As anyone who has watched Se7en, or perhaps went to church, knows, there are seven deadly sins that one must avoid if one is hoping to be invited into the everlasting celestial paradise: ten cent wing day at Matty McDrunk’s down on Seventh Street. But, hey, apparently sin is fun, and capitalized Sin is even more fun, especially when it’s been detailed for you in advance. It’s the functional equivalent of the Polar Bear Syndrome. The Polar Bear Syndrome is a condition discovered by child psychologists that I just made up in my head that states that if you tell a child to not do something, they will immediately put forth as much effort as possible to do exactly that. For instance, if you tell a child to not punch a polar bear in the face, you can bet the college fund you’ll no longer need that your child will go out of their way, regardless of what hemisphere you live in, to do everything possible to find a polar bear to punch in the face. It’s the same way with sin, only instead of a reprimand from the zookeeper you go to hell.

Anyway, here’s a ranking of the sins, in ascending order:

7. Envy
It’s a sin to want what other people have. But in America, that’s hardly a sin, because anything anyone else has is pretty much already available at any local department store. It’s hard to be jealous of a neighbor’s new Weber gas grill when Wal Mart has a new shipment steaming over from China only a few days away. Sure, you can envy non-material things, such as your neighbor’s wife, but she’s actually available at retail price as well. (I asked.) A pretty weak sin, as they go.

6. Pride
Some people enjoy flaunting their sins. They shouldn’t be. It’s great to be proud of your achievements, but it’s another to rub those achievements into the ground-up remains of your peer’s shattered self-esteem, especially after showing off your awesome beach volleyball skills. Most people take their killer salary, their dashing husband and/or tasty girlfriend, or their grandiosely expensive car and parade it about like your trophy wife’s cleavage, but most modest folks don’t care quite as much as you think. Me, my proudest, and calculably, my only, achievement in life is the time I sat through an entire episode of Gilmore Girls without vomiting in my mouth. But I don’t brag about it.

5. Gluttony
I don’t like this sin because it hits too close to home. I’m no glutton, mind you; my intake is reasonably mild unless there are chicken wings somehow involved. Or steak pizza. Or just steak. Or Strawberry Quik. Or grilled bratwursts. Or pork chops at the buffet. Or thresherman style turkey. Or garlic and parmesan pita chips. Or pistachio flavored ice cream. Or peanut butter pie. Or frozen chocolate covered bananas. Or ham and cheese Hot Pockets. Hey, is anyone running to Chik-Fil-A anytime soon?

4. Sloth
Sloth is the lazy man’s sin. It’s the only sin that you commit by not doing anything, and to me that’s just wrong. Sinfully wrong. And that’s just not right.

3. Wrath
Me, personally, I don’t get wrath. I like to keep my rage bottled up inside, along with all my other emotions, and take it out on appropriate object at the proper time, such as opening a bag of garlic parmesan pita chips or watching the Detroit Red Wings. But a lot of people engage in almost glorious amounts of wrath, during particularly interesting times, including but not limited to: driving, pickup basketball games, playing Final Fantasy VII, hooking the satellite dish up to both the VCR and the television and the stereo system so it actually works right, deciding supreme court cases, resolving martial difficulties, using the Microsoft Help Feature, paying protection money, and Fallujah. Some people manifest their anger into productive activities, but most people just hit stuff, and I just can’t not endorse hitting stuff. Who could it possibly hurt?

2. Lust
Lust is certainly one of the coolest sins. Well, rather, acting on lust is, but it’s a temporary benefit (like, fourty-five seconds, if you do it right) for a long-term detriment. If you succumb to the desires of your lustful thoughts, sure, it’s exhilarating, but then you also run the risk of any number of drawbacks. You may get some form of chronic disease that, depending on what war you fought in, will be a burden to your loved ones for the rest of your life or every time your prescription runs out. You may get someone/become pregnant, which introduces no end of moral issues into your life. Or, worst of all, you may find yourself in a relationship, a self-destructive, soul-draining endeavor that will no doubt be a terrifying experience for everyone involved when it comes time to end it. Still, it’s a fun forty-five seconds, isn’t it? Totally worth it, especially if they do that thing with their tongue.

1. Greed
C’mon, now. Greed is the best sin of all. And why not? Everybody wants everything, and there’s no harm in trying. Greed doesn’t imply theft, but, rather, a unrepentant desire to change your priorities from, say, caring for your child or remembering such mundane things as your wife’s birthday or your father’s insulin to acquiring real estate property in a timely and lucrative manner. Seriously, greed is the sin that makes the wheels of life progress without grinding down to an elaborately unprofitable stop. With the other deadly sins, you enjoy yourself for a bit but are left with an empty soul filled with self-doubt and regret. With greed, you’re still full of self-doubt and regret, but at least you also get stuff. And that’s a vice I can learn to convince myself is a virtue.

(from my web site, www.americanlament.com)