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Virtues and Their Vices$
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Kevin Timpe and Craig A. Boyd

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199645541

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199645541.001.0001

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Sloth: Some Historical Reflections on Laziness, Effort, and Resistance to the Demands of Love

Sloth: Some Historical Reflections on Laziness, Effort, and Resistance to the Demands of Love

Chapter:
(p.176) (p.177) 8 Sloth: Some Historical Reflections on Laziness, Effort, and Resistance to the Demands of Love
Source:
Virtues and Their Vices
Author(s):

Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199645541.003.0009

This chapter shows how contemporary conceptions of sloth as laziness diverge from acedia, a vice that Desert Fathers Evagrius of Pontus and John Cassian defined as a lack of enduring commitment to one’s religious vocation. Thomas Aquinas likewise understood sloth as threatening one’s relationship with God, defining it as a sorrowful aversion to our participation in the divine nature (caritas, the virtue of charity). Slothful people typically resist this relational identity and its vocational demands for transformation by escapism (restlessness) or by apathy (false rest). According to the Christian tradition, therefore, sloth is aversion to the demands of love, not to effort per se. Thus, the busy activity and diligence esteemed by contemporary culture can count among sloth’s classic symptoms, no less than torpor and resignation. The film, Groundhog Day, illustrates slothful aversion to love’s demands and its remedy, the spiritual discipline of stability (stabilitas loci)

Keywords:   Evagrius, Cassian, Thomas Aquinas, sloth, vice, love, spiritual discipline, laziness, diligence

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