A Dialogue with Mephistopheles IV

A Dialogue with Mephistopheles IV

Hello again!

You’re back.

More sins/more sinners. Keeps me busy. Are you free?

I’m actually walking the dog, who I refer to as “That Black-Haired Beauty.”

So not a good time?

Actually, an excellent tine. This is when I do a good bit of my thinking. Pets have a way of bringing you down to earth and away from all those complications we discussed last time. This is a time for me to ponder.

Unfortunately, I don’t get any pets down here. I guess they don’t sin.

I think many pet owners seriously believe their companions have souls and should go to heaven. I know that alot of what Arwen does is instinctual, but there just seem to be too many things she does, especially in the “caring” department, that suggest that there is more to her than “a pattern of behavior that is characteristic of a species and is often a response to specific environmental stimuli.” (Free Dictionary)

It’s nice spending time with a creature whose worse sin is trying to sneak away so she can dig a new hole in the garden or grab a half-eaten muffin by the sidewalk while you’re not looking.

Animals do kill each other. However, I suppose that is not only instinctual, but survival based.

They don’t kill each other just because they are pissed off, or at least it doesn’t seem so, though some creatures are more aggressive than others. We can’t really talk with them, so it is hard to know their motivation; most human’s you can ask.

So what have you been pondering.

Lying, dishonesty, dissimulation… There are many types and human’s have made it an art form.

I guess that’s partially covered under, “Thou shalt not bear false witness…”

Yes, and lying is closely tied to cheating. I also feel it goes right to the heart of dishonor. One dishonors him/herself when they lie.

And the other person, I would imagine.

Bingo! Lying isn’t just not telling the truth about something. I, personally, think lies of omission are as bad or worse than other forms. And you can even lie by telling the truth, but acting like its a lie, so the other person doesn’t believe you.

Omission, as in not telling someone something?

Exactly. More harm/injury can come from such an approach than merely telling an untruth. People want to know the truth, bad as it might be. Rarely does a lie help the person being lied to, whatever form it takes.

You sound adamant about this “:sin.”

I guess I am. I’ve had too many people lie to me — too many people who supposedly cared for me, but were stabbing me in the back while I was the trusting fool that I am.

So it seems that “honor” is something you believe strongly in.

I do. And I think it is one reason the world has gotten into such a mess — too many people seem to think that a few “little white lies” are no big deal. Too many people have thrown honor and truth and conscience out the window.

“Little white lie?” That seems to suggest there are degrees of lying.

Are there? I don’t know. I was brought up in a religion where we were taught there were mortal and venial sins. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that:

Sins are rightly evaluated according to their gravity… Mortal sin destroys charity   in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from           God…

            Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it.

This is out of context, of course, but if I think of “charity” as “love” it makes a bit more sense to me. However, I’m not sure that setting up lying in different categories of “badness” is helpful. It’s kind of like calling killing: Murder I, Second degree murder, Manslaughter, etc.

We’re back to circumstances playing a role in what constitutes “sinning.” Are there any times where “lying” is not a sin? Not bad or wrong?

I guess I would have to say “Yes, there are.” There are circumstances where a lie might save a person a great deal of pain and anguish and it won’t make a difference otherwise if they know the truth. But I think these situations are far fewer than most people would allow today, at least if you look at their actions. “Lying” seems like too easy a cop-out for people. Say a few prayers, kowtow a bit, shout they name of God and you will be forgiven.

It doesn’t work that way.

It doesn’t? Well, there are several billion people out there who seem to think it does.

Do they?

Sunday businessmen — I can do anything I want during the week as long as I ask for forgiveness on the Sabbath? That’s one example.

If it worked that way, I would be far less busy than I am. The truth is, people HOPE that it works that way.

Now you are confusing me. Even I pray sometimes. You saying it doesn’t work?

Not at all. Prayer can be very helpful, but that’s another long discussion and we’re not there yet. You were suggesting that people can have all their sins forgiven by going through the motions on the Sabbath, whatever day that is for them. THAT doesn’t work that way. Like I said, if it did, I probably wouldn’t even have a job.

You’ve lost me.

Well, you may have to stay lost for a bit longer. We still have a bit more to get through relative to sin before we move on. For now, let me just say this, “forgiveness” is personal. It has to come from deep within a person relative to their own “sins.” Anything else, as you were disparaging a bit, really doesn’t work. Forgiveness is tough, and I didn’t make it that way.

God did?

We’ll see. Patience. It all has to do with what is in your heart, deep down within. The interesting thing is we arrived at this juncture talking about “lying.” Forgiveness doesn’t work if you are lying to yourself.

Wow! That’s heavy. I might have to ask God about this revelation.

Please do. He likes honest inquiries.

Can I make another point about lying, though? While we’re still on the topic?

By all means. I’m a bit wiped from all this so far today, anyway.

Lying creeps into many of the other “sin” areas. It is pretty pervasive, and it is oft the catalyst, as you mentioned, for all forms of cheating. It’s a big, big concern in the halls of heaven.

Yeah, I know. It’s depressing. I guess it is a pet peeve of mine. “Honesty” is one of my “Seven Keys for Understanding and Working with Difficult People,” which really are “Seven Keys for Understanding and Working with People,” To me, it is that important.

Good for you. I’m sure God would agree.

So, next time should we try to wrap up this focus on “sin?” If I may, being the Devil and all, here’s another quote from the Catholic Catechism. [Remember, BEWARE! I can quote scripture and the like for my own ends.] But I think it will give us a starting point for further discussion:

There are a great many kinds of sins. Scripture provides several lists of them.       The Letter to the Galatians contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruit of the            Spirit: “Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, factions,            envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before,             that those who do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.”

Sins can be distinguished according to their objects, as can every human act; or             according to the virtues they oppose, by excess or defect; or according to the   commandments they violate. They can also be classed according to whether          they concern God, neighbor, or oneself; they can be divided into spiritual and    carnal sins, or again as sins in thought, word, deed, or omission. The root of sin       is in the heart of man, in his free will, according to the teaching of the Lord: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false             witness, slander. These are what defile a man.” But in the heart also resides        charity, the source of the good and pure works, which sin wounds.

Wow! That sets some things on the line — a few we’ve talked about and around; many more we haven’t. And there are alot of other religions. I would imagine they have their own way of defining and discussing such.

They do.

We’re never going to get through all of this, are we?

The goal is more to get a feel for what sin is — then we can make sense of the bottom line.

I used to use that phrase alot; now I’m not sure there is one.

We’ll get as close as we can. The rest will be up to each person’s belief’s.

“The root of sin is in the heart of man, in his free will…”

That says a great deal, you know.

Yes, it does.


Joe Koob


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