Sloth, Avarice, And Mtv

Both MTV and the New York Times have rediscovered sin. The problem is that we’re not too sure they disapprove of it.

Sin we have always with us, but talking about it, dissecting it, and labeling its parts have not in recent memory been acceptable in polite company—until this summer, when MTV and the New York Times Book Review took up the topic. When these polar opposites on the landscape of postmodern American culture devote their resources to the same topic, we know that something other than the Zeitgeist has been brooding over the cultural waters.

On MTV, Queen Latifah remarked, “Pride is a sin? I wasn’t aware of that,” while fellow rapper Ice-T commented, “One of the main problems [is] kids have no pride.”

“There would be no point to sin if it were not the corridor of pleasure,” author Mary Gordon wrote in the Times about anger. The allure of sin resides in its promise to deliver the object of one’s desire. But sin’s reach always exceeds its grasp. As rock star Ozzy Osbourne said on the MTV special, as soon as he became a millionaire, he wanted to become a “double millionaire”; envy and avarice are self-defeating in the end.

Perhaps it was sin s insatiable character that inspired Harper’s magazine several years ago to turn to advertising as a medium for reflecting on sin. Seven ad agencies developed advertisements for the Seven Deadly Sins. The results included such gems as: “Pride: the sin you can feel good about.” And, “Lust: Where would we be without it?”

Sin—in moderation

The idea that sin exists, that certain acts are inherently evil and offensive, is one of our most ancient and pervasive religious concepts. Tragically, our society’s reluctance to label anything as wrong, bad, or evil has resulted ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: