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Omnibus | 4 Minutes

How Omnibus Can Help You Avoid The Wrong Sort of Sloth and Embrace the Right Kind of Leisure

Written by Ty Fischer
How Omnibus Can Help You Avoid The Wrong Sort of Sloth and Embrace the Right Kind of Leisure

I grew up with a less robust idea of leisure. I looked at the world of work and rest as a switch. I worked and worked hard, but when I was off, I shut down and often wasted time. I was hard-working and lazy. This led to some really weird habits. Sometimes, I went to bed “on” and couldn’t sleep. After I got married, I found out why. One night, I was complaining, “I can’t sleep!” My exasperated wife said, “You don’t have your head on the pillow.” When I was “on,” I was “on.” She also was dismayed by my use of free time. I watched sports. She wanted to do more, but I struggled because I was “off.” Thankfully, I married a woman with a higher use of leisure, and in classical Christian education, I encountered a radically robust view of work, rest, leisure, and sinful sloth.

Today, I thought I would walk you through the mentors who changed me in hopes that they could help you love life and see sloth for the deadly danger that it is—particularly in our day. Many of these (with the exception of my wife!) are authors that Omnibus students will read during middle and high school.

Mentor 1: Dante

Dante helped me see the difference between being worn out at the end of a day of hard work and what the Bible condemns as sloth. Dante introduced me to sloth in the Inferno, but his description of repentance from slothfulness in Purgatory opened my eyes. Of course, if the sin were envy, Dante would sew my eyes shut. In Purgatory, we have sinners who are in the process of being redeemed and are being taught to hate sin and love righteousness—the slothful run. They don’t debate about what to do; they don’t make a plan; they don’t try to find all the answers. They run, and they encourage each other toward holiness. The sort of sloth that Dante warns against is not being tired at the end of the day and falling into a deep sleep. It is the conviction that it is not worth trying because the world is bad, and God is not working to fix it. Sloth is closer to self-imposed depression rather than being “worn out.” Dante taught me to run.

Mentor 2: Josef Pieper

Pieper is a Catholic philosopher who wrote an extremely brief and powerful book, Leisure as the Basis of Culture. He helped me see the other side of the coin. Despairing sloth was deadly, but what would I do when I wasn’t working? How could I be both “off” and not “shut down.” Pieper helped me understand that leisure was to be filled up with joy. He helped me experience the joy of worship, peace, and rest. His joyous view of liberty and leisure remade my week and made the Sabbath a leisurely delight.

Mentor 3: Alexander Schmemann

Schmemann is an Eastern Orthodox believer and priest. He taught me, mainly through his book For the Life of the World, to see life and the world as a sign of God’s goodness and love. Pieper helped me have wonderful colors with which to paint. Schmemann showed me that the world was already painted in those wondrous colors used by Dante and seen by Pieper.

Mentor 4: Emily, my wife

She made all of this come to life—I could not have. She taught me how to play and not just to win. She plays cards (very well). She plays board games. She plays pickleball, and she talks trash with a sly smile. She cooks and raises daughters who put ridiculous effort into dishes that make people faint. I am blessed.

Hear me. You need leisure. It forms you. It feeds you. It makes life better. You were made for Sabbath and leisure. The first day Adam saw the sunrise was a Sabbath. He just hung out with his friend, God, in the cool of the Garden of Eden. As Dante tells us at the end of Purgatory, the return to the garden is what we are longing for. The absence of meaningful leisure tempts us to fall into despairing sloth. You make a lawn green by growing grass. If you do that well, you still have to pull weeds, but not many. Joy drives out despair. Leisure drives out sloth and makes life worth living.

I pray that our students will learn these lessons and get to know these literary mentors much earlier than I did! One way that they can begin this journey is with Veritas Press Self-Paced Omnibus courses, which you can get for $100 off from March 5th - 19th, 2024 with the coupon code HappySpring. I hope these readings and others like them will be a blessing to your students as they have been to me!