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Clio's Temple


Life at the intersections

Posted on September 26, 2018 at 2:19 PM
Some of life's most fascinating moments, and also some of its most excruciating dilemmas, are at the intersection of temptation and opportunity. I suspect most of us believe that suddenly obtaining great wealth, power, or fame might change the circumstances of our lives, but wouldn't change our character. I also suspect this may be a form of self-delusion.

Christian tradition lists seven deadly sins: Pride, Lust, Wrath, Envy, Avarice, Gluttony, Sloth. What I find interesting about this list is that, while all these sins are things to avoid, some are self-limiting. Gluttony (whether of food or drink) is limited by the body's ability to process what we eat or drink. Lust is limited by the body's ability to endure the exertion that sexual fulfillment requires. Sloth is limited by the body's inability to tolerate being in a constant state of idleness.

There are three non-natural temptations whose consequences aren't necessarily self-limiting. These are the ones I mentioned in the first paragraph. Without being defamatory, I'll just cite one example. My father's family endured poverty in the Great Depression, as did many other American families. One result of this was, that when my parents married and launched their family, Dad drove himself relentlessly to keep the wolf of privation from our doorstep. Even after he was financially secure in retirement, he never stopped worrying about money. It became something of a joke. No matter how many times I told him, "Dad, stop worrying about how much money you're going to leave us. You and Mom need to spend it on yourselves," he refused to believe that he was rich enough.

Many of us, I think, believe that there is a positive correlation between great worldly attainments and strength of character. We profess to be shocked when someone who "has it all" is shown to have feet of clay. We also are certain that it would be different if we were in that person's shoes. But would it be different?

I'm thinking of shelving many novel-writing efforts for a while in favor of writing short stories about some of the conflicts that arise from living at the intersections. What do you think?

Categories: American Society, Good an Evil

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Reply Janet Sheppard Kelleher
7:08 PM on September 26, 2018 
You make some valid points, Steve. And, yes, I think focusing on short stories might prove valuable... especially due to the shorter and shorter attention spans people are acquiring!
Reply Jo Anne Valentine Simson
1:05 AM on September 27, 2018 
I enjoyed your last book of short stories! So yes, if you have more short stories in you, by all means, collect them in another book. I've tried writing three different novels and have never been able to get more than two or three chapters into them. The longest piece I have been able to sustain writing interest in was a novella. I think I may try polishing and publishing that some day soon. Nonfiction is SO much easier!
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6:55 AM on October 10, 2018 
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