Terry Pratchett and a great definition of sin

Actually, it’s the best definition I’ve ever read.

Once again I find myself flabbergasted by a bit of wisdom from a Terry Pratchett book. Actually, from one Terry Prachett book, Carpe Jugulum, which I wrote about here, just the other day.

Apparently, I was not the only one taken with the excerpt posted by Julie. Siggy got inspired by it, too (commenting eloquently at Happy Catholic) prompting Julie to send him more, which he posted here.

From Carpe Jugulum:

“There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment about the nature of sin, for example,” said Oats.

“And what do they think? Against it, are they?” said Granny Weatherwax.

“It’s not as simple as that. It’s not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray.”



“There’s no grays, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.

“It’s a lot more complicated than that –”

“No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”

“Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes –”

“But they starts with thinking about people as things …”

Yes, yes, yes!!

It’s the source of every sin. I used to think the source of sin was connected to vanity, pride and selfishness, but even those things are all about treating others as things, or even treating ourselves as mere things. We forget that we are created creatures, begotten – as in loved into being. In our exceedingly polarized world we increasingly lose sight of that, to the point where we cease to see each other as human beings at all – which always leads to bad stuff. Lots to think of here, and for me it’s wrapping itself up in Advent, in the idea of the bridegroom and the concept of covenant – all stuff that’s rattling around in my still-unquiet brain (I think I need to go on retreat – can’t get quiet, and I need to). It’s all stuff I mean to write about, as soon as I can put it together.

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About Elizabeth Scalia