Ken BAZYN, The Seven Perennial Sins and Their Offspring. New York: Continuum, 2003. pp. 246. $24.95 pb. ISBN 0-8264-1437-0.
Reviewed by David Schultz, FSC, La Salle University, Philadelphia, PA 19141

As the title indicates, the book examines the seven perennial/capital/deadly (take your pick) sins and applies them to the contemporary situation. For example: PRIDE - stereotyping, prejudging, ENVY - unflattering distortions, sarcastic putdowns, ANGER - abuse, assaults, terrorism, AVARICE - workaholism, unethical business dealings, LUST - pornographic websites, sexually suggestive advertisements, GLUTTONY - obesity, eating disorders, alcohol/drug addiction, SLOTH - lethargy, apathy, procrastination.

In addition to such comparisons, the author also provides brief overviews of the history of each failing as well as advice for coping with each one on a practical level in today's society. The main thesis is that not only are these sins personally and socially disruptive, but also are simultaneously present in all eras. Furthermore, what makes them particularly heinous in contemporary times is that they are sometimes disguised, parading under the guise of "healthy reactions to the excesses or deficiencies of the preceding generation" (8). The main chapters (3-16) are sandwiched between two introductory chapters on Sin and Guilt, and two concluding chapters on Satan and Love. The text abounds in references to and quotations from writings both ancient and modern, classical and contemporary. Illustrative examples from the author's personal life experiences are also occasionally offered. While the overall point of view appears to be that of a Protestant Christian, the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions are well represented along with non-Christian religious traditions both eastern and western, giving the book a balanced ecumenical focus. The author draws upon a wide range of disciplines including sociology, economics, philosophy, psychology and biology as well as theology. Citations are well referenced in endnotes, and an extensive name and title index appears at the end for readers interested in the quotes of the great writers of the ages.

The writing style is very straightforward, clear and concise, making the book eminently readable. The approach tends more toward down-to-earth pastoral theology rather than ethereal systematic theology. It would be a valuable addition to the personal library of anyone directly involved in active church ministry, especially as pastor, counselor, or educator. It would be a possible secondary text for college level morality/ethics courses on both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

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