March 13, 2008

Vatican Creates "New" Sins

ONE OF THE THINGS I discovered about the Roman Catholic Church, back when I was considering joining it, was that the Church has a great regard for intellectual tradition. This was, in fact, one of the big reasons why I became a Roman Catholic. Every article of doctrine, every tenet of faith, every spiritual statement, is backed with reams of theological argument -- case studies, if you will. Thus, even if one does not agree with every position of the Church, one must respect the thought process that goes into the formulation of its arguments, and intellectual dissension accordingly requires grappling with those arguments.

So I was a bit distressed to find some people have snickered at the annoucement -- reported breathlessly in the secular media -- that the Vatican has somehow created new sins out of whole cloth for the modern age. Yes, they're sins. Yes, they're now spelled out in doctrine. But the sins listed represent an application of Church doctrine to modern developments. (If you're interested in what these new sins are, you can find them here). Therefore, it is no surprise the Vatican would issue such an announcement as a matter of routine: regulatory guidance for the spiritual world, one might say.

Of course, as with any pronouncement, there are some things that make the list, and some things which are sent back for further review.

As it happens, though, I have a source in the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary, and I know there were several other pronouncements under consideration, but which haven't yet made the cut. So for all Roman Catholics out there, it might be a good idea to keep these in mind, because they could be released any day now. Oh, and these potential sins also apply to Protestants as well.

What's that? You thought that just because you went out on your own, you're free? Not so fast, my friends! Let's be perfectly blunt about things: even though you've been in schism with the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church for 490 years, we Catholics remain confident you'll return to the fold -- especially when we unveil the Sacred and Most Blessed Potluck Dinner in a few months. I mean, it's not a tough equation -- Calvinist doctrine or lemon squares? Gee, I wonder what will win out there.

(That said, we must admit the Orthodox have nothing to fear, primarily because their potential punishments for sinning already far outweigh anything the Roman Church has in place. I mean, they do not mess around).

But I digress. Anyway, here's a list of the potential "newer sins" that could soon be released. As I understand it, if they're approved, an addendum to the Catechism should be released shortly. (For those of you unfamiliar with the "traditional" expected punishments for committing these sins and then failing to be absolved of them, here's a handy guide).

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WORKING DRAFT -- CONFIDENTIAL

PROPOSED ITEMS FOR CONSIDERATION ON THE LIST
OF MORTAL SINS, VICES, VENIAL SINS, and OTHER ACTS CONTRARY TO MORAL LAW,
AND COMMANDMENTS RELATING THERETO

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I. THOU SHALT NOT HOLD THE WAITRESS RESPONSIBLE
FOR THE FAULT OF THE KITCHEN.

Punishment: Third Circle, perhaps Fifth

IN THE PARABLE of the maidens and the bridegroom, the LORD compared Heaven to a marriage celebration (Matthew 25:4), in which half the maidens, being foolish, did not bring extra oil for their lamps, while the wise maidens brought extra oil along with them. When the bridegroom was delayed, the foolish found their lamps going out, and called upon the others to aid them. But the wise maidens could not. Thus, the foolish were forced to go scamper about searching for oil, which was especially difficult on a Saturday night, and when they returned from Wal-Mart the celebration had already begun. And lo, the bridegroom's in-laws, who had spent a fortune on the party and were cheap, claimed it was dark outside and they had no idea who these people were.

Yet behold the maiden who runs low on oil through no fault of her own, but rather the incompetent kitchen manager who hadn't paid the supplier promptly, thus resulting in a shortage. Truly it would be unjust for the customer to blame the waitress and leave her a bad tip for the manager's ineptitude. The just man would tip the waitress well, but call for the kitchen manager, and chastise him for his bad management, or at least try to get an entree voided on the bill. Verily, the man who stiffed the waitress by leaving ten percent -- or even worse, nothing -- would risk the wrath of the LORD. For that man would say (Luke 12:19-20) to himself, " 'Thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.' But God would say unto him, 'Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?' "

Behold, the man who stiffs the waitress shall be cast into the Third Circle, and there face an unending rain of ice and hail, and groan in the grim darkness; and if he makes a scene, he shall be cast down to the Fifth Circle, where the angry wail and gnash their teeth.

II. THOU SHALT NOT DEFY ONE'S HOMEOWNER'S ASSOCIATION.
Punishment: Seventh Circle

WHEN THE LORD spoke to Ezekiel, He said (Ezekiel 17:12): "Say now to the rebellious house, 'Know ye not what these things mean? Tell them, behold, the king of Babylon is come to Jerusalem, and hath taken the king thereof, and the princes thereof, and led them with him to Babylon." In other words, the covenant the homeowner agreed to when he bought the McMansion in the fancy subdivision is sacrosanct, and breaking it will mean a host of plagues, up to and including swarms of officers sent to harass him and eat out his substance. And the LORD said (Ezekiel 17:18): "Seeing he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, when, lo, he had given his hand, and hath done all these things, he shall not escape."

For the LORD has made clear one shall not paint one's house an appalling shade of fuschia, nor fail to keep up one's yard, and any man who dares lower his neighbors' property values shall suffer and pay recompense on his own head. And the LORD will spread His net upon him, and he shall be taken in His snare, and only then will he realize the absolute world of pain that awaits him. Behold, any man who defies his homeowners' association -- at least, really unreasonably so -- shall be cast down to the Seventh Circle, and there made to suffer the tortures of the Phlegethon.

III. THOU SHALT NOT DRESS INAPPROPRIATELY FOR A COURT HEARING.
Punishment: Fifth Circle

AND THE APOSTLE Timothy (2 Timothy 2:20) said: "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour." Behold, the District Courts and the Superior Courts and the Supreme Courts -- which is really the Superior Court in New York -- give you plenty of time and notice to appear before them, unlike the LORD, Who would remind you again that no man knoweth the day nor the hour. Must you handle these vessels of gold and silver as you would the vessels of wood and earth? Must you not even take the trouble to ensure you're wearing a pressed shirt -- and a real shirt, not the cheap T-shirt you bought in Atlantic City that reads, "I'M WITH STUPID?" Let us also recall the words of 3 Timothy 19:14, in which the apostle writes: "Would it really kill the Galatians to wear ties once in a while?"

Behold, the man who attends a hearing concerning him before an Honorable Court, which beseeches God to save it, in anything other than proper attire shall be cast down into the Fifth Circle with the sullen, unless he is already in the dock and wearing the garb of the local House of Correction, in which case he gets a pass, provided he demands to wear street clothes and is denied.

IV. THOU SHALT NOT BUY OPTIONS ON MARGIN.
Punishment: Fourth Circle.

AND IN THE EARLY PART of the decade, the Brown & Co. brokerage created an advertisement, in which a client inquired at her brokerage (that was not Brown & Co.) about trading on margin. And lo, the clueless client representative responded, "You want to ... trade ... butter?" And the client said no -- on margin. So then the clueless client representative had a conversation with his colleague, which went thusly:

"Hey, Bloated Rates?"
"Yeah, Useless Overhead?"
"What's the rate for trading on margin?"
"Eight and a half."
"Eight and a half?"
"No, wait -- nine!"
"Nine!"

Then, the client protested -- but that's as high as a credit card!

Yes, it is. Thus, any client of any brokerage should not buy options on margin, even if (perhaps especially if) you have a "hot tip." For the hedge funds and institutional traders control the markets, and lo, they are as the kings described in The Revelation to John (Rev 17:12), which are each given great power but only for an hour. And that hour is a human hour, between three and four p.m. Eastern time.

During these hours, they shall hold sway over all the earth and its dominions, and their strategems and cunning shall overwhelm your positions, and you shall be out of the money when triple-witching day comes. Then, you shall wail and gnash your teeth, but it shall not save you when your broker calls and demands you pony up your margin money, lest your other positions be sundered. Behold, any client who buyeth options on margin shall be cast down with the moneygrubbers and wasters on the Fourth Circle, destined to forever roll heavy weights to and fro in misery, and be smitten in the weights' inevitable rotation.

And the LORD, by the way, saw the commercial and saw that it was good, but yet, one cannot find it on YouTube.

V. THOU SHALT NOT PURCHASE THE EXTENDED-SERVICE WARRANTY.
Punishment: Fourth or Seventh Circles

NOW THERE WAS a day (Job 1:6-12) when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, "Whence comest thou?" Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it."

And the LORD said unto Satan, "Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?" Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, "Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not Thou made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all his fancy electronics he bought from Best Buy? Thou have protected him from power surges and bad factory manufacturing and dropping his new 42-inch LCD TV. But put forth Thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face." And the LORD said unto Satan, "Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand."

So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD, and laideth a curse most foul unto Job's electronics, and lo! Job's television did fall from its stand, and his hi-definition stereo shorted out, and his mp3 player broke, and Job rent his garments and fell to the ground and worshipped the LORD. Then, he rose and said, "Hey, wait a minute. I am Job, and I live in the land of Pasadena, and the LORD has granted me and all in Pasadena a wondrous trade imbalance with the Chinese. Thank you, LORD!" Thus Job went forth, and for little money replaced his television and stereo and all his electronics from the Easterners, and the LORD chuckled as Satan was defeated by his misunderstanding of the modern capitalist system. Then the LORD unleashed the moonwalk upon Satan, and Satan was chagrined. Then Satan saith unto the LORD, "Let's see how Job likes it when he ends up with boils. I said, frickin' boils!"

Behold, even if the Devil himself should curse one's electronics and cause them to fail, the LORD has made a hedge around the economies of East Asia, and artificially depressed their currencies, so that their products are cheap. Rejoice, for the LORD has made it so one does not need to shell out extra money for the extended-service warranties the people at the electronics stores push. And behold, those that have no faith in the LORD, and buy the extended-service plans and waste their money, shall be cast down into perdition.

VI. THOU SHALT NOT BE A JERK TO ONE'S GIRLFRIEND.
Punishment: varies -- Second Circle to Ninth Circle, but probably the Eighth

BEHOLD THE WISDOM of Reagan, who declared that women were the civilizing influence on men. For men in their primal state, without women, are prone to all manner of sloth and vice, ranging from not eating properly to not showering for days on end just because they can. Do not women cause you to clean your bath regularly? Do not women cause you to appear neat and clean? Do not women know how to coordinate colors and all that, and make your apartment appear as if an adult lives there, and not someone just out of college? Verily, they do. Plus, there are the other benefits, if you catch our drift, which by the way you're not supposed to enjoy until you're married, but we'll talk about that later.

Yet many men abjure their responsibilities, and conduct themselves in a most appalling manner, and drunkenly cavort in seedy bars despite being in a relationship with a woman who is too good for them. Even worse, some men fester and rot in pursuit of idleness, even as their women hold down a steady job and then do all of the housework. Did not De Niro say, "Be a man. Don't be a pimp," or something to that effect? Yes, he did. And even worse than that, there are those men who cannot control their base urges, and pursue other women despite the fact they are already in a relationship. That's just wrong.

Behold, any man who is a jerk to one's girlfriend shall reap what he sows, and open himself up to a world of incredible and amazing pain, and suffer accordingly, with the pain to be determined by Minos himself, who in Hell's vestibule shall wrap his hideous tail around himself and bite it, and condemn the man to the Chasms of Fraud. (In the meantime, the Chasms of Fraud may or may not be worse than the tortures exacted by the girlfriend and her friends, however).

VI-B. THOU SHALT NOT STOP ONE'S BOYFRIEND FROM WATCHING FOOTBALL.

(After much consideration, the Holy See has decided adhering to this commandment pretty much absolves women in a relationship from pretty much everything else, particularly if women agree to let men watch football on non-traditional days like Thursday nights, plus bowl season. However, "pretty much everything else" notably does not include, "Cheating on one's boyfriend with his best friend," which remains right out).

VII. THOU SHALT NOT TALK ON ONE'S MOBILE PHONE DURING DINNER OUT.
Punishment: varied; from Third Circle to Ptolomaea (Ninth Circle, Third Zone)

AND THE APOSTLE JAMES wrote (1 James 23-24): "For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass. For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was." James, being an apostle, was too polite to say that any man who would stare admiringly at himself in a mirror is a cad.

Do not James' words apply doubly to the man who talks loudly and abrasively on his mobile phone during dinner out, insulting his guests and annoying others in the establishment where he dines? Yeah, we think so. For Christ's sake, put the phone away. It can wait. We don't care if the stupid Poindexter account blew up again -- it can wait until you get home, when you're at an actual computer and can do actual real work. Don't you type under the table with your Blackberry either. God! Please, get some backbone. If you're really that important, you don't have to prove it to your guests -- who are theoretically your friends -- or the other people in the restaurant, who don't really care that Finnster is an incompetent poltroon who would screw up the Poindexter account anyway. And if you don't get some manners, you're going to Ptolomaea, home of traitors to guests, whom God has damned and damned justly. Wretched, putrid scoundrel!

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IMPRIMI POTEST
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Vaticanus omnia sibi vindicat iura

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at March 13, 2008 11:11 PM | TrackBack
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