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Illlumine Project: 7 Deadly Sins

Sloth: Cardinal Sin or Cute Mammal?
lllumine March Project Entry
Topic of the Week #27

Avery Glasser, Co-Editor
It seems that these days, everybody is interested in biblical sins. We’ve been going after President Clinton due to Lust. We persecute Bill Gates over Greed. Heck, we even chastise people for being overweight (that’s gluttony for the biblically uninclined&#41.

Though I don’t condone people over-reacting about laws and ethics that are over three thousand years old, I can understand most of the rationale behind people getting upset. What I can’t understand is the bible’s problem with Sloth.

The dictionary (conveniently located at defines sloth as the following:

sloth Sloth, n. [OE. slouthe, sleuthe, AS. sl?w?, fr. sl[=a]w slow. See Slow.]
  1. Slowness; tardiness.
    These cardinals trifle with me; I abhor This dilatory sloth and tricks of Rome. –Shak.
  2. Disinclination to action or labor; sluggishness; laziness; idleness.
    [They] change their course to pleasure, ease, and sloth. –Milton.
    Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears. –Franklin.
  3. (Zo["o]l.&#41 Any one of several species of arboreal edentates constituting the family Bradypodid[ae], and the suborder Tardigrada. They have long exserted limbs and long prehensile claws. Both jaws are furnished with teeth (see Illust. of Edentata&#41, and the ears and tail are rudimentary. They inhabit South and Central America and Mexico.

I really can’t believe that the ancient Isrealites would have a problem with definition number one. I mean, sure, slow people are annoying as heck when you’re in line for an ATM (come on, folks… there are only 10 keys to choose from&#41 or when you’re trying to make it through a supermarket line before your ice cream melts. But would you consider this a Cardinal Sin?

Maybe they’re referring to the second definition, but that is just as confusing as the first definition. I mean, in current culture, the concept of the "slacker" defines a whole generation. Hell, almost everyone watches our favorite gluttonous sloth on television every week. We watch him dodge work. We laugh when he avoids spending time with his blue-haired wife and pointy haired kids. We find his abhorrence to exercise amusing… and when he decided to gain 60 pounds so he could get out of doing calisthenics every morning, I’m sure some of you even considered doing the same thing. By this logic, definition number two is not applicable either.

Therefore, the process of elimination means that the definition of the Cardinal Sin of Sloth revolves around a slow-moving sub-tropical three-toed animal.

That just makes me sick.

I mean, come on… I’ve been to the zoo. I've watched Mutual of Omaha and countless hours of the Discovery Channel. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a sloth. I mean, they’re even sort of cute, in an ugly sort of way.

The average sloth spends his (or her&#41 life in the trees, eating leaves and the occasional insect. They aren’t vicious and are generally well tempered. Heck, even if they were ill-mannered, they could only attack you at about two miles per hour, rendering them completely harmless.

I can’t see them being an extreme threat to any other living creature, so why make them a sin? I mean, llamas and camels spit at people and they’re not a sin. Hell, lions, tigers, bears and even that goat who ate the money when Hawkeye was appointed to be the payroll officer by Colonel Potter wasn’t even chastised by Father Mulcahy. Come on folks, there are certainly more appropriate animals to make an abomination against god than the poor sloth.

So, I ask you… why does the Vatican have so much of a problem with the poor sloth?

Janet Glasser, Co-Editor 

So, Sloth is considered to be one of the Seven Deadly Sins. This is something which I didn’t quite understand…I mean, many of the little pieces of advice we hear throughout our lives, like "slow down" "take it easy" "look both ways before crossing" and "slow and steady wins the race" seem to extol Sloth rather than damn it. The tortoise won, right? Unless a future tortoise goes a little too slow and gets hit by a car, slowness should be considered a virtue, rather than a sin. (Sloth can’t be too evil –they named an animal after it, for Pete’s sake.&#41

So I looked it up. Supposedly, Sloth is a Deadly Sin because we’re supposed to hop-to to god’s commands. So, shame, shame on you if you’re not giving the So-Called Supreme Being’s commands your full and undivided attention. Well, if there is a god (which I sincerely doubt&#41 then I’m definitely going directly to hell without passing Go and without collecting $200, because I revel in Sloth.

The television has the honor of winning the Invention Most Likely To Keep Me In A Slothful State award. Like many people these days, I love the TV. Whenever we’re home, it’s on, no matter what we’re doing. Folding laundry? TV’s on. Reading a magazine? TV’s on. Surfing the ‘net? TV is on. Even when there seemingly "nothing on" TV, there’s something on. It’s just an illusion. You can always find something, even on a Sunday afternoon. You turn it on, watch a little Yan Can Cook, a little E! News Weekend, flip around and land on a cheezy 80’s movie you’ve seen five times, get bored, flip again and land on an Afterschool Special-esque made-for-HBO movie about two middle-aged women who realize their love for each other, and commit to watching the entire movie just to see how it ends. Before you know it, the whole afternoon has gone by and it’s starting to get dark out, and you haven’t moved off the couch for hours, save to get some snacks from the kitchen.

Prime-Time TV is no different. Take Mondays, for example. You need to find something to watch from 8:00 – 9:00, since at 9:00 you’re still tuning in to watch Ally McBeal for some reason, but Melrose Place has started to get boring so you watch Tracey Takes On and Dennis Miller Live instead, then Ally, then the new episode of Road Rules is on, and you might as well watch it since you've already seen the first few minutes, then all of a sudden it’s 10:30 PM, and you're still on the couch in front of a coffee table area littered with dirty dishes and take-out containers left over from dinner.

But I can’t blame it all on TV. Something as simple as just sitting on the couch can make you slothful, what with all the other, non-TV distractions like the pile of magazines that have accumulated and the computer positioned oh-so-conveniently on the coffee table directly in front of the couch. I believe that our couch itself may, in fact, have the secret hidden power to suck the life right out of us. Witness these common situations: Us, on updating Scowl: Avery mid-websurf: "We really have to write. We haven’t updated in 4 days." Me, looking up from a magazine: "I know. I have so many ideas." Both, still sitting there: "Yeah." And it carries over, even after you get up off of the couch: Me, walking by a pile of mail for the umpteenth time: "I really have to reconcile that bank statement." Walking down the hall: "We should really bring all those wrapped pennies to the bank someday." Walking into the bathroom: "Someone really has to clean this floor. It’s like a sandbox in here!" This is what is known as the March of Great Procrastination.

Speaking of procrastination, Sloth isn't something that affects me only on evenings and weekends. At work, I am the Queen of Procrastination, waiting until the last possible minute, waiting until a project verges on becoming an unnecessary, messy crisis. I prefer to think of it as living for the thrill of the moment rather than being lazy, but I think that Lazy put in a teeny-tiny appearance somewhere along the way.

So, yes, I spend a great deal of my waking hours in front of one screen or another, but I learn from these screens: I actually learned the meaning of the word "ersatz" after hearing Allison use it in a sentence on Melrose Place, prompting me to look it up. And the procrastination problem? Whattaya talkin' about? I function well under pressure. As a matter of fact, I'm typing this very sentence on the very night that this very project is due.

Sin or no sin, as the logey Sloth will always have its treetop, I will always have my couch.

Posted in Topics of the Week (1990s).

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