Some time ago I read a little "advice" from one of those home magazines. Real Simple, a magazine that has a lot of great ideas about everything, veered a little wide of their expertise.
One of their regular contributors and scrawled something crucial about an action I should take in my kitchen. This advice from the columnist, who was by no means a trained chef, was that I should always store my bottle of extra virgin olive oil in the refrigerator.
The rationale for storing olive oil in the fridge had something to do with a sudden discovery this writer had about all things foodie. Her logic followed that: A) Because sunlight and residual heat can decompose things, and B) Sunlight enters your kitchen, that, ergo C) You should always store your oil in a refrigerator.
Having worked jobs in Italian restaurants and delis -- crummy jobs, mostly washing dishes and getting yelled at by the 5-foot tall Italian owner-- I called bullshit on this slice of gastronomic guidance and immediately deemed the writer of this culinary calamity insane. It sounded like just another example of flavor-of-the-month wisdom, similar to a fad diet or a forgettable new dance move. Sunlight would suddenly now be the new SARS that would come to destroy me.
Seven Deadly Sins: The Series
Teppi Jacobsen: Gluttony
Jenna Myers Karvunidis: Greed
Lyletta Robinson: Anger
Patrick O'Hara: Envy
Evan Moore: Pride
Sheila Quirke: Sloth
Crystal Alperin: Lust
Andy Frye: The Eighth Sin: Rebellion
I'll admit it might have been the Italian side of my half-Italianness that made me skeptical. My half-ethnicity equips me with a natural aversion to recipes and a snap-off temper. But more importantly, it may have simply been reading this edict from an instant, self-proclaimed food expert that made me rebel. "To hell with that", I thought.
Rebelling from anything and everything, sometimes without reason, is nothing new for me. Ironically, my rebellion, in and of itself, is probably no longer a terribly rebellious thing.
Still, rebellion is another part of The American Way. From James Dean's portrayal as Jim Stark in "Rebel Without a Cause" to Ashlee Simpson painting her nails black for street cred, we're raised with an ethic to stick it to The Man. And we wear our rebellion well even if it's just a removable accessory. Strange though, that we are also socialized to believe that nonconformism is bad and that good people play by the rules.
If you've ever spent five minutes watching a religious cable TV, you know that it's not so much the bad stuff we do that makes us bad. It's that we don't listen to people that tell us not to do bad stuff that makes us bad. And, telling people not to do bad stuff and making them feel guilty about it is big business. Our world wouldn't run without it.
There's a whole list of things we can legitimately do wrong that will screw up our existence. Driving drunk. Robbing a bank. Shooting someone. Cheating on your taxes. These are all things that sensible people don't do. Still, there are plenty of other things that one can do or not do that, our moral superiors would say, will ruin us as happy, well-mannered compliant beings. Some of these things can include not going to church, voting a certain way, or living with your fiance.
The more questions you ask about what is a "sin" and what's "bad", the more convoluted the answer becomes, just like the tax code. I can't tell you how many times I've been in church, listening to a priest or pastor who makes up a new sin on the spot. Cynicism. Happiness. Ambition. Poverty. I've heard these all called "sins". Again, it's big business. But to us consumers it is confusing.
Dancing used to be a sin in some parts of the US. Now, thanks to Gangnam Style, it's not even a sin to make a fool of yourself in public.
Americans, being as busy, driven and yet sometimes-lazy as we are, should really demand better service. Especially if hordes of us by the billions are to be cast into Hell for all of our sins, we'll need a more streamlined and simple way to identify what's verboten. I think it only makes sense for consumers, Americans, and frankly all people of the world, to support the idea of all sins being combined into one big one.
That one sin, rebellion --or, choosing not to listen to those who have authority over us-- that's what makes us supposedly bad from the beginning, according to our moral arbiters. When you think about it, it's really the rebellion not any particular sin that gets morality blowhards all riled up. And it's our rebellion from authority that makes the squares get their pants all in a bunch. Everything else is semantics.
Wasn't it rebellion, solely rebellion, that got humankind kicked out of Heaven in the first place? If I remember right it was Eve (really you have to blame both Adam and Eve) not listening to God in that whole Forbidden Tree situation. So, if rebellion is the main issue, why bother with all that other stuff? Plus, there's no sin like the Original Sin.
When you think about it, The Cardinal Sins, also known as the 7 Deadly Sins or ones that are bad enough that they (like smoking) might kill you, are so much work. Consider:
-Lust? It's the sin we want to forget about. But we can look to our religious leaders, like Ted Haggard as a reminder how to do it up royally.
-Envy? It only makes us wish we had better, juicier sins.
-Gluttony? Why think about sin so close to snack time?
-Greed? Don't criticize The American Way or you'll be immersing yourself in socialism, which --like Greed-- will take your stuff.
-Pride? We can take pleasure in such remarkable things we have to say about our sins.
-Wrath? It makes me angry just having to think about it.
-And, Sloth? Well, why bother to get into that?
In the film Jesus Camp (2006) Evangelical leader Ted Haggard called you out on your homosexuality. Just before he got busted on his.
Hell, we barely get out of the car anymore to feed our gluttony, greed, envy or lust for power. That's what drive-thru windows are for. And it is easier to exhibit our pride in being Foursquare "mayor" of City Hall by checking in, without even carrying arms and taking over the place. The late Mayor Richard J. Daley would have laughed at us, and probably does right now from the grave.
So why not make things easy? Let's recognize rebellion as the original sin, 8th Deadly Sin, maybe... the one that encompasses all the others in one.
This declaration would make sinning quick and efficient, and let us get on to our lives as the screw-ups we were meant to be. If we didn't fulfill that role, it would be a sin.
Andy Frye grew up Roman Catholic, went to public school, and volunteered to be an altar boy. Some say it was a calculated move to liven up the boredom of church.