Time Management According to Michael J. Fox, William Shatner, and Twelfth Century Monks

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kathleen Turner, Michael J. Fox, and William Shatner have all done it in movies. Though not with each other. In hot tubs, space ships, funky machines, and DeLoreans, among others.

No, I’m not talking about sex. I’m talking about time travel. Time travel stories are an extremely successful movie and book genre.

Mark Twain wrote one, “Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” is a classic children’s book. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. wrote a time travel story that is a classic novel, no matter the genre: “Slaughterhouse-Five.” And Audrey Niffenegger’s “The Time Traveler’s Wife” was a New York Times bestseller.

Time is a Trap

Apparently I’m not alone in feeling time is a trap that must be escaped, warped, changed, or messed with. Ominous clocks tick down the minutes, seconds, and now, nano-seconds of our lives. They flash at us red and angry from contraptions in every room of our houses. They demand we not be a minute late and hold fearsome deadlines against us. And, as from all bullies, we yearn for release.

The Gift of Kairos

Once upon a time, however, most people viewed the passing of time from day to night and night to day as a logical, good rhythm to live by. A gift. Sleep and waking, planting and harvest, birth and death flowed as a smooth river through every person’s life. Some called this “kairos,” “the appointed time in the purpose of God.” Life was seen as a whole not an ugly patchwork of disembodied seconds, minutes, and hours. It was created this way.

Chronos: A Tyrant is Born

Until some German monks in the middle ages invented mechanical clocks designed to mark the passing of an hour.

But mechanical clocks were not intended to be the digitized oppressors they’ve become. Rather, these 12th century monks invented “glockes,” a bell that rang out regularly, to remind the monks to seek God through prayer, stillness, and meditation. Originally glockes marked kairos. The bells drew attention to the ever-present God in whom we live and move and breathe. The glocke was intended to remind us of the rhythm of life: eat, pray, work, pray, eat, make love, pray, work, read, sleep, pray, eat, watch, pray, play, work, sleep. Time was seen as something to live within–not to escape–and, more so, to live spiritually within, according to a spiritual rhythm.

Unfortunately that time is long past. Oh, to enter one of those fictional time machines and travel back to natural time keepers such as sun and shadows, and growth and death. These marked time with a huge sweep of the hand. Now we are ruled by chronos, the segmenting of time. As the Greek myth reads, Chronos then wrapped its serpentine tail around the world and split it apart.

7 Minutes with Who?

Even in our spiritual lives chronos has become our god by dividing and conquering. We worship one day a week for an hour, sharp. If that. A popular book of the chronos age called “7 Minutes With God: Daily Devotions for a Deeper Relationship” advocates a precise, agenda driven appointment with God. Imagine saying to someone you love, “Hurry. We’ve got seven minutes.”

Can God fit in an hour much less 7 minutes? Since living spiritually is about deepening our relationships with God, be warned. It will take longer than 7 minutes.

Need I say it? Time, as marked by inhuman and unforgiving glockes, has become our master, our god. And not a god of mercy or grace.

Jesus, King of Kairos

Yet, Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Today Jesus might say it this way, “Time was made for people, not people made for time.” Jesus never consulted a clock. And Jesus proved time need not be a tyrant, that oppressors, even inanimate ones, can and should be thrown off.

Living spiritually, it seems to me, calls us to travel back in time when we walked in the fulness of the gift of kairos. Free. But we don’t need any crazy machines to get there. We can simply–once again–grab time by the tail and use it to call our attention away from the finite and toward a timeless infinite God.

Kairos lives!

Eugene C. Scott loves watches and clocks. His two watches of his father’s are his favorites. But ticking clocks drive him crazy. He also hates to be late, though it does happen. You can join the Living Spiritually community by following this blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.

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10 responses to “Time Management According to Michael J. Fox, William Shatner, and Twelfth Century Monks

  1. Great blog, Eugene. Knowing that I tend to be driven by agendas and time schedules, this is a timely word!

  2. Georgie-ann

    (btw, in title: Shanter = Shatner)

    Infuse your “time” with love & contemplation, and you’ll be able to “redeem” some of it,… and maybe even “change the pace”,…

    Ephesians 5 (edited)

    1 “Be … followers of God, … 2 And walk in love, … 15 … walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 … be … not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 … be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    The demanding and exacting essence of Chronos causes us to easily spin into a subliminal fear, even panic, pushing and rushing in momentarily occurring segments throughout our days, lurching us into a higher rev than is normal, and depleting our “life substance” in subtle but ongoing ways,… we call it “stress”,… we feel “drained”/strained/sold-out,… we have a hard time falling asleep at night,… our calm sense of well-being is under attack,… it leaks,… it is pinched, twisted, diverted, crammed and jammed into ever more compressed and demanding situations,… we are “whipped” by our circumstances, and we even “whip” others with our own resulting “needs” and expectations and contagious frustrations,… In the long run, coffee doesn’t really help as much as we think it does, but we drink it up anyway,… The more we achieve, often, the greater the demands we may ultimately face,… The more the “outer world” beckons and commands our attention, the less personal ministry and nourishing do we provide for our “inner life,”… “The System”, at face value, seems “lacking”, maybe even “sick”,… but do we have any choices in the matter?,… will “just breathe” be enough?,…

    Depending on our circumstances, we might wish to outwardly rearrange a whole lot of things, but we are unable to do so,… In the short run, we always have many outer needs to meet and fulfill, that present their own parameters and demands for our “time and energy” to supply,…

    At first, the “lures” and attraction and challenges presented “by the world” can be very stimulating,… we might be very inclined to “pile it all on”,… explore, learn, taste, savor,… but the passing of time also brings with it the “where am I going?” nitty-gritty reflecting questions about life and about our personal existence and significance,… Too much time spent trolling in the “fast lanes” and invested solely in outer opportunities (which eventually morph into demands), may finally leave us “tired” and depleted in many ways,… Some find this to be so, sooner rather than later,…

    Earthly “time” may eventually be experienced somewhere on a continuum from “slow and boring” to “hum drum” to “driven and manic”,… and usually we are not very “happy” (or content) whether it drags or races, taking us right along with it,… But, if we “stop” the automatic momentum, and invite a little Heaven, a little Eternity, to come in, to infuse and “fill” us and our passages of time, often very miraculous things will occur that change the dynamics of how we experience everything,…

    The biblical images of streams of “living waters” flowing into the desert come to mind in this regard:

    Isaiah 35:6 “Then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”

    Jeremiah 2:13 “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the Fountain of living waters, and they have hewn for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns which cannot hold water”

    Jeremiah 17:13 “O Lord, the Hope of Israel, all who forsake You shall be put to shame. They who depart from You and me [Your prophet] shall [disappear like] writing upon the ground, because they have forsaken the Lord, the Fountain of living waters.”

    John 4:10,11
    10 “Jesus answered her, ‘If you had only known and had recognized God’s gift and Who this is that is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink’, you would have asked Him [instead] and He would have given you living water.’
    11 “She said to Him, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with [no drawing bucket] and the well is deep; how then can You provide living water? [Where do You get Your living water?]'”

    John 7:38 “He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] as the Scripture has said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs and rivers of living water.'”

    Song of Solomon 4:15 “You are a fountain [springing up] in a garden, a well of living waters, and flowing streams from Lebanon.”

    • Georgie-ann:

      Redeeming time! I like that idea. Eugene

      • Georgie-ann

        I think what I’m basically thinking about is, that we are much freer than we often realize, to “start our own conversation” with life. When it would be quite “normal” to notice the down mood everyone else seems to be walking around in, or the depressed rainy day, or the agitated rudeness prevailing, or the closed avoidant expressions, or the desperation, etc. etc.,… instead of just automatically “joining in” and simultaneously becoming one more indistinguishable pawn in the currently prevailing automatic social mood conspiracy, we can actually program ourselves, (“planning ahead”), to be more self-activating and purposeful about how we would like to interact with, or counteract, the automatic pace,… (at least within ourselves),…

        Going along with it is pretty much a default option in which we can “hide” ourselves, and sometimes this is comfortable enough or even expedient,… but if all we ever do is “blend in” (conform) with the crowd, we’re ultimately not going to be accomplishing very much,… for ourselves, or anyone else,…

        A little “inspired” personal vision that will give us a self-activated “role to play,” in acted-out kindness, always politely done, is actually also personally empowering,… so much so, that we may find that in decreasing passivity, we end up increasing our resistance to getting “caught up” in the uglier options and debacles that will also present themselves, from time to time,… “water off a duck’s back,”… a small path to increase “inner peace” and personal wholeness, that may also simultaneously bless the world,…

  3. Georgie-ann

    Just purposing in your heart to choose to do “good” in a bad world, no matter how simply, is very effective in making a “being” statement with your presence, and helps to “redeem (and transform) the time.” Expressing kindness to a stranger who might need a hand,… not taking offense at the automatic rudeness of others (on and off the road!). Lately, one of my favorites is to not walk my shopping cart back to the station where I can retrieve a quarter that I initially had to put in, but to wait and offer my cart “free” to a new shopper just coming in and getting out of their car,… It’s a “no brainer” as far as I’m concerned, but you wouldn’t believe how many people are really surprised and blessed to be offered a cart,… just one less little annoying hassle in life, I guess!,… & it’s fun to “break the mold” and keep things interesting!

    • Georgie-ann

      Narcissism has become a pretty common topic these days,… People look at it in terms of personality types and/or disorders, how it affects relationships, romance, cultural trends, even politics,… It seems to “pop up” or suddenly “be discovered” as a revealing explanation for a heretofore disguised (but sensed) problem:

      “Ah ha!,… so & so is a Narcissist,… well, that explains everything,… & I hear it’s an incorrigible condition, as well as pretty much incurable,… you’re only choice is whether or not you wish to remain its victim, and continue “taking” the inevitable abuse you will be receiving as you play along with its game,… which is never about you, and always about them,…never about actual reality, but about a deceptive and psychologically personally scripted show/performance they are putting on and starring in,…”

      Every once in awhile satan gets a nod as being the arch-Narcissist,… It has just occurred to me that, of course, the whole “spirit of the world” thing is also very narcissistic, incorrigible and incurable,… The world is always our “false lover”: luring us with promises promises, come-ons galore, lies, power plays, manipulation, distraction,… no wonder that “time,” as pressed upon us as a function and property governed by the demands of the “spirit of this world,” can weigh very heavily upon us,… it could even be “eating us alive!”,… (our problem then becomes one of self-preservation!),…

      The narcissistic false lover seeks to gain all attention for itself (himself or herself),… and is in perpetual competition to lock in the soul of the “other” for its own use (a good meal),… no wonder our very souls and life forces are at stake when we take chances with “the world’s ways,”….

      Mark 8:36 “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

      On the other hand, God is our most faithful and charitable lover,… We can redeem our time, — days, months, years, life — moment by moment, by remembering to bring the lover of our souls along with us for the journey,… (see Ephesians 5 above),… the competition is fierce, and we tend to be lulled and fall asleep,… all of a sudden we find ourselves drifting along with a mood or current we have no desire to be in!

      Ephesians 5:13-
      13 “But when anything is exposed and reproved by the light, it is made visible and clear; and where everything is visible and clear there is light.

      14 “Therefore He says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine (make day dawn) upon you and give you light.’

      15 “Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people),

      16 “Making the very most of (redeeming) the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil.”

  4. Very thought provoking post, Eugene. Thanks for making me think about time.

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