I attempted a thoroughly pointless search of my blog for the word “sin.” The problem isn’t that I’ve written about the primary antagonist of Final Fantasy X, or even that one game Deadly Sin, it’s that the combination of letters S-I-N appears in the word assassin and the word using, and therefore appears in over a thousand entries.

…So please forgive me if I’ve written on the subject before, I can’t really figure out for myself at the moment. I suppose I could search for individual sins by name, but I’m too frustrated to do that now. I’m just going to write this entry.

I have some problems with the popular portrayal of the Seven Deadly Sins, variously with how “pride” is defined, and how loosely the sins are “applied” to characters. To me, the list in popular list has no reliable reference pool for people to draw from when describing them and applying them, and drop sins like The Seven Dwarves.

Pride is the one that bothers me most I think, since it’s described alternatively as “too much self-confidence” or whatever, or “doing what you think is right for the wrong reasons.” I like to substitute “hubris” for pride because it hasn’t been devalued the same way. I’ve been called prideful before, and I think it’s been grossly misapplied.

I think there’s one very clear example of pride in modern fiction, and that’s at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. Voldemort discovers the Elder Wand in the tomb of Dumbledore (spoiler…?) and shoots some lightning into the sky. That’s hubris. Who was around to watch? Nobody. Who was the display for? Us.

Here’s an example of not hubris: Moff Tarkin’s decision to brush off his subordinate’s suggestion to prepare an escape vessel. It might seem poorly timed, but the only way he could have known there was a threat was if he knew one rebel was capable of getting a lucky shot after penetrating the station’s defenses (including Darth Vader).

That was well-placed confidence. The Empire lost an effective leader.

Here’s my point: we don’t see much of the Deadly Sins these days. They just aren’t as possible as they used to be, there isn’t as much opportunity for people to commit them. You certainly don’t find them as often on the street-level, where the “best” you can hope is for people to be full of despair. Sloth is maybe the most common.

The problem is that Deadly Sins don’t ever effect just the person who commits them. They’re like miniature Weapons of Mass Destruction, effecting numerous individuals at the same time. Murdering a single person in a moment of passion isn’t a Deadly Sin. It’s tragic yes, but it isn’t the same as committing an act of “capital-W Wrath.”

Say it with me: “Deadly Sins Stain Souls.” (Now say it three times quickly.) Not just one. Think of them like a soul-pocalypse, a mini soul-mageddon. The Wrath of Achilles was an entire chapter of the Illiad. The dude murdered tons of people ’cause he got that pissed off. That is Wrath worthy of a capital letter. That’s a Deadly Sin.

And I think the Deadly Sins could stand to be reorganized and redefined. For easier identification and application, not only in fiction but in life. I’m not Proud, I’m confident. I’m not Wrathful, I’m just angry. These feelings will wear off soon enough.