Sunday, January 11, 2009

Schadenfreude--a sin of choice

Sometimes I wonder why Christians take serious some sins while readily accepting others. Basically, what makes a sin "bad"? I don't have any answers, though it does seem American Christians are very sensitive about sins regarding sex and substance abuse (though maybe not rock and roll).

Here's a sin that I don't know if I've ever heard preached on, but I sure practice it a lot: Schadenfreude, which means delighting in others' misfortunes.

I started thinking about it when I read the following letter to Dear Abby. I was so happy at what this man did. Now, whether he should have done so is another question, I'm wondering about my delighted response at the suffering of another.

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DEAR ABBY: A few weeks ago, I returned home after mowing the lawn at my mother's place and parked my truck behind my house. I left the lawn mower and a 5-gallon can of gas in the bed of my truck and went into the house for a drink of water. When I returned, the gas can was missing.

I bought another can, filled it with gas and added 2 pounds of sugar. Again, I parked my truck in the same spot with the gas can visible. An hour later, it too had disappeared.


A short while later, I noticed a neighbor's son and his friends pushing his car up the street. They said they had “engine problems.” My wife thinks what I did was wrong and that I should offer to pay for this lad's engine repairs. What do you think?

– “A-Gassed” in Illinois

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What do you think? Is schadenfreude something Christians should/ do think about?

4 comments:

Jeff L said...

Haha...I love it. You've got to listen to the story about American computer scientists (or something) scamming a Nigerian scammer...I love the vigilante justice, but wait until you hear how far they took it. The episode is called "Enforcers" and Act One is the story I'm referring to. Found here:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?sched=1260

J. R. Miller said...

Sugar does not dissolve in gas and therefore putting sugar in a gas tank will not disable a car.

You can see this disproved on Mythbusters or read about it here

http://www.snopes.com/autos/grace/sugar.asp

Given this does not work, I suspect the "letter" to dear Abby is a hoax.

FYI, I do not delight in your misfortune of being duped Brad :-)

Brad Wright said...

Jeff, what a great story about the scamming. I rejoice, wait, I don't.

JR, I had no idea that sugar didn't do a thing in gastanks. Who would have thought?

J. R. Miller said...

I never knew either until I saw it on Mythbusters a year or two ago.

Science is cool