“Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” says novelist Susan Ertz.

WE’RE A FUNNY OLD RACE, we human beings, eh?

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people tell me “I’m just bored” in the past month or so.

Millions long to live for ever in a world in which they don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Apparently one of the chief reasons that people give for having stopped attending church is that “it’s boring”. And the BBC and ITV and Satellite channels 1 – 333 are described equally frequently as “boring”.

Public parks, novels, poetry, music, girlfriends and boyfriends, cars, cinema, food, holidays, Facebook, Twitter and flying around the world are all described through drawling yawns as BORING! Yet: millions long to live for ever in a world in which they don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

We’ve got to get a grip of ourselves. It’s not that our church, or our world, or the indescribably extraordinary gift of life are boring. It’s more the case that WE ARE. And I mean WE. Me and thee. You know I believe that if we want to change our world, if we want to change our church, if we want to change radio and telly and holidays and marriages and partnerships and learning then we’ve got to erase that damnable word BORED from our lexicon.

There’s an old lady who lives on your street who hasn’t spoken to anyone for a fortnight. You know her. In her younger days you used to see her shaking out breadcrumbs onto her bird table. She loved to encourage the birds to come close to her window but she can’t get out to the bird-table these days. She used to sell poppies in your street. And collect for the Child Welfare agency. She’s the one who used to bake cakes at the drop of a hat for anyone and everyone who might have had need of them. Actually, she could still bake cakes for you if you would only pick up the ingredients when you’re at the supermarket. She used to sing when she was baking. “Now thank we all our God” was her favourite.

But on rainy Sunday afternoons, in fact on any afternoons, she sits alone near the window watching an empty bird table that could spring into life again if only a neighbour would sprinkle a few crumbs for her. Oh, and she was always such a good story-teller. Wonderfully funny. Young and old alike would delight in her company. Until she couldn’t get out to them anymore. Now the people she used to entertain so richly say they’re bored. Even at the same time as they long to live for ever.

Come on. Let’s get a grip on Sunday afternoons. Let’s tell boredom to clear off out of here. Let’s go and visit that wonderful inspiration who lives just down the road. And feed the birds.

for Pure FM 107.8 – 28xi2010

2 thoughts on “BORED?

  1. my father always used to say that bored people were bored because they were boring, and they were boring because they didn’t engage with what was around them. Anything is interesting – absolutely anything – if you engage your sense of wonder, look around you and ask some questions. Then you’ll be incensed, enraptured, angry, excited, happy, sad, grief-struck, full of dreams, or just quietly content. But almost never bored.

    There was a piece of research done a few years back (I read it somewhere) on education and the unending drive of modern parents to fill their children’s diaries and holidays to ensure they are never bored. A sense of boredom is a good thing, apparently, because it’s the stimulus to the brain to do something about it yourself. Maybe if we allowed our children to get bored, pointed out some possibilities, and then said, “What are you going to do about it? – you decide” we would train the capacity for engagement. Enforced non-stop entertainment is very bad for people: it ends up disengaging them.

  2. This post is absolutely spot on. Absolutely brilliant Simon. Our society is becoming one of insularity and one the churches roles has to be to try and reverse that. My mum used to own a corner shop – it was the focal point of the local community.

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