HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Whatever Became of Sin?
Author: Karl A. Menninger
Publisher: Bantam Books, 4th edition published in 1988
ISBN-13: 978-0801585548 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0801585546 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0553247336 Paperback
ISBN-10: 0553247336 Paperback
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Adults
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Menninger, Karl A. Whatever Became of Sin? (published in 1973 by Hawthorn Books Inc., 260 Madison Ave,, New York City, NY 10016). For many years the name of Dr, Karl Augustus Menninger (1893-1990) has been almost synonymous in America with the science and practice of psychiatry. Menninger founded and with his father and brother – later, his son and nephews – developed a psychiatric center in Topeka, KS, known now all over the world. His book The Human Mind introduced that branch of medicine to the American public in 1930. He has written a dozen books and belongs to a score of national psychiatric organizations, several of which he founded. In Whatever Became of Sin?, Dr. Menninger attempts to apply psychiatry to a worldwide affliction of depression, gloom, discouragement and apprehensiveness which are so prevalent in our modern society. If, as he believes, mental health and moral health are related, the recognition of the reality of sin offers to the suffering, struggling, anxious world a real hope not just of belated treatment but of prevention.
I purchased a copy of this book many years ago and read through it. There are ten chapters. In explaining why he wrote it, Dr. Menninger said, “The popular leaning is away from notions of guilt and morality….Disease and treatment have been the watchwords of the day and little is said about selfishness or guilt or the ‘morality gap.’ And certainly no one talks about sin!” One reviewer noted, “Despite the lapse of 40 years since this book was written, Menninger’s proposal for a return to responsibility and the corresponding possibility of redemption still have a strong resonance with the modern temperament, I would think.” Or at least one would think that they should have a strong resonance with the modern temperament, given the mess that our world today is in.
Another reviewer said, “Dr. Menninger, educated, intelligent and highly respected gives a good insight into social interaction. Society no longer recognizes sin as sin, hence the condition we are in. Written in the early 70’s, one would think it was written last year. Anyone interested in knowing and understanding why we’re in the state we’re in should read this well documented book.” The biggest complaint that I saw was that Menninger’s writing is very complex and difficult to understand for the average person. That may be true for some, but the book does a good job of providing illustrative corroboration for Biblical principles from secular sources. Every generation needs an emphasis on a sense of personal responsibility rather than always blaming “society” for all its problems. As Ann Landers noted, “It is provocative, informative and worth the time.”