Deadlier Than the Mail

Q. What are they again?

A. They are the Seven Deadly sins.

Q. No, I mean what are they. Repeat them.

A. They are avarice, envy, gluttony, lust, pride, sloth, and wrath.

Q. What happened to anger, covetousness, and greed?

A. They have been rebranded as wrath, envy, and avarice.

Q. Why?

A. We have new traditions to create.

Q. Really?

A. The publicist says the new ones test better.

Q. And are these literally deadly?

A. They can be, especially wrath. Gluttony and sloth are killers when practiced simultaneously, and, sadly, lust has become deadlier than it used to be.

Q. Is that supposed to be social commentary?

A. Just making an observation.

Q. But they’re not all literally deadly. In fact, none of them are.

A. They are held to be fatal to spiritual progress.

Q. I see.

A. That’s not a question.

Q. Which one is the worst, in terms of damage to the soul?

A. All sins are equal in the eyes of the Lord.

Q. Really?

A. Yes.

Q. So what makes these noteworthy?

A. Er…well…uh, symmetry? Or was it synergy? Darn that publicist. Anyway, you could easily make the case that all other sins stem from these seven. They’re also powerful iconographic implements, is what it says here. I mean, people make lists out of them, they inspire art and literature, and, I am led to understand, an exciting film with Brad Pitt and that other fellow.

Q. But, honestly, they can’t all be the same, can they? I mean, objectively, a gal who has a weakness for cheesecake isn’t as bad as Carl Panzram.

A. Perhaps she is, and perhaps she is not. That is a question for theologists to pose and God in Heaven to answer. But they are both severely impeded on the path to Christian sainthood.

Q. Pride seems a little vague. What about a craftsman who takes pride in his work?

A. The reference is to excessive pride. It is not an absolute stricture.

Q. Really? Well, what about excessive gluttony? Or excessive wrath? Is it okay to be sort of greedy, but not too greedy?

A. You are focusing on quibbling details. And I need hardly tell you what evil worker lurks in the details. How are you going to save your soul when you are trifling with how straight your tie is?

Q. Is my tie crooked?

A. No. I was being metaphoric. And that’s an inappropriate question.

Q. Couldn’t greed and envy be consolidated into one sin?

A. That would leave us with only Six Deadly Sins.

Q. So?

A. The management has a preference for the number seven. Six is viewed as representative of the competition.

Q. Good grief. You’re not a numerologist, are you?

A. Certainly not. Divining and hocus-pocus of that nature is a sin, albeit not a deadly one.

Q. But…well, then, what’s the point of all the numerical preferencing?

A. You have no appreciation for style, for iconography, for the art of design.

Q. All right. What about the Seven Cardinal Virtues?

A. Not my department.

Q. Oh, come on. Off the record, even. What are they? And didn’t there used to be four, instead of seven? What does that have to do with your “art of design”?

A: I told you already, not may department! Stop bugging me.

Q. I don’t think you’re even listening to your publicist.

A. Questions only!

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