Pop Xulture Newsletter # 4 – Focusing on Pride in Slothfulness. 6/7/22
Hey Friends. Welcome to you new subscribers (and the old ones too)! I’ve been creating a lot of content which I’m excited to share. So let’s get into it.
Near the end of May my article “For My Mental Health I Repeatedly Watched One Episode of Ted Lasso” was published on Christ and Pop Culture (CAPC). This was a deeply personal piece for me to write because anxiety has affected me greatly and I’m still working through it. For the month of June, I’m working on something on The Bob’s Burgers Movie for CAPC, so look forward to that.
Specifically for you Substack readers, I have two articles I’ll be publishing soon. The first is about why when a recent Moon Knight comic series ignored plot it bothered me, but when the film Son of God did something similar, I wasn’t concerned. (No, it’s not because it’s about Jesus and yes, I’m being vague!)
The second article is on three stages of Jesus’ teaching which follows a chronological timeline. It may sound boring but hopefully it will help us understand why Jesus said and did things at certain points.
Lastly, I’ve recorded four podcast episodes with my buddy Travis. We’ll be editing those, then recording more as we release an episode every two weeks. The name of the podcast is “Thoughts Beyond Thought” and we’re excited to share it with you!
Summer is officially here because my kids just finished school. Pretty much everyone from kindergarten to kollege treasures summer vacation but as we get traditional jobs and “adult” responsibilities weigh us down, it’s harder to get excited about long, hot days. However, those boring days can eventually weigh down the summer breakers too.
I was thinking about summer and how we can have all kinds of plans but end up spending all our time just sitting in the AC. It reminded me of a portion of a book I’ve been writing on humility. I wanted to share this never-before-seen section with you in case it can give you a little boost to humbly get a few things done this summer.
I believe every type of sin is rooted in arrogance, so the portion below is part of a section where I show how the Seven Deadly Sins come from pride. You’ll see an embarrassing story about a summer in high school and how my being a sloth wasn’t nearly as cute as the animal it’s named after. Enjoy!
Draft of “Pride in Slothfulness” from a forthcoming book on Humility
Sloth is a sin because God commands us to further His kingdom and pull our own weight,[i] so inactivity is disobedience. Solomon gave a real-life example when he walked past a broken-down house and realized the owner initially took a little break but ended up with a dilapidated home.[ii] What happened?
Rest, laziness and sloth are different. Laziness is moments of inactivity because of boredom or nothing to do, but sloth is a heart lifestyle of quitting. Because our society has taught us we must always be busy, we reassure ourselves we can’t possibly be slothful. But since spiritual slothfulness is inactivity for God’s kingdom and care for others, our external busyness at work, with our family or in ministry, can be our excuse to be slothful, careless and unloving.
Two main causes of sloth are feelings of fear and powerlessness.[iii] The summer after my freshman year of high school I tried out for football. The training was so grueling I gave up after the first day. My fear of failure and lack of energy and passion drove me to sit on the couch the rest of the summer. Spiritually, it was my pride, hidden under the roots of fear and powerlessness, which sprouted into sloth. I was embarrassed by how the players, coaches, and cheerleaders would perceive me quitting.[iv] But that didn’t overpower my fear that someone would notice my self-doubt about my small stature and complete lack of strength. It seemed better to act cool as a spectator than be proved an incapable nerd.
Negativity breeds inactivity. I’ve read Revelation - I know this world only goes downhill. It’s easy to ask what impact can I make? But there is a strange pride in this: because if I can’t save the world, then no one else can (including God) so it’s not worth the effort. In her wonderfully grounding book, Humble Roots, Hannah Anderson says, “We often see laziness as a lack of initiative or even a lack of confidence. But it’s actually the reverse. The sluggard thinks so highly of his energy and efforts that he’s not willing to waste them. He’s not willing to expend energy unless he has a guaranteed reward.”[v]
It’s rare that I think of myself as slothful, let alone consider that my laziness comes from an arrogance based on reward. In the song “What Difference Does it Make?”, The Smiths hopelessly remind us, “The Devil will find work for idle hands to do.” The irony in not expending energy for God is that we end up working harder, but for wickedness.
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I hope you enjoyed my update and the section on slothfulness. Always feel free to leave comments on what you’d like me to write. Have a great start to your summer and I’ll get those two new articles out shortly!
Thanks, in Him,
-Chris (the Bearded Wonder) Fogle
[i] Matthew 25:26; Romans 12:11; 1 Corinthians 4:12; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Timothy 5:8-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-11
[ii] Proverbs 24:30-34
[iii] Romans 8:15; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 John 4:18
[iv] Romans 12:10-12; Colossians 3:23
[v] Hannah Anderson, Humble Roots, Moody Publishers, Chicago, 2016, p. 181.