Her animal sidekick is a toad because ancient moralists claimed that while toads eat dirt and thus would never run out of food, they’re afraid to anyway, lest they should—sort of like me, with cashews.
Behind Dame Avarice, a winged monster points at debts on a sheet of paper while lecturing a naked couple (some Puritan undoubtedly gave them their underwear) who have outspent their Mastercards. The moneylender—that’s his hut—catches his victims in a massive scissors, but no matter: the moneylender is himself being robbed—there’s a thief on his roof.
Over on the left hand side, a couple of shysters are attacking an onion-shaped piggy-bank. One man is getting a coin out of the slot with a long pole, another has climbed a ladder and is about to smash it.
If you hadn’t determined what’s going on yet, it’s avarice, the sixth of the seven deadlies.
When it comes to greed, I’m pretty clean. I’d pay way more than I should for a good caramel apple this time of year. If anything, I’m spendthrift. No one’s ever called me Silas Marner. Ask my wife.
Avarice, by way of the Catholic Encyclopedia, is, simply stated, “the inordinate love of riches,” and none other than Christ himself says the love of money is the root of all evil.
The doctrine of inerrancy is nothing to sneeze at, so pardon my spotten here. But I’ve always doubted “inerrancy” in the way the fundamentalists trumpet it, because on this one at least, Christ just can’t be exactly right. If the love of money is the root of ALL evil, I wouldn’t have missed the payment day on my credit cards last month and forked over more cash than I care to admit—again. Love of bucks certainly isn't the root of all evil in me. I think our savior sometimes pulled hyperbole out of a bag of rhetorical tools he carried. I’m a sinner, no doubt, but greed isn’t my stock in trade. Sometimes I could easily stand to turn it up a notch, in fact.
But then most of us out here on the edge of the prairie aren’t, if the geographers at Kansas State are accurate. What the Siouxland righteous have always known is that real sin sprouts only on the coasts, among the heathen there. Anyway, Kansas State's portrait of American sin paints the country this way, with a belt of near sinlessness smack dab down the middle, the reflection of so many blessed halos:
Measurements were taken by comparing average incomes in a locality with the total number of inhabitants therein living beneath the poverty line. I’m sure the God of heaven and earth has other criteria.
But, like I say, for Calvinists at least, it’s always kind of fun to think about sin, probably more so if it ain't yours.