Episode 157: Do something about it

On August 21, 2021, Kasie and Rex continued the 7 Deadly Sins series with sloth. Here are the show notes:

Theme for the day(s)

The Seven Deadly Sins – Sloth

Agenda

  • Launch Day report for Before Pittsburgh
  • SCWA Upcoming events and goings-on
  • The 7 Deadly Sins recap
  • Sloth as a character trait, motivation, and antagonizing force
Photo by kira schwarz on Pexels.com

Segment 1

Tuesday was LAUNCH DAY for Kasie’s second novel, Before Pittsburgh. You can buy it here. Tonight we’ll have the official Launch Party at Beef O’Brady’s on Hardscrabble Road in Columbia, S.C. It’s free and open to the public, I’m buying the first round of beers and then everything else is buy-your-own. With COVID and all that, I didn’t want to do a buffet, ya know? In any case, it would be great to have some listeners drop in.

Here are the crucial links for the launch stuff:

Some much-deserved thanks to Chrysalis Press and Alexa Bigwarfe and the team for putting on a great launch day. There’s a blog tour coming up, too. Reviews from a dozen or more instagrammers. Many of whom mentioned the book on Launch Day.

Segment 2

Let’s get to the fun stuff. Sin. From the Wikipedia page:

The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices, or cardinal sins, is a grouping and classification of vices within Christian teachings,[1] although they are not mentioned in the Bible. Behaviours or habits are classified under this category if they directly give rise to other immoralities.[2] According to the standard list, they are pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony and sloth,[2] which are contrary to the seven heavenly virtues.

So the 7 Deadly Sins discussion started with “Pride” and then we did “Greed” which is not to be confused with gluttony which is a sin in and of itself. Then we did “Wrath” and “Envy” and “Lust.” That was fun! Last week was “Gluttony” so we’re wrapping up the series this week with “Sloth.”

Unlike our other deadly sins, sloth doesn’t seem to have the indulgence that gluttony, greed, and lust; or the passion of pride, wrath, and envy. Sloth seems to be more about being lazy. “Sloth” is a sin of omission in that it literally translates into “without care.”

So our “Sloth” sinners are refusing the joy of God. From wikipedia:

​​a number of distinctive components of which the most important is affectlessness, a lack of any feeling about self or other, a mind-state that gives rise to boredom, rancor, apathy, and a passive, inert, or sluggish mentation. Physically, (sloth) is fundamentally with a cessation of motion and an indifference to work; it finds expression in laziness, idleness, and indolence.

Also:

  • A failure to do the things one should (i.e. care for one’s family, obtain gainful employment, keep a clean home, care for possessions or maintain a residence or car)
  • Withdrawal from all forms of participation (i.e. abstaining from civic duty, refusing a community role, passive observer to relevant activities)
  • Despair, indolence, or peevishness (i.e. being a grouch, raining on others’ parades, refusing the joy offered by God and others)
  • Drifting along in habits of sin, believing one has no ability to resist or change (i.e. addiction, enabling behaviors, helicopter parents who enable cheating or do for children what they ought to do for themselves)
  • Poor hygiene, fitness, or nutrition insomuch as a person cares not for the habits that maintenance of one’s physical person requires

Lots to unpack.

Segment 3

What does this look like in literature? This Barnes & Noble list:

  • Hamlet — the reluctant prince, refusing to pursue his father’s murderer, not wanting to grow up
  • Simba in The Lion King — running away to Hakuna Matata and not facing his job as king
  • Sense & Sensibility — Jane Austen loves these guys: Mr. Willoughby in S&S, Mr. Wickham in P&P) the young man who will not work, gambles away his inheritance, must marry an heiress despite shameless flirtations with young vulnerable women
  • Pygmalion (or My Fair Lady) — Alfred Dolittle (it’s in the name) philanderer, mooch, and extortionist
  • Atlas Shrugged — maybe the part the non-Libertarians take issue with; characters who never work for anything, but connive and scheme to take from those who have worked for it such as Taggert and Stadler (::coughs loudly:: Bernie Sanders).

Why would a character demonstrating sloth-like characteristics be useful?

I have this short story about a guy who’s following a very tight daily routine so that when his miracle arrives, it will know where to find him. He’s approached by a woman who, inspired by it being her birthday, decides to make a change and invites him to change (leave) with her. He declines, missing the possibility that she her gumption, her motivation, may have actually been the miracle he’d been waiting for.

How many times do we read about characters whose circumstances are wretched and yet they do nothing to change them?

Sloth works against the momentum of life, doesn’t it? Things don’t stay clean. It’s hard to stay motivated in the face of failure and defeat. It’s easier to succumb to those habits that deter us from the real work of succeeding at life.

Segment 4

So how do you write this?

There are the extremes, of course. The sloth characters who prevent the protagonist from envisioning a different future, who stand in the way of the protagonist achieving their potential. And then there are the subtle sloth behaviors that every character can be seen giving in to here and there. Maybe there’s a secret sloth habit (like our secret gluttony) that adds depth to the character.

The big ones (almost cliche):

  • The high school hero who never amounted to more (Feast of Snakes)
  • The faded beauty queen with nothing else to offer
  • The chronically unemployed
  • A drifter
  • A trophy wife
  • The part-time mom (The Help) whose full-time role is … wife? Society lady? Spa client?
  • The soldier who never gets promoted but never gets kicked out, either
  • The middle manager comfortable in the persistent mundanity of the role

Deeper exploration:

  • The spiritual equivalent is the passively religious (Christmas and Easter)
  • The career equivalent is the steady paycheck without passion or fulfillment
  • The family equivalent is the home in disrepair, relationships are brittle or shallow, others disrespect this character, or are disappointed in them
  • This is about values — what does a person value? And the demonstration of sloth seems to be an indication that the values a person verbalizes may not actually be what they value.

This is in some way related to the core wound inasmuch as that may be the crisis that convinced our sloth character to give up.

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