Thursday, January 28, 2016

What does a culture say about sin?


I ran across this interesting bit from Hugh Nibley that I thought was worth sharing.
Incidentally, it is an interesting thing that repentance is missing from all the ancient religions except the Old Testament. The word repentance doesn’t exist for the Egyptians and the others. I have been reading a lot of Egyptian wisdom literature, and the idea that you should repent [doesn’t exist there]. What you want is luck. They never connected what you have done in the past with your moral behavior. You’ve done what you’ve done, and that’s that. It’s an interesting thing that there is no word in Egyptian for sin.  And in America today sin is having the wrong ideology. It’s being on the wrong side. The Ten Commandments are only fifty percent binding. They bind us but they don’t control our behavior toward bad people. We shall not kill, we shall not lie, we shall not steal from good people. But you can do it with bad people all you want [according to this philosophy]. And they do it everywhere else. We call that revenge because they have been bad. (“Teachings of the Book of Mormon,” semester 2, lecture 52, Alma 19-22, publications.maxwellinstitute.byu.edu)
Really, as a social commentator, Hugh Nibley was excellent.  To distill so many impressions of practical American morality (or lack thereof) at into such a succinct summation is incredibly perceptive.  

Once you know where your culture’s blind-spots are, you can repent and rise above it.