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January 07, 2010


Graeme Clark

love this!

Hermina Janz

Inspiring. What a good example of following Christ by going against the flow of society.

What can you tell us about the difference between contentment and laziness? This topic came up in our Bible study group recently. In a society where busy-ness is applauded, how can I tell when I am okay in my contentment and when I should be searching for some hands-on service to be active in?

Jim Gordon

Hi Hermina - some people are contented being lazy, and some are discontented unless they are actively doing. Not sure I see laziness and contentment as either opposites or alternatives. But I do think busy-ness, efficiency, productiveness, ceaseless activity and stimulus, leaches human life of the time and energy to be, to be with others, and to allow ourselves to think, to change and to grow. Busy-ness isn't wrong, it just isn't meant to be chronic, or criterion of worth.
On the other hand, laziness is an ambiguous word. Every life needs rhythm, balance of activity and rest - I think there is a kind of laziness in the person who is so busy they never examine the worth of what they are pouring their lives into. I also think there is a laziness that is indolence, evasion of those tasks and responsibilities that are rightly part of our life in community. And there is the well earned laziness - rest, holiday, re-creation. As for contentment, that I think is more related to an inner acceptance of who we are as God made us to be; it is our yes to the reality that is our lives; it is an attitude that doesn't demand the universe dance to our tune. And yet - to be contented can be to be stuck and that ain't good either! Now this could go on, this on the one hand and yet on the other kind of discussion. So one last thought - hands on service to others I take as a given, no matter how contented I am. And that very availability to others can at times make us busy, and will guard against that contentment that I'm OK, which is a rather subtle kind of laziness. Hope all that helps - by the way, our old cat died this week. Now he was a lesson in the balance of explosive energy and languid laziness - much of the former when he was young, and more of the latter as he grew old :)

Account Deleted

Interesting to note in the light of the above about the influence of the text, that Civil Rights Activist and founder of the 'koinonia' community Clarence Jordan, has his radicalism attributed to his reading of his well worn Greek New Testament, such Greek being the subject of his PhD research.

K. E. Smith

And perhaps you did not realise that Dorothy Day actually went to the Koinonia Farm in Americus Georgia and was shot at by racists when she took her turn keeping watch at the gate. Clarence Jordan, a Baptist, was born in Talbotton Georgia. He was studying agriculture at the University Of Georgia in Athens, Georgia when he sensed a call to ministry. He later developed his ideas of racial equality, pacifism and communal living at a farm in Americus, Georgia.

Jim Gordon

Oh yes Karen - Decemebr 8 I posted on exactly that incident, which I think is emblematic of Dorothy Days'spirituality of love and justice. Those of us who work within earshot of Stuart are well informed about Clarence Jordan and the priority of the criterion of faithfulness over success. And Stuart, I have a sneaking feeling that a well worn Greek New Testament is itself a sign of radical and serious discipleship - Dorothy Day, Clarence Jordan, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. And that might be an interesting argument for ensuring biblical language is part of a balanced curriculum in ministry formation towards faithful discipleship.

K. E. Smith

Sorry I didn't see the earlier post and can't seem to find it now. I was actually just taking the opportunity to point out what good things come out of Georgia...not only Clarence Jordan from Americus but also Jessye Norman from Augusta! I guess I have Georgia on my mind in all this cold weather.

Jim Gordon

Hi Karen. Oh, Jessye Norman - you're right, one of the very best things to come out of Georgia. The link to the earlier post is below and if you paste it in the browser it should come up. http://livingwittily.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/12/dorothy-day-the-troublesome-peacemaker-peacefully-making-trouble.html#comments

You're right about the weather here - someone said if hell is punishment for them ice would be worse than fire. Whatever - it's seriously cold here. Hope life's good and getting gooder down in SWBC.

K.E. Smith

Thanks. I found it. I have long been challenged by the life of Dorothy Day. In fact she and Martin Luther King Jr. are highlighted in the final chapter of the little Introduction to Christian Spirituality which I wrote. MLK was of course also from Georgia (!) as was Alice Walker, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Jackie Robinson, Jimmy Carter and a host of other saints...the names of which are too many to write here! Thanks for your reflections. I am not a 'blog' person, but I do read yours on a regular basis and have found it thought provoking and stimulating. Grace and Peace.

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