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May I take this opportunity to wish all my readers in the UK a fun August Bank Holiday Monday.

Some of you will be enjoying your last public holiday before Christmas.  Others will be using this as a springboard for a week off before work ramps up afresh in early September.  Wherever you are, I hope the weather is good.  This day is often rainy and damp, so it’s always a welcome surprise if the sun shines and temperatures soar.

Carl Trueman, whom I have featured on these pages before, highlighted Martin Luther’s regard for the importance of leisure time.  Dr Trueman, a Presbyterian originally from the UK, is currently the Departmental Chair of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He also writes for Reformation 21.  In a recent blog post, ‘On the Virtue of Wasting Time’, he laments the American penchant for helicopter parents packing every minute of their children’s day with a worthwhile after-school activity.  He recalls that his own schooldays included free time after lessons when he was able to play with friends or just relax a bit.  

But the compulsion to constantly be ‘doing something’ also affects many adults in the United States.  Dr Trueman muses:

Indeed, we have surely lost the virtue that is laziness.  As Kierkegaard once said, ‘Far from idleness being the root of all evil, it is rather the only true good’ — a truly amazing theological insight.   Some may think that that maybe going a bit far, but compared to the idea that the essence of humanity is busy-ness, it is much to be preferred.

Dr Trueman read Martin Luther’s Table Talk, a miscellany of personal observations and advice, such as these:

‘The sixth mark of a good preacher is knowing when to stop.’

‘One only studies something as dirty as law in order to make money.’

Luther’s friends compiled these bon mots after he conversed with them during leisure time.  Conversation and conviviality over a drink or two are why men have their favourite ‘local’, a pub or tavern. There, they put the world to rights and share a laugh before gearing up for another day of hard graft. 

Dr Trueman cautions us against neglecting meeting up with friends, particularly in an increasingly digtalised world:

… laughter in the face of adversity and hardship not only being vital in this regard but also, of course, an almost exclusively social phenomenon that requires company; drinking beer with friends is perhaps the most underestimated of all Reformation insights and essential to ongoing reform; and wasting time with a choice friend or two on a regular basis might be the best investment of time you ever make.

Hear, hear!  So, take time out for refreshment with friends.  It’s every bit as valuable as your household projects and your work.

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