Lutheranism is not boring–vocation is

For me, growing up in perhaps the blandest version of mainline liberal Protestantism, Lutheranism, far from being boring, seemed wonderfully exotic.  All of that medieval-style chanting; people thinking they were eating Jesus’ body and drinking His blood; having beer at church dinners.  On that last point, both the liberal Christianity I grew up with and the conservative Christianity of some of my friends tended to see smokin’ and drinkin’ as the prime example of sins.  But Lutheranism cared little for these little life-style issues (indeed, seeming actually pro-alcohol).  That blew my mind, as we said back then.

But I think I know why people might think Lutheranism is boring.  It’s the Lutheran doctrine of vocation.

[Read more...]

Murder by reason of boredom

Three teenagers in Duncan, Oklahoma, shot and killed a college student from Australia just jogging by.  Why?  Because they were bored.

This happened not in some big city but in a small Oklahoma town of less than 24,000.  Boring, perhaps (speaking as a product of a small Oklahoma town).  But after the jump we see that the teens, aged 15, 16, and 17, were all involved with social media, videos, iPhones, a giant TV, and rap music.  They had lots of stimulation.  So why were they so bored, bored enough to kill?

The fact is, constant stimulation such as our entertainment technology provides INCREASES boredom.  A person gets tired of all this stuff and requires higher and higher levels of stimulation before they can have an effect.  So in this case, they got that thrill of transgression from killing someone.

The ancients considered boredom to be a dangerous spiritual condition–a deadening ungrateful insensitivity to God’s gift of existence–and it has been described as a major spiritual problem of our times.  It doesn’t always lead to murder, of course.  But it can lead to cheating on one’s spouse, abandoning one’s children, substance abuse, and soul-destroying attitudes such as ingratitude, hatred of life, and despair.  If the answer isn’t more stimulation, what’s the solution to this kind of boredom? [Read more...]

Your boring job

The blogger who goes by the name of Josephus Flavius quotes the 20th century Orthodox saint St. Nikolai of Žiča  writing to a railroad engineer who complained about his boring job.  He was writing about vocation and how seeing one’s work in relation to faith can transfigure its meaning:

You complain that you are tired of your job. All other activities seem more interesting to you, and you, and you are troubled and anguished about not being able to find something better. I thought about this for a long time before picking up my pen to answer you.

I tried to put my self in your place, and to play your part. I imagined myself at your worksite, in the locomotive car, in the midst of the roar of the machine and the pounding of the wheels. Sweaty, covered in soot, I cheerfully looked ahead. Behind me was arrayed an entire little people: old people, parents and children, nobility, diplomats, officials, peasants, workers, and day laborers.

They had all been thrown together by circumstance, and they all depended on me. Some talked among themselves and some were lost in thought, but each was mentally striving to get to his final destination. Whether he gets to that station depends on me, and I depend only on God. [Read more...]


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