Thursday, October 29, 2009

Take it easy - or go mad

I came across this wonderful paragraph in an article on something else altogether yesterday.

Idleness is not just a psychological necessity, requisite to the construction of a complete human being; it constitutes as well a kind of political space, a space as necessary to the workings of an actual democracy as, say, a free press. How does it do this? By allowing us time to figure out who we are, and what we believe; by allowing us time to consider what is unjust, and what we might do about it. By giving the inner life (in whose precincts we are most ourselves) its due. Which is precisely what makes idle¬ness dangerous. All manner of things can grow out of that fallow soil. Not for nothing did our mothers grow suspicious when we had "too much time on our hands." They knew we might be up to something. And not for nothing did we whisper to each other, when we were up to something, "Quick, look busy."

It comes from an essay by Mark Slouka entitled Quitting the Paint Factory. The reason for the title only becomes clear if you read right towards the end of the piece.

It's quite long - prints out at ten pages in Times New Roman - and his point is clear enough from early in the piece, but he hammers it home with example after example, and the whole thing is worth reading; it's worth sitting back, putting your feet up on your cluttered desk (push some of those piles of paper onto the floor, even into file 13) and chewing over what he has to say. Because it isn't just relevant to the world of work, it's relevant to the Church as a whole. The Church has taken up busy-ness as a virtue, and it just ain't.

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