Religion makes it pretty clear what differentiates mortal sins from venial ones. Mortal are the really bad sins and venial the lesser ones. But in our everyday lives, it can be really difficult to determine just how bad we've been. This week we have stories of people trying to figure out that question.
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Note: The audio has been modified from the original broadcast. We added language to make clear the extent of the coordination between Jeff Smith, his staff, and Skip Ohlsen.
The Postcard Always Rings Twice
Producer Alex Blumberg tells the story of Jeff Smith, a former Missouri State Senator who spent last year in federal prison. The story of how Jeff ended up there includes large sins, but begins with a relatively small one. In other words, it's the story of a venial sin turning into a mortal one. Alex can regularly be heard on Planet Money, which is a collaboration between NPR News and This American Life. (33 1/2 minutes)
The Disenchanted Forest
Lying is a sin. But what about the lies that we all collectively believe because they give us hope? Jonathan Goldstein tells this story about confronting the truth. It's based on one of Aesop's fables. Jonthan hosts Wiretap on CBC Radio, and is author of Ladies and Gentlemen: The Bible. (5 minutes)
The Geeks Come Out at Night
Because the line between a mortal and venial sin can be hazy, sometimes the only way to tell is to test it. And that's particularly true when you're a kid, trying to figure out if you agree with where your parents draw that line. Producer Jonathan Menjivar tells this story about a time when he tested that line. (8 minutes)