a little something extra

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sabbath 15

This week's chapter is called "Why Time Is Not Money." Tripp's post appears here (he's been very sick, so send him a get-well email if you get a minute!), and Cristopher's is here.

In this chapter Muller develops his theme of the lack of appreciation and value placed on tasks, occupations and experiences that are accessible only through the application of time, never through the application of money.

He rails at some length against the measurement of Gross Domestic Product. I grasp his point that economic productivity is not the only or necessarily even the best method of measuring the well-being of an individual or a society. In fact, I found myself growing annoyed because I grasped the point long before Muller seemed ready to let go of it. Railing against the measurement of GDP feels to me a lot like fussing because the measurement of my height fails to take into account how much body fat I have. GDP is designed to measure one thing -- it's our fault if we try to make it measure everything.

When Muller fails to acknowledge that his reader/audience can probably grasp a complex idea, I as reader/audience roll my eyes in exasperation, and feel a little sorry for him. This would probably annoy him as much as he's annoying me.

At the end of the chapter, Muller dives into the idea of the non-money-susceptible rewards he believes Sabbath to bring. "How do we count friendship or laughter? How do we count the value of honesty, or bread from the oven? How can we count the sunrise, the trusting clasp of a child's hand, a melody, a tear, a lover's touch?"

And I skated off into reflecting on how Muller's Sabbath emphases lack insight into typical women's experience. A woman on the Sabbath doesn't get to stop nursing the baby who depends on her for sustenance every two hours. Who makes sure that the pantry and fridge contain the ingredients for the bread he's so rhapsodic about? Etc. That led me to think about how multi-person households might conflict on how to spend Sabbath time. What if one person wants Sabbath time together, but the other one only wants time alone (the classic extrovert/introvert dichotomy)?

Despite my lack of enthrallment with this chapter, I was quite turned on by the exercise. Muller asks, "What are some of the inviolable precepts that guide your life?... Make a list of the principles that shape your days. Include both those you currently follow and those you would like to be able to follow."

Well. Now we're talking! I think I will post one principle per day this week, making clear which are current and which are hoped-for future, and invite your comments on them. I hope Tripp and Cristopher will consider doing the same -- and anybody else who reads this particular post and feels like playing along!


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