A Gathering Voices post by David Maxwell
A friend just sent me an email circulating from a climate change denier. The email pokes fun of all ecological do gooders out tending their tiny gardens and advocating increased carbon emissions taxes while an erupting volcano in Iceland spews out more CO2 in five days than our combined efforts could eliminate in five years.
I expected the carefully placed misinformation in the guy’s rant. And I actually do wonder quite frequently about the most effective actions humans might take to slow down CO2 emissions. For example, is my time better spent sitting in my garden or sitting in my congressman’s office advocating policy change?
What bothers me most about the email is the sense of hopelessness it evokes. This sense of futility is quickly spreading in our society, watered in part by our current economic and political mess.
Perhaps our society is suffering from a big ole case of Sloth. Martin Marty wrestles with this in the Seven Deadly Sins (and Their Corresponding Christian Virtues) Study Pack session on “Sloth and Caring”.
Contrary to popular belief, sloth is not just laziness. Rather, it is what Paul calls “worldly grief” in 2 Cor. 7:10. Early theologians identified the sin of Sloth as “sadness in the face of spiritual good.” Being indifferent or bored or spiritually sluggish is “deadly,” because the one who does not care cannot accept the gifts God offers and cannot be moved to care for others.
Marty believes Sloth is one of the deadliest sins because so many other sins flow from this sense of hopelessness. He believes it is prevalent especially in Western culture today. “We are busy, active, besieged by stimuli – tweets and Twitters and all the rest – but few observers of our culture would note that we are characterized by joyfulness."
The good news is that we can work to get over sloth. Marty is on a mini-crusade. He sees people in church with grim faces and clenched fists or dozing off. Slothful Christians indeed!
But he also finds Christians caring for others and being attentive to the wonder in the Gospel stories. Sloth does not rule them and does not have to rule widely in church and culture as it does. He says: "Defy despair! Lean forward rather than slouch down when the praise of God is offered, and one more deadly sin won’t be so deadly."
I find it best to delete these sorts of emails and move on.