chimes.sum2013.web0729 - page 40

der continues. “I hope to highlight the obvious—that these
Seven Deadly Sins are still around and still destroying lives
just as much as they did in past centuries. In fact, two of
these seven—lust and greed—are enjoying their best years
ever!”
A licensed psychologist who has practiced for more than
40 years, Sullender is uniquely aware
of the problems people have with ad-
dictions and addictive behaviors. Be-
yond addictions to alcohol and drugs,
he notes a marked increase in addic-
tions to sex, gambling, rage, and the
internet. Sullender also is profoundly
aware of the role that culture and soci-
ety play in promoting addiction.
“In Western culture, we have
moved from a Christian-oriented soci-
ety that denounced pride and drink-
ing to a culture that encourages it,” he
observes. “If you’re unhappy, drink. If
you’re unhappy, shop. These are mes-
sages that can fuel addiction.”
Sullender’s impetus for writing the
book came several years ago. As he re-
flected on what he was learning from
his clients, he noticed an interesting
correlation between the 1,500-year-old
spiritual concept of the Seven Deadly
Sins and the present-day experience of
addictions. “I have spent thousands
of hours with people caught in bond-
age to various addictions, listening to their long tales of
misery and heartache and watching the almost inevitable
destructiveness of the addictive process. This has convinced
me—like no theology textbook ever could—of the power
of sin,” Sullender says.
According to Sullender, many of the traditional re-
sponses to sin in Christian theology have focused on how
to be saved from the consequences of sin—in other words,
how to change one’s eternal destiny from Hell to Heaven.
In contrast, people caught in the web of addiction today are
not so concerned about heaven or hell, but just with how to
stop sinning — how to overcome their addiction.
“As a result of my practice,” Sullender says, “over the
years, I have become more impressed
with sin, with its power, its complexity,
and its deceits. I have concluded that
we in the mainline churches do not talk
enough about sin. This is why, in part,
I have chosen to write this book. I have
concurrently become more impressed
with God’s forgiveness and grace. What
amazing grace it is that washes away
such hideous sins as those that plague
us humans!
“So I have also concluded that most
of us who call ourselves Christians
have no idea of the true depth of God’s
grace,” he adds. “Grace is a far more
profound, deep, and truly radical spiri-
tual truth than most Christians ever
imagine. Sadly, for some, this radical
grace only becomes real when they are
delivered from their slavery to one of the
Seven Deadly Sins. Often, it is the re-
covering addict, the pardoned prisoner,
the loved adulterer, or the once termi-
nally ill patient—in short, the forgiven sinner—who truly
understands the meaning of grace.”
9
Kay Carney is SFTS vice president of communications.
Sullender
From page 29
spiritual person working in the field
of hospice and palliative care. He fo-
cused on these core points: the rhythm
of spirituality, orientation, disorienta-
tion, and new orientation, and the
importance of self-care when doing
hospice and palliative care work. He
referenced Paul Tillich’s three “great
anxieties”: fate and death, guilt and
condemnation, and emptiness and
meaninglessness.
The opportunity to speak before
an audience of caregivers—people
who give of themselves unselfishly to
work with the terminally ill—was a
blessing, Stewart says. “Being able to
encourage the people who do the sa-
cred work of coming around people,
their families, and their loved ones
who are grappling with their mortal-
ity,” he adds, “feels like my way of say-
ing ‘thank you’ from that nine-year old
boy to those who cared for my dad.”
9
Kay Carney is SFTS vice president of
communications.
Stewart
From page 17
“I have become more
impressed with sin, with
its power, its complexity,
and its deceits. I have
concluded that we in the
mainline churches do not
talk enough about sin.
This is why, in part,
I have chosen to write
this book.”
— R. Scott Sullender
38
SFTS CHIMES | Summer 2013
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