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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sources of Busyness, or "busi-ness"

Here's what we should spend most of our lives doing
 Instead, we spend out time doing this


Why?
One answer (and there are probably many) is reflected in the phrase "time is money?" This idea, that somehow "time" is to be valued and graded, leads to the extreme "busi-ness" of our lives. All people in Western democratic cultures live under this curse and lie, although some of the cultures have a deep enough history to be able to combat this satanic idea. And it is satanic.(We'll get to that in a second.)

The idea (and who knows who put it forth first, although I'll blame railroad and industrial magnates of the 19th Century just for fun) is that time is the ultimate commodity to be bought, sold, and traded, so that the world can exist. There's a certain sense where this is quite an egalitarian idea: we all get the same amount of time. Hence, however valuable you make your time worth, is up to you. Seems like it should be good. However, there are people whose time is more valuable than others? Why? (There's lots of reasons for that too, and let's just say that Karl Marx's book wasn't entitled Das Kapital for nothing. Capital resources has more to do with your wealth than time. As Malcom Forbes once said when asked how he made his first million dollars, "I did it the old-fashioned way. My dad died.")

Now that we've had a good 500 years or so of this satanic idea, it's pretty much accepted as they way things are. (By the way, I'm using the phrase satanic to mean adversarial to God's intentions. This is sort of a Biblical way of using the word, a way to described something that was never intended to help us live out our created lives as children of God, but rather it was created or discovered, and leads us away from the intentions of God for us. God desires us to be at peace, not busy.)

So we work, and time becomes our commodity. The lower you are on the socio-economic scale, the lower we value your time. For example, no one really respects waitresses. Waiting tables is seen as either a started job for people, or something to do when there is nothing else left to do. Most waitresses in the country are like this
 They fit all the lowest socio-economic demographics we have in this country: female, elderly or young, lowest rungs of education (unless they are going to school), and lowest amount of capital resources. And they get--BY LAW--$2.12 and hour. I mean, we so devalue the time of waitresses that we made it a rule that no matter how much food costs, they can NEVER make more than $2.12 and hour, unless they find a boss who wants to pay them more. If we ever get to a time where a cheeseburger costs $200, the owner of the diner will still LEGALLY only have to pay the waitress $2.12 and hour. You now see why the "time is money" slogan is so satanic. It goes against everything we hold valuable in the world.

What gives value in the world? (And people who answer "money" are probably not reading this. If you are, congrats.) Our loves, our hopes, our creativity? I remember once sitting next to a dad at one of my daughter's soccer games when they were about 5. This guy was so frustrated with watching 5-year old girls run around trying to kick a ball. After one enormously entertaining scrum where a young lady actually picked up the ball and carried it to the other team's goal (she was confusing soccer with football), the dad stormed away saying, "I could be making $75 an hour right now instead of this shit!" True. But would you be a better father?

We get busy because we put such an economic premium on our time. We know we have to be with the kids, and the parents, and the friends, and the spouses and partners, and the work, and the world, and even ourselves...who has time for all that? Answer: no one.

And that's where this wonderful line Jesus offers us comes into play. My yoke is "easy." Easy, as far as yokes go, means it fits well, it works with you and your intentions, not against you. In other words, the yoke is NOT satanic. Jesus offers us a nugget of reality amidst the insane busi-ness of our lives--time is not money, and don't kid yourself that it is.

There's lots of reasons for why we are busy, but not the least of which is how we value time. What's an hour worth to you? How many hours of your life would you give to love something or someone? Would you give up your time so that somebody else might be free? Would you give up your time so that somebody else could live? In the Christian tradition, the guy we follow, did exactly that. That's why we follow him.

29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11.29-30

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

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