REDEEMING BOREDOM

Ben Care is Imagine Project Facilitator at the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity

CHRISTIAN TODAY is carrying an article by Ben Care this week that gladdens my heart.

People are consumed by boredom…It is like some sort of dust. One comes and goes without seeing it, one breathes it in, one eats it, one drinks it, and it is so fine that it doesn’t even scrunch between one’s teeth. But if one stops for a moment, it settles like a blanket over the face and hands. One has to constantly shake this ash-rain off one. That is why people are so restless.

Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest

Care writes: “We’ve all heard the exasperated teenage cry, ‘BORING!’ yet, as recent studies reveal, although more vocal about their feelings, teenagers are far from alone in experiencing boredom. Britain is apparently Europe’s fourth most bored nation, each of us suffering six hours of boredom each week.”

So is the Church to leap into offering knee-jerk reaction to counter boredom, something to keep people entertained and laughing (even whilst being all-mindful of the tears of the clown when there’s no-one around), or has it something counter-cultural to offer? Can the Church suggest something that might redeem boredom? These are questions being asked every day deep in the heart of my parish church. Is it necessary always to be doing? – as we so often suggest by our lives and actions is the case. Won’t every Growth Action Plan make some proper provision for doing nothing and doing nothing well?

Care asks: “Learning, in times when we are called to do nothing, to ‘do nothing, gallantly’ – might that offer a way for Christians in our bored society?”

I’m reminded and gladdened by the recent memory of 54 people choosing to gather in heart and soul and mind and body to meditate upon the silence of God. Not one person present has reported themselves bored. Not one of them arrived in the hope of being entertained.