Seven Deadly Sins


    “You look like you know me, Mr. Deal” Anthony Gargano said.
    “Who doesn't?” Deal said. Earlier that summer, the face before him had graced the front pages of the country's newspapers, as well as the covers of half a dozen major newsmagazines. "Crime Boss Calls Summit." "Feds Bust the Party." Et cetera.
    Padilla winced, but Gargano seemed to find Deal's comment amusing. “Maybe it'd bother you, working for someone such as myself?”
    Deal took a moment, watching the squadron of gulls whistle overhead, sail on toward the spot where the old guy was still working his fishing line in the dying light. Finally, he turned back to Gargano. “Do you pay your bills on time?”
    The two bodyguards stared impassively, but Gargano laughed outright. “Padilla told me you were all right.” He clapped Padilla on the shoulder and the little man had to shift his feet to keep his balance in the sand. “Ugo and I go back a ways, did he tell you?”
    Deal shook his head. He was wondering how many times Padilla had been cuffed on the shoulder while hosting occasions of state in Cuba. Maybe ernest Hemingway would have gotten away with it, he thought. He couldn't imagine anyone else.
    “President Padilla told me that he represented an important client, that's all.”
    “Makes sense. Ugo is the soul of discretion.” Sweeping his arm around their surroundings, Gargano continued, “So what do you think?”
    That question again. “I thought I was going to meet some people, talk about an office building.”
    Gargano nodded. “Yeah, well, we got an office building or two in the pipeline, too. Right now this is what's on my mind. I want to build a hotel, right on this very spot. Place is perfect for it. Makes me sleepy just standing here.”
    Deal glanced up the beach. “Right next to the Hilton?”
    “Right the f___ next to it,” Gargano said. “Competition is good for business, don't you think?”
    “I've heard it said,” Deal told him.
    “Thing is, we had intended to purchase the site north of here,” Gargano continued, “but Mr. Hilton got wind of it somehow and managed to ace us out.”
    “The broker handling the acquisition,” Padilla interjected, shaking his head. “People get greedy.”
    “Don't ask what else he got,” Gargano said, giving Deal a meaningful look. “Anyway, I went to Mr. Hilton himself, explained how this project was a union undertaking, we're seeking to invest the pension contributions of thousands of little people all over the country. All they want is just to retire one day without going into the hole, et cetera.... You know what he told me?”
    “I can guess.”
    “So many words, he said go s___ in your hat.”
    Deal thought he heard honest disbelief in Gargano's voice. “So that's when you bought up this tract?”
    Gargano nodded. “With Ugo's help. And we've already got a set of drawings.” He nodded at one of the thugs, who went back to the limo, ducked inside, returned with a rolled-up sheet of blueprints.
seven o'clock shadow     “We managed to get a look at the plans for the Hilton,” Gargano said. He smiled at Deal, tapping his palm as if he were holding a bat. “I had the architects work it out, angle of the sun, certain months of the year, all that.” He smiled. “Where we're going to put our main tower, the shadow's gonna fall in that direction, cover up Mr. Hilton's entire swimming pool for about ninety-five percent of the tourist season.”
    “Like a permanent eclipse of the sun,” Deal said.
    Gargano stared at him for a minute, then his face lit up. “I like that,” he said, beginning to laugh. “I like that a lot.”
    “So why me?”
    Gargano's laugh had segued into a rasping cough, and he held up a hand to Deal until he could get his breath. “What kind of question is that?”
    “Why bring this to me,” Deal persisted.
    Gargano glanced at Padilla. “Because you're the best around,” he said. “Ugo says so. He vouches for you one hundred per.”
    Padilla gave Deal a thin smile and nodded.
    “I've never built a hotel,” Deal said.
    “So what?” Gargano said. “A hammer is a hammer, a nail's a nail. You saying you're not interested?”
    Padilla was shifting from foot to foot, looking more nervous by the second, Barton Deal thought. “Of course I'm interested,” he said. “As soon as you've got working plans, I'll go over them, work up a bid--”
    “We don't have to bother with all that,” Gargano said. “Ugo says you're right, then you're right. Whatever it comes out to, that's fine.”
    “You'd award a job this size without a bid?”
    “Some jerk___ comes to me, pulls a figure out of the air, what's that supposed to mean?” Gargano waved his hand. “I do business on the basis of trust.” He gave Padilla, who had stopped jittering for the moment, a knowing smile. Then he turned back. “So tell me, Mr. Deal, can I trust you?”
    “You can trust me,” Deal said, “but what's the catch?”
    “The catch?” Gargano lifted his brows and Padilla resumed his antsy two-step. After a moment, Gargano shrugged. “The catch is, you agree to build a hotel the way it says here in the plans. You tell me how much it's gonna cost, what you want to make for your trouble, then you go to work. Hammer and nails, that's all you have to worry about from that point forward.”
    “Who keeps the books?” Deal asked.
    “Now that's an item we take care of,” Gargano said. “Frees you up to concentrate on what you do best.”
    “That's not exactly how I'm used to doing it,” Deal said.
    “People change,” Gargano said.
    “Do they?”
    “I've seen it happen. Put a large sum of money in a person's hand, whole new emotions are born.”
    Deal had to laugh. “Say down the line, someone, a union trustee maybe, finds there's a problem with the books. Who would be liable?”
    Gargano shook his head. “You are looking at the union trustee, the trustor, and everybody in between. So there isn't going to be any problem down the line. The buck stops with me.”
    Deal nodded, but it didn't mean he was convinced. He had a flash of those long columns of numbers he'd been adding up back at Wolfie's, then glanced off to where the geezer had been casting. The old guy had his pole planted upright in the sand now, was sitting in a webbed lawn chair at the edge of the surf, staring out to sea. Sure, he could take this job, make those figures balance in a flash. But would he ever get the chance to finish his days like that old guy up there, farting around, watching the sun going down, trying to catch a fish? Maybe. Or maybe he'd just as easily end up swimming with them.
    “It's something I'd have to think about,” he said, turning back to Gargano.
    Gargano glanced at his watch. “Sure,” he said. “Take your time. I don't have to be at the airport for another half hour.”
    Deal stared at him. “You mean you want an answer now?”
    Gargano put a hand on his shoulder. Maybe it was meant to be a friendly gesture, but Deal didn't feel anything tender in Gargano's touch. “You're a stand up guy, Mr. Deal. I didn't know that about you, we wouldn't be here talking. But you don't want this job, that's all you have to say. Goodbye, good luck, and we're done. I'll find somebody else. I don't have time to waste, that's all.” He took his hand from Deal's shoulder and stood back, his hands clasped, evidently waiting for his answer.
    Deal turned to Padilla, who held up his hands as if to ward him off. Thees ees up to you, my fren’.
    Deal ran a hand through his hair. “I'm stretched pretty thin, right now. I'd have to hire a couple people just to gear up ...”
    Gargano nodded at the second thug, who handed over a thin briefcase he'd been holding. Gargano hefted it, seemed satisfied, then extended the case to Deal. Deal stared at the case, uncertain.
    “That's two hundred grand,” Gargano said. “Form of a retainer. You can hire yourself a couple guys, a couple of girls, whatever you like. Money is not going to be an issue here. All I care about is that we"--he paused and smiled again--"lay an eclipse on our friends over there. You make that happen, Mr. Deal, you and I will be friends for life.”
    Deal couldn't remember actually reaching for the briefcase, but he must have, for there was no mistaking its heft, its thick handle resting in his grip. Gargano and his entourage had already turned and were walking toward the limo.
    He felt a moment of giddy panic--as if he were about to fall from a great height and should stop himself only by catching hold of a high-tension line. He glanced at Padilla, who stared back at him from behind his dark glasses like a Havana pimp. A voice in Barton Deal's head told him to rid himself of that briefcase-- throw himself in front of Gargano's limousine, explain it was all a mistake. Another part of him was already gleefully adding and reading long columns of figures, every total accompanied by the satisfying ka-chung of a cash register.
    Deal watched silently as the limo made its turn and began to purr through the dunes back toward Collins Avenue. He noticed that the sun was nearly gone and that the old geezer who'd been surf-fishing had packed it in. He had his webbed chair folded under his arm and was headed down the beach their way toting his tackle box and his poles.
    “Why didn't you tell me who we were going to meet?” Deal asked Padilla.
    “Would it have made a difference?”
    “You're damned right it would have,” Deal said. He brandished the briefcase between them. “Nobody does business this way.” He stopped and glanced helplessly toward the dunes.
    “It does not matter,” Padilla said. “You have acquired the job.”
    “I haven't acquired anything,” Deal protested. “No papers were signed. I give him his money back, the whole thing's off, simple as that.”
    “I do not think so,” Padilla said.
    “Bullshit,” Deal said. The briefcase seemed to have grown much heavier, as if it were filled with concrete now. The breeze was whistling in off the water, and with the sun gone, it should have seemed cooler. But Deal felt feverish, felt a slick of sweat beneath his arms, on the back of his neck. He thrust the briefcase toward Padilla. “Take it back. Tell him it's too much for me to handle. Gargano's a businessman. He'll understand.”
    Padilla stared back at him. His mouth drooped as if he were sad, but with his eyes hidden behind the dark glasses, it was difficult to tell. “We have moved past that point now, my friend.”
    “Take the f___ing thing,” Barton Deal insisted.
    “We have moved to a different plane, you and I,” Padilla said.
    “What the hell are you talking about?”
    The old geezer had made a turn away from the line of the surf and was moving their way now. Even in the dying light, Barton Deal could see that he'd been wrong about the guy. He wasn't a geezer at all. All the trappings were there: floppy hat, white plastic nose protector, an untucked checkered shirt flapping over a mismatched pair of plaid Bermuda shorts. But the face was unlined, the eyes keen, the movements of the legs graceful and pistonlike as he came steadily up the slope of the beach toward them.
    The man stopped a few feet away and nodded at Padilla, who returned the gesture. The man turned to Deal, removing the ridiculous nose beak and then the floppy hat. No, not a geezer at all. Burr-cut blond hair, pale brows, steely blue eyes, an athlete's body hidden behind the loose-fitting clothes.
    “Looks like you got a lot of money there,” the guy said, nodding at the briefcase in Deal's hand.
    Deal gaped at him. He felt like he'd been rabbit-punched. After a moment, he turned to Padilla, feeling his mouth moving before the words would form. “Who is this?” he finally managed.
    “Don't get your bowels in an uproar,” the man said. “Padilla didn't have a choice in this.”
    If deal had felt unease moments ago, he had moved toward full-fledged dread now. His mind was racing, trying to make sense of it all. They meant to kill him, take the money, flee to the Caribbean in a fishing boat? But where were the weapons?
    The man dropped his chair in the sand, plopped his tackle box on the seat, stabbed his fishing rod into the soft sand at the edge of the packed roadway. He gave Deal something of a smile, flipping the lid of the tackle box open, and gestured at what was inside.
    “We've got it all on tape, Mr. Deal,” the man said. “A bit noisy with all the wind out there, but with the pictures and all, it'll make a convincing package.”
    “Pictures?” Deal was shaking his head. Instead of the innards of a tackle box, he was staring at what looked like a radio transmitter.
    “There's more wire on Ugo than a Wyoming fence,” the man said.
    When Deal stared over the man's shoulder at Padilla, whose mouth had not lost its downward pooch. He spread his palms in front of him in a gesture of helplessness.
    “I knew who he'd been doing business with,” the blond man continued. “I made him a deal he couldn't refuse.” He stopped and stared at Barton Deal for a moment. “Now it's your turn, I'm afraid ... no pun intended, of course.”
--Les Standiford, Deal With the Dead521

A sermon I once heard used as a key point Paul's state of deadly fear in Corinth, which the preacher supported with a verse from First Corinthians, which I present from the (traditional) King James Version: (I Cor. 2:3) "And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling."I think it's pretty easy to understand as is, but some Bible translators have "improved" on the KJV language. Take the NKJV as a first step. (I Cor. 2:3) "I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling." It's identical to the KJV save they eliminated a couple and's which were not necessary to our understanding.

I don't have a lot of versions to compare, so let's look at the Living Bible as an example of paraphrase. (I Cor. 2:3) "I came to you in weakness--timid and trembling." Instead of three prepositional phrases, the Living Bible has one phrase, one adjective, and one participle. Not very good for parallel expression to have three different forms, but it gets the idea across. It's a paraphrase, so what can one expect?

It is J.B. Phillips, though, that explores real possibilities in paraphrase: (I Cor. 2:3) "As a matter of fact, in myself I was feeling far from strong; I was nervous and rather shaky." Not word for word by a long shot, but it reads well.

Now, let's take the NIV the preacher used: (I Cor. 2:3) "I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling." It uses the two and's like the KJV, "I came to you" like the Living Bible, and a little liberty--like the J.B. Phillips--when it switched the preposition in to with in the last case. But that last is in keeping with modern usage "with trembling" not "in trembling."

Probably they all say pretty much the same thought, and one can make his point with any of them, and this preacher's argument for the NIV as the most prevalent translation in the congregation can be seen as decisive. Maybe some sourpuss could complain that it departs from his NKJV, but what can I say?

But there is another place where the NIV twists Paul. The translators didn't particularly understand the culture he was addressing in the first place, when they tried to put it into modern terms, and then when Paul who elsewhere cautions against a widow marrying wantonly against Christ, makes the necessary caution that she is supposed to marry only in the Lord--as opposed to wantonly against Christ--they paraphrase that to say she is to marry only somebody belonging to the Lord. Completely against what he earlier ordained for all churches! Why did the translators rephrase "in trembling" to "with trembling," but not "only in the Lord" to "only with the Lord" which would have made the same clarification? They wanted to express another idea that the text didn't state.

The Bible does allow for a diversity in sexual expression but without embracing perversity. The major division is between single and married.

Married breaks down into first marriages and remarriages, remarriages for various reasons. Then there are four basic marriage categories for the Christian:

  1. The gospel team where husband and wife share the same or complementary ministries and they've married to effectively serve the Lord together.
  2. Where the husband (or the wife) has an established ministry and/or calling, marries another Christian for companionship, and whose spouse then ministers to her husband who's serving the Lord in some ministry. (This category might also include Christian couples who merely take it upon themselves to support missionaries or whatever.)
  3. Christian lay couples who exemplify various degrees or levels of manifesting the parallel between marriage and the relationship of Christ to the church.
  4. Mixed marriages where the saved spouse lives out a Christian life before the unsaved. This last category has the two subcategories of:
    1. marriages where one of the spouses converts after being already married and
    2. where one has converted before marriage, as promised in (I Cor 3:21-22) "Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether ... the world, ... or things present, or things to come; all are your's." where the world being ours, we are allowed marriage to unbelievers whether we were already married when converted--"things present"--or married after conversion--"or things to come; all are yours."

Singlehood can be further broken down into those who are determined never to marry in order to be free to serve the Lord, and those who are merely waiting for the right time. Furthermore, singles comprise the never-married, widows/widowers, and divorcees.

Understanding some of these categories makes the interpretation of the parable of the laborers pretty straightforward, which usually gets spiritualized while taken too literally. The laborers who agree with God for a penny a day are the Christian couples working as a gospel team under the understanding that God is going to sanctify their marriages, rewarding them for their labor. I have known such Christian couples who did not want to serve God as singles, but did want to serve God, so they married each other to do it together figuring God would sanctify their decision. These are the laborers for a day who get a penny.

There are also the three remaining categories of Christian marriages represented in the parable by labor for progressively fewer hours in the day, God to reward them with what is right. When he rewards them, they all get a penny. Great! The full-day laborers complain that after they had borne the heat of the day, they received no more than the last-hour laborers. The last hired laborers would represent the Christians whose labor in their marriage was only to live out the Christian life before their unbelieving spouses, and the heat of the day would represent the burden of a marriage of convenience for the sake of serving the Lord together. These envy the brother with the Mrs. whom he is trying o get converted but in the meantime is not required to serve God with her as a team--how could he, because that would be unequally yoked. God's response is he has not defrauded the gospel-team couple because he indeed sanctified their marriage, and he is free to sanctify the other marriage types also as it is his money to dispose of, so to speak.

The Lord's teaching is immediately instructive without having to be spiritualized. The first shall be last and the last first, for many are called, but few chosen. If one is looking for a compatible mate, he does better to select from a broad pool--the many who are called--than from a narrow pool--the few who are chosen. I have dated girls who were an utter delight, my first pick, but whose response to the gospel was the last thing on their mind. If you're looking for creature delights, such would be a girl for you to envy. I've also known girls who have been Christians from an early age and have their Christian walk down pat, but whom I would never date, not unless they were the last women on earth. Thus the last become first and the first last due to the broad selection in the many-who-are-called as opposed to the narrow selection in the few-who-are-chosen. And thus in this kingdom of God which Christians are trying to manifest on earth, we encounter envy of the mixed marriages which some Christians would want to consider inferior, though God would bless them just the same.

I think what has happened is we have Christians who envy the marriages or potential marriages of other Christians. They have selected for themselves mates from the few who are chosen for the specific ministry they have, or a complementary one, to be equally yoked with them in the Lord's service. They endure such and such trouble in the flesh (heat of the day) for the sake of laboring together for the Lord with this one. They figure their marriages are sanctified by God, and they are. Then they see another Christian who has chosen, or who is about to choose, a nonbelieving mate from the larger pool of the called. He has supposedly made a more compatible selection in the flesh--from a larger pool--so would have less burden in the flesh. Since he can't be in an unequally yoked gospel team, his obligation in marriage is just the hour's service of living out his Christian life and witness before his mate. God plainly sanctifies such a marriage and doesn't give any more sanctification to the married gospel-team (with their trouble in the flesh). Of course they are envious! That's the point of the parable.

What I've illustrated from the story at the top, is that one fruit of envy is “Where we're going to put our main tower, the shadow's gonna fall in that direction, cover up Mr. Hilton's entire swimming pool for about ninety-five percent of the tourist season.” ¶“Like a permanent eclipse of the sun.”

People want to get married, they want to have their marriage sanctified--at least Christians do--just as they want sunshine at the swimming pool. Putting the NIV reading of I Cor. 7:39 that a widow's new husband "must belong to the Lord" eclipses the sanctification of (1 Cor. 7:17) "But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches" when people convert and are seeing nonchristians.

Now, the song they sing is they are trying to save the brother or sister a lot of grief, trying to keep them spiritually safe from worldly influence. Yes, and “I went to Mr. Hilton himself, explained how this project was a union undertaking, we're seeking to invest the pension contributions of thousands of little people all over the country. All they want is just to retire one day without going into the hole, et cetera. ... You know what he told me?” ¶“I can guess.” ¶“So many words, he said go s___ in your hat.” God has none of that in his word about restricting a Christian to marrying only another Christian.

There's a lot of money being made with new Bible versions, and it's a bit hard to undo what's been started, but I've got a line on it.

I was raised in a mainline Protestant church. Long about high school I "accepted Jesus into my heart." A neighbor lady explained to me--my church sure didn't--water baptism, complete immersion, and how I should ask the church to perform it. I didn't want to go that far. But I was happy as a believer.

Seeing my happy disposition, some of the youth group wanted me to be treasurer. I didn't want to, but they pressed me saying all it involved was taking the money of the attenders of our meetings. So I conceded.

By and by, we had a church camp. I was delighted to attend. I wanted to find a bucolic setting after having moved from the country to town, not taking very well to city life.

Well, all the officers were required to attend a meeting. I was treasurer. But I wanted to hike off in the hills. So I missed the meeting.

I was criticized for not fulfilling my duty as treasurer when I missed the meeting. I felt guilty, so I quit going to youth group. When I went to college, I forsook Christian fellowship altogether, and so forsook the Lord. After college the Lord rescued this lost sheep, thank the Lord!

The problem with that church was they didn't heed, (I Tim. 5:22) "Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure." They shouldn't have made a new Christian a church officer--laying hands of authority on him. That caused me problems. I should have been examining my commitment, not taking an office in the church.

This is what I'm saying about using the NIV in the traditional service. Too fast! ‘“It's something I'd have to think about,” he said, turning back to Gargano. ¶Gargano glanced at his watch. “Sure,” he said. “Take your time. I don't have to be at the airport for another half hour.”’ There hasn't been time for the NIV to become traditional.

I was part of my congregation 1971 and 1979. I had already read the (KJV) Bible more than once before the New Testament in the NIV was published in 1973. The NIV Old Testament was published in 1978. Along about 1980 we had a preacher who used the King James Version.

A traditional Bible is one from the past. Certainly the KJV, but not the NIV which is a johnny-come-lately. We should not be laying hands suddenly on this book. We should not be using it in any traditional service.

A ministry in town used the NIV's spurious rendering of I Cor. 7:39 to force a Singapore sister to break up with her fiancé of nine years. She'd got engaged to him in 1971, two years before the NIV New Testament came out with that verse. That's exalting a version to too great an influence. If they wanted her to break up with her fiancé, they should have restricted themselves to Bibles that were published before her engagement. She was not too willing to do that, and lacking a clear command in any earlier version, she may not have.

I'm not to be partaker of another man's sin. If I accept the authority of the NIV, I consent that it has passed muster on family issues per (I Timothy 3:5) "For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" Allowing the NIV in the traditional service is to lay hands suddenly on that version and to partake of the translators' sin of envy in constructing “a permanent eclipse of the sun,” in blocking out the sanctification of mixed (Christian to nonchristian) marriage in God's word.


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Earl Gosnell
1950 Franklin Bv., Box 15
Eugene, OR 97403


Copyright © 2005, Earl S. Gosnell III

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.

Permission is hereby granted to use the portions original to this paper--with credit given, of course--in intellectually honest non-profit educational material. The material I myself have quoted has its own copyright, which I cannot speak for but have used here under the fair use doctrine.

I used quoted material for teaching, comment and illustration in this nonprofit teaching endeavor. The source is included in a notes file. Such uses must be judged on individual merit, of course, so I cannot say how other uses of the same material might fare.

Any particular questions or requests for permissions may be addressed to me, the author.

Scripture quotation marked NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION or NIV is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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