Signs of the Times

The Christian Century

Gordon J. Dahl
[© 1971 Christian Century
Foundation. Reprinted by permission
from the February 10, 1971, issue of
The Christian Century, Chicago.]

For generations "leisure" has meant simply nonwork. "Leisure" was the intervals between periods of work or, usually, the time after working hours. Because our society has placed such a high value upon work both as an economic concept and as a social experience, leisure has never really had any value apart from work. At best, it has been a rest from or a reward for work, and at worst an escape from work. Indeed, leisure has often been seen as an opportunity for preparation for more work....

What is "leisure"? The word means absence of coercion or constraint, therefore freedom. But not the kind of freedom that is acquired through grim struggle against worldly necessity or restraint. Rather, the word signifies the sense of being out of this world. Leisure may be experienced anytime, even while working, but it has no contingent relationship to work. It is neither recess nor rest from working, nor reward for working.

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July 3, 1971

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