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The Depleted Self: Sin in a Narcissistic Age

The Depleted Self: Sin in a Narcissistic Age

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by Donald Capps

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John Mort
This is an involved meditation on sin as it relates to the modern self, which Capps takes to be narcissistic. Since sin has traditionally been defined with reference to guilt, and a narcissist feels not guilt but shame, then sin must be redefined if it is to have any meaning in our brave new world. Capps manages that in scholarly fashion, by considering what happens to the modern self when it cannot see itself happily reflected in achievement or adulation--typically, at the onset of middle age. That's also when the self is most likely to become depleted, although the process starts in childhood, when the self begins to realize that it is not the center of the universe. Capps also has a popular touch, in his survey of how church workers and laypeople rate the seriousness of the seven deadly sins (actually, eight: pride, envy, apathy, gluttony, anger, greed, melancholy, lust). Men and women alike see melancholy--not just sadness, but a bitter, wounded attitude toward life--as the deadliest of sins, followed by lust and anger, with envy ranking last. The reader willing to give Capps close attention will emerge with a new perspective on what constitutes morality in the 1990s.

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Augsburg Fortress, Publishers
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675 KB

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