Recently I picked up Carl Trueman’s latest work, Fools Rush in Where Monkeys Fear to Tread: Taking Aim at Everyone, which I was delighted that our library got. (Thanks for Nathan for pointing this gem out!)
In the foreword (and I do believe that Trueman wrote the foreword to his own book…under a pseudonym) the book is described as “without a theme, without a constituency, and thus without a market.” In reality, it is a work of the forgotten genre of theological essays, particularly honed in on theological satire and the fine genre of mockery. (Mockery is a much forgotten biblical genre that we ought to make more use of. The man making a fire a with half a tree to cook his food and worshiping the other half of the tree in Is. 44 anyone?)
To get to my point however, I thought that I’d include a quick quotation from the end of the book’s second chapter. Writing about our obsession with busyness, Trueman says:
“We have surely lost the virtue that is laziness…the greatest testament to the power of wasted time in the history of the church is surely Luther’s Table Talk. A collection of anecdotes and saying collected by Luther’s closest friends, it reflects the full range of Luther as pastor, mentor, Christian, and friend. Read the comments, from advice to young preachings (“The sixth mark of a good preaching is knowing when to stop”) to comments on lawyers (“One only studies something as dirty as law in order to make money”) to general observations on life, some of which don’t bear repeating on a polite blog such as this. I suspect Luther’s table companions learned more about life and ministry while drinking beer and having a laugh with the Meister than in the university lecture hall.
Numerous applications come to mind: seminary is the people with whom you strike up friendship (a point that must be taken into account as seminaries move toward more distance education); friendships (real, embodied friendship that are not exclusively mediated through pixels) are crucial for staying the course of ministry — 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.“ (emphasis mine)