Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Leisure: The Basis of Culture Part IV

What is Leisure's ultimate justification?

In order to answer this question we must return to the explanation that the heart of Leisure consists in "festival," over "function." If this is true, then Leisure would derive its justification "from the very source whence festival and celebration derive theirs:" worship.

To experience an inner harmony within oneself and to live out this harmony with the world (quite different from the everyday life of work) is to be festive; but "no more intensive harmony with the world can be thought of than 'Praise of God.'" A genuine festival is only experienced when there is a living relationship with religious "cult" or worship. History of religion gives us this evidence.

"Rest from work" signifies a sacrificial time for worship of the divine. Rest is therefore cultic. For the Jew and Christian, this rest (this leisure) is signified on the Sabbath. Every seventh day is "festival-time." One of the external signs that we have lost this concept of leisure in our day is that every year, fewer and fewer stores are closed on Sundays as once was commonplace. Even the family "meal" is a spiritual event. The time, set aside, for families to celebrate and be together distinct from work.

In the world of work, there is no such concept of festival. "Time is money," as the saying goes. Even "breaks from work" are there for the sake of work--in order to get back to work.

When divorced from the realm of worship and festival, leisure becomes a burden. "Only someone who has lost their spiritual power to be at leisure can be bored." Work without true leisure becomes inhumane and no matter how hard you work, or how much you achieve, you can never be satisfied. This explains why so many "successful" people out there are depressed, suicidal, and unhappy. They forgot the entire reason why they were working in the first place. As one of my Sisters of Notre Dame constantly reminds me: we are human beings, not doings!

In order to resurrect leisure, there needs to occur a reawakening of the sense of worship.

Next: The Philosophical Act!

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