I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Dorothy Sayers. I read her voraciously back in the day, but the vicissitudes of life and the endless business that seems to be the hallmark of the last 30 years put her in the background of my brain. Then I came across the following in a blog that I will talk about more later this week.
Dorothy Sayers, “The Other Six Deadly Sins”:
The sixth deadly sin is named by the Church acedia or sloth. In the world it calls itself tolerance; but in hell it is called despair. It is the accomplice of the other sins and their worst punishment. It is the sin that believes in 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 remains alive only because there is nothing it would die for. We have known it far too well for many years. The only thing perhaps that we have not known about it is that it is a mortal sin. …
First, it is one of the favorite tricks of this sin to dissemble itself under cover of a whiffling activity of body. We think that if we are busily rushing about and doing things, we cannot be suffering from sloth. And besides, violent activity seems to offer an escape from the horrors of sloth. So the other sins hasten to provide a cloak for sloth. Gluttony offers a whirl of dancing, dining, sports, and dashing very fast from place to place to gape at beauty spots, which, when we get to them, we defile with vulgarity and waste. Covetousness rakes us out of bed at an early hour in order that we may put pep and hustle into our business. Envy sets us to gossip and scandal, to writing cantankerous letters to the papers, and to the unearthing of secrets and scavenging of dustbins. Wrath provides (very ingeniously) the argument that the only fitting activity in a world so full of evildoers and demons is to curse loudly and incessantly: “Whatever brute and blackguard made the world”; while lust provides that round of dreary promiscuity that passes for bodily vigor. But these are all disguises for the empty heart and the empty brain and the empty soul of acedia.
Let us take particular notice of the empty brain. Here sloth is in a conspiracy with envy to prevent people from thinking. Sloth persuades us that stupidity is not our sin, but our misfortune; while envy, at the same time, persuades us that intelligence is despicable–a dusty, high-brow, and commercially useless thing.
Sayers wrote about Christianity and the manner it which we dissemble under the weight of a magnificent love song of God. “So that is the outline of the official story” she wrote, “—the talk of the time when God was the underdog and got beaten, when he submitted to the conditions he had laid down and became a man like the men he had made, and the men he had made broke him and killed him. This is the dogma we find so dull—this terrifying drama of which God is the victim and hero. If this is dull, then what, in Heaven’s name, is worthy to be called exciting?”
She also wrote some ripping good yarns about a detective named “Lord Peter Wimsey”. We might have to wait for her to be popular again if PBS deigns to repeat some of her stuff. They did a serie back in the day that was well received.
Anyway Acedia is one of the 7 deadly sins and look what the talented in our world do with it.