HEARERS OF THE WORD: Southerners, religious as we are, sure know how to sin

There’s nothing in this world I enjoy more than sitting on my porch in Eudora, looking due west, over the tops of pine and oak, looking, as if my eyes could see that far, to the very point, not five miles from my yard, where the hill country slides into the flat, ash-colored fields of the Delta.
It is a delight.
For a while I didn’t really like Mississippi. Like a lot of young people, when I went away to college I tried to lose my accent and pretend I was from some place more cultural, more enlightened.
It’s only recently, as a few gray hairs have crept in, that I’ve fallen back in love with my state.
It is, therefore, with some self-deprecating sense of humor that I call attention to a survey, conducted by researchers from Kansas State University, which indicates that the Southeast United States is the most sinful area of the country.
The Associated Press headline read, “How do you spell lust?: M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I.” Catchy, I thought.
A group of graduate students used the Seven Deadly Sins as a basis with which to correlate regional statistics on things like violent crime, prevalence of sexually transmitted disease and theft.
In other words, more violent crime equals more rage; more sexually transmitted diseases equals more lust; more theft…well, you get the picture.
It turns out that, per capita, Southerners are significantly more sinful than folks living in Southern Nevada – Las Vegas, to be specific, “Sin City” itself
How can that be, you ask?
Well, even the researchers admit that the correlations weren’t, in every case, the strongest. For instance, how can anyone claim that the prevalence of car theft is an accurate measure of envy? Rage, however, is another matter. The number of real whoopins’ that take place each year is probably not a bad gauge of how wrathful our state is.
This is not an exact science.
I kind of liked the survey, to tell you the truth. I’m not real sure why, but I think I agree that Southerners are the biggest sinners.
Romantics will say that Southerners are just more passionate, more fiery, inheritors of that old, wild Confederate blood.
Atheists will say it’s because we all live in a perpetual state of repression, and self-denial, pushing it all down until we just explode with some real, first-rate sin.
Myself, I like to think we’re the most sinful because we’re the only ones left who still have a sense of sin. Come to think of it, I recently wrote about another survey that named Mississippi the most religious state. It all kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?
I don’t think that Southerners are simplistic, or that they don’t see nuance in moral situations, but some things, to Southerners, are just always wrong, like being a bad host, or being an ungrateful, selfish child.
Like the romantics and the atheists, I think Southerners are both amusingly hot-blooded and dangerously repressed, but I think we’re also nearly universally creative and real lovers of life.
People like that have got to be gold-medal sinners.
As the sun sets on Monday, I look into the darkening horizon, and see the sweeping searchlights from the nearby casinos start their nightly course. I think of the plunging necklines of the cocktail waitresses and the shelves and shelves of booze and I can’t help but think, boy, we’re the most religious state, but we sure know how to sin.

Contact religion editor Galen Holley at 678-1510 or galen.holley@djournal.com.


Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal

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