Therapeutic Theological Thought

by Penrod

Motto: “All therapy ends badly.”—Sigmund Freud

[In this and past issues, Penrod has been identified as a contributor who wants us to think first of Booth Tarkington’s Penrod. In particular, he has told us to remember when Penrod goes to the stable, climbs into his hideout (an unused “sawdust magazine” which was half-filled with sawdust), uncovers his pencil and notebook, and proceeds to write about his hero, “HARoW RAMoRES THE RoADAGENT.” Our contributor chooses to combine Tarkington’s Penrod with the mighty pen of Martin Luther, whose evangelistic efforts by means of his pen shook the whole world and still do. Our Penrod rightly compares Luther’s pen to Aaron’s rod with its power to turn water into blood and bring gnats out of the earth.

Whether or not our contributor has anything to do with any of his heroes other than his namesake Penrod (after rereading that lively passage, pages 11-15, we hardly think he does justice to Penrod either), and whether or not his column is therapeutic, theological, or thoughtful, you must judge for yourself. This is his third column.]

I hate it when numbers are substituted for words in the months of the year. I hate abbreviations for states. I do not want to think of Oklahoma as OK, California as CA, or Minnesota as MN.

The purpose of shortening the referent is, I suppose, to make more room in time. It is true, that in this present age in the United States, time is cluttered; but, in the end, abbreviating seems merely to make time for more stuff, more junk mail for example, rather than to open up some room in time.

I, like many others around me, seem to be in a rush whether I need to rush or not. Perhaps this has always been the case in human life. However, even though one becomes a part of the rush of life, one’s soul struggles for peace and quiet, for moments with oneself. A few thousand years ago, a person wrote, “I have seen everything that is done under the sun; and behold all is vanity and a striving after wind” and also, “All things are full of weariness; a person cannot utter it.”

Even though the business of filling up time is ancient and the problems, confusion, weariness, and unhappiness it creates are ancient as well, there is something new in our generation—a new level of danger. Stuffing time requires higher speed; if we are not suffocated by it, we might end up in a terrible wreck.

Is this the same old problem? I think there is a difference—the rate of speed. Economically and culturally, we proceed as if in reality there is no speed limit, as if there is always more room in time, as if it is always possible to adjust to more speed. If we do not take time to stop and reflect on what we are doing and learning, time becomes mere quantity.

The notion of no limits withers under scrutiny. It withers in the face of death. It withers in the face of the present moment It withers wherever there is a human body.

As speed increases, choices diminish. Freedom wanes. There will be more health and less peril to body, soul, and society if we make some real room in time and have other values besides productivity.

Do yourself a favor; take more time outs. Do yourself a favor; contemplate the ten thousand lakes of Minnesota (not MN).