Archives For Sin


An Antidote to Sin?

A Review of

Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins: Learning from the Psychology of Ancient Monks

Dennis Okholm

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2014
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Julie Lane-Gay
Despite constant occurrences of politician’s sexting employees, NFL players assaulting women and Wall Street tycoons cheating investors, sin remains fascinating, and ubiquitously destructive. The litany of lousy things people do to each other, and to themselves, continues to need our attention.
Dennis Okholm’s, Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins: Learning from the Psychology of the Ancient Monks is a study of sin, of what the Catholic church and many others, refer to as the cardinal sins: gluttony, lust, greed, anger, envy, sloth and vain glory. These seven aren’t just the most common; they’re the parents from which all other sins originate. More specifically, Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins is a look at the seven sins from parallel perspectives: that of early monks, namely, Evagrius (4th C.), Cassian (5th C.) and Gregory the Great (6th C.), and that of current psychologists.

Continue Reading…


Todd Hunter - Our Favorite SinsLoving Desire, Desiring Love

A Feature Review of

Our Favorite Sins: The Sins We Commit And How You Can Quit

Todd Hunter

Hardback: Thomas Nelson, 2012.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Seth Forwood

Our Favorite Sins is the newest book from former Vineyard pastor now Anglican bishop, Todd Hunter.  Hunter’s past in evangelicalism and high church conversion provide a good picture of what one should expect from his book on temptation – an evangelical heart with the blood of liturgy, sacrament and ancient prayers flowing through it.  He relies heavily on both Barna Group research and ancient wisdom and practices to address the issue of temptation.  This results in a tension that pulls the book in odd directions.

Continue Reading…


945991: Permission to Speak Freely: Essays and Art on Fear, Confession, and Grace

A Brief Review of

Permission to Speak Freely:
Essays and Art on Fear, Confession, and Grace

By Anne Jackson.
Paperback: Thomas Nelson, 2010.
Buy now: [ ]

Reviewed by Michelle Van Loon (

Anne Jackson has gained quite a following at her blog over the last few years with her honest, insightful writing. She specializes in flinch-free truth-telling about herself, the church, and the broken world around her.

A couple of years ago, she lobbed a great question at her blog readers: What is the one thing you feel you can’t say in the church? Permission To Speak Freely captures the flavor of their responses.  Jackson got hundreds of answers, ranging from “I had an affair on my wife and I still think about the other woman” to “Even though I’m a staff member at my church, most of my deep and significant relationships are with people I met online” to “I was raped by a counselor… I thought he was a friend”.

The book is peppered with these confessions in the form of full-color pages that must have been fun for the graphic designer(s) tasked with properly honoring these anonymous words. But the bulk of the book is simple text featuring Jackson’s reflections and free-verse poetry on the subject of fear and confession. She lays out the mess of the struggles she’s had including the confusion in the wake of the sexual abuse she experienced as a teen, her addictions, her square peg experience as a church staffer and more in order to give readers, as a friend of hers called it, “the gift of going second”:

“Whenever somebody confesses something, and they’re the first to do it, its usually a pretty hard step to take. They don’t know how people will respond. They fear all the judgment and isolation. But they do it anyway.

“What happens on the other side of that confession is something beautiful. When you confess, there somebody on the other side of that confession who could very well be keeping a secret too. So when you go first, you’re opening up this amazing opportunity to trust. You’re saying, ‘I’m broken’. That trust carries so much power with it…”

Continue Reading…


“A History of Our Brokenness”

A Review of
Pandora’s Seed:
The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization
By Spencer Wells

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

[ Watch two videos of Wells talking about this book… ]

Pandora’s Seed:
The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization
By Spencer Wells
Hardback: Random House, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

When we, as the Church, think about the Fall of humanity, our minds tend to jump to the Garden of Eden and the familiar story of Adam, Eve, the serpent and the forbidden fruit, and undoubtedly this is an essential part of the biblical narrative.  What we tend to gloss over, however, are the ways in which waves of brokenness surged forth through time and space from the epicenter of Eden toppling and subjugating not only humanity but all creation.  The Fall, of course, brought on the immediate consequences of pain in childbearing and in working the Earth, but it was not long before we encounter murder, lies, and the amassing of people and power in cities, and then Creation forcefully lashing out at itself with a massive flood.  The parallels between this biblical story of the Fall and its aftermath, parallels in a striking way, the scientific account of the development of early civilization presented in Spencer Wells’ new book Pandora’s Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization.  Wells is a heralded geneticist, and “Explorer-in-Residence” at the National Geographic Society.  His previous two books The Journey of Man and Deep Ancestry, probe aspects of our evolution and development as humankind, as well as our genetic history.   I should be clear before I go any further that any theological parallels that I note in conjunction with Wells’ research are my own and not his.

Wells’ thesis is that our development of agriculture about 10,000 years brought with it many “unintended consequences” that have plagued humanity over the intervening millennia, and he narrates a very different story than that put forth by modernist champions of “progress” over the last two centuries.   In his words: “The biggest revolution of the past 50,000 years of human history was not the advent of the Internet, the growth of the industrial age out of the seeds of the Enlightenment, or the development of modern methods of long-distance navigation.  Rather it was when a few people … decided to stop gathering from the land, abiding by the limits set in place by nature, and started growing their food.  This decision has had more far-reaching consequences for our species than any other.”  While I realize that discussions of dates and timelines in relation to the earliest eras of human development are open to some degree of leeway and interpretation, I suspect that most people could accept 10,000 years as a possible length of post-Fall human history, so for the sake of this review let us assume that what we know from the biblical narrative as “the Fall,” occurred essentially simultaneously with the development of agriculture as Wells describes it here and see how the consequences he describes fit with those noted in scripture.  Wells makes his case with chapters that focus on specific consequences, each of which begins with a relevant story from his global travels.

Continue Reading…


G.K. Chesterton

When Adam went from Paradise
He saw the Sword and ran;
The dreadful shape, the new device,
The pointed end of Paradise,
And saw what Peril is and Price,
And knew he was a man.
Continue Reading…


A Brief Review of
Glittering Vices:
A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies.
Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung.

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2009.
Buy now: [ ]

Reviewed by Chase Roden.

Sin is not something we think about a lot in America in 2009. Certainly we recognize the consequences of sin in both in our personal lives and in the public sphere, but rarely is sin openly acknowledged for what it is. Even our churches show a lack of deep thought on the topic; most have either resorted to casuistry– allowing sin to be defined narrowly by rote lists of behaviors– or they have absorbed a secular, results-based understanding wherein “ethical lapses” are judged solely on their obvious and immediate impact. When we do think of sin– usually after it has become embarrassing– we don’t turn inward to examine its internal causes so much as we prefer to puzzle out our external influences on the psychoanalyst’s couch. As a result, there is not much room in modern American thought for the concept of “vices” — those habits or acquired traits that lead to perdition. Continue Reading…