Being About My Father's Busy-ness  

Posted by Joe Rawls

It's probably a safe bet that the first-century church had its share of workaholic clergy and lay leaders. Things haven't improved since then, of course, although clergy burn-out, often underlain by compulsive overwork, is now recognized as a serious problem. A problem that, despite lots of talk, will be with us for the foreseeable future. Anglican priest Kenneth Leech offers contemplative prayer as a possible antidote. But it won't be easy, of course. In his very fine book Experiencing God: theology as spirituality (Harper and Row 1985) he recounts an anecdote told by Carl Jung (whose father and several uncles were Reformed ministers). A big hat-tip to Fr Mike Marsh of Interrupting the Silence.


Jung recounts a story of a clergyman who had been working fourteen hours a day and was suffering from emotional exhaustion. Jung's advice was that he should work eight hours a day, then go home and spend the evening alone in his study. The clergyman agreed to follow Jung's advice precisely. He worked eight hours, then went home and to his study, where he played some Chopin and read a novel by Hesse. The following day he read Thomas Mann and played Mozart. On the third day he went to see Jung and complained that he was no better. "But you don't understand," Jung replied, on hearing his account. "I didn't want you with Hermann Hesse or Thomas Mann or even Mozart or Chopin. I wanted you to be all alone with yourself." "Oh, but I can't think of any worse company," answered the clergyman. Jung replied, "And yet this is the self you inflict on other people fourteen hours a day."

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 23, 2010 at Thursday, September 23, 2010 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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