The Seven Deadly Sins Symposium

by Brad Nelson8/28/15

Because I haven’t been able to gain traction on any other subject, and because there does seem to be interesting in this topic from at least four people or so, I’m polling now for committed participants. Obviously this would be a seven-essay commitment. I will be taking the affirmative, making the case for these sins, so you’d better sharpen your pencils.

And blunt your self-righteous dogma a little. But I want the submissions to first of all not be boring. Yes, we live in a fat and fatter society. Gluttony is a big problem (I suppose…like I said, I will be taking the affirmative position). So instead of hammering people over the head and pontificating on how fat we’ve all become, I want the standard of your article to be more toward “If someone reads this, is there some small chance they might gain inspiration from this and change their ways?”

If you just want to cite statistics on weight, on teenage pregnancy, on welfare moochers, etc., we know all this already. Bring something new to the table or don’t bother.

That said, if you sign on, I won’t be editing or rejecting any articles. You have free rein. But remember to not commit the sin of pride while writing your articles — should we indeed get this symposium underway. Let me know in the comments section if you wish to sign on. If we can get at least eight people, we’ll do it. We’ll shoot for about one every two weeks on a firm schedule.


Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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48 Responses to The Seven Deadly Sins Symposium

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    I would be willing to take part (I’m already thinking about what I have to say about gluttony), though I can’t guarantee finding something worthwhile to say about all 7. And this pre-supposes that my computer holds up (for about an hour today, I thought it was dead).

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Thanks, Timothy. You are therefore #1 in the Fellowship of the Sins. 😀 Let’s see if we can get at least six more (I’m in as well).

      None of us can guarantee that we’ll having anything rippingly interesting or relevant to say about all of them. But as Yoda said, “There is no ‘try.’ There is only ‘do or do not.'” Or something like that.

      So we will do and let our vast reading audience gauge the quality of our doing.

  2. Pst4usa says:

    Only because it will force me to write, I will be there if you need Brad. I’ve got a pretty good handle on “how to” of the gluttony thing. One question though, will this be the real seven or are we going with your list?

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I think Tim has you on the gluttony, Pat. But…well…I’m your friend so I won’t say more. But I do think you could play on the offensive line of the Seakawks. 😀 At the very least, you are often offensive.

      And then it was three in The Fellowship of The Sins. I think we’ll need some kind of logo for that.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Are we supposed to comment on each (or several, anyway), or are you planning to assign a writer to each sin? And what will the sequence be?

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I just brushed up on the Seven Deadly Sins and can confirm I have committed all of them, although Envy is not my strong point.

  3. Anniel says:

    Count me in, even if I do the other ones. I personally glory in my gluttony.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      And then there were five. (I’ll let you know what my favorite sin is, but not just yet, although I’ll give you a hint. It starts with an “S” and it’s not “Satan.”)

  4. FJ Rocca says:

    I’d love to participate in this one, Brad. If you’re taking the pro, I will take the con. What order will you use? Let me know.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      And then there were five. Welcome, Frank.

      You asked a pertinent question, so let me clarify a few things. None of this is directed at you personally. This is just a convenient time to mention this:

      Official Sins Guidelines.

      1) Mr. Kung will choose the source, name, and the order of the sins because he suggested this topic. I therefore will also volunteer him to do the introduction to the first sin unless he wants me to try to get Glenn the Greater to do it. That would be fine by me. Either way.

      2) We will shoot for doing one sin every two weeks. The schedule will necessarily be somewhat flexible. But we will, as Tim mentioned below, endeavor not to be slothful regarding deadlines.

      3) I’ll start this as soon as we have at least eight participants.

      4) If you were all children, it would be easy to give writing guidelines. Children tend to like such guidelines….and then go on to do whatever it is they wanted to do anyway. Adults are much the same. And because you are all adults, I don’t feel it’s my place to say what you must do. But I would merely suggest to keep in mind that you actually want people to read what you are writing. It’s okay to be clear, concise, relevant, humorous, and to include a few personal anecdotes…without getting too personal for whatever your own comfort level is. We should have a general aim of informing and entertaining. We should be of at least half a mind to have the hope that someone who reads your essay might think twice before eating that third donut (gluttony) or slapping that “My kid is an honor student” bumper sticker on his SUV (obnoxious pride). If you want to make The Seven Deadly Sins into a confirmation of the Bible, then fine. But, geez, we just did The Ten Commandments. I would hope people could get a little more creative with this. What we did with The Ten Commandments was great, even superb. But give the bible-thumping a rest perhaps. Think outside the box a little. Stretch your creative talents.

      5) Be as long or as short as you want to be. There is no word minimum or maximum. A twenty line original poem would not be out of place. Think outside the box. But you don’t have to go outside the box either. But for my sake, try to keep the formatting simple.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        1) Mr. Kung will choose the source, name, and the order of the sins because he suggested this topic.

        How dare you presume I will simply bow to your suggestion?

        Of course, your are correct that due to my superior intellect I should be the one deciding the order of the list.

        But even if I did suggest the topic, everyone will give you the credit for it.

        Anyway, I will need some time to get back to you on this. Maybe in a month or so.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          By the time I’m done, Mr. Kung, I suspect “credit” and “me” will not quite go together. 😀 A month is a little slothy, but do what you can. Wiki (always a good source for at least envy or wrath) has a list that goes: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, Pride, and voting for a Republican. I understand there might be other formulations. Just pick one and let me know what it is.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            At least I covered four of the seven in my last post. It was a bit difficult to get in lust, greed and gluttony on such sort notice.

            By nature I am inclined to leave sloth till the end.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              You could have asked for a suitable reward to add in any or all of those 3, though delivering anything but money might be difficult.

              One possible sequence, as I pointed out earlier when this first came up, is Dante’s own from Il Purgatorio: pride, envy, wrath, sloth, avarice, gluttony, and lust.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Here they are!!! Drum roll please.

        To arouse immediate interest we need to address the prurient mind so we will start with

        1. Lust, and follow with
        2. Gluttony, then move on to
        3. Greed or Avarice

        Having taken care of the libertarians’ chief interests we will then go to

        4. Pride, to be followed by
        5. Wrath, which will precede
        6. Envy

        Emotions which afflict all of us, but the libertarians think do not exist or are minor details in life.

        Finally, I find

        7. Sloth

        to be the most unique of the seven so will leave it for last.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Yes. It seems appropriate that sloth is last. 🙂 Lust is a good one to get straightened out first…so to speak.

          I’ll wait until Monday or Tuesday before starting anything. I hope people will jump on board. Everyone is a sinner and certainly has something to say about this stuff. But if we don’t get more participants, we’ll just do the best we can. Quality over quantity. Let the others just envy the great writing that we do. Or something.

  5. Tim Jones says:

    I too, will participate. And I will try not to be slothful when writing my submission.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Oooo….that makes you six. That’s sort of a special number regarding sin…at least when combined with a couple more sixes. You’re in, Tim. Hopefully we can get a few more. Surely this is a topic everyone knows a little something about…unless there are those amongst us who are sinless. And I kind of doubt that.

  6. Anniel says:

    You will have to put up with my feminine wiles, gentlemen. As the only female who has signed up for duty I get to be out of step, and a bit churchy if I want to be. I will be using the OTHER Deadly Sins, beginning with explaining a long-standing conundrum. What I say, though, will be thoroughly about today.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Annie, you’re already covered by being the one and only tenured Fellow of StubbornThings. Still, I can always wheedle and cajole. But in hopes that “church” doesn’t turn into “hard to relate to and boring,” I promote the guideline of imagining that you were talking to a 350 lb. blob when talking about gluttony. How would you inspire him to help him change his ways? I don’t think “You’re going to hell” is an effective strategy.

      • Anniel says:

        I’m not even really going to delve into religion, except for a listing of the sins, so no going to hell. I may even try to be funny a time or two.
        I think a booger joke might be in there.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Boogers are acceptable. I was watching a Hercules episode the other day. Hades was telling someone that because they had lived a good life, they would going to the Elysian Fields. But if they were bad, they’d be going to a place where they would have a lot more fun.

          Yes, a joke or two could find its way into this.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Actually, I’m more like 325. And the last time I was weighed (at my cardiology appointment), my weight was down from a few weeks earlier.

  7. David Norris says:

    Hey Brad, I’m on board.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      That’s great, David. That makes you #7. A good number for this series. I’m #8 which puts us up to the minimum that I thought we needed. If more want to join later, they still can. You can all get writing now, but normally I’ll send out a BCC email to notify everyone to begin and remind them of which sin we’re currently working on.

      As I noted earlier, I’ll be taking the pro-sin position, playing the role of Wormwood, if you will. But I’lll not just be playing the contrarian. Hopefully I’ll break this subject out of its usually too-neat, too-pat, too-Sunday-School boundaries, although we’ll see what other writers say about it.

      But I think we’re going to get a lot of “Don’t do that.” And that’s fine, I guess. But hopefully (if they are on the anti-sin side of things) they can make a powerful argument (from personal experience and/or personal appeal) that will persuade someone out there to cease and desist a trifle if they are perhaps doing a little too much of one or more of the Deadly Sins. Hopefully this will move beyond mere confirmation of the Bible as in “Yep, God was right all along.” Well, Wormwood will have a thing or two to say about that to put things into perceptive.

      Tackle this as you will. As I’m telling everyone, try to be interesting and relevant. We don’t want everyone bored to tears. And one reason I was initially against this as a topic because I could see this becoming little more than “tsk-tsking,” brow-beating, Bible-thumping, and dour warnings of hellfire if you don’t mind your ways. But, again, take whatever angle you want. Hope you have fun with it at least.

  8. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Just a couple more thoughts on the guidelines (which you are free to ignore) going by some of the feedback I’ve gotten.

    I’m not asking anyway to keep God out of it. But if I were writing the anti-Seven Deadly Sins position, I would:

    + Defend and expound on the Deadly Sins via reason (good reason). It’s not enough to say “Because God says so.” That is not the Christian way. A principle must also be evaluated and justified via good reason. And I say “good reason” instead of just “reason” because there are certainly reasons that Islam, for example, allows temporary divorces. It’s so that Muslim men can visit prostitutes guilt free, and with even the blessing of God. We know the “reason” behind it. But our evaluation shows it not to be good reason. So, show the good reason (self-evident) reason that gluttony is bad enough to be raised to the level of one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

    + Consider if a man were drowning. Would you tell him that God has a plan for his life or would you throw him a life preserver? So, if a man is stuffing too many Twinkies down his gullet or is greedy beyond all reason, is telling him that gluttony is wrong according to the Bible or Christian tradition the way to help him? This is “bible-thumping” instead of articulating in an understandable, human, and personal way what is wrong and how and why to do something better. I think we can lose our humanity when we too quickly bury the intricacies of life in a one-word argument: God.

    + I don’t expect anyone here to reveal personal accounts of their own misadventures. And yet what better way to reach people who are gluttons, who are slothful, who are green with envy, etc? Personal stories, told well and honestly, can have great power to change hearts and minds.

    + I assume the point of writing these essays is not mental masturbation but to actually aid people in regards to the the ills of The Seven Deadly Sins. Most of the internet is just filled with white noise. We can do better here.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Well, I’ve already started my contribution on Lust. So far there’s no mention of God, though I do bring up Tom Lehrer and Ashley Madison. I’m looking at these from the standpoint of long-term pragmatism.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        You can bring up Ashley Madison anytime you want. Visual aids in regards to the topic are, of course, completely appropriate. Pie charts are fine as well.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          You can bring up Ashley Madison anytime you want.

          More dishonesty in advertising. Can you imagine what most of the losers using this site probably look like?

          If they think they are going to run into that babe in the picture, I suspect they are going to be terribly disappointed.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I mention a pie chart (from Glenn Beck’s An Inconvenient Book), but I don’t actually show it. I wouldn’t know how.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Timothy, here’s what I’d suggest if you want to include the pie chart in your article:

            1) Google and see if someone has already extracted the image from the book, then either email me the link or the image.

            2) If you have Glenn’s book in eBook form, there is usually a way to take a screenshot of a page. Delve into the manual. Then it’s just a matter of figuring out where the screenshot images are saved…which you could then email to me.

            3) Take a scan or a photograph of the pie chart if you own the book. Then email that to me.

            4) Send the book to me and I’ll scan the image.

            Pie charts for the category of “lust.” I think Ross Perot would love it.

  9. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Also, do I need to send out an email or can you all just start doing the first one, Lust? Anyone else can still join. The entry deadline is somewhat flexible.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      As I mentioned earlier, I’ve already started (and probably mostly done). But I’m not sure when it will be completed, which depends heavily on how uncooperative my demon-possessed computer is (for Wrath, I could simply discuss my recent experiences with it as personal examples — assuming it’s still functional by then).

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Look forward to reading it, Timothy. Mine is already done and I don’t read anyone else’s until it is done just so I’m not unduly influenced, although I did steal something from Pat one time (and made it kiddingly obvious).

        My brother had some great ideas on the subject. I told him to write them down and join in. But it really does take a different breed to commit to paper. Don’t ever think I don’t know that and don’t appreciate it no matter whatever critiques may fall out of my mouth. Those who are willing to put pen to paper are those who are willing to stand for something.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Generally, I use Internet Explorer to access gmail, and Elizabeth uses Firefox. Unfortunately, IE gives me a lot of problems (and today I was having a lot of problem until mid-afternoon even without it). However, when she got on yesterday at one point it asked her e-mail address instead of assuming it, so I tried that just now and got on. My article may be finished, but I’ll want to think about it a bit further.

  10. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    David and Tim (Jones). It’s still not too late to join The Fellowship of the Sinners. You guy promised an essay, did sloth take hold? 😀

  11. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    #2: Guttony

    It’s time to do another Deadly Sins. Don’t worry if you didn’t do the first one (Lust). Just submit it and we’ll forgive you the sin of sloth. This is open to anyone who thinks they have something worthwhile to say.

    Deadline is next Friday, Sept. 25. Stragglers will be allowed. Note that if I get two or three in hand early, I’ll put it up early. I want to keep momentum on this one.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Well, I sent mine in yesterday. I hope it arrived.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        It did. Thanks, Timothy. What I’m going to likely do next is a little unorthodox. But I may publish this today (with three contributions plus an introduction) and let others flow in as they will. Yours will be at the top of the list. First come, first served.

  12. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Please begin now writing for the third (in our particular list) Deadly Sin:

    #3: Greed or Avarice

    The ground rules are, once again:

    + Anyone can join, but sharpen your pencil and try to have something to say. I don’t care how damn proper or eloquent your King’s English is. I grade on meaning, not spelling. Click the blue “Submit an Article” graphic to the right of the screen to bring up the proper email address (I’m sure some aren’t aware they can do that).

    + Make me cry like Johnny Boehner. Try to write something with the mind to changing someone’s behavior. Maybe you know a story. May you know an anecdote. Maybe you know someone’s life who has been ruined or severely marred by avarice. And then rescued again.

    + Don’t intellectualize the subject. That’s just a way to stay above it. If you’re not comfortable writing about sin then don’t. But if you are, then say something. Don’t tell us all how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Make what you say relatable in human terms.

  13. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Please begin now writing for the fourth Deadly Sin:

    #4: Pride

    The ground rules are, once again:

    + Anyone can join. You needn’t have begun at the start. Don’t be shy. Think outside the box. Even forget the box. Where else in the world can you exercise your creative muscles in a totally accepting (although persnickety and pedantic) and friendly environment? We don’t do political correctness. We’re not so shallow as to value style over substance (but style points are always nice as well).

    + I’m still waiting for someone to make Johnny Boehner cry. Does no one have a story about pride they’ve seen firsthand that is enough to make anyone be scared straight on the subject? I’m not sure I do, but then you all out there have a wide breadth of experience. Use it. Save a soul from the sin of pride.

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