Monday, July 20, 2015

The Seven Deadly Sins (Sophia Institute Press)

The Seven Deadly Sins is Dr. Kevin Vost's followup book to One-Minute Aquinas. The book begins with a brief introduction of the world's deadliest sins, and the author gives his reasoning for using a Thomistic approach with regards to this book. The book is then divided into two parts - "The Ancient Family History of the Seven Deadly Sins" and "Battle Plans to Decimate Deadly Vice and Sin." The first part is very interesting, because it contains Scriptural references to the seven deadly sins as well as references from ancient Christians including Evagrius Ponticus; St. John Cassian; Prudentius; St. John Climacus; Pope St. Gregory the Great; and, of course, St. Thomas Aquinas. (Side note: If you haven't read St. John Climacus' Ladder of Divine Ascent, you really should!) At the end of this first section is a helpful chart that organizes all the information you previously read. I really appreciated the fact that Dr. Vost pulled from both Eastern and Western traditions for this section.

As interesting as it is to read about the seven deadly sins, it is worthless if we don't have a strategy on how to defeat them. That is what makes Part Two of this book extremely useful. Drawing from St. John Climacus and St. Thomas Aquinas, Dr. Vost devotes develops a mini-ladder in the Prologue to Part Two. It consists of seven "simple" steps defeating the seven deadly sins. It is as follows: 1. Examination of conscience, 2. Embrace the sacraments, 3. Learn what leads us to sin, 4. Practice prayer, 5. Cultivate virtue, 6. Immerse ourselves in the world of the spirit, and 7. Imitate Christ. He then devotes a more detailed chapter to defeating each sin.

When comparing this book to its predecessor, one notices some similarities and differences. The most obvious similarity is the covers of the book. If you are ever going to write a series of books, it's CRUCIAL that the books look like they belong together. The other similarity is the number of charts and tables in both books. These are helpful, because they condense what you just read and has a better chance of making the material stick. The biggest difference I noticed was the lack of the "Dumb Ox Box" in this book. In the first book, these boxes were littered throughout the book and provided asides and a bit of humor. Honestly, I didn't miss these, as sin is no laughing matter. Dr. Vost continues to make the Angelic Doctor accessible to the masses, and I look forward to seeing future books in this series. If you are looking to start reading St. Thomas Aquinas, then you definitely want to pick up both this book and One-Minute Aquinas.

These books were provided to me for free by Sophia Institute Press in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!