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Pragmatism, the Enemy of Leisure?

“All man’s gifts and faculties are not necessarily useful in a practical way; though there is no denying that they belong to a truly human life, not strictly speaking necessary, even though he could not do without them.” Faculties without practicality challenge my American pragmatic sensibility. It indeed challenges things I’ve learned since childhood. If it is not practical, its not needed, many have told me. Philosophizing and leisure are not practical. They are not necessarily productive, despite their obvious goodness. Furthermore, they are contemplative. They require silence. Silence challenges contemporary culture’s promotion of noise. I’m currently sitting in a coffee shop. The Coffee Shop XM radio station is playing. It’s not loud enough to be annoying, but it’s loud enough to be distracting It is preventing me from fully entering into leisure. Indeed, there’s a certain bit of irony in that.

A reflection on and with a quote from the Author’s Preface to the English Edition of Leisure: the Basis of Culture
About Fr. Kyle

I am a priest of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. I was born and raised right outside New Orleans. I attended Catholic school my entire educational career. By the time I graduated high school, I had two paths to choose: rockstar or priesthood. I pursued both for awhile but eventually came to the understanding God's will was priesthood and my will was rockstardom. After making that decision, to allow God's will to be mine, I needed a new way to channel my creativity. I began writing as I finished up my formation for priesthood. I still play music, but priestly ministry comes first. My bride: St. Rita of Cascia Parish in Harahan, LA.

Comments

  1. I agree, I think the notion of silent contemplation are very much a challenge for today’s world in which there are so many constant distractions. In fact, I think over then next several days, I may try to take time out of each day simply to see the amount of distractions that arise around me.

  2. Yeh, so I know I’m a little late in this…but I just started reading the book! When he started talking about this idea of something as ‘good but not necessarily uesful,’ I immediately thought of Romano Guardini’s Spirit of the Liturgy, which speaks of the ‘ueslessness’ of the liturgy in this same manner. It is interesting to note that our modern culture has simultaneously sought to rid itself of true philosophy, true leisure, and true liturgy/worship in order to impose it’s own activist ‘philosophy’, ‘leisure’, and ‘worship’.

    It was also interesting to note that his use of ‘leisure’ is so closely connected with worship here.

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