Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Classical Mind Parasitology: The Seven Deadly Sins (or Seven F***ing Awesome Virtues)

In the latter times the man of virtue appears vile. --Tao Te Ching

After my recent post on the envy of the left, a number of readers suggested that I do a series on the other “deadly sins.” One reader in particular observed that the left not only rejects the entire concept of sin--much less “deadly sins”--but that they actually seem to elevate these sins to virtues. Before even thinking it through, I knew that the reader was right. Just one of those instantaneous insights provided by Petey.

As a matter of fact, in the past, several readers have asked me if it might be possible to correlate my concept of “mind parasites” with the deadly sins. I said “sure,” even though I had never thought that out either. But if two things are true, then they can’t contradict each other, even if they might appear to on the surface.

It reminds me of when I was frantically trying to finish my book exactly two years ago. The deadline was approaching, and at the last minute I had disassembled the entire last chapter and was in the process of trying to put it back together again. I was trying to come up with a suitable ending, and I thought to myself, “why not show how the Ten Commandments and the Upanishads, understood esoterically, convey the identical perennial psychospiritual know-how to serious seekers? Call them the ten ‘Commanishads’ or ‘Upanishalts.’”

As soon as I thought of it, I knew that it was possible. But I needed help. At the time, I happened to be on a plane flying back from New York to L.A. I was on the right plane, because I needed a rabbi in a hurry. Normally I’m not the kind of guy who just walks up to to a total stranger and introduces himself, but something came over me.

I had seen this guy enter the plane, and if he wasn’t a rabbi, then he was hardcore Orthodox, and that was good enough for me. I walked down the aisle to where he was sitting, absently flipping through a magazine, and blurted out, “are you a rabbi?” He seemed a little disconcerted at first, but he could see that I wasn't Arab and I explained to him that this was a spiritual emergency and that I needed some immediate assistance. He didn’t know anything about the Upanishads, but when I mentioned that some people believe that “Abraham” and “Brahman” might be etymologically related, he was intrigued. I have no idea if that’s true, but at least it got the conversation going. I knew we were on the same wavelength when he started his discourse by saying that the first five commandments have to do with man’s relationship to God, while the second five govern man’s relationship to man. “Hey, vertical and horizontal! You 'da mensch!” And now you know the rest of the story.

So anyway, at the moment I am in need of priest or a Jesuit. Not having one around, I’ll just have to do my best to cobble this together with the assistance of Petey, who, like Muhammad, has passing, if often rather garbled, acquaintance with many other traditions.

“The Greek monastic theologian Evagrius of Pontus first drew up a list of eight offenses and wicked human passions. They were, in order of increasing seriousness: gluttony, lust, avarice, sadness, anger, acedia, vainglory, and pride. Evagrius saw the escalating severity as representing increasing fixation with the self, with pride as the most egregious of the sins. Acedia... denoted ‘spiritual sloth.’

“In the late 6th century, Pope Gregory reduced the list to seven, folding vainglory into pride, acedia into sadness, and adding envy. His ranking of the Sins' seriousness was based on the degree from which they offended against love. It was, from most serious to least: pride, envy, anger, sadness, avarice, gluttony, and lust. Later theologians, including St. Thomas Aquinas, would contradict the notion that the seriousness of the sins could be ranked in this way. The term ‘covetousness’ has historically been used interchangeably with ‘avarice’ in accounts of the Deadly Sins. In the seventeenth century, the Church replaced the vague sin of ‘sadness’ with ‘sloth.’”

So first we have to decide which system we’re going to use. I think it makes sense to merge vainglory and pride, and we certainly want to keep envy in the mix. But I think we lose something by conflating sadness and acedia. In fact, sadness belongs to a special category, since there are definitely times that it is self-indulgent (more often than you would think), other times when it is clearly a clinical condition outside the person’s control. So I’ll go with pride, envy, anger, acedia (encompassing sloth), avarice, gluttony, and lust.

Bill Clinton is adored by the left. In fact, in his new book, Manliness, Harvey Mansfield calls him “the envy of vulgar men.” How true. For Clinton embodies so many of these sins as character traits, including pride, gluttony, lust, and acedia, while Mrs. Clinton complements him and rounds out the mix with anger and envy. As a team they are quite nakedly avaricious, certainly for power. Thus, a complete set. The perfect liberal couple.

For me, what immediately comes to mind in attempting to correlate the deadly sins with mind parasites is the theoretical system of the great psychoanalyst R.D. Fairbairn. Here again, his ideas, like those of Michael Polanyi discussed yesterday, are so simple, and yet profound and far reaching. For Fairbairn was the first psychoanalyst to move away from Freud’s “drive model” of the unconscious, to an interpersonal and intersubjective model that now goes by the name of “object relations.” The nomenclature is confusing, because in Freud’s model, the “object” refers to the aim of an instinct--for example, the instinct of hunger seeks out the breast as its object.

But Fairbairn turned this theoretical formulation on its head, and regarded the object as primary, not something we seek simply for the purposes of instinctual release. In other words, we come into the world human beings and not just animals. As such, from the moment we’re born---and probably in the womb as well--we primarily seek relationships, not with “objects” but with other subjects. Therefore, it would have been less confusing if the new theory had been called “subject relations,” but what can you do? Just as early Christians went to great pains to link their new theology with the more established and venerable tradition of Judaism, Fairbairn didn’t want to appear too radical, and wanted to demonstrate the continuity with the established orthodoxy of Vienna.

Freud actually developed two different models of the mind, first the topographical (conscious, preconscious and unconscious), later the structural (id, ego and superego). But in each case, the implicit assumption was that human beings were fundamentally animals with a veneer of civilization on top. In order to be civilized, we had to repress and sublimate our animal instincts (the id), while internalizing the sometimes arbitrary restrictions of civilization (the superego). (I’m simplifying and streamlining things for the sake of moving the argument along.)

Now interestingly, Freud was immediately seized upon by the Marxist left as an adjunct to their diagnosis of human alienation, especially in the 1950’s and 1960’s, in the form of very popular (but now completely irrelevant) thinkers such as Herbert Marcuse (e.g. Eros and Civilization) and Norman O. Brown (Life Against Death). These vulgarizations were not really fair to Freud, who was both a genius and a subtle and hard-headed thinker who would have been deeply skeptical of their left-wing utopian nonsense.

But ideas have consequences, bad ideas as much as good ones. And toxic ideas that are hatched in the high country of the mind have a way of flowing downhill, trickling into the rivers, streams and creeks below. So one of the central psycho-spiritual “mind parasites” that infected all of the water in the 1960’s was the idea that our outward, civilized personalities are inauthentic. Rather, the “real you” is that repressed id, your undisguised animal drives and passions: “If it feels good, do it.” “Love the one you’re with.” “Do your thing.” Why don't we do it in the road?" “It’s my life, and I’ll do what I want.” "Looking out for number one." (There were so many others, but I can’t think of them at the moment. However, the lesson was obvious to all who heard it: express yourself and let your freak-flag fly!)

I think you can see just how pervasive this attitude has become. It gets to the heart of the “culture war,” one side celebrating “authenticity” and its close cousin, “attitude,” the other side wishing to preserve traditional standards of excellence and decency. In fact, this is where it is almost impossible to even have a meaningful conversations with someone who has been contaminated by the toxic water of the vulgar Freudians: So what if Janet Jackson exposed her breast on national TV! She was just expressing herself! So what if Bill Clinton was serviced by an intern in the oval office! At least he’s not a hypocrite!

Here we truly do see a monstrous moral inversion at the heart of the left, in which our animal nature is exalted above our higher human strivings, while the realm of the truly human is devalued and denigrated as hypocrisy. This, by the way, is why there is so much cursing on the left. It seems like a small thing, but it’s not. On most any left-wing blog, you will see that they can rarely express themselves without cursing, as profanity is a sort of “stamp of authenticity.”

Now the truth of the matter is that pervasive cursing is a helpful shorthand that allows us to discern those people who are incapable of expressing themselves without it. Therefore, we needn’t take them seriously. As one blogger expressed it today on huffingtonpissed, “If you don’t like obscenity, you don’t like the truth.” What he means is, “I’m so angry I can’t even express it, but you will know the emotional truth of my omnipotent anger by my profanity.”

In fact, there is another story there of Madonna’s recent performance last weekend, she being the poster child for barbaric crudity masquerading as daring and courageous authenticity. “During an energetic rendition of her song I Love New York, Madonna roared, ‘Just go to Texas and suck George Bush's d**k.’”

Of course, I suppose it could be argued that she is simply extolling the virtue of thoroughness to her fans, since even Madonna can't be everywhere, and Bush’s is one the few that she personally overlooked.

Well, with that, I’ve run flat out of time. More tomorrow on Fairbairn, sins, virtues, mind parasites and the left.


"Mmmmm,shiny.... I want, therefore I am."


Michael Andreyakovich said...

I've been re-reading CS Lewis's THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS. Not only does it do a superb job of anthropomorphizing mind parasites into actual personalities, but the "dinner speech" that ends the book is frighteningly prescient with regard to how these mind parasites might affect the modern "progressives".

will said...

Also exalted in the 50's and 60's was pre-Freud philosopher JJ Rousseau's "noble savage" ideal. No stretch in linking that ideal to the notion that any aboriginal impulse, any thuggery including mass murder, in the name of "liberation," is to be tolerated, even praised.

I know that "sadness" or melancholia can be a condition outside a person's control, but couldn't that be said of any of the Seven Deadlies? Anger, lust, avarice, etc., can all become "uncontrollable" pathological conditions. There seem to be individuals who simply seem to be born, if not with an actual uncontrollable condition, then with a strong inclination toward such.

If such inclinations are "karmic" deposits, perhaps the result of past indulgence, then I think an uncontrollable melancholia would be no less a Deadly than an uncontrollable anger.

I hasten to add that not all suffering and personal challenges are the result of "karma".

Hoarhey said...

Lots of mind grind stuff in todays post Bob,

You wrote:
"Bill Clinton is adored by the left. In fact, in his new book, Manliness, Harvey Mansfield calls him “the envy of vulgar men.”

I remember back during his presidency where many degenerate types in entertainment spoke of how they could "relate" with him.
I remember one prominent gangbanger turned rapper (the name escapes me) say in an interview "He's one of us".

Hey, what's with the handicapped logo next to the mystery word entry box?

Gagdad Bob said...

Handicapped logo--good question. I have no idea how it got there. I suppose to remind trolls before posting that "one thing you can't hide, is when you're crippled inside." I always know.

Hoarhey said...

It's for deaf people.

Hoarhey said...

Sorry, I meant blind.

Gagdad Bob said...

It works both ways, for they have eyes but do not see, and ears, yet hear not.

Hoarhey said...

Not that I've given the Seven Deadly Sins much more than the typical (of me) cursory glanceover but I've discovered a new depth to the word sloth today.
I've always interpreted the word to mean physical laziness without thinking of the spiritual component of it. Compensating for sloth with a focus only on the physical aspect can lead to a guilt-driven robotic existance.
Putting the vertical ahead of the horizontal and focusing on the spiritual eradication of sloth actually causes an inner motivation which then cures the physical aspect.
It's having "slack" time without becoming a "slacker".

Gagdad Bob said...

Exactly, slack is leisure understood in its true spiritual sense, the opposite of sloth. No leisure, no God: http://onecosmos.blogspot.com/2005/10/weekend-sermon-advanced-leisure.html

Hoarhey said...

It's also a good cure for sadness and repels those recurring bouts of self pity.
One might call the spiritual eradication of sloth the ultimate snake oil cure all.

Thanks for the link Bob.

Kahntheroad said...

Bob, I just noticed yesterday photo and did a double-take. For a second I thought his shirt said "Daily Kos" - was afraid the rebellious stage had come a bit early.

Hoarhey said...


Have you ever considered a "concept index" where related subjects could be categorized and referenced? I don't want to take away from your slack time and I realize all things are related in some way but for new readers or someone as slow as myself it might help to get caught up. That's if the blogspot software will even allow for somthing like that.

Gagdad Bob said...

Excellent idea!

But I wouldn't know where or how to begin...

Hoarhey said...

Just get Petey to do it.

will said...

As Krishnamurti once pointed out, creativity doesn't have to necessarily be the production of artifacts, etc. One can be creative and not do or produce a thing. The essence of creativity is *being*, not *doing*.

However, telling your employer this when you're caught slacking is not going to help. Trust me.

Hoarhey said...

This is the first part of an idea I have but I wanted to get the definition of terms straight before I continue.
I may be making an assumption here and I may have read a definitive explaination in your book or blog and not have been paying attention.
What I'm deducing from reading your writings is that it's your contention that Spirit is pure uncorrupted Truth, Beauty, Wisdom, Love, etc. and that evil, hauntings, karma, demons, occultism etc. is not necessarily spirit but the projected manifestation of mind parasites onto the "outside" world. Such that say Jesus, would be a being totally free of mind parasites and totally connected to, and thus understanding of vertical Spirit. Would that be a correct assessment?

Kahntheroad said...


Anger, lust, avarice, etc., can all become "uncontrollable" pathological conditions. There seem to be individuals who simply seem to be born, if not with an actual uncontrollable condition, then with a strong inclination toward such.

Good point. I would suppose that we all have our predisposed sins to overcome. This is our spiritual challenge, all the more difficult in a culture that offers the allure of ready made excuses.

But I think if we look at the sins that tempt us as we would any personal challenge - be it an outside obstacle to a goal or a physical limitation - we can see them as opportunities for virtue.

I find that, being raised in our society, it's taken me a long time to realize that the it is not the impulse itself that define us, but, rather, our response to them. Some of the most positive, inspirational people I've met are former addicts.

It's one thing to persevere against some great external challenge - climbing Mount Everest, leading an overmatched army to victory, discovering a vaccine. But - just looking at the persistent nature of the challenge - someone who steps up and defeats an unrelenting internal destructive impulse day in and day out, or moment by moment, is about as virtuous as one can get.

Actually, come to think about it, if you accept the deterministic view often used to excuse bad behavior, it makes the resistance even more heroic.

[BTW, still listening...man, you really gave us a bounty! How have you been working at those songs? I've hardly scratched the surface, but so far I really like "Three Days of Darkness." Your themes and references are (not surprisingly, I suppose) similar to some of the stuff I'm working on. Oh, and enough of the BS: I love your vocals. You use your voice well, and it works perfect for the material - such an odd intersection of haunting and hopeful, kinda like Leonard Cohen arm wrestling Cat Stevens.

For the record, I've been on a music rampage the last few weeks, and you're debut give even more of a jolt. I'll be kicking some stuff around the open mics this week and hopefully laying down some tracks soon.]

dilys said...

(1) Interesting... the fallacy of the culture wars. Would another way to put it be the 60's-ish belief that the exoteric side of the personality is, somehow, less authentic than the esoteric one??

(2) Yay Kahn. Leonard Cohen + Cat Stevens = Our Good Will.

(3) Exoteric, and I would think the esoteric religion going on around here, would say in spite of the Fall, proclivity, deterministic elements in our geneology, that there are no sins or mind viruses that cannot be struggled against With Vertical Assistance. And that trying and failing is not fatal, but the danger lies in choosing to abandon the struggle.

G-d forbid re-defining the vice as virtue in antinomian fashion. I've heard it described as being entitled to one's pet vices.

will said...

Kahn -

Absolutely. Our greatest weaknesses are the source of our greatest strengths. And the greater the weakness, the greater the potential Vertical thrust.

Determinism sucks. Period. Never should be used as an excuse. But I think it a fact that some do carry heavy karmic weights (underscored by natal astrological configurations) that really set forth a challenge, in which case it's not really deterministic. However, even if one wants to believe it the luck of the draw or God's beyond-human-comprehension burdening, it's still incumbent on us all to meet our challenges on a spiritual basis.

Thanks much for the compliments re the music. (subliminal message, people: go to neoncatmusic.com) Okay, here's the vertigo-inducing part: not one of those songs existed before mid-Sept of last year. A month and a half before I started composing, I had a left kidney removed. So there's the secret. Have an organ removed (preferably one of duplicate) and rip it up! (not the organ, the music, so to speak)

More coming, by the way.

Sal said...

Yes, that would be one's "besetting sin/s", the one you struggle against on a regular and continuing basis

In sociology class, we learned about the concept of "shadow morality", in which ordinary concepts of morality were turned upside down, as being outside the person's ability to perform.

But this was presented as a source of pride: marital infidelity was out of the question "b/c I'm too much man for any one woman." Hanging onto a job was impossible "b/c I'm too much man for the Man to push around." And so on...

Could we discuss the cult of Too Much Information sometime? I can see where that would fit in with the idea of 'authenticity'.

[My favorite Will song so far is "God Made Me that Way", but I'm only on page 2. Knitting and listening.]

*obscure 'Sandlot' quote

will said...


>>Interesting... the fallacy of the culture wars. Would another way to put it be the 60's-ish belief that the exoteric side of the personality is, somehow, less authentic than the esoteric one??<<

My impression is that the two were conflated, to the detriment of both.

>>Yay Kahn. Leonard Cohen + Cat Stevens = Our Good Will.<<

Mucho thanks, D. But I'm not going to convert to Islam.

>>Exoteric, and I would think the esoteric religion going on around here, would say in spite of the Fall, proclivity, deterministic elements in our geneology, that there are no sins or mind viruses that cannot be struggled against With Vertical Assistance. And that trying and failing is not fatal, but the danger lies in choosing to abandon the struggle.<<

I dunno. I think it might be fatal for some. Think of the demons (probably literally so) that potential serial killers and pedophiles have to wrestle with. But evidently they are given a last chance for redemption, a chance to reject the call to the abyss. This is why I do believe in, if not reincarnation per se, then some kind of prior existence(s) in which we all have made choices for good or evil. It makes no sense to me on an intuitive level that our Deity would arbitrarily burden a few individuals with such a terrible challenge, one loss of which results in "spiritual fatality."

Dr Schnuggiputz said...

Hi Bob,

Not just another serving of Schwartzwaelderkirchtorte, but a feast that includes and transcedes it! My poor digestive system can’t work fast enough to keep up with the bounty. So I console myself with another metaphor: that your daily postings are a kind of magnet that slowly help to realign the interior crookedness.

I was asking myself yesterday just what’s wrong with the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and it occurred to me that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, as such. What’s wrong is our theft of it. In this light, God’s prohibition is not a moral prohibition, a ‘don’t’, but simply a deep spiritual fact, a ‘can’t’: we can’t actually take personal possession of it.

The moment we (apparently) do, we turn the ontological order upsidedown: we become as little gods, we assume priority over the Divine, we set ourselves up in judgment over reality, we become the arbiters of truth; we divide up the world into good and evil in a manner which turns truth on its head, and instead of being lit, we become endarkened. Instead of resting in joy, we un-rest in rage and righteousness. Instead of acknowledging our own sins, we point the finger at others. The kindness of the world becomes invisible, and we see only danger. Our so-called knowledge becomes in essence anti-knowledge, and as you point out today, sin becomes virtue.

Truth, it seems to me, it not to be possessed; rather, as you wrote at the end of a post recently, it is to be submitted to. And in that submission, we once more set right the ontological order of things. The humility of submission is a kind of crucifixion, the cost of re-entry into heaven.

Everything you say about leftism seems characterised by this original sin. Or should one say, inversion?

jwm said...

Now shul ye understonde which is the remedie agayns the synne of Pryde; and that is humylitee, or mekenesse./

Now wol I speke of remedie agayns this foule synne of Envye. Fisrt is the love of God principal, and lovyng of his neighrbor as hymself; for soothly, that oon ne may nat been withoute that other./

The remedie agayns Ire is a vertue that men clepen Mansuetude*, that is Debonairetee**; and eek another vertu, that men callen Pacience or Suffrance.

Agayns this horrible synne of Accidie, and the branches of the same, ther is a vertu that is called fortitudo or strengthe, that is an affecioun thurgh which a man despiseth anoyouse thinges./

Now shul ye understonde that the releevvnge of Avarice is misericorde, and pitee largely taken.

Agayns Glotonye is the remedie abstinence as seith Galien, but... Abstinence [Seint Augustyn] seith, "is litel worth but if a man have good wil therto...and that men do it for Godes sake, and in hope to have the blisse of hevene./

Now comth the remedie agayns Leccherie, and that is generally chastitee and continence, that restreyneth alle the desordeynee moevynges that comen of flesshly talentes./

Excerpts from The Canterbury Tales
(The Parsons Tale)

Geoffrey Chaucer



will said...

Sal -

>>My favorite Will song so far is "God Made Me that Way", but I'm only on page 2. Knitting and listening.]<<

Danke, danke! Oh, and thanks, too.

Sal's knitting and listening/and as always, glistening. Cuz God made you that way.

Kahntheroad said...

not one of those songs existed before mid-Sept of last year.

Wow, that is inspiring. My songs, or lets say lyrics, have only been bubbling forth for just over 2 years. I've got a whole file cabinet full of unfinished songs, which have been gradually coming together as I learn what I need to finish them. Quite an adventure; oft a struggle (mostly with learning the guitar), but now it's really all starting to come together.

I really believe things happen as and when the should.

A month and a half before I started composing, I had a left kidney removed. So there's the secret. Have an organ removed (preferably one of duplicate) and rip it up! (not the organ, the music, so to speak)

Not bad when you consider inflation. 80 years ago the going rate was a soul.

Seriously, though, so you weren't making music at all before then?

Connecticut Yankee said...

Here's another song for Will (and others): Bob's post reminded me of Mordred's song from Camelot-- which was written in 1960:

Song: Seven Deadly Virtues

The seven deadly virtues, those ghastly little traps
Oh no, my liege, they were not meant for me!
Those seven deadly virtues were made for other chaps
Who love a life of failure and ennui.
Take courage--now there's a sport
An invitation to the state of rigor mort.
And purity--a noble yen
And very restful every now and then
I find humility means to be hurt
It's not the earth the meek inherit, it's the dirt.
Honesty is fatal, it should be taboo;
Diligence--a fate I would hate.
If charity means giving, I give it to you
And fidelity is only for your mate!
You'll never find a virtue unstatusing my quo or making my Beelzebubble burst
Let others take the high road, I will take the low
I cannot wait to rush in where angels fear to go
With all those seven deadly virtues Free and happy little me has not been cursed!

(Bob should enjoy Alan Jay Lerner's way with language).

Chieftain of Seir said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chieftain of Seir said...

Pardon an intruder….

I was happy to find a blog dealing with philosophical matters that was written by someone who was literate. I was less happy when it began to appear that the blog was a one trick pony.

I am well aware of the thrill of crucifying David Hume on the cross that he raised. I love it when the sophisticate's demanded for proof that God exists is met with the demand that they prove that they exist. I get a savage thrill when those who condemned others for being intolerant are asked to come up with a moral principle that would make it wrong to send them to a fiery stake.

But such exercises are like suicide bombings. They are a satisfying way of expressing anger, but they are unprofitable to oneself. There are few things more futile than proving that people who believe there is no truth have nothing worthwhile to say. Such exercises only confirm the leftist in their contempt for logic, and increase their regard for their own passions. Nor do they do anything for oneself, other than increase one sense of ones own superiority.

The fact that pointing out flaws in other people's belief systems boosts one own sense of self esteem explains why it is the preferred occupation of the liberal. They are always setting themselves up as professional stone throwers. They feed off of real and perceived flaws in other people.

An environmentalist is not someone who wants to go into the lumber business so that they can make the process more sustainable. Rather, it someone who wants to stand outside the lumber business and tell those who are in the industry what they are doing wrong. An anti poverty activist is not some one who personally seeks to serve the poor, but is instead someone devoted to telling other people that they are not doing enough for the poor.

I am sure that you can explain as well as I can why always telling other people what is wrong with them is unhealthy. But it seems to me that any fair explanation must cut awfully close to home. By always making the failures and the vices of the liberals central to your posts you begin to resemble a leftist yourself.

Don't get me wrong. I an enjoy gathering around the fire and roasting a liberal as much as the next guy. It is a great method of male bonding. But while it might make for good comradeship, I don't see it contributing to personal growth. I think that to grow, you need to examine your own beliefs and the beliefs of those that you respect.

Is it beyond a man of your talents to deal with the various philosophical issues that are to be found within the company of those who acknowledge a revealed truth (or as you say objective truth, though I think that term has its weakness)? Can you not parse the differing philosophical starting points between those conservatives who are for large scale immigration, and those who are against? Can you compare the strengths and weakness of a Hamilton type conservative and a Jefferson type conservative?

My apologies for breaking the blog tradition of having trolls identify themselves by their bad spelling. Like all trolls I am a bad speller, but it is easier on my eyes to type in Word. But Word insisted on spell checking the post and thus removed many of the tell tale signs of a troll.

Mike L said...

In her reference to the Fall, Dilys alluded obliquely to original sin and the doctrine thereof. In youth I doubted that doctrine. But by the time I graduated from Columbia, I firmly believed that it is the only dogma of Christianity that admits empirical verification. You can't live in New York for four years and honestly believe otherwise. (For a bit more explanation of the concept, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

The seven deadly sins are called that because, when committed with complete freedom, they cut one off from God and kill the soul. My homeboy deadly sin is sloth (accidia or 'Accidie', in Chaucer's English). When I let myself get into that state,

Mike L said...

[sorry for the cutoff]

...I start telling God to take the gift of life and shove back up where it came from. Not pretty. Diabolical, in fact.

As you can tell, I'm not a leftie.

John Hinds said...

Horhey said: "Have you ever considered a "concept index" where related subjects could be categorized and referenced?..."

You could search the blog for the "concept's" keywords. I have done this with some success. My only problem with finding stuff here is you can't search the comments as a whole. That is, to me, a serious drawback.

Just thought I'd throw that out. It would be a lot of work to categorize all the posts. Maybe some enterprising commenter, say Mr. Will, would be up to the task given access to the material.

Lisa said...

Looks like I got to the party late today! Fascinating discussion about mind parasites from post to comments.

Chieftain may be surprised to learn that many of us here at this blog were leftists at some time in our youth. Our dissection of the left's mind parasites are actually a clearing of our own mind parasites. Think of it as a douse of Advantage dabbed between your shoulders!

I actually have my own blog up now. I hope Bob doesn't mind my announcement prior to permission! ;0) I also have secret plans to recruit Dr. Bob for a workshop entitled, "Spiritual & Physical Vertical Alignment". Shhh, he doesn't know about this yet, but I bet Petey does!

will said...

Kahn -

Yeah,lolol - I had my kidney removed down at the crossroads.

Prior to the song comps, I was doing a lot of ambient stuff, some of which will eventually go up on the site. I enjoyed composing ambiently - in fact, the surgeon had some of my stuff playing when I got wheeled into the OR, those whacky surgeons! - but I felt it time to return to plain ole song-writing after refraining for quite some time.

I missed the "ballast" of lyrics, plus I wanted to see if I could instill the music with whatever spiritual element/quality I have integrated lo these many years. How successful I am to date, I dunno - I will keep trying. There is an elemental quality to a good song that skirts the overt religious propagandish-ness of so many modern Christian songs, (though I admit, those song types can and do have their place) For example,I think Guthrie wrote some genuinely "Christian" songs, though they were not overtly such. It depends, I suppose, on intent and whatever a composer can bring to the table re basic musicality.In any event, I think bad art makes for bad religion, and that's what I'd like to avoid.

So Kahn - record some stuff, get it online, lay it out there. Is good to share. Spiritual obligation, in fact.

John Hinds said...

Chieftain of Seir,

You make a thoughtful comment but your last paragraph troubles me somewhat. Perhaps you would elaborate. I am not in agreement with your major premise that this is a one trick pony. That seems condescending. There is a "sickness unto death" at large in the land. Any authentic, serious thinker can see that. There are sides to be taken. We have equivocated long enough. We must stand up for what we know to be true. Perhaps we agree but not to the same level of alarm as to the nature of the enemy and the means to victory.

will said...

>>Maybe some enterprising commenter, say Mr. Will, would be up to the task given access to the material.<<

Well, this is a God-like responsibility, dividing the One into the Multiplicity and everything but,okay. There's the (1) good stuff (2)even better stuff (3) super-duper stuff (4)super-duper cubed times infinity stuff (5)read-it-and-experience-an-out-of-body-trip-to-Arcturus stuff (6)gets at the grimy dirt AND oily stains stuff (7) see your $1500.00 and raise you $10,000.00 stuff, and (8)response to trolls stuff, which is actually a sub-set involving all of the above.

But you know what? I think there's some kind of Blogger thingie that miraculously does all this for you. On the other hand, do we really want a division into categories here? Bob's not a political pundit - there's one central theme that unites everything in the blog; it's all holistic in nature, one post flows seamlessly into the next. You'll see, when they're compiled into book form. It's named One Cosmos, after all.

Correct me if I am wrong.

Gagdad Bob said...


Re what you said up there about Jesus--I think your assessment is more or less accurate if applied to rank and file, or or even rank and foul, human beings. But I would hesitate to try to squeeze Jesus into my system. I'm trying to squeeze mine into his.


Please, feel free to pimp your blog! My blog is your blog. Like Will, Dilys, Hoarhey, JWM, Khan, Sal et al, you give it added value, whatever its value might be.

Gagdad Bob said...


If I had the slightest idea what you were talking about, I'd love to respond.

Lisa said...

Thanks, Bob. I gnu you wouldn't mind! I can only speak for myself when I say that you and your writing have played an instrumental part in the synthesis and clarity of thought during this creative process.

I may soon start writing about the Six Principles of Pilates in my blog.

jwm said...

I've been taking stock these last couple of days, yesterday in particular. As I mentioned, yesterday seemed to be one long string of parables played out in very ordinary events. The guy in the checkout line was only the first.
What I noticed yesterday was a lot of frustration, anger, and resentment, and all of it connected in some way with computers. I had to contrast that with several other incidents where I saw great examples of forbearance and kindness on the one-to-one human level.
It wasn't that the events of the day were in any way extraordinary. What I saw in them was what was remarkable.
My first spiritual jolt came to me way back in 1981, but I can't say that I actually began the steps of a spiritual path until more than ten years after that. And then I really didn't do much other than to pray in earnest to place my life and will in the care of God. I didn't know it then but that was the first step in a battle against Pryde. It has been a very slow process. It has involved losing a lot. But now as I look back I can see that each of those losses was necessary to bring me to the place where I am now. Change is happening. The hunger for True religion grows, and as it does Anger is losing its grip on me. (just as Sloth is slithering in to take its place) Oh well. I'll work on Sloth tomorrow. What is growing is a sense of happiness. Not the kind of happiness like when you win an auction on e-bay, or buy a new toy, but like what Dennis Prager means when he says we have a moral obligation to be happy. We do. In a very real way each of us has the power to add or subtract from the net amount of happiness that exists in the world. But you can't give away what you don't have. Sometimes I get the voice in my head. A week or so back it happened as I was walking up the hill.

Do you want to carry the fire?

It felt like someone was asking me to make a committment, and I balked.

You can refuse.

It was actually kind of scary. I was afraid to say yes, but more afraid to say no. Half measures avail us nothing. So I said yes.


Hoarhey said...


Do you see yourself as an intruder or troll to this blog?
I see honest questioning and examination as a good thing here so long as it isn't laced with condescention.
I myself am helped by Bobs ability to describe psychospiritual malady manifesting in our political system by giving real world examples. It elucidates what may only be a gut reaction.
While the varying philisophies of conservatism may be interesting, the the most deadly cancers in our political system need to be described and dealt with before we work on the runny nose.

Sal said...

Will -
I've seen people do multiple categories per post, eg. the Anchoress. But I agree with you, that if you pick and choose you lose the holistic experience.
And of course, there could never be a "best of Bob".

Anyone else finding that if you think hard about a topic, Bob addresses it in the next day or so?

Chieftain of Seir said...

Mr. Gagdad Bob,

My apologies for the condescending tone of my comment. I wrote the comment without hope that it would profitable to anyone. When writing is undertaken without such hope it usually comes across as combative or condescending. I should not have written that comment and on some level I knew that even as I was writing it. Hence the last paragraph that disturbed Mr. Hinds.

My post had many ideas bound up in it. All of them connected in my delusional mind, if not in reality. But the core of my post was an assertion that by using liberals as your constant whipping boys, you risked creating an environment were self congratulation rather self reflection was the prevailing mood.

I think that the best answer to the liberal celebration of nothing is to have something. And to that end, I think that it is at least as important to test our own ideas as it is to demonstrate that liberal's cry of "God is dead" is a death call for all of humanity.

To elaborate any more, I am afraid, would risk becoming a troll in truth as I have trouble writing.

jwm said...

On the chance you're still checking: What you're doing isn't 'trolling'. Trolls come around to stir up shit for the sake of stirring up shit. Don't worry about slinging ten dollar words. You write fine. Join the conversation!