I made the mistake of getting back to the subject of sin again in a post recently, and now, of course, I must take ownership of that mistake and do the full diligence of making amends.
I say mistake because any time I mention such connotation charged concepts it can be like setting off those mousetrap illustrations they used to do in explaining chain reactions; only in this case they go off inside my head and god (metaphorically speaking) only knows what might come of such detonations in the reaction chamber I have for a brain.
Of all things it might have done, in this instance it got me to thinking about the difficulty I had, something like ten or so years ago, in explaining what I had just begun feeling to my son (back before our falling out, of which, naturally, we were both at least partially responsible for) about the difference between a fool and a damned fool. And as my brand of oddness would have it, what suddenly popped into my head was a way to describe the two, in terms of their contrast.
A fool, it seems to me, is someone prone to make mistakes, but with the wiggle room of having the possibility of them being wonderfully grand ones; as in taking risks of the heart that have variously ratioed outcomes for both epic heartache and the love of your life; or absolute humiliations on the grand stage of ideas, or the breakthroughs that make giants out of ordinary men and women.
A damned fool is someone who force marches to mistakes as if to make a grand conquest, and who, subsequent to the inevitable outcome, refuses to see anything but the conquest already imagined, no matter how disastrous that outcome may have been. To the D.F. this is just the collateral damage done, not by him, mind you, but by the opposition who always prove to be a bit more determined than anticipated. Which, of course, grants him the conceit that no mistake has been made at all.
Perhaps now you can see why this bit might then suggest a connection to mere ignorance, as opposed to willful ignorance.
Clearly, we are all ignorant of many things, and will remain so despite aspirations to the contrary. It is also inevitable given that there will always be too many things that one can know, let alone what one ought to know.
On the other hand, we've been given the propensity for both doubt and certainty. It has also been a difficult slog to come to the understanding that a little bit of both can go a long way, as well as the notion that a balance between the two, like balance in general, is seldom symmetrical, and always in flux. The cognitive dissonance that ensues here comes from the inherent difficulty in not only the work involved in removing ignorance in the first place, but the additional irritations in keeping some doubt attached to what we have learned, and from that a willingness to abandon some parts of those lessons in order to gain more currently pertinent knowledge.
In my mind, the most obvious example of the willfully ignorant these days is the religious extremist and zealot. Such a person holds onto their cherished beliefs much as a damned fool holds on to their invulnerability to mistakes, and the ultimate conquest of those beliefs, over other beliefs, much as the damned fool does of his right to invulnerability.
What's interesting now for me, and what caused this detonation in the first place, is how these contrasted, similar expressions of modes of behavior might have to do with morality, both in the practical, and spiritual aspects of same.
If the zealot has nothing else he at least has what he thinks he can claim as sole possession of most things spiritual, and the rules that ought to work around spirit. You might get such a person to grant that morality ought to also cover more practical aspects of life, but I suspect it would be, at best, only a tangential connection that, first and foremost, did not contradict the dogma of that person's belief system. What this suggests to me, however, is a grand mistake on the part of the rest of us, who understand mistakes and want to take ownership.
In this, understandably, is there then the need to formulate a philosophical framework that includes morality in both practical, as well as spiritual, terms. A framework that can allow for sin, but do it in a way that makes sense both logically and emotionally, because, believe it or not, spirit can apply to both.
I have already expressed sin as the easy cop-out from the responsibility of making choices, and then not taking responsibility for those choices. The practical aspects of this ought to be obvious by now. What might the spiritual ones be? Oddly enough those should be just as obvious as well.
Simply ask yourself. What do we do to our emotional well being; our ability to love joyfully, and joyfully love. Our ability to nurture others to love, and know joy. To know and love other things that might bring joy: Wonder. Curiosity. Discovery. Healthy pride in not only our own achievements, but in the small sacrifices we make in aiding others to achieve, allowing us to share both the burdens and recognition of making gains. What do we do to all of these if we allow ourselves to become damned fools, or the willfully ignorant? What must harden and ossify in order to ignore these essential aspects of what makes up the energy of our souls; the light of same if you will.
In this, I think, is where evil enters the picture. The very thing that exists, but only in the abstract as far as our ability to declare that one thing is definitely evil, and the other is not. In this is where evil is simply a path towards greater probability.
As we are all prone to do foolish things we are all prone to what I like to call Evil Light. I'd like to think that the majority of us are still capable of seeing the bad aspects of our mistakes and, despite the harsh consequences, are eventually willing to own the hurt we have caused. The damned fool, as with the willfully ignorant, however, are well down the path towards the greater probability of doing true evil; the continued exercise of behavior that not only refuses to see the mistakes being made, but by definition, refuses to even acknowledge that there is even anything but admiration that should be in line for ownership, paying hardly any attention whatsoever to the unimaginable suffering they walk coldly through.
There are other connections to made here certainly, which is why you've seen a post on celebrities having their sexuality openly expressed. Is the open expression of sex a sin? It can be if you've taken your gratification from others without so much as a simple "by your leave?" If you've allowed your expression to become an addiction, from which your gratification is then the only thing that matters.
Which also makes it quite clear that other things can be far more pornographic, as in violence for the mere gratification of excitement. Or the expression of wealth as the gratification of the lust for power and ego enlargement
The grand fact of the matter is that a deity can be quite intimately involved in your particular form of pornography; whether it be in groups of the faithful wiping themselves amid shouts of "mea culpa," other groups of the faithful drinking the poisoned cool aid, or still others speaking in tongues and dancing about with snakes, keeping their clothes on only because they found a way to bliss out without fondling each other.
The only thing that might distinguish it from hurtful pornography are the types and characteristics of the mistakes that may be occurring, and whether those making them ever take ownership of them.
The bottom line then is simply this: are questions being raised on a regular basis? Are they as important as the answers, as well as the other way around? Do you make it a point to consider that you might be wrong and that you need to consider what to do about that if it is indeed the case?