Monday, April 09, 2007

Close Laptop. Turn Off Cell. Go to Pub.

“Visiting the pub and drinking beer,” writes Tom Hodgkinson, “became a form of protest against the new emerging work ethic.... Pubs once acted as the focus of the community, providing a free front room where people... could discourse freely, drink deeply, and carouse. One gets a real sense that the Industrial Revolution was taking the fun out of life” (How To Be Idle, 166, 167).

When I was living in Europe, my fellow-missionaries and I used to spend much of our winters watching the Lonesome Dove miniseries on video. As we observed the life-long friendship of Augustus McRae and Woodrow F. Call (played by Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones), we all vowed that we would never allow ourselves to become like so many men in our day: working 60 hours a week with no friends with whom we could “quaff foaming pints of nut-brown ale in convivial company.”

The nature of our culture is to isolate us from one another. We sit at our computers or in front of our TVs, we drive alone in our cars from the garage at home to the one at work, we interact through MySpace and email, we converse through cell phones and blue tooths, and even the live events we attend, like weddings or birthday parties, are usually observed through the screen of our camcorders.

We need to get out more (and I’m not talking about those “power lunches” during which we wolf down burgers at a food court so we can get back to work faster). How much political, personal, social, or theological reflection is just waiting to transpire at the local pub, if we would only make the time for it?

Frodo and Sam had the Green Dragon… what about us?