Seven Sins & Seven Virtues

When considering our personal contribution to Congregation, we felt the need to produce a cohesive collaborative work which would truly resonate with the larger communal congregation.

Religion has long been intertwined with morality, and we have chosen to address the Seven Deadly Sins, and their lesser known partners, the Seven Heavenly Virtues.

As with all difficult moral decisions we divided the fourteen themes between us with the toss of a coin.

shardcore & Sam Hewitt.

Lust: John Betjeman - Sam Hewitt

"To condemn lust is, from an evolutionary perspective, is species suicide. It is absolutely essential for our continued existence. How then can I look at it as a Sin? There is excess I suppose but we are so assailed by sexual images that it has become too obviously a symptom of the bottomless pit of dissatisfaction that our our society has accepted as its lot.

So the personal: Betjeman, towards the end of his life was asked in an interview "do you have any regrets?" and he replied "I wish I'd had more sex". He was voicing, finally, his secret yearning for a more animal life, a freedom from the mind which gave a voice of poetry to the constraints of Englishness. It's not a Sin to be a poet but maybe it is to have regret."

"Chastity is a pretty unpopular virtue. Outside of the seminary - there are few humans who choose the path of sexual abstinence. Yet in the United States we are seeing a resurgence of abstinence before marriage amongst teenagers, promoted by the powerful 'religious right'. In a world of perceived moral relativism, denying ones most base desires is seen as a true test of moral character, and hence the cornerstone of fully conservative behaviour.

Such an idea would no doubt seem preposterous for the majority of British teens, however there are some for whom the notion of physical intimacy is too terrifying, and the prophet of these unloveables is Morrissey.

Up until quite recently, publicly at least, Morrissey claimed to lead a chaste life: "I'm just simply inches away from a monastery," he once quipped."

Chastity: Morrissey - shardcore

Gluttony: Elvis - shardcore

"During his final days it is stated that the basic element of Elvis' daily food intake was a 30-cm long bread roll, stuffed with bacon, peanut butter and strawberry jam. Each one had 4,200 calories, and in the days prior to his demise, he ate two of them per day, together with little midnight snacks of hamburgers and deep-fried white bread."
"To know how much of oneself is hidden forms the root of true temperance. The realization that I am drinking (for example) to hide from my more uncomfortable aspects is a stepping stone on the road to authenticity.

Hunter S Thompson balanced a prodigious consumption of every available intoxicant with a fairly brutal commentary on his own internal life. In my youth I took him for a champion for the pursuit of the narcotic epiphany.

This is ultimately a flawed path but he was an essential personality for our society's development due to his ability to share coherently his obstacles, realizations, intake, failings and moments of sublime balance and transcendence."

Temperance: Hunter S Thompson - Sam Hewitt

Greed: Richard Fuld - shardcore

"The predominant news story of 2009 has been the near-collapse of the world banking industry. A seemingly arcane game played by rich, faceless executives suddenly became front page news as the true ramifications of the collapse were felt throughout the world.

I've painted one such banker - Richard Fuld, ex CEO of Lehman Brothers. He reportedly made half a billion dollars for himself before the bank went bankrupt. He was also, allegedly, punched out cold in the office gym on the day the bank closed."

"The ancient Greek word agape is the love of humanity. The feeling that we are one, that the light of the universe expresses itself through our lives and our ability to love each other. This is charity.

I have seldom resented and felt irrationally violent towards my fellow human more than when a couple of years ago, walking through town. I was in a terrible mood, sunglasses on and feeling desperately insular. A young white man with dreadlocks and a clipboard said "hi". I ignored him. "hello!" he grinned. I walked past him and as I did he said cheerfully " anybody in?". I just crumbled inside with the realization that I never want to be that shut away from other people and, in that moment, blamed him for it. I still hate him but I don't feel separate from him any more."

Charity: Chugger - Sam Hewitt

Wrath: Gore Vidal - Sam Hewitt

"Watching Obama get elected, just as we were beginning to think he might actually do it and in the midst of that burgeoning hope, there was an interview, via satellite, with Gore Vidal conducted by David Dimbleby. The sheer disregard that Vidal had for Dimbleby's questions was breathtaking.

I saw a man who had suffered the ignorance of one of the stupidest regimes to have ever existed, eager to be asked something interesting but furious that that wasn't going to happen. I found his self-possession inspiring and saw, for a change, wrath well placed."

"'Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can, often in a woman, seldom in a man', my mother told me as a child, and it made little sense until I became a parent myself.

I have painted my wife and youngest daughter, engaged in a game of Donald ducks - the rapt immersion of child contrasting with the patience of the mother"

Patience: Gilly & Edie - shardcore

Sloth: Richard Dawkins - Sam Hewitt

"Atheism needs religion. Without an idea of God atheism would suffocate. There is lots of passion expended by atheists in the hope of talking people out of their beliefs and reaching a nice cosy consensus. From my non-religious perspective I find this incredibly short sighted. There is a beautiful individual journey up for grabs in this life and there are gems of wisdom to be found everywhere, to champion the negation of someone else's belief system can only dampen your own awareness of the subtleties of existence. Richard Dawkins has rather boringly decided to shoot the fish in the barrel of monotheistic ideas, quite a long time AFTER it would have been heroic to do so. Thank you Richard, now what?"
"Diligence goes hand-in-hand with attention. In a world where our attention is constantly broken with texts, emails and phone calls we may feel there is little time for diligence. Indeed certain tasks, such as sewing, require a degree of perseverance and diligence deemed excessive for most of us.

Why spend all that time repairing something, when you can throw it out and buy a new one? Future generations will be paying the price for such lazy attitudes."

Diligence: Valerie - shardcore

Envy: Sigmund Freud - Sam Hewitt

"I would not take issue with Freud's importance as a pioneer. Unfortunately though, at the time, men were as constrained as women were by their socialized roles. As he began to understand the process of analysis his subconscious must have become aware of the head start that women have when it comes to energetic and emotional awareness, something which has become essential in good modern therapy, in a way that his conscious mind could not accept. Was he therefore guilty of projection when he discussed his idea of "penis envy" in women, actually wishing to express his own "vaginal envy" as a man in a world which wasn't ready (and still isn't)."
"Kindness is the ultimate social lubricant. Tenderness and concern for others and the world at large is highly prized, in a study of 37 cultures around the world, 16000 subjects were asked about their most desired traits in a mate. For both sexes, the first preference was kindness (the second was intelligence)

Unlike many of the other virtues, kindness appears innate. The adult world of cruelty and egotism makes little sense to a child. It is only with age that we become hardened to the self-centered behaviour of others, and as a result begin to repress the kindness which we produced so readily as children."

Kindness: Scarlet & Wolfgang - shardcore

Pride: Jade Goody - shardcore

"In contemporary society, pride occupies a strange place betwixt vice and virtue. More often we talk of being 'proud of who we are' or 'proud of our achievements' in virtuous terms rather than admonishing others for their prideful behaviour.

Jade Goody came to prominence through her appearance on Big Brother, primarily through her profound ignorance. Yet she was clever enough to build a 'career' as a 'celebrity' and return to our screens in 'Celebrity Big Brother in 2007. Her shocking racist bullying of her housemate Shilpa Shetty horrified the nation, and saw her rapidly fall from glory - a case where her pride was quite rightly perceived as a sin.

I found her subsequent return tabloid glory, by dint of her illness even more disillusioning than her original rise to fame."

"To have everything you could possibly want, to realize that's not enough, to search wholeheartedly for something of substance in this world and to find it wanting. To sit beneath a tree and watch the breath until the substance that was always there is revealed and the acceptance and awe that this engenders. To understand finally that our lack of control is our greatest blessing and to embrace humility. If this doesn't lead to enlightenment, take two more and call me in the morning."

Humility: Buddah - Sam Hewitt