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On Our Best Behavior: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Price Women Pay to Be Good

Elise Loehnen

(The Dial, hb., 384 pp., $28)

The May 2023 pick for Professor Phoenix -- an educational spin-off of The Inky Phoenix, the book club from internationally known yoga teacher, author, and Charleston resident Kathryn Budig.

SIGNED (bookplate)

About the book:

Since being codified by the Christian church in the fourth century, the Seven Deadly Sins—pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth—have exerted insidious power. Even today, in our largely secular, patriarchal society, they continue to circumscribe women’s behavior. For example, seeing sloth as sinful leads women to deny themselves rest; a fear of gluttony drives them to ignore their appetites; and an aversion to greed prevents them from negotiating for themselves and contributes to the 55 percent gender wealth gap.

In On Our Best Behavior, Loehnen reveals how we’ve been programmed to obey the rules represented by these sins and how doing so qualifies us as “good.” This probing analysis of contemporary culture and thoroughly researched history explains how women have internalized the patriarchy, and how they unwittingly reinforce it. By sharing her own story and the spiritual wisdom of other traditions, Loehnen shows how we can break free and discover the integrity and wholeness we seek.

About the author:

Elise Loehnen Fissmer is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles with her husband, Rob, and their sons, Max and Sam. She is the host of Pulling the Thread, a podcast with Cadence13, where she interviews cultural luminaries on the big questions of the day, including Dr. Gabor Maté, Dr. Temple Grandin, Dr. Harriet Lerner, and many more. While she’s co-written 12 books, including five New York Times Best Sellers, her first book under her own name, On Our Best Behavior: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Price Women Pay to Be Good, is coming out in May ‘23. Previously, she was the chief content officer of Gwyneth Paltrow's goop.