Tuesday, February 15, 2005

wickedness all around

A trip to the gas station tonight to buy a coke provoked metaphysical instrospection. There are two gas stations near me that are open late. One sells porn, the other is a hotspot for drug deals. I don't care to support either, but I wind up supporting both. What is one to do? I am reminded of the Psalm:

Do thou, O Lord, protect us, guard us ever from this generation.
On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the sons of men.

Not that I am a pargon of sanctity. Its just that all I wanted was a coke, and I couldn't seem to get one without (literally) buying into some kind of nefariousness. Maybe this is an instance of sin as an inescapable condition, though not strictly inescapable, but the kind of thing one means when one thinks of sin as an inescapable condition haunting the earth.


Anonymous said...

You don't have to go to a gas station to see wickedness and sin, step outside your door and examine your roomies!

John Thorpe said...


To buy your coke at the place that is a hang out for ruffians might be advisable because the store might not actually be connected to the ruffians, only a convenient place for them to practice their, um, ruffiness. The store itself may not be involved.

On the other hand, to buy from the place that sells porn could be ok, too, because as long as you purchase only what is wholesome (a coke, huh? I don't know...maybe you should try organic milk) you are showing by that purchase that wholesome products are also profitable. To suggest that such a way of 'voting with the pocketbook' is practically ineffective is to beg the question of the effectiveness, contrarily, of an individual boycott. Put in simply pragmatic terms as regards social justice, neither choice really makes a difference. To be really effective, social justice-wise, you'd have to organize a protest of both establishments and perhaps firebomb one of them, just for good measure. As a card-carrying Episcopalian, of course, you need have no particular ethical restrictions at all, and we encourage all manner of civil or uncivil disruption to satisfy the individual conscience.

Personally, I do not participate in boycotts. What would decide it for me is the priority of personal or spiritual safety, leading to a policy perhaps of going to the unsafe one during the day, to avoid the porn, and the porn shop after dark, to avoid the drug dealers.

As far as the inescapable sinful condition, I think of that mainly in terms of my inner life. For no reason I know of, I view my environment and many of the people that form it as part of the corrupted and dangerous world that groans together with us until the Son of God returns. Sinfulness, as opposed to corruption, is something first to look for in ourselves, and only then to see in others or the world. Dealing with one's own log, and all that. I wouldn't say that the ubiquitous presence of danger and temptation in close proximity to us is a matter of the sinful condition; I would say that the universal tendency in each of us to succumb to fear and temptation is.

My two cents.