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Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 32, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2012

William McDonough
Pages 39-55
DOI: 10.1353/sce.2012.0010

Sin and Addiction
Alcoholics Anonymous and the Soul of Christian Sin-Talk

THE ESSAY DEMONSTRATES THE SUBTLETY OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS (AA) on sin and addiction. It suggests a parallel between Aquinas's understanding of acedia and invidia as the two vitia capitalia most directly undermining of God's caritas and AA founder Bill Wilson's understanding of two contemporary deadly sins, self-pity and resentment, as the "root" of alcoholics' troubles. I argue that AA's understanding of sin and addiction is relevant far beyond the lives of alcoholics. Indeed, its understanding could help the Christian tradition rediscover the "soul" of its sin-talk, aiding all of us in discerning our sin and in recovering from sin in our lives.