The Return of the Peccatogenic World

I won’t go into details for various reasons, but the other day I got irrationally angry at someone for the terrible crime of . . . getting sick. My rational brain knows that no one (OK, most no ones) goes around trying to come down with a sinus infection, the ‘flu, ailments-with-spots, the tummy crud, or what have you. The part of my brain that had been looking forward to a now-possibly-cancelled event snarled and hissed “What did she do to get sick? How dare she!”

Thanks to how Wuhan fever has been presented and discussed, among other things, we have returned to a world where sin causes all maladies and woes. Forest fires are caused by people driving cars that use gasoline and diesel. Events are postponed or cancelled because Jack didn’t social distance, or Sally refused to wear a mask, or Leon refused to get the WuFlu shot. The horrible murder rates in certain cities are the fault of people five states away who don’t look like the deceased and don’t support “urban culture,” as I heard an academic phrase it.

Someone sinned. People have always looked for reasons, and then places and people to blame, for maladies. Good things are because you followed the rules, the deities are happy with you, and you deserve your reward. Bad things happen because you failed, or that guy at the end of the village who never attends worship (because he’s a shepherd and can’t just leave the sheep to come in every Thursday for four hours) has brought down the wrath of the gods on the village, or everyone in the village screwed up. Who did it, what did they do, and how do they atone for it? Some faiths turn this inside, demanding that the believer assume that they fouled up and need to “get right with G-d.” (“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of G-d” as it says in the Epistles.) Other faiths suggest that the sufferer did something  at some point in the distant past that has now caught up with them. Then there’s “well, it was the will of the gods and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

WuFlu, if you go by the feelings in the air and on a lot of media, is caused by people not following orders. Forget the virus, the cause is now sin. You, the sick person, have sinned against society (unless you are a victim of some sort). Society will punish you and everyone around you by locking you up for at least fourteen days, or longer if test results don’t come back quickly, or people don’t get tested. Events are cancelled “because someone in town got sick when they visited family in Big City in Open State.” It’s someone’s fault. There is almost no logic in this, especially when people are sick with all the other things one can get besides WuFlu. There’s been a wave of sinus infections down here that have nothing to do with SARS2. Ditto “digestive distress” that seems to be making the rounds. People have heart attacks, strokes, and other things that are not related to the no-longer-novel-corona-virus. But the sense in the air is “It’s your fault for not [whatever] and ruining it for the rest of us.”

What’s scary is that I’ve internalized that. I disagree vehemently, and I hope the gal gets better soon no matter what made her sick. I intensely dislike the masks and social distancing and all the extra work everyone has to do. I hate what this is doing to the minds of people, especially kids. Even so, my first reaction to the news of the event getting put on hold? Anger at the sick person and blaming them for screwing up and getting sick. Then wondering if I’d get in trouble with “Someone” for being at the same place with the now-ill person. It’s irrational, unfair, and even mean, but thanks to all the media and pop-culture follies, that’s how my thoughts ran.

That’s not healthy for society. It’s not healthy for me, and I had to do a long and serious gut check to get myself thinking straight again. “If you don’t wear a mask, you’ll kill people!” “If you don’t kneel in atonement, you hate minorities!” “If you don’t use people’s pronouns, you’re killing them!” “You disagree with me so all these terrible things are your fault.” That’s not far from “The Jews caused the plague/killed children for their blood to use in matzo/hail came because of heretics in the next village. Destroy them and appease the deity!”

We’re not as far from “those crazy, superstitious people back then” as we’d like to think, some days.


26 thoughts on “The Return of the Peccatogenic World

  1. I understand that there are still tribes today where it is believed that nothing bad ever just happens on its own; it was always caused by *somebody* (probably a witch).

    The Democrats’ campaign to blame Trump for Covid-19 is very much in that spirit.

    • But of course it was caused by a witch.

      That’s what witches do. [Sarcastic Grin]

      • Finding out that witch hunts are dang near universal among humans– and that one of the things early Christians did that REALLY pissed folks off was stopping the witch hunting mobs— was one heck of an eye opener.

        • Yep.

          The African Witch-Doctors weren’t “doctors for witches”.

          They healed people afflicted by the hexes of witches. 😈

        • Stop the mob; find out if there’s another reason for what happened; give the hunted an opportunity to recant to clergy, for public absolution. If not, THEN hand back to local chieftain for burning.

          If you’re a local target, such as not giving the chieftain your daughters or best animals (or both), “benefit of clergy” or trial by jury was a lifesaver.

        • Oh, if you want a real eye-opener….

          Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: The Period of the Witch Trials

          There were apparently people who thought it was great fun to give unknowing fellow villagers ergot-laced bread so they’d have a “trip”. Given the dosage was uncertain in the extreme? Think of it less as slipping someone LSD (as if that wasn’t bad enough) and more like PCP that stood about a 50-50 chance of being a lethal amount.

          • I wish I could say I’m surprised, but I’ve been around Marines who actually did the nair-in-shampoo junk.
            (Hint: ACID in your EYES is BAD, not funny. Thank God it stinks so badly that even a drunk noticed it. )

          • “Hold on …

            Did it happen … Check
            Any other cause … Nope
            Repentance … Nope

            You had benefit of clergy review. Answer is ‘no.’
            Handed back to the Village People (uh, people of the village)

            OK, light ’em up!”

            • From what actually happened, not the process.

              1) did it actually happen.
              2) reason to believe accused did it
              3) renounce the devil and all his evil ways/ publicly affirm truthful things/ hand on saint’s relic or blessed object without harm or change in state.

              Their idea of evidence wasn’t up to modern standards of a criminal court, or even our courts when it’s stuff without objective physical evidence, no need to make it worse.

              Still a very big difference between repenting of evil acts you didn’t do and renouncing evil.

            • One of the meanings of “witch” was “poisoner.”

              Which may be part of where the witch doctor/ medicine woman/ herbalist/ folk medicine burned as witches thing comes from, since abortion inducing potions are both killing the child and not-infrequently killed the woman, too.

              Plus, people suck.

  2. People who will not accept that humanity is fallen and needs to seek improvement with humility can easily believe that someone is to blame. They can be shamed into believing that -they- are guilty.

    At the same time, we’ve stopped teaching that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and that good intentions must be paired with practical wisdom, which leads to more disasters small and large, and less willingness to admit to mistakes and to correct them. With less real control of outcomes, and less humility for them, outraged pride is happy to place blame elsewhere, no matter how remote.

    Dennis Prager likes to cite Judeo-Christian ethics, Greco-Roman philosophy, and Anglo-Saxon law. Lose any one, and we lose all. Preserving them takes effort, and the Left has been undermining that for a century now.

  3. I’ve been thinking for a while that much of the response to Covid is based more on ignorance and superstition than on any rational understanding. But, then I got to thinking that a society wide response to any challenge has to be reduced to the level of ignorance and superstition for that response to be widely adopted. I’ve long noticed that most people do things the way they do because that is “the way things are done”. As someone who usually isn’t even aware of what constitutes “the way things are done”, I often improvise some completely different way of doing even simple things. This is often better but slower as a response to any particular challenge because time is wasted in figuring out what to do, when other people might already have a standard “way” that this is done. It does, however, allow me to come up with reasonable approaches to problems in far more areas than I have any expertise in.

    An entire society can’t operate that way. Most people would be paralyzed by indecision if they had to come up with new responses to every challenge. I think one side effect of rapid societal change is that old standard responses don’t work as well as they used to, leaving everyone with a residual anxiety about things in general not being quite right.

  4. “I think one side effect of rapid societal change is that old standard responses don’t work as well as they used to, leaving everyone with a residual anxiety about things in general not being quite right.”

    Someone in an aviation magazine observed that “if you do anything with your airplane that is not consistent with the Pilot’s Operating Handbook, then you are a test pilot.”

    In a society, the POH is the aggregate of laws, customs, expectations, folklore, etc. There is no question that our societal POH needed revision, indeed that it needs constant revision. The problem we have is too many people eagerly throwing out the existing POH and substituting their own version without have either ever flown an airplane or studied aeronautical engineering.

    Also…both in actual aviation and in society…some people *enjoy* being test pilots, and some of these are good at it. But there are plenty of people who are perfectly good aviators but really don’t want to be test pilots.

    • “there are plenty of people who are perfectly good aviators but really don’t want to be test pilots”

      And then there are people who are not “perfectly good aviators” – who may not be aviators at all – but nevertheless believe it’s only “fair” that they should be test pilots if they want to be! So much for the entitlement syndrome . . .


      • Worse, they want other people to be the test pilots for their handbook.

        Which only they are allowed to alter, and only if they feel it’s worth it.

        /hard no

  5. There’s been a wave of sinus infections down here that have nothing to do with SARS2.

    *looks at a bunch of people breathing their own, stale breath, for hours on end, while under extreme stress*

    • Oh, dear Lord…
      I like our new house, but I was a little bummed when we moved in, because I had kind of been hoping to be close enough to a Big Town to make going to the zoo, or going shopping, not be an all-day event.

      If we’d gotten any of the places I’d hoped for, I’d be locked inside. I can’t do the masks, not without an escort, and the Des Moines mayor decided he has the authority to force them….

  6. Sigh… ‘Get right with God’… THAT seems to be the mantra of the born-agains… Ran into that in the military and was NOT happy about it, especially when we had to go do their work, since they were ‘worshiping’… We all sin. What we do from that point forward is between us and God, IMHO.

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