Tuesday, February 23, 2016


Warren Dunes State Park beach

Will eternity with God be boring, with all that repetitive worship going on? I've had people ask this, and wondered it myself. I think the answer is "No." We see this on the definition of "boredom."

"Boredom" is not: having little or nothing to do. It is not: doing the same thing over and over again. You can have a lot to do and not feel bored (like spending all day in your garden); you could engage in repetitive activity and not be bored (like, e.g., practicing your guitar because you love it).

"Boredom" is: finding no meaning in what you are doing. And the meaning of "meaning" is: fitness within a coherent context. 

So, the antidote to boredom is the acquisition of meaning.

A person works for hours at a job and the clock drips down the wall like a Salvador Dali painting. One student sits in class bored out of her skull while another student is fully engaged and time flies by.
I live in a land where there are more things to do than ever and yet many are bored out of their minds. Evidence for cultural boredom is seen in things like:
  • the inability to be still;
  • non-reflective capacity;
  • the Facebook Nation and its many games;
  • oxymoronish appeals that couple money, sex, and power;
  • the mass marketing of diversions;
  • the loss of true happiness (see Aristotle [eudaimonia], and J.P. Moreland);
  • "church" as entertainment of the masses [Thou shalt not bore the people!];
  • and Kierkegaardian herds of wandering norm-less amoralists entertaining one another with their boredom-fueled evil.
Boredom is related to anomie. Anomie: a personal condition resulting from a lack of norms. 

Sociologist Emile Durkheim wrote"The state of anomie is impossible whenever interdependent organs are sufficiently in contact and sufficiently extensive. If they are close to each other, they are readily aware, in every situation, of the need which they have of one-another, and consequently they have an active and permanent feeling of mutual dependence." "Durkheim defined the term anomie as a condition where social and/or moral norms are confused, unclear, or simply not present. Durkheim felt that this lack of norms--or preaccepted limits on behavior in a society--led to deviant behavior."

Anomie = Lack of Regulation / Breakdown of Norms (Ib.). Breakdown of norms breeds deviant behavior. Deviants are bored people.

The bored person lacks life-meaning. They lack a coherent context. The reason we don't get a joke is that we fail to understand the context. Where there is no context there is no joy. The bored person is joyless and out of touch. Bored people get desperate. Thomas Merton wrote:

"The modern American is kept in terror of boredom and unfulfillment because he is constantly being reminded of their imminence - in order that he may be induced to do something that will exorcise him for the next half hour. Then the terror will rise up again and he will have to buy something else, or turn another switch, or open another bottle, or swallow another pill, or stick himself with a needle in order to keep from collapsing." (Thomas Merton, Contemplation In a World of Action)

Some churches have lots of stuff going on yet are boring. Why? They've lost their sense of fitness in the context of the Grand Narrative. This is sad, because THE MOVEMENT is not boring.