Monday, January 26, 2009

James Bond & the Spiritual Condition: A Book Review

I recently finished reading the book, Ian Fleming's Seven Deadlier Sins and 007's Moral Compass by Ben Pratt (see Amazon listing) and want to complement the author, on successfully achieving the monumental task of sharing moral and spiritual truths in a new, fresh and insightful package.

Who, besides possibly the most dedicated Ian Fleming fans, knew he was slipping truths about morality, the human condition and the gospel within the tales of Bond...James Bond. As someone who really enjoys reading works that reveal previously unknown history of events and people...I found this book fascinating on a number of different levels. There seemingly was much more to Fleming than most casual Bond fans could ever have imagined and (according to this book) he could very well go down as one of the giants of 20th century literature, along side his contemporaries, Tolkien and C.S. Lewis...when all is said and done.

As someone who is also constantly looking for new insights into our emotional and spiritual condition, the book opened doors to afflictions of the 21st century man, that I had not previously considered. Most of us are familiar with many of the 7 deadly sins: Pride, Envy, Anger, Covetousness, Gluttony and Lust...but it's that seventh one, Sloth (which was known in the middle ages as Accidie), which ends up being the focus and real payoff of Pratt's book (and why I'd guess, it's chapter 007)!

After reading this chapter, it seems possible that much of the depression in our 21 century society might be explained in spiritual terms, rather than physiological ones. Pratt explains, Accidie comes from the Greek akedos, which refers to those who didn't care enough to bury the dead on the battlefield. In a more modern context, Accidie is when we lose our passion and joy for life. Pratt quotes a description from St. John of Damascus, "a sorrowfulness so weighing down the mind that there is no good it likes to do. It has attached to it as its inseparable comrade, a distress and weariness of soul and a sluggishness in all good works which plunge the whole person into a lazy languor of bitterness." Pratt goes on to even describe the kind of people who fall prey to this "sin"..."dreamers, romantics and idealists. The Sin of those who believe hard, work hard and live hard. It is often the sin of those of us who believe that we can make a difference in this world."

In a personal note, this chapter helped me come to gripes with an emotional and spiritual cloud I had felt over my life the past year, as my following the path to create the Eye Witness series (under divine direction) has indeed been anything but easy and many obstacles which had been placed in my path these past 6 years...not just from a publishing and creative standpoint, but in my personal life as well... had succeeded in breaking down not only my passion for my mission, but for life itself! Pratt's explanation of this condition and better yet...his answers on how to deal with this "spiritual condition", (not to be confused with depression as a result of physical or mental illness), was a breath of fresh air into my own psyche, which I had not previously considered. At first I was a bit annoyed at the inference that what I might be feeling is a "sin", but trust me, his explanation is more than sufficient, understandable and condemning...if you can set your pride aside (but you'll have to find out about it for yourself...I don't want to give away too much meat here).

Even if you have never read any of Bond tales in their original novel form, this book should appeal to lovers of the movie Bond, (as Pratt supplies quite a bit of cross referencing to both). If fact it's made me now want to go out and rediscover Flemings work for the first time in its original form...just to better understand and appreciate some of Pratt's contentions.

I highly recommend this book for: Lovers of James Bond; fans of 20th century literature; and anyone who may be struggling with a sadness and lack of passion for life and just can't discover the root of their feelings, and/or don't want to go the way of pharmaceuticals to find answers.

R. J. Luedke


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