Glittering Vices

A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies

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"An excellent and important contribution. . . . Given its accessibility, far-reaching scope, and 'glittering' subject matter, Glittering Vices is potentially useful in a wide range of contexts: from retreats, to small groups, to adult Christian education courses, to undergraduate academic courses in ethics or theology."--Jason Baehr, Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care
"Moral formation" and "character development" are popular buzzwords, but they are ineffective concepts without an understanding of what good character is and how to cultivate it. The traditional teachings on the "seven deadly sins," or capital vices, compiled by saints such as Augustine, Pope Gregory I, and Aquinas, offer a strong foundation for recognizing virtues to cultivate and vices to avoid.

Unfortunately, contemporary culture trivializes, psychologizes, or even dismisses the seven vices as if they have no serious moral or spiritual implications. Glittering Vices clears that misconception with a brief history of the vices and an informative chapter on each "deadly sin." Readers gain practical understanding of how the vices shape our culture and why gluttony, lust, sloth, and others are, in fact, incredibly destructive. Through this eye-opening book, readers will be able to correctly identify and eliminate the deeply rooted patterns of sin that are work in their lives.

Winsome and wise, Glittering Vices is intriguing for any reader interested in spiritual disciplines and character formation. Its rich content makes it useful in undergraduate and seminary ethics courses as well.


"This book is a treat for the mind and a tonic for the soul, recovering and refining riches in the Christian tradition almost lost from view. It is not often that one reads a work that is as intellectually deep and sharp as this one, but that is also intensely practical, helping its readers become the persons they were created to be."--C. Stephen Evans, Baylor University

"Glittering Vices is a lucid, historically informed, and well-illustrated exploration of the seven deadly vices. DeYoung's book will unquestionably help teachers, students, and laypersons toward the Socratic and Christian goal of self-examination. This is an invaluable guide for anyone seeking self-understanding, spiritual growth, and philosophical insight."--W. Jay Wood, Wheaton College

"Rebecca DeYoung here gives us an in-depth, informing, and frequently fascinating look at the vices and why they glitter. For the believer, reading her words will become, in and of itself, an act of spiritual formation."--Phyllis Tickle, author of Greed

"Rebecca DeYoung's Glittering Vices gives us the seven words we need to name the deep-rooted distortions of love of God and neighbor--both within ourselves and in our culture. This lively introduction to the Christian psychology behind the capital vices, or 'deadly sins,' engages contemporary film and fiction even as it sifts the wisdom of Aquinas, Gregory, and Cassian. In DeYoung, the rich tradition of self-examination through the lens of the capital vices has found a contemporary advocate, faithful and wise."--Robert B. Kruschwitz, director of the Center for Christian Ethics, Baylor University

The Author

  1. Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung

    Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung

    Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung (PhD, University of Notre Dame) is professor of philosophy at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the author of Vainglory: The Forgotten Vice. She speaks to a wide range of audiences. Her essays on virtues and vices...

    Continue reading about Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung


Winner of a C. S. Lewis Book Prize

"A serious, scripturally based revisitation of the perils conservative Christians face from the traditional deadly sins. . . . Suitable for many [collections]."--Library Journal

"Christian readers and readers of other deistic faiths will benefit from the reminder that a divinity is offended by those who act in loveless and other destructive ways; agnostic and atheist readers will be edified by this exhaustive compendium of the ways in which 'vice' is glorified and even celebrated in media, literature, and contemporary life."--Virginia Konchan, ForeWord

"Glittering Vices is a felicitous blend of the scholarly and the hortatory. DeYoung is too sophisticated--and too much of a Thomist--to reduce sin to sociology or therapy. . . . This book is full of subtlety. DeYoung is very good at explaining why 'deadly' sins are not always the sins that threaten violence and danger."--Lawrence S. Cunningham, Commonweal

"Glittering Vices is an excellent and important contribution. . . . It offers a thoughtful, historically informed, and engaging account of the so-called 'seven deadly sins' or 'capital vices'--an account in which most readers are bound to catch glimpses of themselves and that can therefore be put to good use in a program of spiritual formation. . . . The discussion in these chapters draws heavily and fruitfully from various Christian thinkers of the past--particularly Thomas Aquinas--while also exhibiting a familiarity with the contemporary literature on its subject. The author also makes regular and effective use of illustrations from literature, music, and film. Given its accessibility, far-reaching scope, and 'glittering' subject matter, Glittering Vices is potentially useful in a wide range of contexts: from retreats, to small groups, to adult Christian education courses, to undergraduate academic courses in ethics or theology. . . . Glittering Vices is an impressive example of philosophy undertaken as 'soul care.' And, unlike many contemporary treatments of its subject matter, it makes good sense of, rather than obfuscates, why the traits in question have traditionally been regarded as posing a mortal threat to human flourishing."--Jason Baehr, Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care

"The author's insights are trenchant and often convicting--the portraits of vice are drawn realistically enough to easily see one's self in them. Fortunately, DeYoung also details historical 'remedies' for each vice. These practices, along with some drawn from more recent sources or devised by the author herself, are practical and seemingly effective. DeYoung . . . writes like a true expert--her prose flows well and holds the attention while providing the perfect amount of background detail. . . . Glittering Vices is an excellent, concise treatment of a highly relevant subject. Its content and structure make it perfect for group study or personal reading. Even those already familiar with the traditional vices and virtues may find it a worthwhile read, either for the vice 'remedies' or for a solid recommendation for others interested in the topic."--Chase Roden, Englewood Review of Books

"An illuminating account of each of the vices, illustrated and explained in such a way that any thoughtful reader will inevitably find one or more chapters illuminating some previously unrecognized vicious inclination within his or her own soul. . . . The achievement of this book is the solid and straightforward recovery of the tradition of teaching about the vices as an essential but regrettably overlooked element of virtue theory today. The fact that DeYoung's illustrations are so illuminating, and that the language of the vices remains so foreign and unfamiliar to popular and specialist audiences alike, is proof that this recovery is not complete. DeYoung's work is a welcome reminder of the importance of the vices for any genuine virtue theory, and an effective starting-point for a more rigorous and systematic integration of the vices into virtue theory today."--Robert Barry, The Thomist

"A very readable, riveting, popular book about the seven deadly sins. . . . Having read numerous books on the seven deadly sins, I find Professor DeYoung's book to be in a category all its own. Pastors, please get a copy and read it, ponder it, and at some point preach on these enticing vices. . . . Because of Rebecca's saturated awareness of the Desert Fathers' and Mothers' writings on these capital sins, she writes with an informed biblical and historical depth to which I have never been exposed. . . . While Professor DeYoung instructs us with fine, gripping, historically-informed definitions of the principal vices, she does so with a readable prose that also describes our cultural challenges to live liberated from these sins. . . . With literary surgical precision [DeYoung] helps us open our hearts to God, helps us some see the stains we carry, and then helps us to begin practicing some ancient, tried and true remedies. . . . [An] excellent book."--John Frye, Jesus Creed blog