anti-telos ~ 2marO?

Russell Minick 2 Comments

One of the reasons I am fascinated with “telos” is that I don’t “telos” well.  Telos is the Greek word used for completion.  It is used of maturity in general, all the way to very specific things like death and taxes (literally).  

To telos is to get things done.  But I often don’t.  An article on 99% (referring to work ethic, not income ranking) notes that admission of problems with procrastination is up from 5% to over 25% since the 1970’s.  But that’s not my fault; I was part of the 5% of procrastinators even back then.

Psychology Today has an article on types of procrastination.  The cool one is the adrenaline driven motivation.  Like a bull fighter, sorta.  “Wait, wait, wait… swoosh!”  Thrilling.  Uhmmm, that’s not me.  I’ve done running with the bulls in Spain, so adrenaline rush, yeah.  But I don’t get that from failing to complete tasks.  I just get that queasy feeling one gets when watching someone else fight bulls.
Another theory is fear of success.  If I were to get things done on time I would be awesome and that would make me lonely.  I’d like to believe that.  I’m holding back so I can hang back with the herd.  Sorta like my daughter thanking me for running slowly during the charity 5k so I could be with her.  Actually I’m heavy and slow and wasn’t being generous.  I enjoyed the time, but I wasn’t holding back.  This really is my current pace.
So what about the bad self-image one?  There is something suspicious about that one.  Maybe it is a trick category by psychologists to convince you to go see a psychologist.  But then again, if the shoe fits; and its yours; and you can’t go barefoot; and you need to go somewhere….
This actually links to the final idea: perfectionism.  That form of procrastination is almost being able to see what ought to be, and then despairing for what is.  The feeling is like trying to learn a flight simulator and lifting too quickly, only to plunge, which ironically refreshes gusto, which leads to a sudden effort at lift, only for it to be too much which leads to plunging… makes me queasy again.
Somehow the lifting HOPE of perfection needs to be modulated by the force of plunging despair looking back at FAITH.  The reality of sin, failure, horror, ugliness, confusion, etc. is the essence of faith.  That is what happened to Habakuk.  His lift toward HOPE, that YHWH would save his covenant people, stalled when the invasion was imminent.  He frantically challenged God on the ruin of a perfect theological understanding.  God then plunged Habakuk into a vision of wildness, evil, suffering, punishing justice, chaos, power, madness… and Habakuk felt lift.  Heart thumping he leveled up and said:

When I heard it, my stomach did flips.
   I stammered and stuttered.
My bones turned to water.
   I staggered and stumbled.
I sit back and wait for Doomsday
   to descend on our attackers.
 Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
   and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
   and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
   and the cattle barns empty,
I’m singing joyful praise to God.
   I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,
   I take heart and gain strength.
I run like a deer.
   I feel like I’m king of the mountain!
   (For congregational use, with a full orchestra.)
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Comments 2

  1. Thanks! I've been putting off work on my paper with a fit of procrastination by catching up on emails/facebook/blogs. Your words spoke to me and I'm really glad that I stumbled over this since it has encouraged me to do my task RIGHT NOW without fear and in a spirit of humility. Ta!

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