Spectating or participating?

By Dave Henning / October 7, 2022

“Participating requires more from me.  Its requirements cost me.  I must work at it — sweat, train, learn, see, listen, respond, move, sacrifice, fall, and begin again.  Spectating offers me similar feelings of exhilaration but does not require anything from me.  I need only possess the means to consume.  Convenience joins spectating; sacrifice accompanies participation.”- Timothy D. Willard (emphasis author’s)

Timothy Willard concludes Chapter 8 of The Beauty Chasers as he talks about the differences between participating and spectating.  By definition, participation seems to invite robust activity.  But in our culture, the author bemoans, participation looks paradoxically different.  Because our culture grooms us to spectate.  To watch what’s going on, whether through a smart phone or television.

Therefore, Timothy states, in the above context spectating happens when a distraction diverts our attention from our real lives.  And, the author stresses, real life involves much more than running from one thing to the next.  Instead, to participate in life requires us to pace ourselves.  To slow down enough to engage in every aspect of living.  And that includes the natural world.

Above all, Timothy loves how the New Testament gospel writers take frequent note of Jesus’ habit of stealing away before dawn to pray.  Hence, Jesus took time to abide with His Father.  Also, He operated to a different cadence.

In conclusion, Timothy presents five ways to slow down that help us better participate in the world around us.  Thus, slowing down:

  1. frees us from how the world defines success, influence, and productivity.
  2. breeds clarity, simplicity, and wholeness.
  3. allows us to regain our sense of wonder, reverence, and truth as we leave the blurred world of trends and kitsch behind.
  4. connects us to the spiritual reality God intended for us.  While speed annihilates space and time.
  5. helps us see.  Most significantly, when we see, we notice God.

Today’s question: What Bible verses help you counter the lure of spectating?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Empty the skies of wonder?”

About the author

Dave Henning

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