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Bored? Read this.

Who knew a book about boredom would be so refreshing. It's under a 150 pages, but Richard Winter's Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment: Rediscovering Passion and Wonder is so pithy and wise. In it he disects the deadness of our souls and how we came to be so. He traces the idea of boredom from the early church fathers use of the term acedia (or indifference) to the Medieval's idea of sloth:
"Some believed it [acedia] to be the most deadly sin of all because it represented intellectual and spiritual indifference and lethargy." To continue with this development Winter writes, " Between the eleventh and twelfth centuries the description of acedia and sloth shifted from emphasizing idleness or laziness to suggesting a state of 'spiritual slackness, weariness and boredom with religious exercises, lack of fervor, and a state of depression in the ups and downs of spiritual life.'"

Today with our focus on immediate gratification and about a million diversions (some worthwhile, others not) we have come to expect entitlement and thus become easily frustrated and bored with life: "When my feelings rule me, I am intolerant of pain and boredom; I demand that my needs for pleasure and distraction be met as quickly as possible."

Winter says that this malady is all too common and hits the young especially hard. There are ways out of this state of ennui, however.
"...[W]e all have lost sight of what we are made for and have been suduced and brainwashed by the culture and often, sadly, by the church too. We can no longer see the drama of the bigger picture of life, where so much is at stake. We are called to an adventure of life with the true and knowable God that may have its profoundly frustrating and boring moments but that gives meaning to a life in which every situation has significance."

His suggestions? Recapture the wonder of life. Go outside and revel in our late-blooming fall colors. The beech tree in my backyard has a soothing display of copper leaves right now. What songbirds have you noticed haven't followed some of the seniors down to Florida? It takes effort, but so does anything worthwhile. We serve a God of infinite beauty and creativity. We have no excuse to be bored with so much to do and see.


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"Therefore whoever is not illuminated by such great splendors in created things is blind. Anyone who is not awakened by such great outcries is deaf. Anyone who is not led from such great effects to give praise to God is mute. Anyone who does not turn to the First Principle as a result of such signs is a fool.Therefore open your eyes, alert your spiritual ears, unlock your lips and apply your heart, so that in all the creatures you may see, hear, praise, love and adore, magnify and honor God, lest the entire world rise up against you." -- St. Bonaventure, Itinerarium mentis in Deum

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"...[K]eep in mind that a human being is not made for the processing of data, but for wisdom; not for the utilitarian satisfaction of appetite, but for love; not for the domination of nature, but for participation in it; not for the autonomy of an isolated self, but for communion." --Anthony Esolen,  Foreword to Beauty in the Word by Stratford Caldecott.