Boredom as a new construct, a sin, and the link with civility

I must say I have never before considered boredom as a new construct and as sin:

Patricia Meyer Spacks explains that boredom as such is a relatively recent invention, from the eighteenth century at the latest. Before that we had melancholy (which was a kind of affliction of the spirit) and, further back still, acedia (which was a sin). What’s distinctive about boredom is that we don’t see it as either a condition of our own selves or a sin, but rather something that just happens to us. When we’re bored, we don’t think there’s anything wrong with us: we think the world is at fault. Stupid old world — it doesn’t interest me. And interesting me is the world’s job.

Acedia is defined as:

Spiritual torpor and apathy; ennui.

And ennui is defined as:

Listlessness and dissatisfaction resulting from lack of interest; boredom.

Oh dear. As someone regularly afflicted with the curse of boredom, this is somewhat worrying.

I will say that I rather enjoyed a comment made on Twitter some time ago which described boredom as: ‘rage spread thin’. Now that does sound somewhat sinful.

More worrying still is the link between boredom and civility in our young:

No one likes to be bored — indeed, boredom so deeply invades the mind-body system that bored children sometimes feel queasy or lethargic, or complain of headaches. But the occurrence of boredom in young minds would be a welcome sign in one respect — it would suggest the presence of available resources for thought, reflection, and civil behavior. By extension, there is a relationship between the elimination of opportunities for boredom and the rise of incivility. While boredom is hardly something to strive for, its presence confirms the existence of brief gaps in the continuous stimulation that dominates the thinking cycle of many kids. These pauses enable thought and reason to infuse action; they are boredom’s natural habitat, and the genesis of civil behavior. It is only during moments of relative calm that young minds learn to bind empathy to action, and the development of thoughtful behaviors we associate with civility.

The whole article is worth reading as it happens.

I bet I’m not alone in quickly learning to avoid saying to my mum that I was bored. Her inevitable answer would be that there are many chores I could undertake to alleviate my boredom.


But she was right of course.

In saying I’m bored, what I’m really saying is that I NEED to be entertained; nay, I SHOULD be entertained. I have RIGHT to be constantly entertained.

As a young lad I had a friend who used to counter my boredom and incessant demands for excitement by insisting that we should “Be“. Oh this used to drive me mad.

But he was right.

And in that moment today when I find myself alone with my boredom and restlessness, I shall endeavour to use that as a place to ‘Be‘ with God.

In truth, God’s creation should be enough to satisfy my boredom. Did you know that outside of the computer and TV screen resides a place with trees and rivers and grass and clouds and wildlife of all sorts? I kid ye not. Of course I jest, but how often I forget this.

On that note, I shall take my leave of you and venture out to that place, to find out if the beautiful carpet of Bluebells has sprung forth yet. Perhaps I will even meet a total stranger and talk with him about God.

Who Knows…

What a wonderful world He has made for us to enjoy.

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