JOURNAL ARTICLE ANALYSIS
Journal article analysis
Writer Lisa Frank, in her article, The Evolution of the Seven Deadly Sins: From God to the Simpsons, talks about how humans, be it inadvertently or deliberately, commit sins in every walk of life. Moreover, unlike the astute Christian people of the earlier times, who feared God more than anything, today’s generation has not only accepted their flaws, but also embrace them, and often use them to their advantage. In fact, the expression of such ‘evils’ or ‘sins’ in our daily lives is often considered healthy and mentally liberating. Lisa supports her argument by referring to one of the most popular shows in the history of television: The Simpsons.
Being a sarcastic, but the realistic interpretation of the rampant hypocrisy in society, and thus providing excellent social commentary, The Simpsons have had their characters deal with one or the deadly sins at some point or the other. Frank also provides specific examples for each of the deadly sins: when Bart and Lisa are on opposite teams in a hockey tournament, Homer spiritedly tells Marge that the winner would be showered with praise, while the loser will be boo-ed by him until he pleased (pride); when a new girl in school begins to outshine Lisa in academics, she resorts to less than moral tactics to put her rival down (envy); when the Simpsons’ neighbour checks into a mental institution, he is told that his condition has worsened because he had been told to suppress his anger as a child (wrath); at various points in the show, Marge and Homer have contemplated cheating on each other (lust); at one point, Homer sells his soul to the devil for a donut (gluttony); when Bart is hit by Mr. Burns’ car, Homer decides to sue the latter for a million dollars (greed); lastly, Homer is the only employee in the company who has been working at an entry level position for the longest duration (sloth).
The cartoon not only depicts the deadly sins in a hitting, humorous manner, but also often encourages the expression, or at least the acceptance of them. Frank’s analogy, in this sense, is factually and morally true. Today, sinning is not defined as a taboo, but as a commonly accepted trend, and even fashion, and a tool towards greatness. The humans of today have accepted themselves as flawed: thus, they accept their faults and those of others, and all they can do, is not to give into them completely.
One of the best supporting arguments for Lisa’s words comes through the movie, Seven, when the killer, John Doe, unmasks the true face of humanity, and mocks them for their hypocrisy and naiveté. He calls the human race tolerant and complacent because they see the existence of sins on each corner and ignore the signs. In the contemporary world, sins are not few and far between, but common and even trivial CITATION Bra95 l 16393 (Fincher, 1995).
Just like Frank, Dan Savage, in his book, defends the omnipresence of deadly sins, and even rants against the pro-moral ‘virtuecrats’, who seem to have an acute disregard for the way the American population chooses to pursue their various pleasures, which may often lead them to commit sins CITATION Sav03 n t l 16393 (2003). Frank, in her article too, admits to the human population not only understanding sin better than ever but also working with them instead of against to achieve their ambitions.
According to author Nicholas Austin, in fact, vices are not just part of our nature: human kind accepts them because of their forbidden glamor and allure, just like Eve ate the apple despite knowing she wasn’t allowed to CITATION Aus12 l 16393 (Austin SJ, 2012). Frank’s thesis about sins contributing to our individual endgames is further affirmed by Thomas Aquinas, who says that since the human mind is naturally disposed to want to do well, and be good, evil only affects it when it somehow contributes towards the achievement of that goodness, or the happiness CITATION Aqu06 l 16393 (Aquinas, 1888-1906). This is also what modern advertising does: it influences people into buying products by associating them with some prize, or even pride. How else would shampoo make anyone feel ‘worth it?’ CITATION Aus12 l 16393 (Austin SJ, 2012)
Taking my stand with those who accept the existence and omnipresence of sins in our society, I feel Frank’s article provides a deep insight into the human mind, especially when it comes to using our sins to our strengths. Humans may be gullible enough to fall for modern advertising, or eat complementary food when offered, or covet more brands than ever, and even want the things that others have, but they are also good at using these sins to accomplish goals. The Simpsons episode titled ‘Lisa’s Rival’, also mentioned previously in this paper, Lisa resorts to tricks to take her rival down out of envy. She apologizes to the same girl at the end of the episode, and is given a lesson in return: without envy there would be no competition, and without competing, we wouldn’t know who is best.
Applying the same logic to our everyday lives, I feel each of the sins motivates us to do something good, which may or may not be the exact opposite of it. The more we eat, the more we worry, and the more we want to exercise. Expressing pride from time to time helps us count our achievements, and reach higher. Keeping anger bottled up never leads to a positive consequence. The occasional pastry, or cake, is not frowned upon when you have done something to deserve it. The end of a long, hard month entitles you to a fun night out, or a shopping trip. In a way, the cycle is akin to the third law of motion: to every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every sin, there is an equal and opposite virtue.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Aquinas, S. T. (1888-1906). Summa Theologiae. In Sancti Thomae Aquinatis doctoris angelici opera omnia iussu impensaque Leonis XIII P. M. edita. Rome: Typographia Polyglotta S. C. de Propaganda Fide.
Austin SJ, N. (2012, Feb 20). The Seven Deadly Sins. Retrieved December 3, 2015, from Thinking Faith: http://www.thinkingfaith.org/articles/20120220_1.htm
Fincher, D. (Director). (1995). Seven [Motion Picture].
Savage, D. (2003). Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America. New York: Dutton.