As I write this on April 10, 2010, I have been back to full time work for 3 weeks now. The work I am doing is temporary, scoring student achievement tests. I anticipate it lasting for 10 weeks. Everyone I work with holds at least a bachelor’s degree. As most of my working life has been in retail, with persons of all kinds of intellectual achievement (or not), the difference in work environment is dramatic.
To that effect, I was thinking, before waking up this morning, on how it has affected this blog. Being around a group of people who have practiced serious thinking sharpens one’s own thinking, and it is a stimulating change. On the opposite side, working hard mentally makes it harder to think through doing some serious writing. This week and last, all my blogging has been on Sunday morning. I didn’t feel like doing anything yesterday until about 4 pm. This job also differs from most in that I know, roughly, when it will end. The adult norm seems to be that one does one thing, anticipating that its end is just somewhere long in the future.
At a secular level, the best known writing on this was Hoffer’s “Joy of Dull Work.” He may have been known as the Longshoreman Philosopher, but he was a philosopher first, and the longshoreman bit was probably an intellectual break. It certainly is not the norm for either philosophers or longshoreman. I won’t comment further as I did not read the book, only have heard from others (professors) the distillation of the ideas of that book into a few sentences. This is very normal for our society. Most people in our culture didn’t read Hawking’s “A Short History of Time”, but have absorbed its conclusions from movie scriptwriters having read it, and included those ideas in popular movies. For the believer in Jesus, this is important due to this being the idea of the history of mankind that has replaced the Darwinian idea, and is the precursor to the idea of the hoped-for (by unbelieving intellectuals) Theory of Everything, which is tied to a mish-mash of New Age ideas. I hated to use the phrase New Age, as some of our faith in Jesus’ less intellectual, more emotional speakers-leaders use that as a generalized perjorative. I use this phrase to refer to a group of approximately 188 beliefs, philosophies, diet plans, naturalisms, of which adherents usually hold to more than one, less than all (as some are contradictory to others) in many combinations. I haven’t tried to think too hard on this because to do an apologetic on this is as futile as trying to due an apologetic on every eastern guru, swami, sri, etc.
A Christian book that deals with some of the same ideas as Hoffer, but from a distinctly Christian perspective is R. Paul Stevens’ “The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work, and Ministry in Biblical Perspective.” Stevens is a professor at
Regent College, . I cannot recall at the moment which one, but Stevens also uses his summer break to work in a trade. Vancouver, BC
My personal conclusion is that dull work is only a joy as a change of pace. Personally, being stuck doing such work when I know I can handle something more complex is a burden of feeling of not properly being a steward of the abilities God has given me. This is different from being in a society in which government favoritism of those that agree with it, caste, ethnicity, or some other social quality restricts one from which one may not be able to practically either change or escape from. For myself, these writings are some small way of attempt to be a good steward of my abilities, even if only a very few read them.