Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Trim: 6⅜ x 9½
978-0-7425-5813-7 • Hardback • May 2007 • $26.95 • (£20.99)
978-1-4616-0679-6 • eBook • May 2007 • $25.99 • (£19.99)
John Portmann is professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He is the author of When Bad Things Happen to Other People, Sex & Heaven, and Bad for Us.
1 Introduction — Sin Today
Chapter 2 Sin Fatigue: The Dilution and Demotion of Sin
Chapter 3 Atonement Fatigue
Chapter 4 Catholic Masturbation and Modern Science
Chapter 5 Virginity: Almost a Sin?
Chapter 6 Modern Sins
Chapter 7 The Sins of Our Fathers: Paying for Affirmative Action
Chapter 8 The Best We Can Do
In this most original and thought-provoking book, Portmann persuasively shows that humans will always sin, though they may attempt to decrease the number and the seriousness of such sins. A must-read, and not only for sinners.
— Aaron Ben-Zeév, president, University of Haifa
In this lively, thoughtful, and well-researched book, Portmann demonstrates that sin does have a history and that in the last half century or so people have paid less and less attention to sin and its historical twin, absolution, as a result of suffering from sin fatigue, a weariness of heart from the effort not to sin and the time spent in seeking absolution. After chronicling the way that both masturbation and lack of chastity have ceased to be seen as sins, he looks with sly irony at various contemporary activities that he sees as part of 'sin's vast future.' But Portmann reserves his most careful, indeed dazzlingly sensitive argument for the proposition that the feeling of some white students that affirmative action in higher education has harmed them is but a reflection of their inability to name the sin perpetrated by their elders who fashioned a remedy for their misdeeds the pain of which they do not have to bear. It alone is a sucker punch that every adult in higher education should be compelled to read.
— John Henry Schlegel, University of Buffalo Law School
Drawing on history of religion, philosophy, and social history, this book explores the social construction of sin. It argues that sin, far from being simply a fixed and transcendental standard of human behavior, reveals itself as very much a human concept that is socially and historically conditioned while remaining a reality of the human condition.
— Jean Philippe Bouilloud, University of Paris
The terror and trauma of 9/11 raised questions about the reality of evil and the notion of sin, concepts that had all but faded from public discourse at the opening of the 21st century. In this informative, readable survey, Portmann traces the evolution of sin from the present to the past. . . . Recommended without reservation for both academic and public libraries.
— Library Journal