Modern life presents a crisis of time, bringing the value of patience into question. Andrew Root joins Ryan McAnnally-Linz to provide some context for our modern patience predicament. As a professor of youth ministry at Luther Seminary, he has years of both experience and careful thinking about what it means for kids, families, churches, and communities to flourish in an impatient world, cultivating the mindset, the virtues, and the community we need to wait well. Part 1 of a 6-episode series on Patience hosted by Ryan McAnnally-Linz.
- Doubling down and the temptation to make up for lost time
- Hartmut Rosa and Modernity as Acceleration
- Acceleration across three categories: technology, social change, and pace of life
- "Decay rate” is accelerating—we can sense that things get old and obsolete much faster (e.g., phones, computers)
- Riding the wave of accelerated social change
- "We’ve become enamored with gadgets and time-saving technologies."
- “Getting more actions within units of time"
- Expectations and waiting as an attack on the self
- "Waiting feels like a moral failure."
- Give yourself a break; people are under a huge amount of guilt that they’re not using their time or curating the self they could have.
- "You’re screwing up my flow here, man."
- When I’m feeling the acceleration of time: “Get the bleep out of my way. My humanity is worn down through the acceleration."
- Busyness as an indicator of a good life
- “To say that I’m busy is to indicate that I’m in demand."
- "Stripping time of its sacred weight."
- Mid-life crises and the hollowness of time
- Patience is not just "go slower”
- Eric Fromm's "having mode" vs "being mode" of action
- Waiting doesn’t become the absence of something
- Pixar’s Soul, rushing to find purpose, failing to see the gift of connectedness to others
- Not all resonance is good (e.g., the raging resonance of Capitol rioters)
- How would the church offer truly good opportunities for resonance
- Bonhoeffer and the community of resonant reality
- Luther's theology of the cross—being with and being for—sharing in the moment
- Receiving the act of being with and being for
- Instrumentalization vs resonance
- Bearing with one another in weakness, pain, and suffering
- Encountering each other by putting down accelerated goals to be with and for the other
- Flow or resonance in one’s relationship to time
- Artists, mystics, and a correlation with psychological flow
About Andrew Root
Andrew Root is the Olson Baalson Associate Professor of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary. He teaches classes on youth ministry, young adults, family, church, and culture; he has lately been writing about issues surrounding the intersection of faith and science, including a project called Science for Youth Ministry. He is author of several books, including The End of Youth Ministry?, The Congregation in a Secular Age, The Pastor in a Secular Age, and Faith Formation in a Secular Age.
- This podcast featured theologians Andrew Root and Ryan McAnnally-Linz
- Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
- Hosted by Evan Rosa
- Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
- A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
- Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Evan Rosa: For the Life of the World is a production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture. Visit us online at faith.yale.edu.
Andy Root: For the most part, the modern project is just year after year upping the dial of acceleration. We see it with technology within social change, and then also with just the pace of our lives. Busyness does give us an immediate kind of sense of living a full life, but it is a kind of a hollow fullness, I think, which is what this whole thing is about. It's that stripping time of any of its sacred weight, so it can go fast. But then when you're forced to slow down a little bit, you realize that there's a kind of frightening hollowness to it. If we can have this form of action of what it means to be connected to something, of hearing the world speak to us again, a feeling drawn into something, that's a kind of form of waiting that is really deeply generative and connects us to something. That's kind of what I want to go with this. It's to recover the kind of sacredness of time by remembering what it means to be a community that waits for God.
Evan Rosa: This it's For the Life of the World, a podcast about seeking and living a life worthy of our humanity.
Ryan McAnnally-Linz: I'm Ryan McAnnally-Linz with the Yale Center for Faith & Culture. Few months ago, I was waiting for a four-year-old to put on his socks. It was not going well. He wasn't throwing a tantrum or anything. He wasn't even opposed to the idea of putting on socks. It's just that he was taking a sweet time with it. No urgency, no focus, not even the sliver of a sense that this was something we might like to have done sometime, anytime, soon. It didn't take long before I started to squirm. Now I knew better than to shout or argue. Cajole or bribe--that would just make it take longer. But I felt trapped. I had better, more important things to be doing. This was wasting my time. Unconsciously, reflexively, my hand reached for the phone in my pocket. Surely something better, more valuable, more satisfying than waiting for a four-year-old to put on his socks was waiting for me on the other side of that screen.
And it's a petty story, I know, but it got me thinking: why couldn't I muster the patience to let a preschooler take its time? I realized this wasn't an isolated incident. That same impatience was there in my daily commute and work meetings, and the compulsive search for news that the COVID pandemic would be over soon. I started to think I probably wasn't alone in my impatient existence. In a world where science, technology, business, the news, entertainment are all speeding up, slowing down to accept and bear the sluggish, the unchosen painful--it's a hard pill to swallow.
Jaden Smith (New Balance Ad): Impatience is a virtue.
Ryan McAnnally-Linz: New Balance recently launched an ad campaign that has Jaden Smith--that's Will's son for my fellow geriatric millennials out there--declare impatience is a virtue. Know what you want. Waiting isn't an option.
Jaden Smith (New Balance Ad): When you know what you want, waiting isn't an option.
Ryan McAnnally-Linz: You're tapping into something. Many of us know the feeling that if we're not sprinting ahead, we're being left behind. The fear that we're missing out, the time is short. When we're not getting the best returns for ours, someone else's it is. How did we get here? Where should we go? Is patience outmoded, quaint at best and destructive at worst?
These are big issues. So we thought we'd take our time with them. This is the first of a six-episode series at For the Life of the World, dedicated to patience. Why it's so hard? What's good about it? And how we might cultivate it? We'll look at patience from a variety of perspectives in theology, economics, technology, psychology, and habit formation.
In today's episode, I ask my friend, Andy Root, to help provide some context for our modern patience predicament. As a professor of youth ministry at Luther Seminary, he has years of both practical experience and careful thinking about what it means for kids, families, churches, and communities to flourish in an impatient world, cultivating the mindset, the virtues and community we need to wait well. Thanks for listening.
So, Andy, thanks for taking some time to talk to me today. How are you doing?
Andy Root: I'm doing pretty well, man. How are you?
Ryan McAnnally-Linz: I'm doing all right. What's your experience of time like these days?
Andy Root: I don't know. I'm actually moving into an existential crisis because for most of this, I just want to done with it. Like I just wanted it over and as the vaccine started to arrive, I just felt like, hurry up. Let's get this going. Now that I'm starting to anticipate getting back to my regular life, I'm fearful that I've lost my sea legs for the pace that my life was at. So like, I want nothing more than to be freed from my basement and get back to some of the elements of my regular life. But I'm kind of frightened that I'm not sure if I can do it anymore. I think it's going to be crazy going back. And I do think in a kind of larger societal frame that there's going to be a huge temptation to try to make up for lost time. People are going to be just pulling their hair out to go faster, to double down on the vacations that they missed, to have a bigger wedding than they were going to have during the pandemic. I just think there's going to be a huge temptation to try to make up for lost time. And I just don't know if I can do it. That's what's crazy.
Ryan McAnnally-Linz: Yeah. It's a weird component of my experience of this too, the sense that there has been time lost, and that time is the sort of thing that we then might be able to make up for. You could say cram into it the same amount of time, more times worth of stuff. And then somehow that would be a solution to what we've gone through over the last year or so.
So you've got this new book out that actually addresses questions of time really head-on. You didn't plan it for this particular occasion in our collective cultural life. In fact, it's the third in a trilogy that you've been working on for a while and call it "Ministry in a Secular Age." You're dialoguing with the philosopher, Charles Taylor, and the problems of Christian life and ministerial life in particular, in this era. And in this volume, you're working with a sociologist named Hartmut Rosa. He's got this theory of modernity as a matter of acceleration. Now I have a hunch that the problem I've been experiencing around patience and the difficulty of cultivating it is not unrelated to the sort of phenomena that Rosa talks about and that you're talking about in your book. So I was hoping you could kick us off here. Thinking a little bit about what Rosa means by social acceleration, what happens in modernity and how does that affect time?
Andy Root: It's fascinating. I actually owe you a lot of thanks for moving me to Rosa because it was Rose's connection with some of the projects there at the Center that got me reading him for the first time and then like completely addicted to his work. But his work has two movements in it. The first movement is this acceleration where he has a full-blown view of modernity as the speeding up of time, as time just continuing to accelerate upon itself and going faster and faster. So he really thinks since the dawn of modernity, there's been this kind of speeding up. So if you listen to his lectures, he does this very nice in a German accent kind of conversation. If you had a camera up in space and we're looking down on the earth, you would see very little motion in the medieval period or before. You'd see some things happening. But in a very quick way, over a few hundred years, all of a sudden you'd see a ton of motion down there.
So he just thinks that this is what's inherent within modernity. It's just the continuing speeding up of three things, really, that he thinks encompass this acceleration. That is technological acceleration, that you just have to have technological advances for things to go faster in industry and travel and things like that. But it then also has this movement into social change that just social change accelerates and things move quicker, even kind of moral codes and things like that. And then what's probably the most interesting and in lands pretty central, probably, in this conversation, but even in my work is just the pace of life continues to accelerate. And maybe there's times of little plateaus and maybe we're in a kind of plateau of that. But for the most part, the modern project is just year after year upping the dial of acceleration in all of those things that we see it with technology within social change, and then also with just the pace of our lives. And he just thinks this is what it means to live inside of a modern world.
Ryan McAnnally-Linz: So what does that look like in a particular person's life? How does this broad idea of acceleration bear on my every day? What does it mean for my pace of life to be pushed, to accelerate?
Andy Root: Particularly, middleclass, late modern people, we feel all three, like your phone gets old so quickly. He calls this the decay rates, which I try to play with a lot in my book because I just find it really interesting on how even our technological gadgets decay. And that seems to be accelerating. Like the decay rate of a typewriter to a computer is much shorter. Having a typewriter that felt new, it was longer in the sense of time than your computer. A computer is old pretty much within three years, but a phone is like two years maybe, and maybe a tablet is a year and a half before it's old. So we can sense this, that we're always trying to catch up to novelty or the new in technology.
But then in social change too. Even over the last decade or so, maybe even less, that there's just been a huge acceleration in social change. And some people have really ridden that wave and seen that as really good news. How much social change has happened and the way we talk and the way we think about otherness and fundamental things like sexuality or forms of inclusion and things like that have changed a lot. And there's been others who have had a harder time keeping up with that pace and have maybe resisted some of that change. And so that pace comes in in those kinds of moral and social change realities.
But then the pace of life, we just really feel it in--I'm pretty convinced by his argument that what happens in modernity is that we try to get more actions inside of units of time. Because of the other two, particularly the technological change, we become really enamored with gadgeted technologies, that time-saving technologies. So that become really important for us because we feel like if we can use those, if I have the right apps, I can actually get more actions inside of the units of time.
Like one of the examples I use in the book is you can go to your kid's swim meets or swim practice, and you can actually get work done while you're there. But of course the problem with that is you're not really there, or you're not really doing your work. So there's all these opportunities to multitask, but multitasking also does something to us. And this is Rosa's larger point that this acceleration--while obviously there's some good things, like he'll say we should never be sorry to have accelerating ambulances. That's not a problem. All of us are celebrating that warp speed got us a vaccine quickly. So let's not completely be against acceleration, but there are other things that does to our being in the world. And it makes it really hard to actually be in the world. It always feels like we're on top of the world, sliding past the world. And so he does really think that when these accelerations keep going, that they alienate us in a pretty significant way and alienate us from the world and from one another, which I think becomes a huge problem.
Ryan McAnnally-Linz: So, I wonder if the question of patience here has to do with accelerating expectation and then when something doesn't meet the expectation--waiting isn't something to be expected. Does that resonate with you? Does that make any sense to you?
Andy Root: Yeah, it just feels like waiting in some ways can be perceived as an attack on the self. In a sense, I think what Rosa wants to say, which is very Charles Taylor-like, is that, "yes, these are structures that exist out there, but they also become embedded within you," like you become kind of part of it. So this acceleration is within you. So I find it really interesting to think about how much this kind of accelerated pace infuses guilt onto people. Like people feel guilty for not using their time right, for actually having to wait feels like a moral violation. People feel under a huge amount of guilt that they're not using their time the way that they should use their time. And they feel guilty not necessarily to a god outside of them or the law in some ways or something or the Torah, they feel guilty that they haven't curated the self that they could if they would have used their time better, if they would have acted in a better way. So yeah, like waiting can feel like almost like a moral failure. Like if you have to wait, you did something wrong and you're not really performing the self in a way or taking the opportunity to perform in the self in a way that would make you happy or fulfilled or something like that.
Ryan McAnnally-Linz: That's interesting. And then the outward-facing version of that is something like the anger that accompanies impatience with other people, right? Because if somebody is "making" you wait, they're taking away your possibility of using your time as well as you need to in order to keep up, in order to maximize the self that you're building, in order to be a good, authentic self-builder. They're taking that away from you. And so the kind of lashing out is a natural response. It's an understandable if somewhat disordered response to that sort of experience.
Andy Root: Yeah. We know this if we're teaching a class or just giving a presentation that when you're in a kind of performative mode and all of a sudden someone interrupts you--I just think about this in like a class, when you're in the middle of a big point and then some student raises their hand and interrupts you for something that you feel like shouldn't be interrupted for, you get angry at that student because they like have totally interrupted the flow of your performance. And I think that can happen as well in larger society is that to force me to wait is to block me from this continued acceleration to perform the self in a way that at least I feel good about myself in what I'm doing, that I feel like I'm on top of it. And now it's not just that you're even an inconvenience, or maybe that you're almost like a revelation beckoning me into an awareness of something else, you're just someone who has come on stage of my life in an unwelcomed way. And you're just totally screwing up my flow here, man. You become an object that I just want to extract, not an interruption that might call me to something else. I think there's a deep tendency within that.
And I know for myself when I'm really feeling the acceleration of time, like when I'm trying to get through the airport, like after 12 hours of traveling, I become the biggest jerk in the world. And like anyone who's walking in front of me should like, "get the bleep out of my way!" And there is a kind of sense that my humanity is worn down. All of my character and virtues are worn down by the acceleration through space and the travel industry that anyone who is forcing me to be patient, all of a sudden there's almost a move towards violence towards them. Like you just want to shake them or scream at them. Hopefully right now, societaly, that's still not appropriate, but I guess you spend time in New York City and it's more and more appropriate to do those things.
Ryan McAnnally-Linz: Your way of describing that--it is hard in my experience with being a parent who has spent some time working from home this last year with kids around some of the time, and that kind of interruption in a flow that needs to keep pace despite the conditions that are opposed to that these days.
Andy Root: But it's so real, especially like when you feel a deadline, so you feel the crunch of time and then your child comes up to you and has a big question. And you're like, I don't have time for these questions. I just have to get this done. Yeah. I totally feel it. It's totally real.
Ryan McAnnally-Linz: So when I teach undergraduates at Yale, as I do sometimes, we talk about what's Yale's vision of a good life, of a life worth living, and they without fail identify one facet of it being a busy life. Busyness is an indicator of a good life. And I was wondering if you have any insights: how do certain people, certain social spaces possibly come to think of busyness as convertible with fullness of life.
Andy Root: Yeah. And I try to talk about this in the book a little bit, and particularly in the kind of framework of the congregation, because I do think at least within Protestantism, we have this kind of assumption, maybe for the last three decades or so, that if your church is going to compete in a competitive religious marketplace, it has to be busy. And maybe it's more tacit than explicit, but there is this kind of sense that like the busy church will be able to attract busy people.
I do think that there is this connection where one of the ways of feeling like life is full is to feel busy because when you're busy, it feels like you have reach into the world. It feels like I have so much going on. And it's just a weird way we talk to each other, like, especially in academia and you're like, "Hey, how are you?" you're like, "I'm good. I'm busy. I'm good." And they both communicate something, like "I'm doing good, but I'm busy," and then in some sense that is correlated with the goodness of--my life is going good because I'm busy. And in a lot of fields, but particularly in academia, the response of, "yeah, things are good. I have really nothing to do and I have so much space and I'm really not in demand. No one is really asking me to present papers or no editors asked me to write a chapter for a book." That can communicate that something's wrong in a lot of fields, but I think particularly in academia, that to say that I'm busy is to communicate that I'm in demand, that I'm reaching out into the world, that people want my performance of the self in some ways, that I'm performing well, because I'm busy. And because I'm in demand, I have some people looking at me or aware that I'm performing this. So busy-ness becomes, like you're saying, a measure of the good life.
But Rosa's point is that there's a corrosion to that as well, that soon undercuts. And I particularly tried to lay that out with the congregation. It seems empirical maybe that the busy congregation can attract busy people. But once you do that, you set yourself up to lose those busy people. Because when those busy people become too busy, they'll just disappear. Or when they actually find themselves in moments of suffering, when they're forced to wait because they have to figure out what's the diagnosis of the issue I have in my stomach or depression comes and it forces a slower pace. Those people tend not to stick around in busy churches. Again, it's more intuitive, but they assume this is a busy church for busy people and either for good or for ill, I'm no longer a busy person or the busyness has turned on me and has attacked me. And clearly I need to find some way to deal with what I'm dealing with and it's not there.
So there's a weird kind of way that I think in pastoral ministry and denominations think, "oh, the busy church is the church that's going to be okay." But actually it might undercut our ability to minister to the full humanity of people, especially when they find themselves attacked by time, or busyness turns on them and undercuts them, or just the finitude of their humanity demands that they have to slow down all of a sudden. A church with a huge calendar of programs and busy people doing everything, does it really have the time and patience to just sit with me in my fear in these moments? And does the liturgy and worship and discussion, can it really meet that or can't it?
And it'll be helpful if that was more explicit. I tend to think it's not explicit. It's just a felt reality and people all of a sudden find themselves like when things are going bad, I don't go to church. I just find myself alone in the midst of that. So busyness does give us an immediate kind of sense of living a full life, but it is a kind of a hollow fullness, I think, which is what this whole thing is about. It is stripping time of any of its sacred weight, so I can go fast. But then when you're forced to slow down a little bit, you realize that there's a kind of frightening hollowness to it.
Ryan McAnnally-Linz: What do you mean by stripping time of its sacred weight?
Andy Root: There is a kind of sense of stripping the depth of ritual out of time, just making this kind of busyness a sense of goodness. Living the good life and performing the self becomes something that's not embedded in moral traditions as much that take longer to learn to practice and do. If you are forced to slow down, sometimes you can feel yourself in the kind of echoes of the meaninglessness of time, or we wonder how do we get back to something sacred in time?
So our example of the child interrupting you, that could be a moment where there's a kind of sacredness in time, but you want to just move time faster. So if we could even have an unthought perspective that those kind of interruptions aren't filled with transcendence or those moments of kind of patiently waiting for something to encounter don't really deliver anything full and transcendent, then we can just move faster and say, "well, what really matters is how much I get done, or how much money I make, or how much I'm advancing, or how many degrees I have." And yeah, that does work until it doesn't work. And when it doesn't work, you're struck by a deep kind of hollowness of what is the meaning to the time of my life.
I think it is a kind of modern phenomenon to have a midlife crisis or a quarter-life crisis where you're like, "what has all my time been? I've done a lot of stuff, but what does it mean? Does it mean anything?" And so I guess that's what I kind of mean by the hollowing out of time that way.
Ryan McAnnally-Linz: So what's your alternative to the busy congregation?
Andy Root: Yeah. So this is the second prong of the roses stuff that I'm really, to be quite honest, still trying to figure out how to articulate well, and we're talking about patience. I think Rosa is helpful even in thinking about patience, because I think he would say to us, and I think this is what I would say to congregations is it's not just about slowing down, like patience is not necessarily just go slower. So usually, you think acceleration, the answer is let's do slow church, and let's do slow food, and then let's do slow walking the dog. Let's just have every phase of our lives go slow.
And I think I'm convinced with him that, yeah, that would help a little bit, but that really isn't necessarily the full answer. And what we need is this kind of second prong of his work is this kind of deep sense of resonance where we feel this sense of connection to something bigger than us, this reminder that there's even something outside of us, that beckons to be in relationship with us. So it's a complicated perspective and I find it really hard to actually articulate because it starts to feel kind of psychological mindfulness and that's not what he means. He's a sociologist. The temptation of the acceleration of time, and this really happens in the context of ministry, is to think about our pastoral actions or just even our actions within faith that they can so be co-opted by modernity's move to instrumentalize them to get more out of them.
And he thinks there is another form of action that doesn't instrumentalize relationships, which lives within them. So he draws from Erich Fromm--the having mode and the being mode of action and develops it in a really significant way. So for me, it's moving the congregation to think about what it would mean to be in the being mode and what it would mean to actually wait and particularly wait with one another, but wait for God. And what I think is really generative about Rosa's work is that waiting doesn't become the absence of something. I just feel like in late modernity, the enemy of all action is to have to be forced to wait. And it just seems boring. It seems unproductive. It seems like a waste. But I think what Rosa is telling us is that if we can have this form of action of what it means to be connected to something, of hear the world speak to us again, of feeling drawn into something, that's a kind of form of waiting that is really deeply generative and connects us to something. That's kind of what I want to go with this. It's to recover the kind of sacredness of time by remembering what it means to be a community that waits for God, the God who is God, which causes us, I think, to have to wait, and then really pastorally focuses on resonance as a significant moment.
Ryan, you probably have Disney+, right? Do you have Disney+? Am I putting on the spot?
Ryan McAnnally-Linz: I do.
Andy Root: Yeah. Okay, good. I don't know if I'm putting you on the spot good or bad. Like if you don't have it, what kind of parent are you? If you do have it, what kind of parents are you to have it?
Ryan McAnnally-Linz: It's not for the kids.
Andy Root: The reason I bring up Disney+ is because of the movie Soul. It Seems to me to be like exactly what Rosa is getting at. The protagonist of the story--the whole first part of it, he's trying to find his purpose. What's my purpose? What's my purpose? What's my purpose? And trying to rush to find it to such an extent that he can't even hear anyone else's story. He's not even really aware of people. He really wants to rehearse his story and what will make his life full, but he's not really interested in anyone else's, and that kind of awakening of this is to realize that it's really not even about finding your purpose--the gift of being connected to something, of being alive and what that's like, and how the world speaks to you and how other people connect to you.
And so I want congregations to move in that direction because we've had multiple decades of trying to be purpose-driven churches, whether we've used that or not. And it does have the effect of accelerating us to a point where it disconnects us from larger realities, like a God who continues to speak and move and calls us to wait and to be with one another.
Ryan McAnnally-Linz: You've used the language of connection and connection to something. And that raises something that for me has been a struggle in relating to Hartmut Rosa's thought. He has this idea of resonance as characteristic of the good life, but not every connection is a good connection. Not every feeling of being connected indicates a good thing, right? There's some intense resonance potentially happening at the Capitol on January 6th, right? So in what ways might churches offer forms of resonance and connection that are actually good rather than pernicious and how might we discern those?
Andy Root: Yeah, that's a great point because if you would've asked those people at the Capitol, what that experience was like, they were fused with raging life. They felt alive in a very diabolical, if not evil, way, they felt that. This has been a pretty common critique of his, that this also seems very idyllic. He is really clear that he thinks resonance is a dialectical reality. So it is necessitated on actual otherness being there and encountering otherness and it can happen through suffering. And you can have a kind of deep sense of resonance in those moments. So when I imagined this theologically or ministerially, what becomes important is like where Bonhoeffer becomes infused with this kind of reality where the community becomes an essential place for this kind of resonant reality, and particularly a community that is formed around the crucified Christ.
So a kind of Luther's theology of the cross in the sense of where these moments of confessed need that both give the gifts or beckon the call to minister to one another becomes a kind of concrete place that we would call that resonance. And when people feel like someone was really there for them, they would feel like they're connected to something.
I think of a story where I interviewed a woman and she said the time that I knew God was really near to me is that my father had died and I had to fly back to prepare his funeral. And I just sat at the gate and I rushed to the gate and I had got there and I realized I was on time. I thought I was late. I sat down and then it all hit me and I just started bawling and crying. And this stranger came and sat next to me, didn't say a word and just put his hand on my shoulder and just sat with me until it was my time to board and I got on the plane. And she said, "I just felt like that God was there in the midst of that." And there's a sense of receiving this act of being with and being for, of actually holding up the other person's being in sharing in their life.
And then you could ask-- others will tell you the time that I'm a school teacher. And I sat with this girl whose parents were going through a divorce. And I just had this sense that I was connected to her in a way. And I felt like God was using me. So for me, that becomes a kind of dynamic and Luther's theology of the cross is I think this hermeneutics that calls the church to be aware that where there are places of brokenness and suffering, there also is the call to participate and be near. And that kind of action is a kind of resonance action, but it's embedded in this kind of dialectic of calling a thing what it is, and being led into a deep form of relationship. And it's a relationship that actually is corrupted and becomes malformed if it becomes instrumentalized. If the person sitting next to that woman getting on the plane and thinks, "I want to sit with her and I'm going to be there for a while because right before she gets on the plane, I want to give her my business card so that I can set up a time to talk to her because I'd like to sell her this." All of a sudden that action becomes complete problematic, but when it is really just to be with her and to share in this moment, that's not necessarily a happy moment the way she would articulate it. Probably the way the person would articulate is they feel caught up into something; they feel connected to something that takes them deeper into the world, but also gives them a vision that we would call, in some sense, transcendent, or is full, is bigger than that. So, yeah, I think that is the struggle with it because resonance does sound like it's a little bit utopian or idealistic, and at least the way I want to imagine it is how do we have communities that can be places where we give and receive ministry in that kind of way.
Ryan McAnnally-Linz: Yeah, I'm reminded of the Pauline or maybe Deutero-Pauline language of bearing with one another in weakness. And I think it would be reasonable to add pain and suffering and things of that sort. I wonder, is that different from using your time well? Like what's the experience of time in that kind of presence in the mode of ministry or being ministered to?
Andy Root: Yeah, I think to me it does change time. In some sense, if I really get pulled into those moments and really encounter someone's personhood in this way, it actually, in some ways, judges my time. The other things that I feel like are pushing me, all of a sudden are pushed to the side and I'm just in this moment. And then I think it does make time full. I think of like a good conversation. When you're in a good conversation, you can feel exhausted or tired after it, like, "Oh my gosh, it's 2 in the morning; we've been talking forever." But you also feel like you've received something as you've given something, and sometimes you don't even know. "Oh my gosh, we've been talking for two hours. I had no idea." And so I do think it changes our engagement or changes our perception, maybe even our direct kind of experience of time in that way, because it does demand that I put down other accelerated goals to just be with and be for you, and just to participate in this event of us encountering each other. So maybe it's a kind of an eventful time that is, I think, different.
Ryan McAnnally-Linz: Okay, let me play devil's advocate a little bit and say: how is that any different from flow, which is at some level the perfect use of one's time?
Andy Root: I do think that there's a correlation in some sense with flow. I don't want to minimize the fact that when people feel like they get drawn into the zone or they're in a moment of artistic creation or something, and time starts to feel different or they feel pulled into that. I don't want to minimize that experience. And I do think that experience is an experience of resonance in a certain way. Now, does it reach as far as theologically as we want to and how we would name it? I don't know if it does and it can easily become co-opted and we can get books on how to enter yourself into flow. But that also seems a little bit market driven as that points to something that might be true, but also co-opting it. I think the best artists don't really want to think too much about how they get in that space. It just happens or it doesn't happen. And you're more like a mystic. You just enter into it and wait and see what will happen. And you trust these practices, but sometimes your mind wanders all over the place. So I do think there's a kind of correlation to flow. I think that's worth reflecting on, but I would want give it a deeper kind of theological perspective. And I do think that Rosa's sense of the dialectic could allow us also to judge experiences of flow, that certain experiences of flow could be used to perform the self in such a way that they turn the self in on itself and make the self a very uninterested self. But again, like Rosa would want to say, and I agree that true forms of resonance always lead us into a kind of movement towards otherness in one way or another, whether it's the world that is other or the art form that is other. For me what's most dynamic theologically is the other human person becomes significant.
Ryan McAnnally-Linz: Well, Andy, thank you so much. I think the significance of the other human person is a good place to land this because it's precisely in those interactions that questions of patience and inpatience really come to a head, I think. Thank you. I feel like I've learned a lot in this conversation.
Andy Root: It's been great. Thanks Ryan.
Ryan McAnnally-Linz: Thanks for listening today. We'll be back next week with theologian, Kathryn Tanner, to talk about how the economic pressures of work, money, debt, and risk make impatience seem inevitable, even desirable. Oh, and just in case you're curious, the four-year-old did eventually put those socks on.
Evan Rosa: For the Life of the World is a production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School. This episode featured theologians, Andrew Root and Ryan McAnnally-Linz. Production assistance by Martin Chan and Nathan Jowers. I'm Evan Rosa and I edited and produced the show. For more information, visit us online at faith.yale.edu. New episodes drop every Saturday with the occasional midweek. If you're new to the show, so glad that you found us. Remember to hit subscribe, so you don't miss any episodes. And if you've been listening for a while, thank you, friends. If you're liking what you're hearing, I've got a request. Would you support us? It's pretty simple, really, and won't take much time. Here are some ideas:
First, you can hit the share button for this episode in your app and send a text or email to a friend, share it to your social feed. Second, you could give us an honest rating on Apple Podcasts. How are we really doing? Finally, you could write a short review of the show in Apple Podcasts. Reviews are cool because they'll help like-minded people get an idea for what we're all about, and what's most meaningful to you, our listeners. Thanks for listening today, friends. We'll be back with more this coming week.