Thursday, October 5, 2023


Money and honor, the traditional rewards of work, do not satisfy because money begets the need for more money and honor is fleeting. Even pleasure is tiresome after a while. Who, in the waning days of a vacation, has not itched to get back to a “normal” routine? In reaching the limits of work and pleasure alike we are prone to boredom, disillusionment, and depression. Gary proposes that leisure and liberal education can remedy these unpleasant states. I agree. But the escape from boredom may require a still more radical transformation of will, and that transformation may be something we cannot accomplish by ourselves. ....

Why does nothing seem interesting, everything dull and gray? The answer might be not that the world is boring, but that we ourselves are dull, shallow, and malformed. This ignorance and lack of formation is partly due to the usual suspects of modern culture—vacuous television programs, electronic devices in general, the advertising industry—but we have allowed these influences to shape us. ....

The bitter truth is that we modern Americans are privileged to have enormous potential for leisure and liberal education; yet we cannot seem to understand or desire it. ....

The stubborn characters who appear in C.S. Lewis’s book The Great Divorce illustrate the immense difficulty of such an escape. In this short fantasy, heavenly spirits welcome their visitors from Hell, urging them to forget themselves and embrace the great joy and release that await them in Christ.

Instead, almost to a person, the visitors refuse to relinquish their hard-won identities. The bishop wants to continue his intellectual questioning and paper-giving; the painter insists upon continuing to paint; the mother protests that her love for her son is more important than anything else. All perversely refuse to see the beauty that is right in front of them... Perhaps only prayer can really deliver us from our willful pride and self-centeredness, traits that seem to stick with us despite our best efforts. .... (more)

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