"I was still that child in The Snow Queen, asking 'what is sin?' but not knowing how to find out. Fortunately a Benedictine friend provided one answer: 'Sin, in the New Testament,' he told me, 'is the failure to do concrete acts of love.' That is something I can live with, a guide in my conversion. It's also a much better definition of sin than I learned as a child: sin as breaking rules.
"Comprehensible, sensible sin is one of the unexpected gifts I've found in the monastic tradition. The fourth-century monks began to answer a question for me that the human potential movement of the late twentieth century never seemed to address: if I'm O.K. and you're O.K., and our friends (nice people and, like us, markedly middle class, if a bit bohemian) are O.K., why is the world definitely not O.K.? Blaming others wouldn't do. Only when I began to see the world's ills mirrored in myself did I begin to find an answer; only as I began to address that uncomfortable word, sin, did I see that I was not being handed a load of needless guilt so much as a useful tool for confronting the negative side of human behavior."
--Kathleen Norris in Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993.