Skip to comments.Sinful Curiosity is at the Root of Many Sins.
Posted on 07/15/2014 2:50:13 AM PDT by markomalley
Curiosity is one of those double-edge sword qualities of the human person. It can cut a path to glory, or be like a dagger of sin that cuts deep into the soul.
As to its glory, It is one of the chief ingredients in the capacity of the human person to, as Scripture says, subdue the earth, to gain mastery over many aspects of creation of which God made us stewards. So much of our ingenuity and innovation is rooted in our wonder and awe of Gods creation, and those two little questions, how, and why.
Yes, we are curious as to how things work, and why. This curiosity burns within us and motivates us to unlock many of natures secrets. Curiosity drives us to learn, and gain mastery, often for good, sometimes for ill.
What a powerful force within us, this thing we call curiosity. It is a passion to know! Generally, it seems quite exclusive to us who are rational, for animals manifest little or none of it. Occasionally an animal might seem to manifest curiosity. And thus, a sound will draw an animals attention, perhaps even lure it to look more closely. But the investigation is probably more motivated by seeing if the sound is either a threat, or a food source, rather than true curiosity. True curiosity asks the deeper metaphysical questions of how, and what. True curiosity seeks to explore formal and final causality, as well as efficient and material causality. It seeks to learn, sometimes for learning own sake. Sometimes, and potentially more darkly, curiosity seeks learn so we can control.
Of itself, curiosity can be a magnificent quality, rooted in the gifts of wonder and awe, and in the deeply profound gift of mans intellect, or rational nature.
However, as a double-edged sword, curiosity can wound us very deeply and mire us in serious sins. Indeed, it can be a very sinful drive within us. Eve grew curious of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and Satan was well able to turn her curiosity into a deep dagger that has reached every human heart.
Understood this way, as a sinful drive, curiosity is a desire to gain knowledge of things over which we have no right to know. A more mitigated form of sinful curiosity is the desire to know things which are in no way useful to us. In this sense, curiosity is a form of spiritual gluttony that exposes us to innumerable tricks of the evil one.
Sinful curiosity causes us to meddle in the lives of others, to pry, and then gossip, potentially ruining reputations, risking defamation, detraction, and all sorts of unnecessary criticism. Nothing is more inviting to sin, and gossip, the the phrase Have you heard the latest news about so-and-so? Heads turn within earshot, ears perk up and meddlesome curiosity is immediately incited. Almost never is the news that follows edifying or praiseworthy. Sinful curiosity is at the root of almost all gossip, detraction, slander, and even calumny. 90% of what we hear in gossip is none of our business. And yet, through sinful curiosity, we feel somehow that we have the right to know.
There is a whole branch of news, barely distinguishable from gossip columns and scandal rags, that has emerged based on the peoples right to know. Too much secrecy can be unhealthy, but that is hardly the problem today. Too many people know too many things about to many people. Even what is reported about so-called public figures, most of it is unnecessary and isn't helpful for us to know. This is not to say we should have no concerns whatsoever about what is happening in the world, or about the character of our leaders, but rather, it is an invitation to distinguish between what is truly useful and necessary for us to know, and that which is simply rooted in sinful curiosity.
Sinful curiosity, is also at the roots of a lot of lust, and immodesty. A man may be happily married, but then he sees a woman walk past on the sidewalk. Part of his problem, is lust, namely, the reduction of the woman, who is a person, to her curves and other physical attributes. But another aspect of his struggle, is a sinfully curious question, I wonder what shed be like. Well, sir, that is none of your business. Now mind you, hes happily married, but he knows his wife. Pardon the expression, but the mystery of his wife has been unveiled. This other woman he sees however still has a mystery that excites a sinful curiosity. Immodesty, also taps into sinful curiosity by revealing more than it should. Modesty is reverence for ministry. Immodesty jettisons this reverence and seeks to incite sinful curiosity.
Sinful curiosity has also been turned into a consumer industry by many talk shows which publicly feature topics that should be discretely discussed. Further, many guests on such shows imprudently reveal details about their life that should not be discussed in a public forum. Too many people discuss terrible struggles of a very personal nature and too many people tune in to listen. This is a form of immodesty as well, even if it does not involve sexual matters, for modesty is reverence for mystery and respects appropriate boundaries and degrees of intimacy in conversations. Baring ones soul is not prudent or appropriate in all situations with all people and it too easily excites sinful curiosity and sets loose a wave of gossip and uncharitable banter of all sorts. Some things are just not meant to be dealt with in public, and many are incapable of handling such information without easily string into sin.
A mitigated form of sinful curiosity is the problem of an excessive desire to know too many things, all at once. Here is a kind of informational gluttony. This sort of desire, though not necessarily sinful, can become so by excess. It is catered to by the 247 news services. Being informed is good, but being over informed to easily leads to being overwhelmed and discouraged. Generally speaking, to indulge in such such a steady stream of news along with talk radio etc. incites a great deal of anxiety discouragement, and a sense of being overwhelmed. Such news services tend to generate interest, by inciting alarm. Bad and bloody news predominates, the exotic and strange are headlined, and that which titillates and shocks, that which generates controversy and ratings is emphasized. Is not long before we are away from necessary and important news, and back into sinful curiosity that sets tongues wagging and heads shaking.
Sinful curiosity, even of this mitigated form so easy draws us into very negative, dark, even depressing places. News junkies do well to balance their diet with other more edifying things than merely what is the latest scandal or threat.
St. Paul gives good advice to all of us when it comes to sinful curiosity and our tendency to collect unnecessary, unhelpful and disedifying news. In effect he invites us to discipline our minds with the following good and solid advice:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirableif anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things. (Phil 4:8)
Curiosity, the two-edged sword. So noble, yet so easily ignoble. So wonderful, yet so easily debased.
Msgr Pope ping
Curiosity killed the Cat-holic?
Now that’s funny right there.....
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