) the problem with the jaywalking analogy is that it begs the question: why are the penalties for all punishments enternal death? In other words, we would consider it an injustice to give a jaywalker life in prison or to give a murderer a 'parking on pavement' fine.

2) Tolstoy defined sin as the failure to see the image of God others and the failure to see the image of God in yourself. You might try to attack the situation from the standpoint the meaning of the act of lying. Yes, it isn't as bad as murder, but it is still a betrayal of your neighbor, of God, and of yourself (especially, if the cookie is high in sugar). Moreover, in the BCP's general confession we pray to be forgiven for "what we have done and what we have left undone." Likely, the undones are our greatest betrayal.


3) you also don't know if an act of kindness (like giving someone your rightful cookie) might kill someone (because she is violently allergic an ingredient you knew nothing about). incidentally, this is part of a wider philosophical problem known as moral luck. consider this: i fall asleep at the wheel and drive into a ditch. M. Night falls asleep and the wheel and hit Mel Gibson's wife. Why should he be considered more culpable for the death than anyone else who make the same error (driving while drowsy).

To the other commenter,

4) All things considered, I am not sure that it is so blatantly obvious, even if it is true.

ok- it is actually a good analogy.

i am not necessarily talking about consequences- but the act. a sin can be 'great' or 'small', but it is still sin. just as murder is against the law, as is the lesser offense of jay-walking. no matter how terrible or small the deed was, it is still deemed 'illegal' or 'sin'.

as far as consequences go, i was just saying that both cenarios had them. it was just to prove to my friend that a small sin, ipso facto, is sin, just as breaking a minor law is illegal.

as for the rest, let me get at it this weekend.

it is a good analogy for explain sin, i agree, but i am not sure it is very helpful in this case. your friend was arguing that it was 'stupid that any sin could damn one to hell' not that lying about a cookie wasn't a sin. would you agree if i said 'it is stupid to give someone the death penalty for jaywalking?' see what i mean?

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about me

  • i'm billiam
  • from prague, Czechia
  • where capital letters have been executed! let's see... i really dislike sunny days. i love precipitation of all kinds. snow is my favorite. i wish that it could be no more than fifty degrees fahrenheit, and clouds covering the sky. i enjoy friends and beer- in that order. i dislike wearing shirts. my random thoughts and unanswerable questions keep me up at night. when i sleep i have dreams; long epic dreams. i believe that it is important to be fit in mental, physical, and emotional capacities. any food worth eating should be as organic as possible, without additives that have letters p, k, x, c, h in close proximity without vowels. save a cow- eat a vegetarian.
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