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Indulge Me

The NYTimes report a “Return of Indulgences” which may bring about scoffs and rolling of the eyes from Protestants, but for some reason on this afternoon, I find this revival of a ticket to heaven quite fascinating.

Oh, and if you’re asking what the going rate is for say, adultery, you’ll just have to know you’re in luck. Indulgences aren’t for sale, out least not outright.

There are partial indulgences, which reduce purgatorial time by a certain number of days or years, and plenary indulgences, which eliminate all of it, until another sin is committed. You can get one for yourself, or for someone who is dead. You cannot buy one — the church outlawed the sale of indulgences in 1567 — but charitable contributions, combined with other acts, can help you earn one. There is a limit of one plenary indulgence per sinner per day.

Why bring them back when the last time indulgences made the history books, it kicked a series of protest and reformation?

“Why are we bringing it back?” asked Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn, who has embraced the move. “Because there is sin in the world.”

I wonder why Jesus didn’t distribute indulgences, hmmmm.

Joking aside, I wonder how whether or not we issue indulgences in Protestant churches or not, we still assume that our actions somehow absolve us in some way, don’t we? Prayer, service, Bible reading, tithing, etc. all can serve as leverage in our minds somehow, but none of it, none of it gets us anywhere, does it? Truly indulgences are ways in which God indulges our foolishness.

At least, I’m glad to see that they’re not actually selling these things this time around. I never could afford grace to begin with.


About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come.

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