Saturday, February 16, 2008

Theology of Space

PBJ in the comments of the previous posting says:To have very little would be liberating....but....
what would we do to fill up the emptiness or "lack of". At times I have found myself wanting to be free of something that is taking my time and when I am something else just fills in the space before I know what happened.

Very good observation and one I have made myself. I find myself doing that, as well. Dropping one activity/item and just picking up another. If I had my druthers, I would fill time with only those activities that are 1) positive 2) recharging and 3) constructive as well as the thing that truly must be done because it's part of life (laundry) or part of my Christian witness.

As for things -- I am paring back one level at a time. For instance, I own a lot of china -- maybe 11 sets? And am inheriting more. I am going to look at each set and ask myself some questions: Do I need this? Is this set something of value for me personally (sentimental)? Is there someone I know who can use it or who needs it more than I do? Is this something I can set aside for the children? I've given away one set of china and before this is over, I hope to give away a couple more sets.

And my "Adventures as a Book Owner" -- I probably own 10,000 books right now. 1299 (as of today) are listed on Amazon and I've traded away about 1500, so that brings the total down to about 7200 books. What I've realized: books are really easy to obtain. If I want a book, odds are there is someone out there wanted to sell that exact book, usually used, usually really inexpensive. So I'm continuing in Book Owning Reduction. I hope to own only 5000 books by the end of the year, if not less. The ones I'm keeping: my theological library, my first editions and my Aerospace collection. And that's about it.

Tom DeMarco has this book entitled "Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency." Amazon says this:
Another entry in the small but growing management library that suggests purposely slowing down and smelling the roses could actually boost productivity in today's 24/7 world, Tom DeMarco's Slack stands out because it is aimed at "the infernal busyness of the modern workplace." DeMarco writes, "Organizations sometimes become obsessed with efficiency and make themselves so busy that responsiveness and net effectiveness suffer." By intentionally creating downtime, or "slack," management will find a much-needed opportunity to build a "capacity to change" into an otherwise strained enterprise that will help companies respond more successfully to constantly evolving conditions. Focusing specifically on knowledge workers and the environment in which they toil, DeMarco addresses the corporate stress that results from going full-tilt, and offers remedies he thinks will foster growth instead of stagnation. Slack, he contends, is just the thing to nurture the out-of-box thinking required in the 21st century, and within these pages, he makes a strong case for it.

Infernal busyness -- that's not just in the corporate workplace, but in the pastoral workplaces as well. Heck, it our entire life. My tagline yesterday for my Facebook account was a quote from Veggietales:
"I'm so busy, busy, frightfully busy
More than a bumblebee, more than an ant.
Busy, busy, horribly busy
We'd love to help, but we can't!"
Why are we so horribly busy? Because we equate busyness with value or worth. A busy person is worth more. But without "room" in my life for creative and artistic endeavors, I am not fulfilling my God-given purpose; to live into the Imago Dei, the Image of God (the Image of Christ) -- a God who creates and who is "Slack" one full day of creation. I have to make that room; it is not going to happen automatically. I have to clear the space in my daily schedule and not allow anything to fill that space. I HAVE to. Or else, something vital within me may die.

I'm particularly fascinated by the Jesus Sutras because of this: it may bridge into Feng Shui and may help me articulate my "Theology of Space." Space, time, spirituality, intellect, physical placement of things, our physical body: they are all part of the same thing -- God's good creation. Most Christians would automatically shudder at such a concept; most of the ancient Hebrews would understand it. We Christians separate the physical from the spiritual from the intellectual. This is more than vaguely Gnostic to me: it implies a dualism that I am convinced does not truly exist. Spirit IS physical IS intellect; if not of the same essence, then at the least each influences the other strongly. My intellectual and spiritual stress will make me physically ill. My disordered physical environment impinges on my spiritual life. How can it NOT?

DeMarco equates slack with that one space left in a tile puzzle. That "slack" is necessary in the puzzle. Without that space, we cannot ever hope to solve the puzzle. But our infernally busy minds see that space and think, "Ah ha! I can do MORE by just putting in one more thing in my day." But that one more thing locks the puzzle -- leave zero room to move; no wiggle room, no slack, no flexibility.

I am going to learn to be and rejoice in being "Slack."

Tile Puzzles online

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