Monday, February 06, 2006

Born of dirt and laced with starlight

I came across this site quite by accident. 5 minutes later and I had done the quiz too, perhaps out of my love for satire and irony. I can just see this sort of thing parodied in The Wittenburg Door or something of equal mockery value. So now here it is, folks, everything you've always wanted to know about my forays into the forbidden land: my ranking on the seven-deadly-sin-o-meter, published on-line for all to see! The modern-day confession, writ large in html! (Jen crosses her fingers, hoping that such a candid confession will cancel out some of the said pride.) Seventeen magazine ("Are YOU a good flirt? Take our quiz!!) meets fear of eternal damnation. Ridiculous. If Christians are running this site, Lord help us all.

Greed:Very Low
Gluttony:Very Low
Sloth:Very Low

I'm not sure how such results were generated from questions like "What kind of car do you drive?" but apparently these things are important. (Maybe they just give "pride" out, as a default, to all the people who are just too good to accumulated high rankings in the other six. Since we're so perfect, we must be proud! Ha.)

This quiz has indirectly reminded me of one thing I despise: the scare-them-into-salvation tactic. There are people out there who think that fear is a legitimate way of introducing people to the ravishing freedom and extravagant beauty of God's kingdom. That, to me, would be like taking a child to the ocean blindfolded, or quenching his thirst with wine. The medium does not suit the message. The good is spoiled by that which he has not developed a taste (understanding) for. God seduces us with beauty and goodness and truth, and we Christians--said to be his likeness!
--come up with sin-o-meters and hell's flames plays! Like lego skyscrapers in the shadows of towering mountains, so are our plastic, tottering salvation-games. Should not God be the one who draws the soul forward?

The problem with pride though is that it goes in socked feet. It sneaks up quietly, and by a thousand new names. Even writing this is a prideful act, as I name what I believe to be "right" about my particular view, and in naming what I believe to be "wrong" about another. This is why I have such a great need for God's grace: because as soon as I begin to speak, I am already making myself into a little god. And so this silly little quiz makes me smile, because I know that the longer the bar is on that graph, the further God's arm reaches out towards me. And the further that reach extends, the smaller I shall become. And sometimes I am glad to be small. Small, said E.F. Schumacher, is beautiful.

I like the concept of humility the Bible introduces, as a counter to our obsessive, hamster-wheel attempts to run from pride. Paul says "think of yourselves with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." For me this means knowing and sharing myself: my gifts as well as my weaknesses. The dance of celebration and vulnerability. Sober judgment is a balancing act indeed, impossible "under the influence," so to speak, of pride. When we try to outshine others, we all just end up brown and withered from the excessive heat. When we hide beneath the covers of our fear, the world shivers without the touch of our hand.

Humility, hummus, human. Sharing the same root word for, you got it, dirt. Humility is a call to turn our poised and pious gaze back to the stuff beneath our feet, and to those rooted there--in the matted leaves, dried up tears, and withered moth wings. Being humbled is to be reminded of the dust drifting through my veins like sediment in a restless river. It is to return momentarily to the myth of my genesis, be it by the rib, the tadpole, or the exploding star.
Your thoughts are most welcome.

(and if you're really really bored, take the Seven Deadly Sins Quiz)

1 comment:

Marla said...

I just did the quiz, but I won't tell you my results because I don't think they're especially accurate. I don't want to give anyone a false impression, after all.
It doesn't really look like a christian site (based on the ads on it), thank god.

It's funny, because I was thinking about the words "human" and "humanity" yesterday. I think it's strange that "humanity" means both compassion and decency, as well as our fallen condition, or "human-ness".