Monday, December 29, 2008

Small Sins

"Small sins" seem more terrifying than big ones sometimes. Boredom worries me more than theft. Most Americans think that they needn't worry about boredom because they're so busy. But boredom doesn't consist in not being busy as one can easily be bored of that which keeps him busy. And boredom is a sin barely distinguishable from pride. The humble man is thrilled with small things, but even big things bore a prideful man.

Gluttony is that small sin which we will conquer effortlessly tomorrow but requires superhuman effort to conquer now. That is why it is so dangerous.

And I'm much less worried of how I'll react if a loved one dies than if someone cuts me off in traffic. I'm sure I won't curse God if a close relative dies, in fact I think I'll seek Him more closely. But in lesser things like stubbing my toe, my computer crashing or my wife taking too long while shopping, the last thing I do is seek God more closely.

Father, help me to be faithful in a little that I may learn to be faithful in greater things.


George Weis said...

Hey, my last comment went away!

Anyway, it was full of blessing and agreement! May the Lord open our eyes to the small places that have not been yielded to His will.

May your words be true, and your desires refined my friend!


J. said...

"And boredom is a sin barely distinguishable from pride. The humble man is thrilled with small things, but even big things bore a prideful man."

This doesn't seem right to me. Surely a man getting bored on the assembly line is not evincing any great amount of pride. It's just a natural response to monotony, which tends to switch off the mind.

Tim A. Troutman said...

J thanks for the comments. If boredom is found to be "natural", as you say, then I will certainly agree that it is not a sin.

But I don't think it is natural at all. Perhaps you mean "natural" in that it happens to everybody. That might be true but so does lust and yet lust isn't natural.

It is in this way, that I think boredom is a sin or at least the natural procession of another sin.

J. said...

Maybe I'm just being thick. In what way do you think boredom is a result of the sin of pride? Don't animals, who are not moral agents, get bored in their cages at the zoo? Boredom as the result of stultifying conditions seems to be a natural response.

But maybe you are thinking of two kinds of boredom, much like lust (sinful) can be separated from sexual arousal as such (morally neutral). Is there perhaps a sinful species to the genus of boredom?

Tim A. Troutman said...

On lust, yes we need to separate it as you say. I have always been accustomed to associating lust with desire for anything (I might lust after a candy bar in line at the grocery store) but to use it properly (as it pertains to sin) I think we need to understand lust as "disordered sexual desire".

Mere sexual desire is not evil as you of course know. It is disordered sexual desire that is sinful.

So I guess you bring up a good point here, that there needs to be some separation with boredom as well. If we mean mere "discomfort" or "lack of enthusiasm" or something else like that when we say "boredom", then it's probably not sinful. But I mean to use it as "disordered discontent".

I'm not sure how or when one crosses the line between ordered and disordered discontent. It's much like gluttony I suppose - how much is too much? At which point exactly do I pass from fulfilling a natural desire to eat to an unnatural desire for the pleasure of eating itself? But because something is difficult or impossible to measure, does not show that it's not real.

In the animal example, I don't think animals get bored (but this isn't my argument for the unnaturalness of it... e.g. most animals are polygamous but it's not natural for us - that animals do it does not make it natural for rational beings and that animals do not do it does not make it unnatural for us either).

Now the caged lion may disagree with me but he can't tell us so I think this is something difficult for us to know.

I think pride causes boredom in this way - I think perfect humility will cause one to be continuously appreciative of every gift from God - realizing that he's not above the situation he's in. In fact, he doesn't deserve it. I'm bored all the time but I don't think Jesus ever was.

What are your thoughts?

J. said...

"I think perfect humility will cause one to be continuously appreciative of every gift from God"

That's interesting, boredom as the result of ingratitude, and ingratitude as the result of pride. I might need to mull it over, but I think I could buy that.

George Weis said...

I don't know if this was in the back of my mind this morning, but while getting ready I had a few thoughts that went in the same vein as this discussion... so I posted it.