"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Saturday, April 13, 2019

How to Be a Sinner

It's that time of year: the semester is winding down. And so last week I asked my students, as we reached the end of Peter Bouteneff's new book How to Be a Sinner, their overall thoughts on the book and whether they would recommend it to others.

I'm happy to report that not only would they do so, but several of my students reported how helpful it had been to them in sorting out sometimes difficult psycho-spiritual issues--especially those wrestling with neurotic guilt they have mistaken for the voice of "God" or of "conscience." Some students also reported to me that they had been quoting parts of it in e-mails to friends, or aloud to room-mates, so compelling did they find the book.

If the recommendations of undergraduates leave you a bit unmoved, then let me echo and confirm the recommendation of this book. It is a very careful and judicious approach to often fraught issues which it handles with sensitivity and insight. As a psychoanalyst manqué, I especially appreciated how helpful Bouteneff is in arguing for clear discernment of the several voices that often masquerade as God, but which in fact are just the tedious eructations of that tyrannical bore known as our super-ego. 

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