Original Sin: the Serpent of Superbia

In his "Utopia" Thomas More imagines a perfect society inhabited by perfect men. This perfection is brought about by the abolition of private property. But because More had the benefit of an excellent theological education he knew that this perfect state was ultimately unattainable because of original sin. He knew that man's lust for power, dominance over other people as well as for wealth, admiration, status, and possessions is deeply rooted in original sin or the serpent of superbia in the Augustinian sense. St. Augustine points out that as a result of original sin all human beings are "cracked" in one way or another. These cracks show themselves primarily in our disordered minds and passions and weak will:

"Either you don't know what you should do, or if you do know, you discover that you are too weak to do it. Such confusion and weakness is the root of every evil that we humans do." (Sermon 182, "Saint Augustine," Donald X. Burt, p. 7)

In "Paradise Lost," C.S. Lewis writes that the Fall is simply and solely willful Disobedience,

"...doing what you have been told not to do; and it results from Pride---being too big for your boots, forgetting your place, thinking that you are God." (pp. 70-71)

The Fall means that the natural inclination of the proud, rebellious human spirit is contemplation of self rather than God. The pride and ambition of the "cracked" soul leads to the desire for power and the means for making its' will more quickly effective, most often through jeering, sarcasm, ridicule, destructive criticism, slander, gossip, deception (i.e., ill-intent disguised as concern), and other spiritually-sick psychological ruses and attacks.

When the "cracked" soul is continually frustrated in having what it wants, it becomes angry. Augustine notes that anger is the,

"..impassioned urge to overcome anything that stands in the way of what we want to do. Thus, we are angry at other humans when they oppose us. We slash and break the pen we write with...the brush we paint with and in general with anything that causes us frustration." (Letter 9,4, Burt, p. 62)

The real danger of unrepentant anger is that it eventually becomes hatred. Whereas anger is an emotional reaction to frustration, it does not kill our souls. Hatred on the other hand, is death-dealing because it destroys the love that is the life of the soul. Hatred corrodes our body, soul and spirit (Ps. 36:1-4) Augustine comments:

"Anger inflames the eye, but hatred blinds it. If love is life, hatred is death. Perhaps you ran into people who were furious with you. What lasting harm could they do you? In their rage they threaten to kill the body, but by hating them you have killed the soul. They have killed the body of another in anger; in hating them you have killed your own soul." (Commentary on Psalm 54, 7, Burt, pp. 62-63)

Love---the opposite of hate

Love perseveres, it is patient and suffers long. Love is kind, it does not dominate other souls. Love forgives, it does not hold grudges. Love is humble, not arrogant with pride. Love respects and values, it does not disrespect and destroy through gossip, slander, put-downs, destructive criticism and envy. It is not conceited, it does not vaunt itself. 1 Cor. 13:4

In this light, love is the life of the soul. It is through loving that we are able to live a truly human life in this world of suffering and upon death enjoy eternal life in Paradise.

Love is the opposite of hate. While love draws us towards our beloved, hatred makes us hold in contempt those we should love and value. It makes us distance ourselves from them, to view them as not human. Hatred leads us to dominate them and use them for our own selfish purposes. Ultimately, hatred makes us wish that they did not exist.

When pride, lust, hatred and envy inflate to monstrous proportions within the "cracked" souls of the terrible-willed such as Nimrod, Karl Marx, and Nietzsche, then said J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy:

".... (they rebelled) against the laws of the Creator — especially against mortality." Possessiveness toward the things of this world alone or together with hatred of death and decay led them to "the desire for Power, for making the will more quickly effective — and so to the Machine (magic)." (The Silmarillion, p. xiii)

Tolkien defines magic as the hate-filled spirit's abuse of will, mind powers, and other God-given gifts (i.e., charisma, leadership) fueled by the:

"...corrupted motive of dominating: bull-dozing the real world, or coercing other wills..." (ibid)

It is then that loveless souls will declare the death of God, usurp His powers, declare themselves gods and invent bloody Utopian systems such as socialism and communism which over the course of the twentieth century murdered in excess of 170,000,000 'dehumanized' men, women, and children.

In our post-Christian society, the serpent of superbia is inflating within the "cracked" souls of Christian and non-Christian alike. Thus within the Church there is a growing desire for power and the means for making the will more quickly effective while without there is a growing epidemic of hate-fueled rage: road rage, phone rage, rage against straight men and women, rage against white-skinned people, rage against pro-lifers, rage against Second Amendment advocates, and worst of all, rage against the Holy God, the Ten Commandments, immutable truth, Christmas, Easter, the traditional family and our Constitution.

If we have any doubt that we humans are fallen all we need to do is open our eyes and really see the troubles we are causing both inside the Church and without.

Our souls are in ruins said St. Augustine, and only Jesus Christ the Physician can remake them. For all souls who seek healing, Augustine humbly offers us this prayer, A Prayer for Renovation:

"O God, my soul is like a house too small for you to enter. I pray that you will enlarge it. It is in ruins, but I ask you to remake it. It contains much that you will not be pleased to see. This I know and I will not try to hide it. But who can rid it of these things? There is no one but you to whom I can say, "If I have sinned unwittingly, do you absolve me. Keep me always as your servant." (Psalm 19, "Confessions, 1,5, Burt, p. 267)

@Linda Kimball