One day I was sitting at the soda fountain at Standard Pharmacy in Porterdale when the new preacher came in and invited me to come to church on Sunday.
"What are you going to be preaching about?" I asked him, just to be polite.
"I'm preaching about sin," he responded, "and I'm coming out agin' it!"
That's always a pretty safe way to start your career at a small town Southern church, and there is never a shortage of sinners who need to hear the message. Heaven knows there is never a shortage of available sin, and may the good Lord help us, as if it weren't already hard enough to get along in this world, the Pope's No. 2 man recently issued a whole new set. I don't know why the Pope didn't do it himself, but he didn't. The word came down from Bishop Gianfranco Girotti.
I ain't making this up. It was in the paper, so I know it's true.
A long, long time ago, Moses came down from that mountain with the Ten Commandments carved into those stone tablets and for nearly 4,000 years now we have been charged with keeping those. I don't mind admitting that keeping some of them have been a little tough for me - and keeping some have been a little tougher than keeping others, especially after Jimmy Carter reminded us of that lusting in one's heart provision in that Playboy Magazine interview - although honesty compels me to admit that encroaching old age has helped take care of a few temptations, but still.
It's not easy being a human being, you know!
And then in the sixth century, Pope Gregory issued his list of the seven deadly sins. How many of you know what they are?
I'll help you out, but I will freely admit that I had to look them up.
They are lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth, anger, envy and pride.
If it weren't for Grace, I would be in a heap of trouble. For the first one on the list, see the above reference to Jimmy Carter.
Gluttony? I weigh 214, and all those charts say I am about 6 inches too short for my weight. Avarice? I don't really know what that means.
Sloth? Well, they say that a messy desk is the sign of a genius. If that is true, I may be the smartest person in the world. So much for avoiding sloth.
Anger? Don't ever wear orange and sit in front of me at a Florida-Georgia game.
Envy? Not a big problem for me, but I do admit that I see green whenever I see pictures of Kate Hudson with a good looking man on her arm.
Pride? Don't get me started talking about my kids.
See what I mean?
And now, after all these years, the Vatican comes up with a brand new list of deadly sins to worry about.
Drugs, for instance, made the list - dealing and taking them, which doesn't bother me all that much, because I don't have that problem, unless you count taking a little something at night to help me get to sleep, or some ibuprofen for my back.
Genetic engineering is on the list, too, along with scientific experimentation on humans. That one puzzles me a little. I guess if scientists somehow figure out how to fix certain birth defects, which they tell me they are really close to doing - God'll get mad at 'em.
Or maybe that's not what the Bishop meant. That stuff is way yonder too complicated for me to figure out.
He also said that allowing the earth to become polluted is a sin and that anyone who allows it to happen is guilty. I guess my father-in-law needs to trade in his new eight-cylinder Ford pickup and get one of those four-cylinder foreign jobs that won't even pull a cow out of a ditch.
Here's one I won't have to ever worry about. Accumulating too much personal wealth is one of the new deadly sins. The IRS will never let that happen to me.
Birth control is on the list, too. None of the articles I read were real clear on that, but I think that doctor I went to see after our last child was born was the one who did all the dirty work. I was there under protest, so I think I deserve to be absolved.
Creating poverty was last on the list. My wife and daughters might be in trouble there because for them shopping is a bigger pastime than baseball ever thought about being and are, I am certain, guilty of creating poverty in our own household.
Big sigh, here.
I ain't making fun of sinning, y'all, or organized religion or the Catholic church. I'm really not. But if that Porterdale preacher came through town today, he'd have to start services a lot earlier and stay a lot longer to come out agin' all these new sins - which may be why so few preachers bother to do it anymore.
I know one thing, though. I am glad that there aren't any sins I can commit that grace won't cover.
Can I get an "Amen," y'all?
Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.