Is it sinful to desire danger?


#1

Is it sinful to want to try something (that is not in itself sinful) or travel somewhere because it is dangerous? I ask this because in the Catechism it says something along the lines of an action being gravely sinful if it puts yourself in serious harm. Does that mean line walking is sinful?


#2

How dangerous? Are you riding the Autobahn, or are you strolling down the streets of Mosul shouting curses against Muhammad?

Courage is a virtue. Fearlessness and daring are vices opposed to it, just like cowardice on the other extreme.


#3

Depends upon the nature and the extent of the danger.

ICXC NIKA


#4

What do you mean by line walking?


#5

An example that came immediately to my mind… Years ago a famous woman mountaineer… married and had two lovely young daughters… Decided to go on a very dangerous climb, and yes, died

Her passion for climbing overcame her responsilbility to her daughters…


#6

When a person walks on a thin rope connected to two tall buildings.


#7

Unless to escape fire etc why would anyone do that? Sigh…:shrug:


#8

I’m thinking of that Aerialist Nik Wallenda here in the U.S. that walked across a steel cable 1500 ft. above the ground, near part of the Grand Canyon back in 2013.


#9

It is one thing to run into a burning building to hopefully save someone who is screaming inside, and it is another thing to walk a tightrope without a net to give the audience a cheap thrill.


#10

In total agreement Dorothy… although if they paid enough some folk will do anything… :frowning:


#11

C.S. Lewis talks somewhere about the problems caused by not understanding, or wanting to understand, temptations and virtues that we ourselves do not share. He talked about how he had never ever been tempted to gamble on anything: not horses, not poker, not any kind of bet. And then he pointed out that the gambling instinct was part of what let other men face danger and risks in a sort of calculating way that he really couldn’t do. A lot of martyrs showed a sort of gambler’s all-in spirit that he didn’t have, and never would have. So although he never faced the temptation to lose all his money by reckless gambling, he also didn’t have the virtuous tendency that could have helped him become a great saint.

So of course the Church doesn’t forbid us to do dangerous things. She knows human nature, and that God made adrenaline for a lot of different reasons. It is permissible to play dangerous games and sports. We are supposed to use our own prudence in choosing how and what we do, and we are supposed to prioritize the important things and people in our lives. People engaged in dangerous activities should also stay in a state of grace as much as they can, so that they will not go to hell if they die suddenly.

But there aren’t any hard and fast rules. Christian freedom - the liberty of the children of God. Some arts, like wire-walking, have existed since ancient times and include a fair amount of danger, but have never been outlawed by anyone. Aerial acrobatics are beautiful, and many people will always love doing them. BASE jumping is ridiculously dangerous, but it also is the closest approach to the ancient, God-given dream of flight.

Many dangerous activities are also associated with great devotion in the doing of the dangerous activity, even though other people may do it frivolously. Just as pilots in wartime often feel very close to God, so do mountain climbers doing risky work. Putting yourself deliberately into a situation that makes you lonely and scared is actually one of the most ancient spiritual techniques for getting to know God.

(I’m not saying you should try this at home, especially since it’s rather desperate; but it does have a very long track record, even before the Bible; and it was the entire foundation of monasticism. And of course, the best argument is that Jesus did it. A lot of early literature about Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the wilderness focuses on the potential danger from animals and terrain and heat, as well as loneliness, rather than the not-eating part.)

Just as there were always saints and blessings for the dangerous activity of hunting (and yes, the Church was always a lot more concerned about the danger to hunters than any other aspect of it), there have always been special prayers and blessings for other dangerous pastimes. If any sport or activity is popular enough, there is usually a special chapel somewhere that is associated with it.

I remember reading an article in a Catholic magazine about the Wallendas. They have always been a quite devout family. Nor are they alone among circus people. St. Martha’s Church in Sarasota, Florida was mostly bought and paid for, by money raised in benefit shows by the Ringling Circus, in gratitude for Fr. Elslander’s spiritual care of them. Thanks to him and to other good priests around the world, there’s a lot of ministry dedicated to the spiritual care of Catholics working for circuses and carnivals. (We also have a NASCAR circuit apostolate, here in the US.)

I’m not a risk-taker. But I respect people who are. It’s not a sin – far from it! The Lord said of King David that he was a man after His own heart, and part of that was his crazy bravery.


#12

Your last para; can you seriously compare a battle for land etc to… wire walking? Pointless risk taking with no virtuous or needful aim is not like going to war or being a fireman etc,
It is wasteful and throwing the gift of life and health back in the face of God.

It is to be utterly uncaring of your body, the temple of the Holy Spirit… and to expect other so pick up the pieces when you injure or kill yourself… Like the woman mountaineer I mentioned, ignoring the needs of the children she had borne for some thrill… Is that not sin?


#13

I don’t understand those who “need to face danger to feel alive.” Aliveness is binary; you are or you aren’t.

Then again, danger is relative, and so is our perception of it.

I do not care to climb mountains or try downhill skiing. However, I have been to the Holy Land :slight_smile: which some people in my life thought was crazy dangerous.

We can’t really get behind someone else’s eyes to see life as they do, but the fact is the Church has never restricted or proscribed the incurring of physical danger, even when not “required” for military or other reasons. If it had, the conquistadors would never have sailed.

ICXC NIKA


#14

Can you compare that with… wire walking? And a difference between young folk taking risks going out to volunteer abroad to help others …and circus tricks,


#15

What is ultimately the difference between the tightrope, where someone is highly trained, probably generationally, loves what they do and makes money doing it, versus someone hauling their body into the “death zone” without adequate training or oxygen, or schussing down a mountain at ridiculous speed, just to feel alive?

The crux of the matter is that God nor His Holy Church has proscribed any of those activities. Physical life is a dwindling resource in any case. As William Faulkner said, “Breathing is a sight draft dated yesterday.”

ICXC NIKA


#16

Downhill skiing ? Dangerous? I think it is more dangerous to get into a car.


#17

There are necessary dangers, and discretionary ones. In North America, living life essentially requires driving. Schussing down mountains is optional.

Put it this way: Skiers pick up almost as much velocity as do drivers, but only fancy footwork keeps them from breaking bones. I’ll pass, thank you.

ICXC NIKA


#18

Once upon a time, I was working in a place … and one day one of the locals asked me what I did after work.

I said I walked around in the “old city”.

He took out his wallet and showed me his carry permit. Said that when he took his family there on Sunday … during the day … he always carried his gun.

And … yet … I never felt in any danger.


#19

Some people just like carrying weapons. It doesn’t necessarily imply that they expect any danger.

What old city are you referencing, if you don’t mind ?

ICXC NIKA


#20

A dark and dismal life view you entertain and one I do not share.


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