Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Time, Decisions, and the Long View

I'm an American, and have my native culture's twitchy sense of time.

I also realize that an immense span of time has elapsed since this universe began. I'll get back to that on Friday. (June 19, 2015)

"Sloth," Acedia, and Cultural Norms

A few years back, I read an American's account of employment in another country. Her contract specified the length of employment — something like five years, as I recall. At some point, she learned that the company defined her position as "temporary employment."

Over here, an industry might have changed beyond recognition over that interval: and "temporary" is more often perceived as a matter of hours, days, or weeks.

My home has a timepiece in most rooms, sometimes several. They're not luxuries or symbols of prosperity. We're Americans, and keeping track of time is important for us. Without those clocks, we might become less productive; or miss a planned activity. I won't claim that this makes us better — or worse — than anyone else. It's how our culture works.

Several years ago, I told a priest that I had trouble with sloth. I thought this was serious, since sloth is one of the capital sins, along with pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, and gluttony. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1866)

Turns out, that wasn't one of my problems; not the way I thought. "Sloth," in my dialect of America English, means something close to "unproductive" or "lazy," more or less.

That can be a problem, but the "sloth" that's seriously sinful from a Catholic viewpoint is acedia, "...a form of depression due to lax ascetical practice, decreasing vigilance, carelessness of heart...." (Catechism, 2733)

The priest, who had spend years in another country, told me that he had never met an American who was unproductive: except by our standards.

Later, I was diagnosed with major depression and something that's currently pegged as being on the autism spectrum. Happily, I can recognize these as treatable neurological glitches.

I'm morally responsible for dealing with these psychiatric conditions: but am not wracked with guilt and shame for living in a fallen world. And that's a whole lot of other topics. (Catechism, 387, 1735, 2448, 2280-2283, 2288)

Different cultures see time differently, which is why you'll find articles about intercultural communication in business journals. More about that, under "Background" at the end of this post.

Looking Ahead

Somewhere between the lava lamp's advent and disco's demise, I ran into a memorable illustration.

I don't remember what the book was about, or who wrote it, but one chapter included a simple timeline and this bit of advice — 'Before you do something bad, consider this: How long do you plan to be dead?'

I'm pretty sure the author was making the usual carpe diem argument, but I took the point differently. Here's my version of that timeline:

There's some wisdom in carpe diem, by the way.

I've talked about life, death, and Ecclesiastes 2:24 before.

Getting a grip about:

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.