Labor & Sloth

Jesus was a carpenter, but don’t read about him making anything in Gospels. In fact, he is always calling people away from work. And think about the early desert fathers, especially the Stylites, perched up high. They specifically removed themselves from traditional labor and work to revere the Lord.

Thoreau, in Walden, writes about the pleasure he takes from hoeing his rows of beans in the morning, but that to do it all day would be ‘dissapation.’ Work can be dissapated. Overwork or being a ‘workaholic’ is the opposite of work, in this formulation. Being a workaholic is, in fact, slothful. It is an avoidance of spiritual and more necessities.

His Holiness and his predecessors have been outspoken in support of trade unions. Unions, as the bumper sticker proclaims, are one of the originators of modern leisure, which allows one to avoid the slothfulness of overwork. I am, of course, referring to the bumper that states: Unions: The folks that brought you the weekend

Speaking specifically of artistic and, in particular, poetic work, John Ashberry once said that a ‘wasted time’ is absolutely critical. And, he emphasized, it must be well and truly wasted. Not structured for value in the guise of wasted time. The creative process dependent upon specifically ‘unused’ and unstructured time. Creative work, or creation or generation. In other words, ‘making things.’

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