In Praise Of Slowness #1: The Idol Of Hurry

There it sat on the bookshelves in our office/dining room/music studio. In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honoré.

My husband had read it months ago, loved it, and put it aside for me to read.


Maybe when I wasn’t so busy.

As I was packing my bags for a quick trip to California last week, I asked him what I should read.

He handed me In Praise of Slowness.

And so the journey began.

I know at least forty of you ordered Carl’s book. If you didn’t, don’t worry. I’ll try to use the book as much as possible in this blog series so anyone can follow along. If you want to order it now and jump in on future posts, here’s the link.

Honoré begins the book with his own personal experience of a life ruled by hurry and busyness. He’s a successful journalist running a million miles an hour and sees the article that actually inspired this book — a piece called “The One Minute Bedtime Story.” As a father of a toddler, he fully understands the idea to speed up bed-time so he can move on to his evening routine of more and more rush. As he hovers over the purchase button, wondering how quickly Amazon can ship him the book he’s struck with a thought:

“Have I gone completely insane?”

He continues,

“My whole life has turned into an exercise of hurry, in packing more and more into every hour. I am Scrooge with a stopwatch, obsessed with saving every last scrap of time, a minute here, a few seconds there…”

And he wonders why all of the world around us seems to be in such a rush; in the same “cult of speed” (a term I love).

He asks if it’s possible or even desirable to take time to slow down.

He’s clear about his message early on: he is not proposing a war against speed.

Instead, it’s taking a step back and looking at our love of speed – an addiction? An obsession?

An idol?

(Cue punch in the stomach…now).

Has hurry become an idol?

(Yes, please keep chewing on that morsel…tough, isn’t it?)

Honoré describes physical side effects of hurry and burnout (hey, wait, I wrote a book on some of this stuff too…) like insomnia, weight gain, headaches, poor diet, and lack of exercise.

He makes an interesting observation that the world’s fastest nations are also the fattest nations.

Other symptoms of this “busy idolatry” impact us socially.

We don’t look forward to things anymore.

We enjoy things too quickly, and the moment that we should be savoring is dismissed.

The word boredom hardly existed 150 years ago but now it’s one of our most common fears.

I know I’m afraid to be bored.

Afraid of what the silence brings.

Afraid I’m being lazy.

Or unproductive.

And therefore…worthless.

Something I’ve used hurry to medicate is my fear of becoming vulnerable in real community. If I’m busy, it leaves me no time to connect beyond a superficial level.

I’m afraid to really let people in, and so my calendar owns me, and it’s an easy way to cop out of relationships and make excuses.

Because really…who’s going to argue with a calendar?

Honoré quotes Milan Kundera,

“When things happen too fast, nobody can be certain about anything, about anything at all, not even about himself.”

(Insecurity much?)

If we’re insecure of ourselves, we can’t be who we truly are with others.

And so we, who are created for others, and others for us, slowly pass away into a time warp of busyness and hurry.

And we wonder why we’re lonely. And we think we’re completely stuck.

We think there’s no way out because life has to be this way.

And this is just the introduction to the book…!

Over the next few blog posts in this series, we’ll cover a few chapters at once, but this introduction was so rich, I felt it deserved a post of its own.

So, what say you? If you’ve read the book, what’s connected with you? If you’re following along on the blogs, does any of this ring true with you?

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by Anne Jackson
Anne Jackson is an author, speaker, and activist who lives in the Nashville area with her husband, Chris. Her book, Mad Church Disease – Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic (Zondervan) released in February 2009. Her next book, Permission to Speak Freely: Essays and Art on Fear, Confession and Grace (Thomas Nelson) will be released in August 2010.
This article was adapted from a blog post by Anne Jackson at
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