Vice Grip: A Woman's Look At The Seven Deadly Sins
by Sara Dyer
LitFire Publishing

"The system of classifying the vices came out of this monastic tradition of self-examination... born out of a desire to lead a more pure life..."

Vice Grip presents a refreshing return to a time before the meanings of such stout English words as gluttony and sloth were reinterpreted for political correctness. However, the author takes care to clear away any confusion these older words might cause. For example, Sloth is a choice and not the same as the ailment called Depression. A slothful person accepts upside-down values as an excuse for not doing a task; a clean house should never take priority over caring for one's children.

The book is highly structured. Seven Vice chapters each start with a cartoon of a woman controlled by that vice, followed by a brief introduction which often includes teachings of early Christian fathers. For example, St. Thomas Aquinas said that Anger is a sin when it occurs too quickly, too intensely, or too long. Next, the author uses everyday language to challenge the reader to study related Bible verses and to record observations on the lines provided. A Vice Breaker section ends the chapter with memorable hints, like thankfulness is poison to Gluttony. In case a reader feels overwhelmed, a final chapter, The Pure in Heart, emphasizes that the study is meant to foster a sense of triumph, not defeat. Also, a guide prepares the leader to support a study group.

What impresses most is Dyer's use of mirror-like images that help one see clearly and rethink: Pride is disordered love that makes con artists of us all; Greed is a first world problem and has become America's spokesperson; Gluttony is about eating and drinking which excludes God. Even so, women will easily relate to coaxing verbal pictures such as "Martha working her tail off to be a good hostess" for Jesus. In this book, Dyer has powerfully demonstrated her gift for straight speaking without placing a guilt trip on readers.

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