Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &
Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Social Epistemology / Religion /
Mission: to challenge the concept of sin to define itself: objectively
Today I just want to get this file in place, with a quick declaration of function. I’ll develop it another time.
The Bible says that God gave ten commandments to Moses. Moses did his best to pass them to the Jews. Thus, it’s a sin for a Jew to kill, to honor other gods as God’s peers, to hold another God above God, to covet his neighbor’s wife, ass, etc.
A headhunter in the Amazon jungle has a different set of directives. Have any anthropologists found any peoples with no set of customs, taboos, laws …?
Citizens of modern kleptocracies with mixing populations (such as the United States) hear a bedlam of directives: of Semitic origin, of British origin, Roman, issuing from Congress … Cross with the green, not in between.
Mitzvah: law abiding, right action … Sin: straying from the law, from the culture’s strictures … Law is the secular side of this confusing history.
Trouble is: the Jews have a high percentage of their members literate in the minutiae of their laws. Nearly every male Jew is a Jewish lawyer in that sense. When your everyday American baptist hears the word “sin,” she hasn’t been drilled in the culture’s norms for the term since she was toilet trained.
bk’s Israeli friend joked that it wasn’t hard to be a Jew: he really felt no temptation whatsoever to sacrifice his children to Moloch. (For one thing, he didn’t have any children). The relatively ignorant Christian, relatively, is left to his own imagination (culture driven, of course) to decide what sin is. (And this is a tricky area: without strict training, our biological phobias may mix freely with our cultural prohibitions. (Uh oh, I touched myself! Uh oh, I brushed against that girl’s bottom! (Was it really accidental?!) Our sexual (and other) confusions aren’t just cultural.)
Notice: in secular law, no citizen gets to decide what his sins are. That’s up to lawyers, judges, juries … And at the trial, the judge himself has little reliable idea what the outcome will be.
That’s one reason that Judgment Day is such a compelling idea. God will know whether I’ve sinned: and God will be RIGHT!
Kafka had his K. accused of a crime. Do you plead Innocent or Guilty? Innocent, of course, responds K. Huh? How does K know whether he’s innocent? the crime hasn’t been specified. And with bureaucracy, it wouldn’t matter if it had been. You just have to wait and see what happens. If you wind up in jail, you were guilty. If you’re still going about your kleptocratic business, working in the insurance firm, then you’re innocent … until you’re not.
A sane society would define its sins (like the Jews) (but unlike the Jews, have far fewer of them).
Uh, except that the definitions would have to be clear: to anyone; not just fodder for more endless generations of lawyers, Jesuits, equivocators, nitpickers …
Notice that I use a word like sin at multiple points around its range of meanings and further expand the meaning into new metaphor: or try to. Freely, at any point, I will contrarily narrow the application: fucking your mother is a sin; fucking your neighbor’s virgin daughter is a sin; fucking the gypsy is just good clean fun (at least you hope she’s clean). In this I imitate the species: coercing the White House children to clean your toilet would be crime; impoverishing aliens so they’ll agree to do it for cheap is plain economic sense.
@ K. 2004 02 11