In Praise of Boredom #unco16

Posted May 17, 2016 @ 6:00pm | by Tripp

Twitter was alive this morning as the #unco16 stream took flight. I was tuned in enjoying the various tweets about coffee and Jesus and why it's so hard to do things. Most things. And then it happened. Someone tweeted about Star Wars and Church...specifically how Star Wars is much more exciting than Church and how we need to get people as excited about Church as they are about Star Wars.

What? So I tweeted an UNCO appropriate retort.

Then David Hansen, one of my favorite technicolor hight top wearing Lutheran pastors in Texas, responded.

And from there we were tweeting our thoughts on boredom and attentiveness and excitement. Is boredom a kind of engagement? I think so. We didn't hit "entertainment" but I wanted to bring that and pornography into the conversation. But as UNCO is a family show, I stepped back from that precipice.

The Rev. Hansen and I decided to take the conversation to our blogs.

You can read David's post here. These are my two cents. Maybe three. 

I have a son. He's just over 13 months old now. He likes to do lots of things. Most of the things he does require adult supervision lest he lick an electrical outlet or jab himself in the eye with something one would not imagine jabbing in one's eye. Yet, there he is. So, adult supervision must be constant.

I love my son. There are thousands of pictures of him on social media that attest to my total devotion to this kid. And sometimes being with him, reading that same book again, playing with DUPLOS, and all the glories of toddlerhood bore me. I get bored.

And I praise this boredom. Why? Let me tell you.

1. It reminds me that my son and I are not the same person with the same needs. It reminds me that we're distinct from one another. I've found this to be key to parenting thus far. Again, he's thirteen months old and I don't know much, but I have learned that he isn't me.

2. It reminds me to dig in. So often when I get bored, I have to ramp myself up. So, I engage excitedly. I tickle EP. I blow his belly. This is for me, not for him. Then I remember to breathe and take it down a notch. Excitement is not the antonym to boredom. I'm not sure what is, but it ain't that. When I get bored, I am reminded to dig more deeply, to stretch, to grow with EP. And to memorize yet one more children's book.

3. It reminds me that I have limits: limits of patience, creativity, mental acuity, and even compassion. All of these limits will be stretched or my limitations augmented some other way, likely through the wider community we call friends and family.

So often we think George Lukas or maybe Steve Jobs present better models for the Church to emulate because they are so good at engaging people. And they are. No doubt. They are excellent at it. But in both cases, these guys are trying to sell you something for a profit. They may *also* be trying to change the world in some positive way, but they are also trying to make money. They want to grab your attention for just long enough to buy in. That's all.

The Church, well, we're talking about eternity. And we're often talking about things that cannot be solved by blowing up a fully operational battle station or communicated from your spiffy pocket computer. So, to use some liturgical or programmatic equivalent of the blockbuster film doesn't serve the message.

Or does it?

We have to make room for boredom, for boredom from our congregants, from our pastors and priests, from our musicians. We have an entire body of spiritual literature on "dry times" in our prayer lives. They come.

We are called to see them through. Praise boredom. Don't shun it.

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