The Se7en Deadly Sins: Sloth

Posted: Jul 22, 2006 12:00 PM

Fourth on The Se7en Deadly sins list is listlessness, or acedia, or spiritual dejection, or sloth, or blah-blah . . . whatever. I really don’t care anymore. Hey, what time does the Surreal Life air on the All-Hope-Is-Gone channel?

Anyway, sloth is essentially the desire to sit on your butt and pick lint from your navel because you’re a jaded and dejected bleak little monkey. Sloth is the sin, according to Dorothy Sayers, “which believes nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and only remains alive because there is nothing it will die for.”

The decadent tub of spiritual lard that’s satiated with this swill will not lift a finger to fight insanity or to stand for God and humanity because, to them, there isn’t anything worth getting riled up about. As they see it, life has sucked, does suck and will continue to suck, and they feel there’s nada they can do about it. Therefore, don’t ask or expect them to cheerlead any cause because the world, according to this gloomy group, is irrevocably hell-bent for leather.

This sin, unlike pride, envy, anger, avarice, lust and gluttony is a sin of omission rather than of commission. Being a sluggard is a simple sin in that all you have to do to do this doo-doo is do nothing when you’re s’posed to do something.

When most folks think of someone who’s given to sloth, they usually conjure up an image of some bloated, slow moving, mumbling, unshorn, unemployed human sea cow with excessive eye buggers. The fact is that most indolents aren’t your typical heel draggin’ slackers. True slothfulness is easy to hide under a flurry of inconsequential activities and frothy busyness. Yes, you can be hectic, fit, religious and industrious and still be slothful. “But how?” you might ask. Here’s the real acid test to gauge whether or not you have this soul disease: when that which is consequential confronts you . . . such as the pursuit of God, the good, the true and the beautiful . . . how do you react?

Does that which is holy, just and good get a rise out of you and cause you to get off your butt and move into action? Or do you stand there and stare at the substantial like a calf looking at a new gate and then shrug and say, “Whatever.”?

Sloth can not be simply deduced to just loitering in life. Classically defined, sloth is a sluggishness of spirit which is the byproduct of a Van Gogh-esque spiritual gloominess that no longer sees the worthiness of the worthwhile and, ironically, leaves one, as Os Guinness states, trying to find “meaning in its own meaninglessness.”

Oh, yeah . . . before I go on to further slam our slothfulness, let me help you workaholics out there with what sloth is not. Being slothful is not equated with being able to relax. Okay, Mr. I’m-Two-Minutes-Away-from-a-Major-Frickin’-Heart-Attack Man?

There’s nothing wrong with chillin’ like a villain. As a matter of fact, there is a lot right about it. It’s right to lie on the beach, drink ice cold Coronas and not be demon possessed with what’s going on back at the office. It’s right to relax for several hours over dinner with your good friends making jest at people who do not believe like you do. It’s healthy for you and your wife to get away for a weekend of steamy hot relations (as Mother Klump would put it). That’s not slothfulness—that’s yumminess.

Slothfulness, one more time, is a careless apathy towards ideals that leads to a lethargic approach towards that which really matters in life.

So how does one fight off the noon-day demons, the mid-life malaise, the teenaged doldrums, and the bean burrito drowsiness? In The Sermon on the Mount, Christ tabled, in contrast to slothful soul sludge, a hunger and a thirst for righteousness.

Jesus, far from being a Pollyanna and far from ministering in easy and uncomplicated times, said one is “blessed” when in the midst of all the major crapola that’s going down on the planet, including all the bad religion, corrupt politics and war torn nations. He said one can still hunger and thirst for that which is right. Jesus said you’re fortunate when you can keep focused on ideals and hotly pursue them when circumstances are screaming for you to abandon all hope.

Spiritually myopic people move into sloth mode when they’re confronted with the above crud. They see problems as a nice out from activity. They can not see right when wrong is around. They can not hunger for ideals unless the conditions are idyllic. Their conscious or unconscious response when their world ceases to look like a Viagara commercial is, “Forget you guys. I’m moving to the desert.”

Christ, on the other hand, was fueled by selfless passion rooted in a firm persuasion that good will triumph over evil in time and in eternity. This caused him to be, let’s say, involved with what was happening in His day.

You don’t see Jesus dragging though life like Richard the III in passive indifference to that which was good, bad and ugly. He saw the ideal and saw what was currently being played out on the planet and being the unreasonable hopeful rebel that He was, He got a whip and started clearing the punks. If it wasn’t right, then Christ felt compelled to correct it instead of slothfully standing by and just watching.

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