Seven Paperback – Aug 19 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
With two toddlers I don't have a lot of time for meditation, but on occasion I am forced into introspection usually due to my bossy/crappy/angry parenting style that creeps in when I feel too busy or too tired. A few days ago I felt at the end of my rope, and really heart sick with all the meanness that seems to crowd my life.
I was feeling interior. Isolated. I wanted something to speak to my life right then. And it occurred to me--- the chapter on Wrath & Peace makers.
I have read Seven (through a year of various re-drafts) probably 30 times. I have never really felt the need to read it again. I have seen this work for so long as a project, one that I could barely step outside of... and yet it was the one source that I thought of that could actually speak some sense into that place right away. It wasn't Jeff's job, it wasn't a clever way for the Cook family to pay our bills. It wasn't a book written by my husband any longer, it was a salve that I knew offered something to me, personally and immediately.
There was something real in Seven that was talking to me in a way I hadn't heard like this anywhere before.
I understood, maybe for the first time, the soul eating, life crushing, relationship killing void left by my anger... and that the peacefulness that I longed for was "not pacifist pomp. This is not wishful thinking or an impossible course. Any watering down of these prescriptions is a rejections of Jesus' own death. It was Jesus who when struck turned his other cheek, who when asked for his shirt gave his coat as well... in his revolutionary meekness, Jesus inherited everything (144-5)."
And what was I inheriting with wrath
---or leaving for my sons--- with my anger?
I think I will never be over getting mad, or hurting because of it, but that day I felt normal, loved, understood. I felt like there was a way out. I didn't mean to find that in Seven but I did.
Friends and family that buy Seven because, well frankly, we make them end up commenting to me how this book spoke to them in their marriage, in their debt, in their envy, in their self loathing and in their desire to belong to a community that won't let them down. Seven opens a better door for many of us.
I am proud of you Jeff, not just for writing a book, but for writing THIS book, and for quietly teaching the most stubborn person you know.
Peter Kreeft's endorsement of the book is spot on when he says, "It's not just good; it's striking." The author uses words artistically to paint a picture. He paints a picture of the devastating power and consequences of the seven deadly sins upon our souls and our societies and contrasts this picture with one of a restored creation by exploring the meaning and reality of the Beatitudes. The contrast between these two worlds is so stark that it renews in me a longing for goodness --- a desire to see God's purposes fulfilled in his creation.
I wasn't prepared for how the book would challenge me. One chapter in particular helped me to see myself in a new way because I became aware for the first time that a particular sin (envy) was a major part of my thought life. This book will not help those who are indifferent or oblivious to their own sin nature, but for the rest of us this is a powerful book indeed.
Although the book is not intended this way it does show the credibility of the Christian faith by articulating so clearly the human predicament in all its utter brokenness and showing the way out that God has provided. Only the Bible presents such a bleak account of fallen humanity and only Christ can save us from this plight.
If you seek true enlightenment to our shared human condition then read and ponder this book. It may illuminate an old subject in ways you never thought of before.
(The only way it could have been better if it came with a CD of his old ska band - Trump Mother Jones.)