Oh dear, oh dear.
And NO--sloth is not the sin to which I would confess.
So, here's a quick primer--in early Christian church thought, the church fathers (those jolly guys) came up with seven sins they called deadly, presumably because committing such a sin put one in mortal danger.
As a point of fact, the enumeration of seven deadly sins is extra-biblical. You will not find such a list anywhere. But, certainly there portions of the Bible which highlight some of the seven: lust, envy, greed, sloth, gluttony, anger and pride (or hubris).
While several variations of the list may be found in early church fathers' writings, it was Pope Gregory I who revised and cemented the list into seven. (Thanks, Greg.)
While I could confess to having "committed" most if not all of these, the one against which I personally guard is pride. I like the Greek word "hubris." It is a recurring theme in many of the Greek tragedies, as well as the Shakespearean tragedies. Briefly, hubris is defined as "overweening pride"--pride that goes far beyond being proud of something--your accomplishments, your family...your whatever. The qualifier "overweening" makes this pride something that goes beyond--to be SO proud that you really think you cannot be instructed, that you are far superior to many people, that you are the top, the best, the brightest...add your superlative.
I have been richly blessed in my life--good parents, happy childhood, loving spouse, the world's best children (oops--no, very good children--got to watch that "overweening" thing), and on and on. In addition to this list, I have benefited from a good education, lucky breaks in my career working life, generally good health. It becomes easy to be proud of these things--as though they have come to me because I deserve it.
Ah, ah--caution there for me. Thankfully for me, there are some literary reminders not to allow one's pride to rise too high.
There is the wonderful Greek myth of Icarus and Daedalus. The "sin" that dominates is the sin of pride. And the myth is an excellent example of hubris. A mere mortal thinking himself god-like rises too high, either in power, or--as with the myth--too high literally. And the gods, wanting to remind the mere mortal that he IS mere, smack him down. (Or her... of course...though the classics usually feature men.)
Pieter Brueghel "The Fall of Icarus"
Musee des Beaux Artsby W. H. Auden
About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
Are you wondering why I included the Brueghel painting, and the W. H. Auden poem "Musee des Beaux Art"? Well, they are both about the fall of Icarus. Can you find Icarus in the painting? And can you figure out why Auden says "About suffering they were never wrong/The old masters"?
When I was teaching, I used this poem and the painting. It was fun to ask the students first what they saw in the painting. The overall scene is a bucolic one--a ploughman, a clear blue sky, a ship sailing somewhere. But where Icarus was in the painting?
Once they found him, I would ask--why did Brueghel so place him?
Discuss among yourselves.