Think about the world in which we live. Surrounded by glowing rectangles, we’ve become the idiot society. And by idiot I mean we’ve slunk into isolation, content to meddle on our screens, download apps, and sit on our couches. We buy things and then throw them away. We forget, long ago in a faraway land, our purchases used to come with a set of “fix it” instructions.
Not so anymore. We sit. We buy. We discard.
Matthew Crawford wrote a New York Times best seller titled Shop Class as Soulcraft. He suggests, in our land of superslick intuitive computer interfaces, we’ve drifted away from the agency required to fix or build. Meaning: we don’t work on our cars anymore or much of anything for that matter. As we’ve drifted away from agency, we’ve drifted toward an autonomous existence in a world devoid of psychic friction.Meaning: we’ve outsourced our brains and mechanical prowess for a life of ease.
When I futz around on my twelve-year-old Land Rover—affectionately called “Ye Ole Rover”—I tend toward discipline, detail, and perseverance. I can’t swipe an app. I must turn the wrench. I must unlearn the gospel of ease and intuitive interface interaction and relearn what it means to work on something with my hands—to build, sew, seed, prune, saw, stitch, and bleed.
I’m no mechanic, but that’s not the point.
Timothy Willard is the author of five books, including Longing For More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life and the forthcoming The Life-Giving Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019). He has collaborated on over 20 books and has written, consulted and served as spiritual director for organizations such as Chick-fil-A, Catalyst, Q Ideas and Praxis Labs. When he’s not riding the trails in the Appalachian mountains you can find him by the fire with his three daughters and his wife making up stories about Tom the back yard badger. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.