Resistance to the Demands of Love: Reflections on the Vice of Sloth

Team Members/Contributors

Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung Calvin College Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

My project translates forward traditional Christian wisdom concerning the capital vice of sloth (acedia). My proposed book on sloth addresses the following questions:

--Is sloth more than laziness and apathy?

--Is it opposed to diligence?

--Why is sloth considered a vice in the early Christian tradition, from the 4th century through the Middle Ages?

--What does this spiritual vice have to do with our commitments to love God and others?

--How can the Christian tradition’s analysis of sloth help North American Christians today identify their spiritual struggles and cultivate strategies and practices to resist it?

Sloth’s relationship to sanctification puts it at the heart of spiritual formation. This vice names a temptation to flee commitment when our relationships of love demand personal transformation; it applies especially in our relationship with God. The ‘care of souls’ tradition that my book recovers offers wisdom for diagnosing and healing a personal and cultural malaise of which most of us are not even aware but which nonetheless deforms our character. Thus I propose to tell the history of sloth—a vice of resisting the transforming demands of God’s love—as our story, to help us all name and actively resist this destructive habit.

Image Title Year Type Contributor(s) Other Info
Vainglory: The Forgotten Vice 2014 Book Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung