Posts Tagged ‘writing about the 7 Deadly Sins’

By Anonymous



As unaccountable as feeling, as inevitable, inconvenient and beautiful as tumultuous weather, a circumstance has arisen in which I am envied by a woman far more successful than I.

The Woman Who Envies Me, or let us call her WWEM for short, like a radio station, decided at some point that my life, my spirit, I don’t know what, I don’t know what, I don’t know, my circumstances, were, in their beauty, a source of personal torment to her, a sign of the complete arbitrariness of the universe in the handing out of sweet things, and began to torment me mercilessly, even as she tormented herself, with outbursts in my direction. As we were frequently thrown into artistic situations together, working on the same movie, being in the same play (both of us are comedians and actors), she would never come to the workplace intending to torment me. Rather she would be overtaken by this feeling of envy, never the master of it. Envy has no master! It operates with a terrible independence, diminishing the spirit even as it enlarges and bloats the sense of self! Once, during a rehearsal, the WWEM shrieked, without warning to herself or to me that anything was coming:

O who do you think you are! With all that! With all that! Just because you went to some Ivy League school! You think you’re all that!

I was obliged to point out to her that it was she who had attended an Ivy League university; I had been a high school flunkie who barely got into any college, and would be shaking a cup in front of the F train were it not that my father had been a professor at a college that felt more or less obligated to admit me.

Another time, having attended a solo show of mine at a New York theater, she followed me around the lobby of the theater after the show whispering frantically in my ear, wherever I walked:

fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you

The woman in question is a known screenwriter and actor, a mother, a wife, the author of two successful books, a person of financial means and connections, and enjoys excellent health.

Except for her envy.

The beauty of this story, the lesson for me, lies in its mystery. It is quite clear that she envies me desperately (the symptoms are all there; I recognize them from my own inner life). If I could find her in a moment of quiescent spirit, I could try to ask her why. There is no doubt in my mind that the answer would educate me deeply. No doubt whatsoever.


An anonymous writer received honorable mention in the Out of The Blue Films, Inc. ENVY Contest at red Ravine for the short story Envy.

Congratulations, Anonymous, from Out of The Blue Films, Inc. and red Ravine!


red Ravine is not liable for any actions by Out of The Blue Films, Inc., nor the Film. red Ravine has no legal responsibility for any outcomes from the contest.

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By Jill L. Ferguson


At the age of four his feet first crossed the stage,
miniature violin tucked under his chin, audience rapt
from the first symphonic note. He held and released
each tone picturing it hover like a bird in flight,
closing his eyes into the sound. After the applause,
words he did not understand swirled in the air:
prodigy, virtuoso, artiste. Parents brought
their children to see him. Look at Paul play.
See how he feels the music. Why can’t you
play like Paul? You’re not serious enough.
You need to be more like Paul.
He hated when
parents said that. He wanted kids to like him.
He was just doing what he loved; it was nothing
special. But throughout his childhood after each
of his recordings, more and more parents wanted
progeny like Paul, and more and more of his
classmates shunned him. Playing the violin became
his Damocles’ sword, so he tried the drugs
the other kids dug. He smoked the pot and popped
the pills, snorted the lines and licked the LSD into his
system while welcoming oblivion. Then back in his dorm
he consoled himself with Schubert and Rachmaninoff,
Brahms and Beethoven. On stages far from campus
he still made mad love to the violin. And afterwards,
he ignored the parents’ prodding of their youngsters,
connect with complete strangers, and drown out the
evening’s envy with drugs, drink, and destructive sex.
He repeated the pattern again and again as seriously as he
practiced any symphony or concerto. Then, during orchestra
rehearsal one day at the age of 23, he was called
to the clinic. Now, he caresses his violin
as his lifelong lover, and he is positive
no one should want to be like Paul.


Jill L. Ferguson won the Out of The Blue Films, Inc. ENVY Contest at red Ravine for poem/prose Like Paul. As 1st Prize winner, Jill received an Amazon Kindle.

You can find out more about Jill at her website and review books she has authored and co-authored at this Amazon link.

Congratulations, Jill, from Out of The Blue Films, Inc. and red Ravine!


red Ravine is not liable for any actions by Out of The Blue Films, Inc., nor the Film. red Ravine has no legal responsibility for any outcomes from the contest.

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Of the 7 Deadly Sins, I find Lust and Wrath to be the most harmful to humanity. That may say more about me, than it does humanity. Lust to excess leads to unseemly, crass actions. I am stunned by news programs where a bait is placed on the Internet and some guy shows up at the home of a 13, 14, 15-year-old, ready to have sex. It is a sickness, a disease. These men need help. Is it desperation? When it comes to children, sex should not be in the picture. Not even a thought.

Wrath – anger. In the extreme, anger is rage. I have seen internal rage tear up friendships, destroy a person’s spiritual life. Anger to the extreme eats a person’s soul from the inside out, creates bitterness, leads to wife beating, domestic abuse, heartbreak, bruised and battered bones. Families are torn up, destroyed. Verbal abuse. Relationships, toast.

I am trying to write about the negatives, the Deadly Sins. But I am tired of the negative. It wears on me. I find myself wanting to focus more on the positive, the Virtues. I make daily choices not to stay at the negative. It seems so much more fruitful to see the glass half full.

I once read a study on happiness and the bottom line was that people who focus more on the positive, live longer, happier, more productive lives. That doesn’t mean being naïve. You can live in reality, make change, give back to humanity, rise above your own adversity, and still spin each day to the positive side. Some may find that lacks edge. But I’m not at a place where I want to live on the edge. I am looking for peace.

Of the 7 Virtues, I would say Temperance is the one that has given me the most trouble. Not in terms of modesty. But discipline. There are areas where I lack discipline. I find the more structure I place around the problem areas, the more successful I am. Procrastination – I place that under Temperance. I don’t procrastinate around my writing anymore. That is something that has changed from doing daily writing practices over years. When I drop off, or stop the practice for a while, it is still hard to get back into it. Better to keep it going in small increments every day.

Food is another area that I have struggled with most of my life. I don’t have the thin, will-o’-the-wisp body, metabolism and frame that can eat anything. I have the peasant body, the apple shape. It takes work for me to remain at a good weight for me. When it comes to exercise, I am a slug. I guess that would fall into the area of Sloth. The opposite of Sloth is Diligence. Diligence comes back to structure, careful use of time and energy, discipline.

There seems to be a fine line between some of the Virtues and Sins. Shades of purple gray. I am not Catholic and don’t know what it means to go to confession, though it is depicted in movies and television as being a sacrament where anything is forgiven, even murder. I don’t understand how that works. You are spiritually forgiven by virtue of a few words, yet you still have to pay the Piper, the worldly price for your sins?

I quickly glance at the two lists again. I see the Virtues and Sins as human traits. As long as we have brains and bodies, we’re going to make wrong choices. And we’re going to look for ways to absolve ourselves. When it comes down to it, isn’t it the severity of the sin? And the faithfulness or sincerity of the virtue? Sadly, sometimes it is who you know that determines your punishment. Or how much money you have. Is the world a just or unjust place? Justice should be a Virtue.

-posted on red Ravine, Monday, April 21, 2008

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – THE 7 DEADLY SINS

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7, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Can you list the 7 Deadly Sins? I usually get to number 6 and fade out. I can never remember all 7. The 7 Deadly Sins began with Evagrius Ponticus as a list of 8 capital vices. A condensed version of the list was given to Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century. He chose to go with 7 (in this order):

1 – Lust
Lust began as extravagance, and later became lust. (Is it okay to be extravagant but not lustful?) Lust includes
obsessive or excessive sexual thoughts or desires, and adultery. Unfulfilled lusts sometimes lead to sexual or sociological compulsions including sexual addiction, adultery, rape, and incest.

2 – Gluttony
Gluttony derives from the Latin, gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow. Gluttony is the over-indulgence and over-consumption of material objects, food – anything, to the point of waste.

3 – Greed
Greed includes acquisition of wealth, avarice, disloyalty, deliberate betrayal, or treason, especially for personal gain. Bribery, scavenging, hoarding of materials or objects, theft and robbery.

4 – Sloth
Sloth is laziness or indifference, an unwillingness to act. Sloth replaced sadness in the 17th century. (Who knew it was a sin to be sad?)

5 – Wrath
Wrath is a harboring of uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. These feelings can manifest as vehement denial of the truth (both to others, and in the form of self-denial), impatience with the procedure of law, and the desire to seek revenge outside of the justice system.

6 – Envy
Envy is insatiable desire. Those who envy, desire something someone else has which they perceive themselves as lacking (scarcity mentality).

7 – Pride
Pride is the original, and most serious of the 7 deadly sins; it is the ultimate source from which the others arise. Pride is the desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to give compliments to others, excessive love of self.

The 7 Deadly Sins have been made famous by artists, writers, and filmmakers. Purgatorio, Part II of Dante’s Divine Comedy, is one of the best known sources since the Renaissance. The most graphic depiction I’ve ever seen hit me square in the face in the film, Se7en. If you haven’t seen the movie, prepare yourself for some of the most twisted psychological murders in film history. Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Morgan Freeman know how to pull it off.

Luckily, each cardinal sin has a 6th-century, equivalent punishment in Hell. For the sin Pride, one is to be broken on the wheel. For Envy, dropped into freezing water. Anger is rewarded by being dismembered alive (not unlike a scene in Se7en.). For Sloth, you are thrown in the snake pits; Greed, immersed into pots of boiling oil; Gluttony, forced to eat rats, toads, and snakes; and Lust, smothered in brimstone and fire.

The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things, Hieronymus Bosch, 1485, Public domain image, copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years.In 1485, a few years before Columbus sailed, Hieronymus Bosch painted The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things in oil on wood panels. The painting has 5 circles or mandalas. The 4 small circles depict Death, Judgment, Hell, and Glory.

The 5th, and largest circle, contains the 7 Sins:  wrath at the bottom, then proceeding clockwise, envy, greed, gluttony, sloth, lust, and pride.

The center of the large circle is said to represent the eye of God, and Christ can be seen emerging from his tomb. At the bottom of the image is the Latin inscription, Cave Cave Deus Videt (“Beware, Beware, God is Watching”).

How deadly are your sins? Are you quick to judge others for theirs? Are 7 sins enough?

Not for everyone. After 1,500 years the Vatican has brought the seven deadly sins up to date by adding seven new ones for the age of globalization. The list, published in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, came as the Pope deplored the “decreasing sense of sin” in today’s “secularized world” and the falling numbers of Roman Catholics going to confession.

The new deadly sins include polluting, genetic engineering, being obscenely rich, drug dealing, abortion, pedophilia and causing social injustice.


Each of the original Seven Deadly Sins has an opposite, corresponding Holy Virtue. In Writing Practice lingo, the Holy Virtues are the underbelly of the 7 Deadly Sins. In parallel order and opposition, the Seven Holy Virtues are:

  • Chastity (opposite lust)  – Purity. Embracing moral wholesomeness, achieving purity of body and thought through education and betterment.
  • Temperance (opposite Gluttony)  – Self-control, abstention, and moderation.
  • Charity (opposite Greed)  – Generosity. Willingness to give. Nobility of thought or action.
  • Diligence (opposite Sloth) – Zealous and careful nature in one’s actions and work. Decisive work ethic. Budgeting one’s time; monitoring one’s own activities to guard against laziness.
  • Patience (opposite Wrath) – Forbearance and endurance through moderation. Resolving conflicts peacefully, as opposed to resorting to violence. The ability to forgive; to show mercy.
  • Kindness (opposite Envy) – Charity, compassion, friendship, and sympathy without prejudice, for its own sake.
  • Humility (opposite Pride) – Modest behavior, selflessness, and the giving of respect. Giving credit where credit is due; not unfairly glorifying the self.

The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things. Hieronymus Bosch, 1485, Public domain image, copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years  The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things. Hieronymus Bosch, 1485, Public domain image, copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years  The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things. Hieronymus Bosch, 1485, Public domain image, copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years  The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things. Hieronymus Bosch, 1485, Public domain image, copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years

How has the nature of sinning changed since the 6th Century? Do you even believe in sin? What about modern Holy Virtues? What are they?

  • Choose a Deadly Sin and do a 15 minute Writing Practice on how it applies (or doesn’t apply) to you
  • Do another Writing Practice on the underbelly, a Holy Virtue (the Sin’s opposite)
  • Which Deadly Sin do you have the strongest reaction to? Is it a moral issue? Connected to past associations? Something you learned?
  • For National Poetry Month, compose a poem or haiku from lines of your Writing Practice

If none of the Sins or Virtues appeal to you, there is always Gandhi’s list of Seven Deadly Sins. Mohandas Karamachand Gandhi, one of the most influential figures in modern social and political activism, considered these traits to be the most spiritually perilous to humanity.

Choose a line from Gandhi, and 15 minutes, Go!

Gandhi’s Seven Deadly Sins

  • Wealth without Work
  • Pleasure without Conscience
  • Science without Humanity
  • Knowledge without Character
  • Politics without Principle
  • Commerce without Morality
  • Worship without Sacrifice



-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

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