Although I dropped Hyouka weeks ago, I returned to the show for one segment of one episode at Alexander’s (Ashita no Anime) recommendation. In it, wobbly-eyed Chitanda tells the rest of the Classics Club that the seven deadly sins are all necessary…I guess for the growth of society (and for personal growth).
As a good American Protestant, I apparently know less about the seven deadly sins than a typical Japanese student (ha!). Most of my knowledge of the sins comes from Seven, so, I thought I’d consult that bastion of always-accurate knowledge, Wikipedia, for more information on the sins:
Theologically, a mortal or deadly sin is believed to destroy the life of grace and charity within a person and thus creates the threat of eternal damnation.
Okay, that makes sense. I get why they’re called “deadly.”
Of course, Chitanda, as we’re all bound to do almost gutturally, applies her thoughts to a framework that is culturally very different from her own:
1. “If someone didn’t have any pride, wouldn’t they also be lacking in self-confidence?”
Well, sure. You’d lack in self-confidence, but that doesn’t mean you’d be a sad sack of bruised apples. In Christianity, we (try to) put our trust in God, relying on Him rather than ourselves. While we obviously act out of our own accord, we don’t prize ourselves and our decisions above God’s. Ironically enough, the people I know who are strongest in their relationships with God are almost always the most willing to speak up, go out on a limb, and be bold.
2. “If someone was free of greed, wouldn’t they have trouble supporting their family?”
Well, no. If you’re greedy, your thoughts are on doing things your way. My experience is this – in Asian cultures, the parents often work tirelessly for their families, to whom they often show love through their work. But this love is often rather based on the dad and/or mom doing what they feel is right, rather than on pouring out love for their children selflessly. Strangely enough, family is often drive apart by this type of love.
You need true, sacrificial love to support your family – not greed.
3. “And if people didn’t envy one another, wouldn’t they stop inventing new things?”
Perhaps. But how much better would the world be without envy? If there were fewer modern conveniences, the world might be a happier place. And certainly, we’d likely have fewer inventions that destroy, rather than build up.
Maybe the root of all this misunderstanding, though, is in understanding what sin is. The Japanese idea of sin is different from a Christian one, and even in western culture, understanding of sin can be skewed. There are a lot of ways to define it, but I’ll go with this one – it’s when we fail to follow Jesus in his commands to love God and to love others. When we fail that, we’re showing hatred toward one or the other or both.
This hatred can come across through anger, and that leads us to Chitanda’s final point, and one in which she’s quite on the money:
4. If you don’t get angry about anything, you can’t love anything either.
I’m not 100% sure of what Chintanda meant here (edit: perhaps clarified in Cytrus’ comments below), but I think maybe she’s referring to passion that leads to both anger and love, or else a jealous anger. Either way, she’s probably right.
Of course, anger’s not a sin. Wrath is. There can be a big difference.
Jesus became angry…pretty frequently. He railed at the religious leaders who made others feel like dirt and with shouts and a whip, He ran out the money changers who dishonored God’s temple. He was angry with good reason.
What He didn’t do was strike out in revenge or hatred. That is sin.
And that, my friends, is what it’s all about. Sin is about hate: it destroys, it tears down, and it breaks us. Love is what builds us up – even sometimes when it’s an angry love.