Examples of Sin: The Evil Queen & The Joker - embodying multiple forms of sin.
What is Sin?
For the purposes of this Church "sin" may be defined as the mental process in an agu that results in an action by that agu that is detrimental to its Shoku. Typically this may be an action that harms another agu, (such as stealing or assault), but may also harm the structure of society or the environment. Since the goal of Infinite Dimensions is to optimise the richness, happiness and diversity of all aga and kala, for the present and also the future, any action that reduces any of this is to be deplored.
One may break the idea of Shoku damage into two stages:
- Sins of the mind: The mental flaw or weakness that causes one to perform such an action. One might think of these as "thought crimes", although not all require conscious thought. Whether the sins of the mind require conscious thought or not, all real crimes proceed from them and thus they are the true source of all evil. Since the second stage has been named "crimes", for the purposes of this church "sins of the mind" will henceforth be simply named "sins".
- Sins of the body: The physical action that harms another person, creature, environment or society. Unlike the first stage, these can be readily observed and reacted to by other aga. These are termed "crimes" and are dealt with in their own section. Crimes may appear to be more serious than the sin that precedes them but it is important to note that without that mental impetus crimes would not happen in the first place.
Categories of Sin
There are quite a few categories of sin, certainly far more than the 7 popularised in the Christian culture. These may be grouped into meta-sins: Bad Brain, Bad Attitude and Bad Method.
If an agu has a small, damaged or badly wired brain, that agu has little chance of contributing significantly to their society and a good chance of committing a host of sins (small though they may be). There is currently little that can be done to repair or enhance a poor or defective brain and thus little that can be done to reduce sin due to this cause but perhaps new technology may provide an option in the future.
Examples of Bad Brain: Homer Simpson - embodiment of stupidity and the Mad Scientist - embodiment of Wrong Headedness.
- Stupidity - When a person's brain is so poor or defective that they are unable to grasp the concepts required to function or reason as a normal member of society they are termed "stupid" and given the role of the "village idiot", who is rightly viewed as a second class citizen and not accorded the normal rights and privileges of a full citizen. Such rights might include the right to vote, to marry, to normal pay, to drink alcohol, to drive etc.
"Why is stupidity a sin?" you may ask. The reasons include: 1) since they can't work to a normal level they are a burden on society giving little if anything back in return. 2) since they can't reason they will often commit minor crimes as they can't see why such things are wrong. 3) since they can't grasp how society works they will inevitably make bad decisions when called to.
- Irrationality/Wrong Headedness - This is similar in some ways to the simple "stupidity" category but here the brain is badly wired rather than damaged or low quality. Presumably these people were simply badly educated in the first place, being fed contradictory and incorrect information on a daily basis or being forced to adopt dogma that they knew to be wrong. After a while the confused child gives up on logic and simply does as they feel, spouting any rubbish that comes to mind to justify their actions or beliefs.
Irrationality is a great problem in society today because it limits the effectiveness of democracy. How can people form a rational opinion and vote accordingly when they can't think straight?
Bad attitude does not reflect a damaged or defective brain but rather a small and selfish focus, refusing to consider the big picture and act for the greater good, instead pursuing the easy and short term gratification of simple desires at the expense of oneself and/or others. It is these sins that are so well known and most of the "7 Deadly Sins" can be found herein.
The original "7 Deadly Sins" were: Pride, Greed, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony, Lust & Anger. This choice of 7 demonstrates the lack of comprehensive thought that goes into traditional religions and myths and their consequent morality. Clearly Envy and Greed are much the same thing and there are numerous categories that have been left out, Heartlessness and Cowardice for example.
Category Exemplars of Bad Attitude: Kingpin - Greed, Loki - Duplicity, Garfield - Laziness, Mr Creosote - Gluttony, Jessie Rocket - Vanity, Nelson Muntz - Bullying, Dilbert's Boss - Willful Ignorance, Courage the Dog - Cowardice, Quinn Morgendorfer - Shallowness, Mr Burns - Heartlessness, Eric Cartman - Intolerance, Ned Flanders - Insipidity.
- Greed/Envy - Probably the greatest source of evil but also the great motivating force of Capitalism that makes the world function: The desire to have something you don't. This can result in stealing property from someone else or harming aga and kala to get it, but it can also make people get out of bed in the morning to go to work, often for the good of the world.
Greed is the desire to have something, Envy is the desire to have something belonging to someone else. Clearly the two are closely related and spring from the same root. If the envious sinner has no way of getting the object of his desire he may seek revenge on the owner in a wrong-headed rationalisation of his pain. This could manifest as physical violence, verbal abuse, destruction of the owner's property etc.
Note that: as is the case with some of the other sins, greed is only a sin when taken too far. In small to moderate amounts it is an essential component of the human psyche and usually functions for the good of the community. As is the case with so much of morality and politics it is all about balance: When one's Shoku is being harmed by actions resulting from someone's greed (or the greed of a group, a ltd company for example), then that greed is clearly excessive and the community must rein it in and restore the balance. Obvious examples of this include theft, marginalisation of aga for profit, destruction of the environment for profit, fostering addiction for profit, destruction of social structure for profit etc.
- Duplicity/Flattery/Hypocrisy - One might tend to see these as separate things but they are really just different types of lying:
Flattery is when you praise someone by exaggerating their good points or simply inventing them. Flattery in small amounts, especially when the object knows they are being flattered and doesn't take it seriously, can be seen as charming and may make the object feel good about themselves. Unfortunately there are the more serious cases where giving someone an unrealistic assessment of themselves may lead to large problems for that person when they base ill-advised actions upon it later on.
Hypocrisy may be conscious or unconscious, either way you are lying to others or lying to yourself. The end result is that people lose respect for you and disregard your words just as you yourself have done.
White Lies such as telling a supplier that "the cheque's in the mail" because you haven't been bothered to do the accounts, or pretending to a customer that you have a product just to get them in the door, may seem harmless but they do create bad feeling when the recipient realises they have been lied to. This bad feeling may lead to greater problems further on.
Duplicity may help to protect you in circumstances when you are being attacked by people following rules. For example if you are being questioned by Police, examined in Court, questioned by the Boss, accused by a Customer, accused by a Partner or Friend etc. In these cases you may be able to escape their questions and the consequences by denying facts and inventing stories if you are sufficiently believable.
In certain cases, for example: where the people questioning you are criminals or where they cannot see the bigger picture it may be in the best interests of the Shoku to lie but in my experience these are very rare. As a general rule: lying has a negative impact on the Shoku, is likely to be found out and is best avoided. "Honesty is the best policy" is an old and corny sentence but it is true most of the time.
- Laziness/Inefficiency - This world depends on aga doing things to stay alive: Birds bustle around looking for insects to eat, trees put all their energy into growing up towards the sun and propagating themselves, lions hunt prey for food and humans go off to work to get money to buy food and shelter. It is obvious that if any of these ceased their actions they would soon die of starvation.
Human societies often have some form of social safety net that can keep a person alive who hasn't been able to find money or food. This might be in the form of gifts from family or friends or from a community or government organisation. Thanks to such support it is possible for someone who is lazy to continue to live.
Different people have different levels of motivation to work and different levels of efficiency at their work. It is not meet to expect everyone to have the great work ethic of a workaholic. Some people live for their work which is fine for them but one cannot expect everyone to follow that path.
Some people work normal hours but produce little useful result, either due to slackness, incompetence or inability. In the view of the Church such people are little better than those who don't turn up at all. In fact, in some cases of incompetence or corruption they may even be WORSE that those who don't turn up.
Small amounts of laziness are demonstrably fine. Sleeping in on the weekend or lazing around watching TV after work gives an agu a chance to recover its energy and centre. Sleeping is necessary for proper brain function and for most humans that means at least 8 hours per night. Tired people are unproductive and bad company and it is in the best interests of the community that they get their proper rest. This does not mean however that they should be sleeping at work or in lazing in bed all day every day.
It is also appropriate that people should have fun, whether they are children or adults. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" as they say. The Church's purpose is to optimise the existence all aga and that means that all aga should be enjoying the experience. Your life isn't much fun if you're spending all your time slaving away for others doing something you don't enjoy. No one should be forced to live such a life. On the other hand the Church doesn't support the idea of a completely free ride.
The Church holds that everyone should contribute to their society, ideally in a manner that best fits their talents and desires and the needs of that society. Sadly those 3 will not always coincide and so monetary reward is needed to entice people to do the jobs that society needs but no one wants to do. This is fine for those that follow that path but it should not be seen as the ONLY path. Not everyone should be forced to generate money to justify their value but they must do SOMETHING that may be seen to benefit this Shoku.
- Addiction - This includes such famous sins as Gluttony, Excessive Lust, Drugs, Gambling etc. Humans are made of chemicals. Our emotions and thought processes are produced by electrochemical means and are modified and controlled by various chemicals. We are all susceptible to addiction as numerous drugs and activities release neurotransmitters into our synaptic clefts which cause us to feel pleasure which makes us want to do that thing again. The mechanism by which the various addictions act varies considerably.
Addictions may be natural and essential to life such as food and sex. They may be formed by an artificial environment such as gambling, computer games or death dancing. Finally they may be created by chemicals forced into the body to stimulate the brain directly, such as tobacco, alcohol and methamphetamines.
- Food - We are all, perhaps, addicted to food; without it we will die and we eat it multiple times a day. A healthy human will not over-eat however as her body will send her the signal that it has eaten enough and she will feel full. Unfortunately this mechanism can be damaged by bad diet, lack of physical activity, psychological problems and stomach alteration so that the addict can become obese and suffer many or all the concomitant problems such as diabetes, ugliness, sleep apnea, depression, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, difficulty in mobility, difficulty in buying clothes etc.
Sadly such problems depress the addict even more and she turns to food for comfort which only makes the problem worse, spiraling her into a viscous cycle of binge eating, weight gain, disability and depression. Tragically most addicts are never able to break the cycle and return to a normal weight. Some do however, which shows that it is possible.
- Drugs - Drugs such as tobacco, alcohol, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines etc are the most insidious form of addiction since they actually supply the neurotransmitter directly to the synapses. This cuts out the middle man so you don't need to perform any complex, dangerous or strenuous activity to get your body to create the buzz, the drug supplies it direct. A great idea perhaps but it comes with the problem of tolerance.
The body has a natural homeostatic process that detects an excess of the neurotransmitter and acts to reduce its affect. It does this by increasing the firing potential of the synapse over the long term so that an increased dose of the drug must be administered to get the same high. This not only means that you have to buy more but it also leaves you with the problem of physical addiction.
Because the synaptic firing potential has been increased your non-doped synaptic level is lower than it would normally be. You are now feeling the opposite of your high. You are feeling low and may even be feeling pain. You must take more drug just to feel normal. This is not fun, this is not exciting, this is not what you signed up for, but this is the reality of drug addiction.
Drug addiction is so terrifying because it is direct, simple, profound and wields not only the carrot but also the stick! The pressure on the addict to keep administering the drug becomes extremely strong. The terrible drug ruins the addict's life over a period of years and even if the addict gives it up and stays clean there is often permanent damage to the body.
It is easy to think of the drug as evil incarnate: a nasty little molecule plotting to destroy people's lives, but actually it's just an innocent collection of atoms with no consciousness at all. The molecule derives no enjoyment from the destruction of lives, how can it? It has no brain! The addict is not evil, she is just an unfortunate person caught in a biochemical loop. The dealer might be considered evil depending on the situation but he is just a businessman supplying a market. It is pointless to ascribe blame or declare "war" on such a system. What is needed is to get the addict off the drug as early as possible or at least to mitigate the damage.
- Sex - We are all driven to have sex, especially with young, attractive people. This is evolution's way of ensuring that our species will continue to exist and that it will contain healthy, fertile people who will in turn continue the cycle. Good sex leading to orgasm will flood the body with endorphins and oxytocin, building a bond to the other person called love. Strictly speaking this is romantic love as opposed to love for one's family or love for one's friends. Naturally this release of endorphins is addictive and makes us want to have sex again, usually with that person about whom we are now likely to be obsessed with, since they are now the source of that pleasure.
This is all perfectly normal and appropriate to the goals of evolution as it means the pair will stay together and rear the children and have more. Normally the initial surge of sexual desire which might be felt several times a day will reduce after a year or so to daily and after 7 years or so down to weekly1. This is the human body reestablishing its natural balance. Strong love and out-of-control sex are good for creating the family bond and creating children but once the family is established there is no need for it and it is reduced to a minimal level. The body giveth and the body taketh away.
But what happens to the relationship when the sexual addiction is removed? The partner that no longer feels the addiction will lose interest in sex with the other partner and feel less committed to the relationship. He may embark on an affair, become obsessed with work, spend more time away with friends or decide to divorce. Conversely the partner that remains addicted will find herself frustrated that her needs are not being met and she will likely take out that frustration on the other, lashing out in abusive tirades, refusing to cooperate and deliberately creating problems. All of this has the effect of turning the other partner against her, creating further bad feeling, reducing the sex still further and increasing the chances of divorce.
It may be that evolution found that ~7 years of dual parent bonding was enough to guarantee optimal human creation and rearing and that it was best for the human race if the father then wandered off to start another family with a younger partner while he was still fertile. If so then perhaps the notion of life-long fidelity to one partner is a deluded fantasy and the whole issue of marriage should be rethought.
Evolution may think that but that doesn't mean that The Church of Infinite Dimensions does. Under-population is not an issue in these days, in fact it is OVER-population that is the great problem of at the present. Nor is there the problem of insufficient capable men. Thus there is no need for a man to have multiple women to bear his children. A child needs to be reared by BOTH parents until adulthood to be well adjusted to society. This is clearly far more than 7 years and the Church encourages spouses to try and stay together for the good of the children at least until they are adults.
Spouses should try to realise that their partner losing interest in them sexually is not a mean and vindictive deliberate act but merely a result of natural hormonal balances beyond the partner's control and therefore not deserving of revenge attacks. If satisfactory sex is not possible then it is perfectly acceptable for either partner to resort to masturbation with or without aids such as pornography, clothing and various physical devices. Neither side should be jealous of the aids of the other.
The Church holds that there ought to be a great deal more to a relationship than sex and that the removal of that sex should not, on its own, be enough to destroy it. Nonetheless the removal of sexual addiction will test any relationship where that was strong and it will be up to the parties to see if they can get over it. If the couple have enough in common outside the sex and if they know each other properly and can see eye to eye then there is no reason their marriage can't survive.
- Death Dancing - When staring Death in the face by undertaking an extremely scary activity a human will normally experience a great rush of adrenaline which is an overwhelming stimulant. This "rush" is highly addictive and causes some people to devote their lives to its pursuit. Such thrill seekers include: Skydivers, Base jumpers, Motorcycle racers, Rollerbladers, Skiers, High divers, Rock climbers, Slack liners etc.
This might be ok if the risks are kept to a minimum. The Church admires bravery, so long as it isn't reckless. Unfortunately, as is the case with all drugs, the body becomes tolerant of the danger and in order to get the same rush the danger needs to be increased. For example: regular skydiving becomes just a sport, so addicts turn to the far more dangerous base jumping, regular skiers turn to extreme skiing, slack liners remove their safety line etc. Removing your safety line or jumping without a reserve is just plain STUPID! Only an ADDICT incapable of rational thought would calmly embark on such a course. But to the addict the logic is simple: I will do anything for the high, and the high is more important than life itself.
- Gambling - When a gambler collects after a win he is on a high. A big win, especially in the early days brings a great feeling of exhilaration. The gambler then wishes to experience that high again, so he keeps going through his losses to once more experience the joy of a win. Unfortunately by this time he is addicted and has lost the power of rational thought with regard to the subject. All he can think about is chasing that high no matter the cost. He knows he is losing everything he owns but he must pursue that high. Tragically, by this time he is tolerant of winning so the entire process is empty, but still he must continue.
This form of addiction is the financially most expensive of all and can consume everything a person has built up over a lifetime in a remarkably short space of time. And all for nothing, since the addict doesn't even enjoy losing it! One might say: "It's only money", but you need money to live and you need money to bring up a family and it is takes years of hard work, blood, sweat and tears to acquire. You're not just throwing away pieces of paper, you're throwing away half your life! If someone stole this from you it would be grounds for murder but if you gamble it away then it doesn't matter?
Problem gambling is perhaps the worst form of addiction: It destroys lives and destroys families and creates poverty and destruction and it should NOT be encouraged! The companies that make their fat profits from problem gamblers are the EMBODIMENT OF EVIL! They deliberately seek out these people to steal their life's savings, their disclaimers notwithstanding. Gambling addiction is like any form of addiction: it needs to be managed and to be actively discouraged. The idea that mainstream advertising of this should be permitted is patently absurd in any caring society.
- Computer Games - Computer games provide an escape from the stresses and boredom of reality. You can be a super hero, a knight on horseback, a crime lord, an astronaut, a soldier in combat etc, all without taking any physical risk and without spending much money. A successful mission or combat win makes you feel good, the more committed to the win you are and the more challenging it is, the greater the euphoria, at least in the beginning. Furthermore, most such games employ a level system which gives you a further burst each time you level up. The pleasure is also greater when you can play with your friends.
Ultimately a computer game cannot function without employing these addictive rewards and all good computer games are highly addictive. This is not necessarily a bad thing as no one is being hurt, they make you use your brain and in time all such games lose their charm so the addiction is only temporary. This is because the player gradually becomes tolerant of the game and once he's done it all the euphoria just isn't there. Players know this and generally move on at this point.
Unfortunately MMORPGs provide an opportunity for game vendors to keep adding content without a ceiling: more quests, more bosses, more levels, more weapons, more armour etc. Each addition is higher in quality that the previous so the game is never finished. Furthermore the game is competitive with other humans so that if you want to play with the big boys you have to play hard and play A LOT!
Sadly for those addicts the game takes over their lives. To compete with the best you need to spend most of your waking hours playing the game. This means you can't hold down a normal job or relationship. Again, the addiction takes control of the brain telling the addict that it is worthwhile sacrificing one's job and marriage for the game.
It should be remembered that this is only true of online competitive games that endlessly release new content. Perhaps such games should be limited in some way to prevent the addiction getting out of hand. Perhaps by limiting the number of content upgrades? Perhaps by limiting the competitive aspect?
All these forms of addiction can ruin lives and we know this yet we still line up to become addicted. It seems innocent enough at first: Why shouldn't we try a cigarette, a glass of wine or a line of speed? Certainly you won't become physically addicted after just one taste or even two but somewhere along the line you will be. What is needed is the mental strength to see where this is going and to get off before it is too late.
Unfortunately addiction is stronger than rational thought. The need for another fix rewires the brain so that filling that urge becomes the primary focus of the addict's life. Dissonance reduction forces the addict to deny some or all of the problems that are occurring and rationalise them away. So powerful is this effect that the addict can even happily justify the destruction of his entire world just to feed a pointless addiction.
The best chance to get off the addition is early on while one can still think straight, later on, because the addiction is controlling one's brain the instances of a clear view become rare, nonetheless they still occur. These instances of a clear view of one's situation are OPPORTUNITIES to break the habit. They MUST be taken or one's life will be destroyed! It requires mental strength: WILL POWER! We all have it to some extent. The weakest will power can be encouraged, supported by peers and strengthened through practice. No one said it was easy but it is the ONLY way out.
The Church of Infinite Dimensions reveres rational thought and also upholds the right of the individual to have fun. It is a problem when one contradicts the other. As always, a sensible BALANCE must be used to decide what is right and wrong. A little alcohol after a day's work or a moderate amount at a party is probably a good thing. If one can't function without a bottle of whiskey in the morning it is a bad thing. In general the more addictive and dangerous forms of addiction should not be encouraged and serious addicts should be placed on plans to manage or remove their addiction.
Addiction per se is not necessarily a sin provided it doesn't adversely affect one's life or one's environment. Once it gets out of hand it IS a sin and at that point it is beholden to the addict to attempt to kick the habit.
- Overweening Pride/Arrogance/Vanity - Pride is the feeling you get when you are happy with who you are and what you have done. When fairly based and in reasonable amounts it is a great thing and is called self-respect and self-esteem. Self-respect gives a person dignity and the will to continue to the right thing under difficult circumstances. It gives one the strength to stand up for oneself when others seek to put one down and it causes a person to produce quality work when the mediocre would be accepted. Finally it inspires others to follow the lead of dignity. All of these things are essential for the proper functioning of a good community. Pride in this form is a virtue, not a sin.
Sadly there is, of course, the other side of this coin, when the self view is not fairly based or is over-stated.
When a person overstates the value of their looks, their character, their work or their achievements then they are termed vain. The most common example of this is the pretty woman that spends most of her time in front of the mirror or in clothes shops, spending her husband's money on expensive fripperies because she thinks her beauty means that she is superior to other mortals. Wrong! "Beauty is only skin deep." as the saying goes, and although we all enjoy beauty the Church values real achievement for the good of the community more highly.
Arrogance is an example of overweening pride where a person arrogates to himself pride for qualities he does not possess or results he has not achieved. For example: A songwriter with one hit might claim he is now the equal of Paul McCartney. A middle-class woman who marries a man 50th in line to the throne might assume airs appropriate to the Queen. A skier that beats a skier in a minor competition that once beat the world champion might claim to be the best in the world.
Few people are fooled by such arrogance and most find it irritating at best and oppressive at worst, as people in power are often arrogant due to being surrounded by servants and flatterers. There is a world of difference between bowing before the Queen and bowing to an upstart nobody. Likewise there is a world of difference between applauding Pavarotti and someone who just thinks he is.
Arrogant people surround themselves with sycophants as they constantly need to have their over-large egos pumped up. This is not good when such people are in a position of real power as it means their decisions will probably not be based on fact but on what will best bolster their ego.
Arrogance is bad for the world because it creates bad feeling and promotes bad decisions. People only deserve respect for who they are and what they have done, not for who they think they are and what they imagine they have done.
- Bullying/Domineering/Sadism - Establishing dominance is a natural animal activity that has been around since the age of reptiles. Hens establish a pecking order, dogs have a pack hierarchy and native tribes have a Chief. Animals fight to establish their position in the hierarchy using their strength and viciousness to decide the result. This is not necessarily a bad idea as a mob needs a leader and the best fighter is the one most likely to protect the mob from invaders.
For better or worse our society has long moved beyond rule by the best fighter and we are now ruled by democratically elected leaders. At least that is true at a parliamentary level but in everyday life there are still hierarchies to be established: At work you will have a non-elected boss whom you must obey but there may also be arrogant others who will attempt to wield power over you as well. In a sporting group or any other community group there will be those who seek to order you around whether they have any such legal right or not. In families there will be those who seek to control the other members: Typically the father or mother but could be an uncle or aunt, an in-law or a grandparent.
Someone who forces you down beneath them in the hierarchy so that they can order you around may be termed "domineering". Legally anointed bosses may or may not be domineering depending on their manner. People who arrogate such power without legal sanction are invariably domineering. It is one thing to be ordered around by a properly sanctioned boss. This is part of the deal and provided the orders are issued sensibly and fairly this fine. Being ordered around by pretend bosses is quite another thing and is humiliating for the victim. Such action creates bad feeling and is probably inefficient and corrupt which is bad for the organisation. Only people who are legally sanctioned to be bosses should place themselves above the common member. No member of an organisation should attempt to dominate another on their own level.
Establishing dominance over another is normally done by hurting them. The wounded creature rolls over and fears that person from then on. This gives the dominant one a "Sadistic" feeling of pleasure and the act is called "bullying". This feeling is addictive and the bully soon desires to repeat that feeling so he/she repeats the act. This is worse than many other addictions as the one that is hurt is not the addict. For this reason it is deplored by Church and regarded as a sin. It should not be tolerated and should be stamped out as early as possible.
- Willful Ignorance/Small Mindedness - Due to circumstances beyond our control we have not all had a quality education and we have not all been able to amass the wide-ranging general knowledge that is required to make the most of society to make informed decisions about our world. Such ignorance is unfortunate and might be viewed as a sin but the REAL sin is not wanting to know!
When you don't WANT to know it means you don't CARE. It's ok not to care about something that doesn't matter, like football results, the price of fish or the latest soap opera but it is beholden to each member of society to be informed about things that do matter: such as major political policy, major environmental issues, morality, how the law works etc. When you can't be bothered informing yourself about the big issues it means that you don't care about your own world. When you don't care about your own world you don't deserve to live in it.
When you have a narrow field of interests, a small circle of friends and a limited awareness then you are "small minded". The Church of Infinite Dimensions reveres the creative use of the human brain based on objective facts and without limits: the unfettered and well-informed intellect in flight. This is what has made our civilisation great and this is what is required to continue our greatness into the future. Small mindedness is the antithesis of that and it is abhorred.
- Weakness Of Character/Cowardice - We are not all brave, much as we might like to be: We do not all stand up to the bully. We do not all speak up against injustice. We do not all perform voluntary work for the community. We are not all capable of breaking our addiction to drugs. Many of us are just a bit wet and weak...
Why should it be a sin to be weak and wet? Well, yes, society can carry some of these people but when too many are like this society begins to break down because the organs of democracy ultimately depend on ordinary people upholding the law. When those people are too weak to do that the corrupt move in and take it over, invariably for the worse... much worse.
It is hard to find courage. It is hard to find strength. It is hard to find will power. We all have something of the coward in us but some of us have risen to the challenge and have conquered this slimy demon. Yes it can be hard, but it can be achieved one little battle at a time.
The Church of Infinite Dimensions admires strength of character in its good aspect. It is crucial to society that people stand up for what they believe in, that they don't give in to adversity and that they don't allow themselves to be beaten down. On the other hand the Church deplores mental strength in its bad aspect, where people stubbornly refuse to see that they are wrong, where they insist on promoting irrational or baseless views or where they attempt to browbeat others by sheer force of will.
- Shallowness/Soullessness - Some people are just shallow, for example: Some women are only interested in their house and family and NOTHING else. Some men are only interested in alcohol and football. There is nothing wrong with these interests but the Church of Infinite Dimensions values a greater depth and variety of interests. There is a vast world out there of great beauty, variety and richness. There are a myriad of different cultures and languages. There are people, places and ideas. There is a great complex web of science, arts, politics and sports. Why limit yourself to just a few? Why spend all your time in one small country?
"Travel broadens the mind" they say, but it also broadens the soul. By seeing other cultures in their own country you begin to see those foreigners as human beings and you begin to empathise with them. This opens your heart and thus deepens your soul. Similar results can be achieved by reading foreign books or watching their films.
It behoves us all to study the ecology of our land. By seeing how the soil, plants and animals function together under the local climate we gain an appreciation, indeed a reverence, for it all, which once again opens the heart and builds the soul.
Without depth of soul, without an appropriate appreciation of other cultures and the environment, how can we make proper decisions about our world? We must feel reverence for the complex web of existence deep in our souls. Only then can we give proper priority to the things that truly matter.
- Heartlessness/Inhumanity - The Church of Infinite Dimensions is largely about humanity at its noblest and best. Part of this is empathy and sympathy for each agu in this Shoku. No matter how bedraggled or unworthy they may appear, each agu partakes of the infinite and must be accorded respect for that at least. This requires use of the heart.
This is not to say that criminals should not be punished, that those in pain without hope should not be put to death or that over-populated species should not be culled. Such things are examples of "tough love" and should be done when required, but they should be done with heart. If an agu must be killed it should be done with respect, not contempt.
Heartless actions are actions done without empathy, without consideration of those that may be adversely affected. Should a caravan park full of low income residents be turned into a housing estate just to realise a handsome profit for the owner when a hundred people will be made homeless? There may be arguments on both sides but certainly the owner should walk a mile in the resident's shoes before throwing them out.
- Intolerance of other points of view - It is easy to be intolerant: "I am right. They disagree with me, so they must be wrong! Why should I put up with people who are just plain wrong?".
The Church of Infinite Dimensions believes that in some cases there is such a thing as "absolute fact" ie a statement that cannot rationally be disputed. In such cases, intolerance of dissenting views is acceptable. If someone wishes to argue that 2+2 = 5 within the conventional mathematical system or that the world is flat or that the world is 5,000 years old then they should be howled down with the contempt they deserve.
However, if person holds a view contrary to yours that does not contravene an absolute fact, then even though you are convinced that they are wrong, you must concede that there is a least a possibility that they are correct and you must at least TOLERATE their view.
Some examples: Someone thinks that your football team will lose the next match. This is not grounds for a fight. They simply have a dissenting view. Time will tell whether they are right. You are keen on a girl that you think is beautiful. Your friend thinks she is ordinary. This is not grounds for a fight. This is just a difference of opinion.
This is especially true for cultural matters such as what someone else likes: If they like to eat fried insects, suck each others nostrils, dress in hessian and listen to out of tune sitar music that is their business and unless there is some absolute law that they are breaking you should tolerate their difference. You don't have to like it but you should tolerate it.
On the other hand, if there are people from a different culture who practice acts that are clearly proscribed such as slavery, genital mutilation or uncontrolled pollution of the environment then their views should NOT be tolerated.
- Excessive straightness/Insipidity - One of the problems with existing religions is that they tend to be a bunch of wowsers. Whether they are be Jews, Christians, Muslims or Buddhists, fundamentalist followers are without exception the most uptight, dreary, illogical and ridiculous people you could ever meet. This is what you get when you attempt to live without sin.
The Church of Infinite Dimensions dislikes sin but it also recognises that it is part of the human condition and it celebrates the human condition. Thus it is that it is a sin to be without sin! Yes! Get some sin into yourself but not too much! No major sins please...
The Church values the richness of human character. If everyone is the same, like the Amish or other fundamentalists then there is a lack or variety, a lack of spice, a lack of humanity! We want people to add to the richness of the world for now and for ever. Variety is richness. The rules of the Church are there to prevent problems, not to make everyone the same.
- Irresponsibility - Perhaps this is the meta sin... Most crimes proceed after the inability or refusal to consider the impact of our actions and to take responsibility for them.
Very commonly the impact is all too obvious but is WILLFULLY disregarded. For example: Cigarette companies know full well that many thousands of lives will be lost as a direct result of their product and many millions of lives will be adversely affected to a lesser extent. A crook that defrauds a couple out of their house knows that the couple will be forced out onto the street. Sadists that take pleasure in inflicting pain on the unwilling know precisely that they are hurting that person. This type of irresponsibility is the worst case in this category. These examples show irresponsibility in its guise as the meta-sin as they are all examples of other sins.
In some cases it can be difficult or impossible to envisage the likely outcome of our actions and in such cases we cannot be blamed for a lack of consideration so long as an attempt was made. No sin there.
In other cases we OUGHT to be able to foresee the result of our actions but do not because we don't even TRY. This is little comfort to the victims however who suffer just the same. We MUST consider the future in every major thing we do. It is the only way to ensure that the future gets a fair go. This is a crucial tenet of the Church of Infinite Dimensions!
Finally there are those who lack the WIT to be able to see the likely outcome of their actions. This is true for children and animals for example. We excuse the children because they will probably grow out of it and we excuse the animals because they have little destructive power anyway. But should we excuse a madman who lights a bushfire or a retard who derails a train or a drunk president who presses a red button? Certainly not! People who CANNOT consider the consequences of their actions do not deserve to be treated as proper citizens regardless of their excuse. They become part of the dross of society and should be treated accordingly.
Consideration of probable outcomes is only half the issue though, there is also the matter of taking responsibility. Taking responsibility means balancing the pros and cons and making a fair decision on the matter for ALL concerned. This might mean compensating victims, adjusting the plan, damage mitigation or avoiding the action completely. Precisely WHAT is fair will always be open to dispute and is something that will be dealt with in the section on Objective Morality.
We humans are intelligent creatures, (in theory at least); we are named for our brains and it behoves us to use them at all times. It is our brains that raised us up above the rest of our fellow creatures. It is our brains that allowed us to conquer the Earth, to land on the moon and to elucidate the mysteries of the Universe. It is our brains that allowed us to paint like Rembrandt, to compose like Beethoven and to write like Shakespeare.
But much of what our brains do is built on following established, well proven techniques. We are taught standard methods for all subjects, at school and also through manuals. Most of these methodologies are highly domain specific but there are certain general purpose rules that one can apply to ALL activities: "Research the matter." "Plan ahead." "Prepare." "Be sure of your ground." "Do the best you can." "Take pride your work."
These principles are tried and proven and give the best result for all concerned. Failure to follow them is just plain stupid! It is a sin not to use your brain and bad method is just that.
Examples of Bad Method: Hot Rod - Jumping in without thought, Bart Simpson - Lack of Pride in Work.
- Unpreparedness/Lack of research/Lack of planning - It is tempting, when action is required, to charge in immediately and do the first thing that comes into your head. This shows that you are a man or woman of action! Unfortunately you will inevitably discover halfway through the job that your initial idea isn't going to work for reasons that you didn't realise because you didn't take the time to think the entire thing through at the start.
There is no substitute for proper research and planning. Large organisations know this and allocate time and resources accordingly. Sadly individual citizens often do not. Whether you are going on a holiday, planting a garden or choosing a place to live, it is CRITICAL to know as much about the problem as possible. Only then can you make the right decisions that will lead to the best outcome.
- Jumping to a conclusion without sufficient evidence - We are taught in secondary school never to ASSUME! Make sure of your facts before you form a conclusion. Yet numerous people still do this. They see a fragment of fact in the media, read someone's opinion and decide the man is guilty! Some time later it transpires that there was more to the story which proves that the man was innocent. Fortunately he was not tried by the media or he would be dead by now. Going off half-cocked can lead to shooting yourself in the foot!
Unfortunately this kind of thing takes place all the time with matters of a political nature. Important public policy is inadequately and sensationally reported by the media with a clear bias. The half-cocked indiscriminate sheep that see it jump to the dictated conclusion and the fate of the nation is altered, possibly for the worse... and for what? So that some advertisers can make some money?
Later on, these same people vote the government out, based on their incorrect conclusions triggered by the media's biased and inadequate information. The new government implements policy that produces the right trigger for their media image rather than for the good of the country. The country suffers and the people suffer. All because they jumped to a conclusion without demanding to see the complete evidence.
Similar problems occur in one's various social, familial and work circles. Rumour and innuendo develop, possibly with little or no foundation and relationships can be damaged or destroyed all because rumour was assumed to be fact.
We don't live in a courtroom and we don't have weeks to make an elaborately informed decision. Nevertheless, the same basic principles apply: People must take responsibility to be properly informed about things and insist on decent unbiased evidence. They must not assume or invent facts and they should not make judgements of any weight until they have the necessary evidence.
When all our decisions of consequence are informed by solid evidence we will have a more rational society and a rational society is a BETTER society!
- Lack of pride in one's work - We all know this one: Plumbers who can't be bothered digging a ditch making a blockage prone path instead, Doctors who leave you in pain for months because you're not actually dying, Mobile phone vendors that create products that they KNOW will flatten your battery just when you need it, Estate agents that fail to tell you that the house is about to collapse, Programmers who create future problems by taking dirty shortcuts, Manufacturers who design cheap goods that they KNOW will never work, Carpenters who don't seat house stumps deeply enough so the house sinks after a few years, etc, etc, etc. The case are limitless, especially products from indiscriminate countries and high tech products.
Once upon a time things were made to last. Now they are made to fail! This is economic rationalism gone mad! People need products and services that they can rely on. People need QUALITY! That is: REAL quality, not just a fancy finish. If it costs a little more so what? It's worth it!
One hundred years ago people had real pride in their work. They were CRAFTSMEN and their products were good. When you see what they were able to make, often with largely just hand tools, you can admire their skills and their attitude. Consider the old cathedrals of Europe that are approaching 1,000 years old. They are as magnificent today as they were when they were built and we cannot build their like anymore. They were built ENTIRELY by hand, with simple tools!
We have lost the plot with our prideless rubbish that is built to fail. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. We have the most elaborate computerised precision machinery and still we make stuff that doesn't work.
It is important that the manufacturers of goods and the suppliers of services take pride in their work so that these goods and services don't let people down by failing, either straight away or within the first 5 years. Ultimately society relies on its vast multitude of manufactured goods and single jobs. When they break so does society. If the people responsible take real pride in their work and insist that their work be of GENUINE good quality then society will be a better place.
Sin Is Not All Bad
If you recognise most of the cartoon category exemplars displayed above, you will notice some of the most popular characters of the genre. For example: Homer Simpson is one of the most loved characters of all time yet he is a complete idiot and responsible for enormous carnage in his town. Other characters with an unredeeming bad attitude include his son Bart and the cat Garfield. Why is it that we find such unrepentant sinners so endearing? The answer is that sin is deep within us all and consequently part of the human character. We recognise that in others and love them for it, provided the crimes don't get out of hand.
Lack of sin is a sin in itself as was mentioned above. We all need a little sin in our characters lest we become a race of soulless, characterless robots. Varying amounts of various sins helps to give us a unique character and adds colour to our aga. The trick is to keep it within sensible limits. Once again BALANCE is the key. A little laziness may give a person an element of character but when they are so lazy that they expect others to do everything for them then without contributing anything in return then they are a drain on the community and their behaviour must be adjusted. Someone who shoots their mouth off without thinking first may be amusing at party when you happen to agree with what they say but it would be a different situation if such a person is in a jury that is trying you for crime you didn't commit and that person jumps to a verdict of guilty without considering the evidence.
Sins are not necessarily bad, in fact they may often be good! They are part of us and we should not seek to remove them altogether as various religious puritans have done over the centuries. They do however need to be watched and dealt with if they get out of hand.
The Church of Infinite Dimensions believes in the free mind and spirit and holds them sacred. However it also believes in all aga taking responsibility for their actions and working to optimise the quality of life for all. How can the Church reconcile these two principles that will at times oppose each other?
Clearly one cannot reconcile opposites with the stroke of a pen, much as one may wish to, so this problem will always exist. As in all such matters, the key to an optimal strategy is BALANCE! Common sense must be employed to decide when to force an agu to follow the Church's philosophy and when to back off and allow that agu to exercise freedom of thought, aberrant though the Church may view it. Generally speaking, the greater the crime the greater should be the stick. Sin without crime can generally be ignored.
The Church Of Infinite Dimensions must NEVER be guilty of real brainwashing. I abhor it in existing religions and regard it as one of the great crimes against humanity. This doesn't mean however that if an agu's sin has got out of hand that the Church's philosophy behind its dictums should not be explained to that agu and that agu's flaws and their concomitant impact pointed out. Such action should be kept low-key, non-threatening and private however. We don't want to go down the path of the Chinese Cultural revolution with its public shaming, forced public self-denunciation and forced public spouting of party dogma.
The physical manifestation of sin is crime and it will be dealt with later.