The whole notion of sacrifice is rooted in the idea that I am bad or deficient and I must pay a price for that. Millennia ago, the Holy Temple of Jerusalem was basically a ‘divine’ slaughterhouse where bulls, rams and a variety of other livestock had their throats cut as an expiation for the sins of humans. Today sin-excited Christians flagellate themselves on Good Friday while the less theatrical cleanse themselves via weekly acts of murmured penance.
Luther’s theological ejaculation “Sin boldly” confronts the problem of secretiveness. Hiddenness is an obscurity, a fearfulness, vastly worse in our imagination than what is hidden. We cannot love what we do not see.
The necessities of life include food, clothing, shelter and the means to acquire these things. The list, no matter how long we extend it, does not include negative emotional states. Anger, depression, anxiety and so on—these are not necessary. Gurdjieff’s table-clearing definition of sin: Whatever is not necessary.
The habit of unnecessary speech reduces us, turns us trivial.
Keep your speech impeccable. That is the first of The Four Agreements. Im-pectatus is Latin for “without sin.”
What is sin? Sin is what is unnecessary. So says Gurdjieff, that coal-eyed Russian whom I love so much.
In our post-Christian culture, paradoxically, people are more preoccupied with sin than ever before. As a result, the world has never been noisier.
“There are fires on the road.”
And the sin is someone else’s.