Monday 4 June 2007

Do nothing to change your life

Now here’s a great idea: Stephen Cottrell has written a book entitled Do Nothing to Change Your Life (2007). According to this report, Cottrell advises us “to ditch endless ‘to do’ lists, constant streams of emails, and an increasingly 24/7 culture.” We can create a space for silence and reflection “by binning instant tea and coffee in favour of traditional methods …, appointing a ‘happy hour’ when all televisions and radios in the house are switched off, baking bread, or simply enjoying a lengthy lie-in.”

Well, with two (soon three) young kids in the house, I certainly haven’t enjoyed “a lengthy lie-in” in a good few years. But I think these are splendid proposals. The most refreshing and therapeutic parts of my day include my two cups of morning espresso and my afternoon pot of tea. And although I love television as much as the next person, there’s nothing more calming than a quiet evening of conversation and reading. Better still is a long drive through the countryside: if you’re lucky, you can go a whole half-hour without seeing a single advertisement – that is, a half-hour in which you are a human rather than a consumer.


Guy Davies said...

I didn't know that you drank tea. David Sky (who is slowly recovering from his dramatic accident) will be pleased to know that.

Halden said...

I wonder if having more clearly defined times of nothing-doing would make our work more focused and faithful (note: I did not say 'productive').

It seems in the absense of some kind of genuine leisure, we just kind of bastardize all of life, but ramming everything together. Case in point, I'm blogging right work.

Anonymous said...

Its true: half the enjoyment of a thing comes from our investment in it. I enjoy the coffee I roasted and ground and carefully made infinitely more than the coffee I bought, and that is due to more than the way it tastes.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Josef Pieper's classic Leisure, the Basis of Culture might resonate here.

Anonymous said...

I hope that's a hybrid or an electric car your using to drive through the countryside, Ben. Better still, take the family on a walk or bike ride.

Although we have a television (unlike some friends), I am glad that my family has reinstituted a practice from our grandparents' day of group readings--and not always from the Bible. We also do boardgames and the girls put on skits--with no commercials.

Chris Tilling said...

You are a man after my own heart.

Though I still get my long lie-ins

I won't tell you how long, cos that would be mean.
Oh alright then, I will. I was in bed till 10am today.
You want to know why I didn't get up earlier?
I couldn't be bothered.

Ben Myers said...

Hi Chris: 10 am? What, you mean the sun's already up when you get out of bed? Crikey, that sounds nice....

anton said...

Strong self ground espresso had to go. It wreaked havoc on my sleep - as I have a sensitivity to the stuff.

No sleep-ins here either, two little girls put paid to that.

Long drives are good, in a car running LPG.

But the best thing is cooking pizza, from hand made dough, in my very own (self built) wood fired brick oven. It takes hours to make one pizza when you add in the firing time of the oven, to the dough and ingredients preparation. But I honestly wouldn't trade it for a 'cardboard cut out'.

I find there are few things more satisfying and relaxing! Go old school and remember what it means to live in this life!

Anonymous said...

I second the joys of making pizza from scratch. I do one every weekend, making my own dough and sauce, grating my own cheese, etc.; basically, I get all my ingredients in the most primitive form I'm able to find them. It's very therapeutic, very spiritual.

My wife and I have taken to making most of our baked goods from scratch. It's become an absolute priority and an escape from the rushed lifestyle. If there's work that needs to be done and a loaf of bread that needs to be baked, the bread comes first, and if there's no time left to be "productive," then so be it.

Anonymous said...

All these comments reflect our loss of Sabbath rest. We are not meant to live in a 24/7 world.

Guy Davies said...

Good point MW-W. Keeping the Lord's Day as a day of rest is often regarded as a bit quaint and legalistic even by Christians these days. But having Sunday as a day of worship when the TV/DVD/PS2 is switched off is a good way of chilling out in a godly way. It might even be the Biblical thing to do?

Anonymous said...

Moltmann has some pertinent - and lovely - things to say about the sabbath in God and Creation: An Ecological Doctrine of Creation (1985). He writes that "The goal and completion of every Jewish and every Christian doctrine of creation must be the doctrine of the sabbath"; he refers to the "peace of the sabbath ... as the Jewish 'doctrine of justification'"; and he appropriates Franz Rosenzweig's saying that the sabbath is the "feast of creation".

But what Moltmann's "revelation through rest" isn't is told in the story that is always told about (nonconfromist) chapel culture in Wales (Exiled Preacher will recognise it!): that on the Sabbath Day of Rest pious folk take the swing out of the budgies' cage.

Anonymous said...

What's a budgie? I remember that passage from Moltmann, by the way.
Heschel has good things about Sabbath from a Jewish perspective. There have been other recent theological reclaimings of Sabbath, too.
I think their are ways to live in the spirit of Sabbath without legalism.

Anonymous said...

What's a "budgie"? It's short for "budgerigar", which is "a small gregarious Australian parakeet". Which actually sounds like Ben, doesn't it!

Ben Myers said...

No, Kim: I'm a "tall gregarious Australian parakeet".

I really enjoyed these comments about pizza, too. I love making pizza (my favourite at the moment is spinach, fetta and olives).

But my new hobby is making pasta by hand -- it's a wonderful way to relax and to cover the kitchen in flour....

Guy Davies said...


The old jibe about Nonconformist Sabbatarians depriving their budgies of a swing is an example of black propaganda by antinomian Anglicans, embittered becasue we had them disestablished.

byron smith said...

Hey, did I miss an announcement? Congratulations on #3!

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