An Octet of Baleful Reveries – Avaritia, Gula & Superbia

The California based band Thrice came onto my musical radar after hearing, and falling in love with, their song Black Honey. My wife got tired of hearing this on my personal heavy rotation, and finally asked me one day why I liked it so much. The descending guitar/vocal bit was what first caught my attention, but as I listened to it more I found that the references to several of the Seven Deadly Sins kept me coming back to the song.

[As an aside, I just found out that the lead singer for Thrice, Dustin Kensrue, was actually a pastor and worship leader at Mars Hill (until he resigned in 2014). Makes me want to listen to the rest of their songs to see if I can discern other Christian messages in there :)]

The seven capital (“head,” most deadly, most important) sins are derived from an earlier list of eight evil thoughts that were codified by Pope Gregory I around the year 600. The standard list is:

  • Pride
  • Greed
  • Gluttony
  • Lust
  • Sloth
  • Envy
  • Anger

This particular song, in my not so humble estimation, exemplifies gluttony, pride and greed.

Gluttony technically refers to eating and drinking to excess, but can be expanded to over-indulgence in anything. Greed (avarice) also has to do with excess – the desire for power, material things, or an attitude of stinginess. Pride (usually seen as the worst sin, or the root sin) is inordinate love of self, the ultimate expression of selfishness that elevates personal whims and desires above all else.

The song lyrics hit all of these; to begin:

I keep swinging my hand through a swarm of bees
I can’t understand why they’re stinging me
But I’ll do what I want
I’ll do what I please
I’ll do it again till I’ve got what I need

The song begins with the singer swinging his hand through a swarm of bees because he wants honey. He continues to do so, even when they sting him, but then says that no matter what he’s going to keep doing it until he gets what he wants.

It goes on to say:

I’ll rip and smash through the hornet’s nest
Don’t you understand I deserve the best?

That attitude of “I’ll do whatever I want because I deserve the best” perfectly exemplifies the trio of deadly sins – a disregard for what others may want or need due to an excessive focus on personal needs, even if those needs are unimportant.

The song finishes up with this:

Then I
See them coming after me
And they’re following me across the sea
And now they’re stinging my friends and my family
And I
Don’t know why this is happening
But I’ll do what I want
I’ll do what I please
I’ll do it again till I’ve got what I need

In the song, even though the bees are hurting both the singer and his loved ones, he continues with his self-destructive behavior because he still wants to fulfill his selfish desires. With no time for reflection, he’ll never understand why bad things keep happening to him – but it doesn’t matter, as long as he gets what he needs.

This Lent, whether you’re Catholic or not, Christian or not, a believer or not – we can try to root out these attitudes / affectations in order to help ourselves, our families and our communities become havens (I’m binge watching at the moment – had to sneak it in there!) of peace and loving service.

Blessings & Peace,
Hugo

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