In our substantially secular "whatever" way of living, even the God-deniers would have to admit that Pope Gregory's little list still contains a number of functional elephant traps for the unwary. Gregory I's canonical first-century revision of the fatal flaws – numerically chiming with the wonders of the world, the continents, the seas and the colours of the rainbow, as John Sutherland notes in his essay in this elegant little volume – turfed out sorrow and boasting, and embraced envy alongside sloth, wrath, lust, vanity, greed and gluttony, although not in any particular order of severity or popularity. Fifty years ago, the difference between the two last named was perhaps less than entirely clear, but now a generation of unscrupulous bankers and their (often second) trophy wives have made the distinction quite apparent. They are further distinguished here by cartoonist and graphic novelist Martin Rowson's wordless strip cartoon (gluttony) and humanist philosopher Dylan Evans's elegantly equivocal musings on the value of greed.
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