Greed: The Seven Deadly Sins

Overview

Grasping. Avarice. Covetousness. Miserliness. Insatiable cupidity. Overreaching ambition. Desire spun out of control. The deadly sin of Greed goes by many names, appears in many guises, and wreaks havoc on individuals and nations alike. In this lively and generous book, Phyllis A. Tickle argues that Greed is "the Matriarch of the Deadly Clan," the ultimate source of Pride, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony, Lust, and Anger. She shows that the major faiths, from Hinduism and Taoism to Buddhism and Christianity regard Greed as...
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Greed: The Seven Deadly Sins

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Overview

Grasping. Avarice. Covetousness. Miserliness. Insatiable cupidity. Overreaching ambition. Desire spun out of control. The deadly sin of Greed goes by many names, appears in many guises, and wreaks havoc on individuals and nations alike. In this lively and generous book, Phyllis A. Tickle argues that Greed is "the Matriarch of the Deadly Clan," the ultimate source of Pride, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony, Lust, and Anger. She shows that the major faiths, from Hinduism and Taoism to Buddhism and Christianity regard Greed as the greatest calamity humans can indulge in, engendering further sins and eviscerating all virtues. As the Sikh holy book Adi Granth asks: "Where there is greed, what love can there be?" Tickle takes a long view of Greed, from St. Paul to the present, focusing particularly on changing imaginative representations of Greed in Western literature and art. Looking at such works as the Psychomachia, or "Soul Battle" of the fifth-century poet Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, the paintings of Peter Bruegel and Hieronymous Bosch, the 1987 film Wall Street, and the contemporary Italian artist Mario Donizetti, Tickle shows how our perceptions have evolved from the medieval understanding of Greed as a spiritual enemy to a nineteenth-century sociological construct to an early twentieth-century psychological deficiency, and finally to a new view, powerfully articulated in Donizetti's mystical paintings, of Greed as both tragic and beautiful.

Engaging, witty, brilliantly insightful, Greed explores the full range of this deadly sin's subtle, chameleon-like qualities, and the enormous destructive power it wields, evidenced all too clearly in the world today.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The most insidious and least obvious of offenses is addressed in a specifically religious context in this latest entry to Oxford's Seven Deadly Sins series. After a brief survey of the status of greed in non-Western religions, the meat of this essay from former PW religion editor Tickle is devoted to a sequence of (mostly visual) representations of greed that track the shift from what she terms the physical imagination of pre-Reformation Christianity to the modern "intellectual imagination" of religious thought. There is an inspired essay lurking in these pages, about how the transformation of greed from a specific offense against godliness to a brutal but amoral force of society is a potent indicator of how the essence of religion has changed in the modern era. Compelling, too, is Tickle's intuition that in our own epoch the transformation of greed into a kind of mass hysteria heralds a similarly huge shift. Her readings of very apt images by Bosch, Brueghel the Elder and the modern Italian painter Donizetti can get obscured by asides and qualifications (particularly on the evolution of religious sensibility in the West), however, and Erich von Stroheim's great film doesn't get the discussion it deserves. But Tickle's thoughtfulness and scholarship will make readers avaricious and leave them wanting more. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Third and fourth in a series published jointly by Oxford University and the New York Public Library, these two titles continue to show the series' excellence and promise the same for pride, anger, and sloth. In Greed, Tickle gives the reader such an apt "big picture" glimpse into our world and its history that her words could serve as the perfect introduction for the entire series. She then persuasively argues that greed is the ultimate source of all the sins, because the root of greed is desire spun out of control. With quotes from such sources as Prudentius' Psychomachia and St. Paul, Tickle's witty wordsmithing, accompanied by artworks by Bosch and Breughel, is reminiscent of her insightful appearances on PBS's Religion & Ethics News Weekly, the Hallmark Channel, and National Public Radio. One of the most eminent living philosophers, Blackburn (philosophy, Cambridge; The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy) amuses us with his provocative defense of lust. He reminds us that lust is not only the trashy cousin of love but also life-affirming, invigorating, and fun-and that none of us would be here without it. While Blackburn attempts to drag reasonable lust from the category of sin to virtue, he recounts its excesses as viewed by Christianity, Freud, Kinsey, and modern "evolutionary psychology." Sixteen colorful illustrations (mostly famous works of art) vividly accompany the text and remind the reader of lust's long history. While religious conservatives could regard Blackburn's Lust as outrageous, it thoughtfully balances other books in the series. However, more than any other title so far, it is apt to be debated in many venues. Both titles are highly recommended, especially for public libraries.-Gary P. Gillum, Brigham Young Univ., Provo, UT Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

"Whimsically packaged exminations of Lust by Simon Blackburn, Gluttony by Francine Prsoe, Envy by Joseph Epstein, Anger by Robert Thurman, Greed by Phyllis Tickle, Sloth by Wendy Wasserstein and Pride by Michael Eric Dyson become playgrounds for cultural reflection by authors and playwrights in Oxford's Seven Deadly Sins series."--Publishers Weekly (on the series)

"Don't be misled by the format of this book. What you're holding is not a decaf caramel macchiato--it's a triple espresso, a little book with a big wallop. Greed, Phyllis Tickle says, is a sin we see readily in others but rarely acknowledge as our own--and therein lies its power. Urbanely provocative, with striking assertions every other page--if you don't find something to disagree with, you can't have been reading very carefully--it demands to be devoured in one sitting."--John Wilson, Editor, Books & Culture

"Tickle's thoughtfulness and scholarship will make readers avaricious and leave them wanting more."--Publishers Weekly

"Many cheers to Phyllis Tickle for this lively, trim, erudite study! She has pulled off a near-miracle, making the most deadening (remember Midas?) of the deadly sins glitter with fascination and gleam with moral (or immoral) depth. Tickle is full of surprises, darting from the Mahabharata to Hieronymous Bosch to D.H. Lawrence to 9/11 as she makes her case for greed as the 'mother and matrix, root and consort' of all sins. A superb achievement that leaves one, dare I say it, greedy for more."--Philip Zaleski, Editor of The Best Spiritual Writing series, and author of The Recollected Heart

"Tickle gives the reader such an apt 'big picture' glimpse into our world and its history that her words could serve as the perfect introduction for the entire series. She then persuasively argues that greed is the ultimate source of all the sins, because the root of greed is desire spun out of control."--Library Journal

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Phyllis A. Tickle frequently appears on PBS's "Religion & Ethics News Weekly," The Hallmark Channel, and National Public Radio. She is the author of some two dozen books, including the three-volume The Divine Hours, a set of manuals for observing fixed-hour prayer; The Shaping of a Life: A Spiritual Landscape; and, most recently, The Graces We Remember. Tickle was the religion editor for Publishers Weekly from 1991 to 1996 and is currently a contributing editor. She lives in Millington, Tennessee.
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