"So let this be our common question and the purpose of this book: Is there a lively virtue that corresponds to each of the Seven Deadly Sins? If so, what is it? Can we reverse moral gravity and put the wings back on these fallen angels, restoring what was burned off when they passed through the superheated atmosphere of excess and depravity? If we can, then how do we live these lively virtues every day?

"What if, instead of condemning the sin of pride, we could recommend the virtue of feeling worthy? What if, instead of simply condemning the green-eyed monster of envy, we could extract the essential virtue that causes us to want to emulate those we admire? What if, instead of warning against the consumption of anger, we could carefully differentiate between being mad and being possessed of righteous indignation?

"What if, instead of the death spiral of lust, we could find a way to bring holy eros into the bedroom? What if, instead of shaming gluttons who eat too much, we could recommend a way of eating less and yet feeling more satisfied. The church calls it communion.

"What if, instead of hurling epithets at the greedy, we could teach what is natural and healthy about wanting wisely? What if, instead of heaping burning coals upon the slothful heads of those who are lazy and apathetic, we could suggest the virtue of contentedness, which requires that we let some things be, in order that other, more important things might receive our full and healthy attention? After all, what better weapon to combat the Seven Deadly Sins than their flip side, their alter ego — the Seven Lively Virtues? And what better way to confront the very same battles raging inside of us, given that we often know our demons better than we know our angels?