E D I T O R' S N O T E
Our Special Issue: FAQ
What on earth prompted you to choose the Seven Deadly
Sins as the subject for a special issue?
We were sitting around a conference table last spring,
batting around potential themes for this special issue and
nothing was grabbing us. Entrepreneurism. Hmmmm . . .
maybe. The Brain. Smart idea . . . I guess. Family?
Transitions? Communication? Ummmm . . . The enervation was
Then, out of nowhere: How about the Seven
Deadly Sins — and why they're not always so bad? A
collective pause . . . followed by . . . yes! Eyes
lit up. Slouching bodies sat up straighter. Imagine the
possibilities! What Hopkins reader wouldn't want to read
stories about lust and gluttony and greed? And boy,
wouldn't they be fun to report and illustrate. Within
minutes, we had three staffers vying to interview
Medicine's sex doctor, Leonard DeRogatis, and two others
duking it out to write about competitive eater (and Hopkins
alum) "Crazy Legs" Conti. We knew we had our theme.
Was it difficult to get your essayists on board with the
Actually, we were amazed how easy it was, especially since
our budget allowed for only a paltry honorarium.
First we made a "wish list" of some of
our favorite writers with Johns Hopkins connections —
faculty, alumni, former fellows. In some cases, we knew
exactly which sin we wanted a particular essayist to
tackle. Alumna Cari Lynn, for instance, had just finished a
book based on her experiences "inside the trillion-dollar
boys' club" of commodities trading. She'd have a few
insights to share about avarice, we figured. But mostly we
kept the assignment open: Call dibs on the sin that most
inspires you — then let your muse take you where it
Art director Shaul Tsemach took a similar
strategy with the seven award-winning artists he approached
to illustrate the issue (see
How could you find an "up" side to Deadly Sins? They're
not called deadly for nothing!
Well, sure, it's hard to put a positive spin on subjects
like corporate greed and heart disease bred from anger. And
for the ultra-serious among you, there's plenty in this
issue to keep you happy (or should I say, somber?). In our
section on Lust, for example, we've looked back at the
injustices experienced by Japanese "comfort women," or sex
slaves, during World War II. In Gluttony, we examined the
negative impact Americans' overconsumption of meat has had
on the environment.
But there's cause for celebration in
these pages, too. For women recovering from breast cancer
surgery, oncology nurse Lillie Shockney's counsel on
regaining their sexuality is a healing balm like no other.
And how can you not smile at the sight of a bleacher full
of students in blue body paint, proclaiming their Blue Jay
Which sin was most fun to write about?
You had to ask? I'll give you a hint: It's one of
the seven that's a four-letter word (not envy!).
How did your interview subjects react when you told them
you planned to include their work in an issue about the
Seven Deadly Sins?
Only a handful hung up on us.
What will you do for an encore?
I guess there's always the Seven Virtues. But somehow, a
whole issue of stories based on Meekness, Chastity,
Moderation, and the like lacks a certain . . . zing.
How will you know if the issue's been a success?
Your response is our best measure! So, please —
write, call, or e-mail and let us know what you think.
-Sue De Pasquale
Return to September 2005 Table