Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Leisure, the Basis of Humanity

Well I did my talk at the library last night and it went well. We had a good turnout and the discussion was interesting. I talked about workaholism and the way technology is involved in keeping us enslaved to work.

I don't think the technology is inherently bad (after all I'm on it right now and loving every minute of it). But I did talk about the way it changes people's perception of time and what is timely. And I talked about an environment of work addiction that distorts our priorities and relationships.

One of the things I find really sad is that clergy are often among the worst for this. A pastor who used to be here told me once that he was dreading some clergy meetings he had for his denomination. He said he was 'sucking gas fumes' and he didn't look forward to having to listen to all these clergy brag about how hard they were working and how successful they were at building the kingdom. A number of years ago I went to a ministerial meeting exhausted from a really difficult funeral for a student. When I told them one responded by saying, 'your tired? I've done .... funerals in the last two weeks.' Then another said, 'well I've done....' and another 'well, I've had .... meetings and ....services....' You get the picture. Someone said to me once that they found it depressing how often clergy brag about breaking the commandment to keep the sabbath.

I know I do the same thing. I over-commit and I forget about good priorities. I'm usually convicted of my sin when I find out that someone was in distress and didn't call me because they knew I was 'busy' and didn't want to 'bother' me.

At the beginning of my talk I remembered the Rev'd Dr. Roy Gellatly who died Dec. 26th. Roy was a retired Presbyterian minister in our community who with his wife audited courses regularly at the university. You'd see him everywhere at community events and he exemplified what we have tried to do in the lecture series which is to provide a place for people from the community and our campuses to come together to discuss matters which affect our common life. He was also always ready for a conversation and never seemed to be rushing to something. I only knew him in retirement so I thought maybe things had been different when he was in active ministry. At the memorial service for him though, when his children spoke about their relationships with him, it was clear that he had had time to spend with them too when they were growing up.

I want to find ways to put a fence around my work and technology that allows me to spend more of that leisurely time with people.

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