Our world is charged with both the grandeur of God and the void of his absence.
The seven deadly sins are the force causing that hole. They are at work in each of us. They decimate our relationships, our souls and our world. These deadly sins often seem pleasing and good for gaining what we desire, but they are thoroughly poisonous.
Conversely, the Beatitudes are Jesus' pictures of a restored creation. The Beatitudes introduced what Jesus said to his earliest followers about a life strong and fruitful. In fact, the Beatitudes give us a glimpse of a world empty of evil and filled to the edges with God's life.
Looking at the Beatitudes and the seven deadly sins in turn, we see two paths, two sets of invitations. Both call to deep places within us to come and taste. Both invite us to take up residence. Both present themselves as life as it actually is. But only one will draw us further into reality. And only one will make us happy.
"Of the many, many books about the Gospels, or about Jesus, or about Christian morality, only one in a thousand gives us a real breakthrough, a new 'big picture'. Most are just nice little candles on the cake.
Seven is a bonfire.
It's not just good; it's striking. It doesn't just say all the things you've heard a thousand times before. And yet it's totally in sync with both the saints and the scholars." --Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College, and author of over forty-five books, including Fundamentals of the Faith.
The seven deadly sins and the New Testament's seven beatitudes spoken by Jesus play against each other in this philosophy professor's first book. Although both the beatitudes and the seven deadly sins are well-mined territory, the contribution of this book is the curious way they serve as foils for one another. They are two realities, each vying for our affection. Cook offers unique pairings throughout--envy and the mourner, gluttony and the persecuted, for example--as well as discussion that goes far beyond platitude and easy explanation. Greed isn't about money, Cook says, but about accumulation; mercy, conversely, is breathing out. Lust is a substitute for real life, while purity is about freedom. Readers will find new ways to think about sin and its summons into a dead life, as well as the beatitudes and their invitation to life. Cook overwrites occasionally, making readers decipher his meaning, but overall he creates a unique comparison between living a life of hell and living a life of heaven. Study questions are provided. (Sept.)
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August 29, 2008
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