Friday 8 November 2013

Christian Reflection on Acedia

The latest issue of Christian Reflection, published by the Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University, is now available, this one devoted to ‘Acedia’, or sloth. The whole issue is available as a pdf here, and an accompanying Study Guide is available here. The main articles, with their abstracts, are as follows:

Robert B. Kruschwitz
Despite its prevalence in our culture, acedia may be the least understood of the seven capital vices, or ‘deadly sins.’ Our contributors trace its symptoms through daily life and commend remedies for it from the Christian tradition.

Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung
Resistance to the Demands of Love
At its core, acedia is aversion to our relationship to God because of the transforming demands of his love. God wants to kick down the whole door to our hearts and flood us with his life; we want to keep the door partway shut so that a few lingering treasures remain untouched, hidden in the shadows.

Dennis Okholm
Staying Put to Get Somewhere
We believe the ‘grass is greener’ in another marriage or church or vocation or place, but often it is the same hue. What is worse, we remain the same. Conversion and growth happen when we remain, not when we run (which is precisely what the ancients associated with acedia – a cowardly running away).

Andrew A. Michel
In Pursuit of Sophia: On Pilgrimage with Depression and Acedia
All persons will face acedia in their lives; some also face clinical depression, and it seems that depression and acedia tend to occasion one another. Depression, with the disruption it causes life and its general effect on overall temperament, allows a foothold for acedia to thoroughly ensnare one’s life.

Amy Freeman
Remedies to Acedia in the Rhythm of Daily Life
The primary remedy for acedia is being faithful in the demands of daily life that God’s love calls us to face. When we perform them with the humility of prayer, even quotidian works can enkindle the fire of God’s love in us and thereby strengthen us against the temptations of this vice.

Heather Hughes
An Unconditional Surrender: Evelyn Waugh on Acedia
Evelyn Waugh’s The Sword of Honour Trilogy is an engaging modern narrative of acedia. This saga of sloth-filled English officer Guy Crouchback is enlightening – not only for its disturbing depiction of the damage this vice causes, but also for its potential remedy in virtue.

Heidi J. Hornik
Intimate Separation

Heidi J. Hornik
A Wearied Explorer

Burt L. Burleson
Worship Service

Burt L. Burleson
I Lift My Prayer to Thee

Other Voices 

Kyle Childress
Sloth: Who Cares?
As we refuse to be involved with hurting people or with God, our refusing eventually becomes habitual. It is a joyful thing to find true rest from having gotten what our hearts desire. But there is also a sad, tired rest of sloth that comes when desire dies.

Alvin Ung
Acedia in the Workplace
His desire to quit was so overwhelming that all he could do was to go to work, one day at a time, and pray for help. Unwittingly Alvin Ung was cultivating a rhythm of work and prayer. By not quitting, he was becoming a Christian mystic in the marketplace.

John Spano
The Capital Vices: Acedia’s ‘Deadly’ Cronies
The capital vice tradition – with its origins in the ancient Christian practices of self-examination, confession, mutual correction, and penance – identifies acedia and its cronies as barriers to love. The books reviewed here introduce the tradition and offer hope for healing through God’s grace.

Jonathan Sands Wise
Diagnosing Acedia and Its Spiritual Neighbors
We have a problem of acedia, these three authors agree. It is personal and communal, innate and institutional, as old as the desert and as new as the iPhone, hard to recognize in ourselves and yet impossible to miss in our culture as a whole. And most of all, it is deadly to our spiritual lives.

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