Motorcycle Diaries and Mortal Sins

“I saw something I never saw before,” said Michelle, my friend, the autopsy technician.  When someone with a steel constitution who works on and around dead bodies says these words to you, you know you’re in for some real nastiness.

Late the other night some poor reckless guy was doing about 90 mph on a pretty dangerous stretch of freeway just south of San Francisco.  He unfortunately rear ended the guy ahead of him and flew up over the car.  His helmet came off, and his head was run over at least twice.  “Is that what killed him?” I asked.  “Hard to tell…his left leg was almost severed clear off.”  Looking at Michelle, you wouldn’t think she’d be doing this kind of work.  She’s very big eyed and innocent looking.  She loves karaoke and cute stuff and Bath & Body Works lotions and so to hear her talk about this so matter-of-factly is just plain weird.  “And the weird thing was his kidney popped out on to the road.”  Wow.  “That is crazy.”  “But that’s not the crazy part.  I haven’t gotten to it yet.”  Apparently in gnarly-ass accidents like this one, the body’s muscles will suddenly and very powerfully contract.  “Okay, so the Dr. looks at me and says, ‘Michelle, do you see a penis?’”  Nu-uh.  Okay, the guy’s penis was missing.  MISSING!  It wasn’t severed; it had been pulled clean into his body.  She finally located what she said looked like a second belly button.  “I tried to pull it out but it wasn’t budging.”  Wow.  Sick.  I am still so disturbed by this charming after-dinner conversation.

The other day Steven and I were comparing early childhood traumas suffered at the hands of religious organizations.  I was telling him about how the nuns told me my mom probably wouldn’t be going to the same heaven as me since she was a Buddhist.  He told me about being forced to watch films on the diseases of Africa in Lutheran sleep away camp.  This is apparently where he first laid eyes on a man with elephantiasis.  That just ain’t right.  I think I bested him though with my tales of watching raw Nazi death camp footage in the 3rd grade.

We then got onto the topic of different kinds of sins.  I am not very handy with my sin trivia, so I looked up “mortal sins.”  I think these are basically sins that you have to confess and be absolved of, or you go straight to HELL.  They are called “mortal” sins because they essentially kill your soul.  I had to look up these definitions so I could seem somewhat smart.  So, check it.  Following is a list (courtesy of of what is considered to be a mortal sin:

  • Abortion
  • Anger
  • Adulterers
  • Amending the words of the Holy Bible
  • Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, (Eternal sin)
  • Carousing
  • Cowards
  • Defrauders
  • Dissensions
  • Disrespect towards parents
  • Drunkenness
  • Enmities
  • Envy
  • Factions
  • Faithless
  • False witness (liars)
  • Fornicators
  • Greed
  • Holy communion while received in a state of mortal sin
  • Idolatry
  • Impurity
  • Jealousy
  • Licentiousness
  • Love and practice falsehoods
  • Male prostitution
  • Murderers
  • Polluted
  • Quarrelling
  • Sodomites
  • Sorcery
  • Strife
  • Thieves (steal/robbers)

That is actually a verbatim list.  I don’t fully get this list.  And it is not only because of the strange way some of the things listed are nouns while others are verbs.  I know what thieves are, so to clarify by writing “steal/robbers” next to thieves seems silly.  “Love and practice falsehoods” also seems strange.  Does that mean you have to love lying?  Because a lot of people just lie without loving it.  And “male prostitution”?  Not prostitution in general?  “Polluted”?  “Strife?”  A lot of things on this list seem to need greater definition.

Looking at this handy-dandy list (and I have inserted bullet-points so you can easily print this out and check-off the sins you’ve committed) I can say that I’ve committed like 19 of these.  On Friday night.  And I’m not even bragging.  I do not believe I have atoned for maybe half of those infractions.  So, I think I might be boned.  But wait.  Did you know – and this is a very handy thing about being a Catholic – that you can atone even at the very last minute?  As in:  when you die, and you’re being dangled over Hell with a view to the Pearly Gates you can say you are sorry and you will most likely be spared eternal damnation.  That’s freakin’ sweet if you ask me.

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