Abigail Chen, Ally Stapleton, Grace Kim, Grace Pratte, Nat Lewis, Ellie Shackelford, Madison Casteel, Caleb Ingegneri, Is Perkins, Ruth Wu, Cameron Harro, Alexandra Rivera, Thomas Wilder, Grace Gebhard, Juan Elvir, Mary Fischer
The more I consider the busy and the bored, the more I think they look alike. The busy are always distracted and bustling, and the bored complacent and unproductive––but both embody truths about attention.
In Works of Love, Kierkegaard wrote that “to be busy means, divided and scattered, to occupy oneself with what makes a man divided and scattered.” The busy invest in that which cannot make them whole, which cannot sustain, nor support, nor save. Attention is split in an attempt to cover every base— the classroom, workplace, and dining table—even while the body can only inhabit these one at a time.
The bored are not “boring people,” or those without imagination, or simply lazy, to use Thomas Wilder’s words from this issue. Boredom, in its deepest sense, means not seeing anything worth doing. Our usual image of this sense of uselessness, sitting on the front porch watching cars go by, no longer applies. Now, it seeks entertainment and finds it, and there is no pause between the initial moment of listlessness and the satisfaction of finding a distraction, during which you might question yourself more deeply. The fragmented attention consumes, it scrolls, it changes the channel from the impeachment trial to reality TV.
The Pub has filled a gap on Wheaton’s campus for over a decade now by providing independent journalism created by students for students. It engages the intersection of the intellectual life and the Christian way, and this mission leads our staff to ask this spring of 2020: what do busyness and boredom have to do with our lives as students and as followers of Christ?
When I approached former editor-in-chief, Ellen Misloski, with our issue’s theme, she directed me to an essay by Simone Weil on the purpose of school studies. In the essay, Weil claims that the main purpose of scholarship is not the content of the various subjects, but the goal of developing the quality of one’s attention: every geometry problem, if we dedicate ourselves fully to it, strengthens the attention we can give to God in prayer, or to a sufferer in need of care.
I hope this issue of The Pub invites readers to evaluate their busyness and boredom and calls for a renewed investment of attention in the eternal.
Ellie Shackelford Editor-in-Chief