Thursday, August 25, 2005


Having spent far too much time reading fundamentalist right-wing blogs recently, I thought I might take a stab at looking at the world through a Christian lens today. Exercising the imagination is useful on occasion. Oddly enough, though, things look much the same as they always have, ranging from the bizarre to the extreme. The categories are fun to work with, however, so here are some updates on the Seven Deadly Sins. (If I get around to it, I'll post something on the Seven Heavenly Virtues sometime, but I find sin far more interesting. Don't you? Hands up all those who prefer Dante's Paradiso to his Inferno. Yeah, thought so.)

Pride: City employees in Buffalo enjoy good medical benefits, including elective cosmetic surgery. Police and firefighters head the list of those who are seeking corporeal retrofitting. Middle-aged Detective James Giardina opted for a $4000 hair transplant, while balding Officer Kevin Biggs went the other way: "It was more convenient to have the neck hair removed than to shave it on a daily basis," he said.

Not realizing the peril to his immortal soul, Detective Giardina said, "I'm not a real vain person, but I guess I do feel better."

Buffalo civic employees had 2,451 cosmetic procedures done last year, including 363 liposuctions, 181 face-lifts, 152 breast enlargements and 126 hair transplants.

Envy: This sin is defined as "the desire for others' traits, status, abilities, or situation." A man in the US named Dennis Avner has had countless surgical procedures to make himself look like a tiger: his teeth have been replaced with "tiger-like" dentures, his upper lip has been split, his ears are now pointed, and eighteen piercings above his lip permit the attachment of whiskers.

Or is this pride? Why not, er, ask him yourself? I'm a dog person.

Greed: Closer to home, comfy Ontario is crying poor. Having to help out less fortunate provinces under the federal equalization scheme may reduce the province to "have-not" status within five years, according to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. This brings to mind a comment attributed to John Kenneth Galbraith about neo-con economics: it's based on the notion, he said, that the poor have too much money and the rich don't have enough.

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, workers are fighting among themselves: a recent $14.5 million 6/49 jackpot was claimed by nine employees from an A&W, but the payment has been put on hold until the claim of two additional workers to have been part of the pool is investigated. If upheld, each employee will still receive around $1.3 million. Minus massive legal fees, of course. Four rootbeers for the lawyers at Table Three, please.

Gluttony: Investigators have discovered that the ingestion of sugar triggers the release of opiate-like compounds into the body in what has been described as something similar to addiction, or the switching on of an in-built craving. A professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin, Ann Kelley, notes: "This is a very ancient motivation. Even bacteria will swim toward sugar."

This raises a delicate theological point. To what extent are we prisoners of our physiology? Do we have choice in the matter? Is there a gay gene? [Cancel that last one--ed.]

Or could this be, on the other hand, an argument against “intelligent design?” Not necessarily: perhaps, as one commentator put it, God should simply never have taken that day off. Maybe then our sinuses wouldn’t drain upwards, either, and males would have a safer place to store a couple of their reproductive organs.

Lust: The Mexican National Women's Institute is up in arms over a campaign by conservationists to save the turtle. Men have apparently been scarfing down turtle's eggs to reach the finish line--they're said to be a kind of natural Viagra. Wildcoast, a conservation group, has been employing Dorismar, a scantily-clad Argentinian model [You’re welcome--ed.] in public service announcements. "My man does not need turtle eggs because he knows they don’t make him more potent," she says, in various skimpy costumes.

The women's group, not unreasonably, sees this as a step backwards in their continuing struggle to overcome deeply-ingrained Mexican machismo. The Wildcoast folks aren't backing down, though: they maintain that they're trying to reach the very audience that needs reaching. The total numbers of seven species of sea turtles had dwindled to a few thousand by last year, thanks to widespread egg-poaching [No more of that--ed.]. Another chapter, it seems, in that on-going Velikovskian political epic, When Struggles Collide.

Sloth: Corinne Maier, an economist at Electricité de France (EDF), a state-owned utility, has written a best-selling book, Bonjour paresse (Hello, Laziness). She is a strong believer in the siesta ethic. In her words:

Businesses don't wish you well and don't respect the values they champion. This book will help you take advantage of your company, rather than the other way around. It will explain why it's in your interest to work as little as possible and how to screw the system from within without anyone noticing.

Anger: EDF started disciplinary action against Maier for "spreading gangrene through the system," and (strangely) for not acknowledging on her book’s back cover that she worked for them. They quietly dropped it after the book became a best-seller. Asked why she remains at her job, she said, "I stay only because it makes my boss very angry."

Only The Da Vinci Code outsold the book in France last year. That could tempt quite a few Christians to be angry, too.

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