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 loves to sit with his wife by the bonfire and make up stories about Tom the Backyard-Badger for his three lovely daughters. When he's not carving up the Appalachian Mountains on his Salsa El Mariachi, you can find him busy writing a book, collaborating on a book, or reading a book written by someone dead and gone. Timothy studied beauty in the works of C.S. Lewis under theologian Alister McGrath. The author of five books, including Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society (Zondervan), Timothy is currently finishing The Life-Changing Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019), preparing his doctoral thesis for publication, and trying to find a publisher for his first novel The Tempest and the Bloom. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.