Cultivate ‘a new aesthetic of slowness’

The 1830s. Trains are picking up speed. New technology is leading to new limits. But how fast is too fast? It becomes clear that the new trains can go an astounding 35 miles per hour! The opponents are quite alarmed. It was highly likely that a train traveling that fast would literally crush the bones of the passengers and so must be avoided at all costs. As historian Stephen Kern puts it, “New speeds have always brought out alarmists.” Kern goes further. He says concern about the effects of our speeded-up lives is also hysteria. “Technologies that promote speed are essentially good,” he said, adding that “the historical record is that humans have never, ever opted for slowness.”

But many of us disagree. Danny Hillis is the man who pioneered the conceptual design behind high-speed super-computers. He has no phobia about speed. But he warns that our obsession with speed does in fact hurt us. We become consumed with what’s happening right now and lose sight of what’s happening in the long run. He recommends cultivating what he calls “a new aesthetic of slowness.” To illustrate what that might look like he tells a story about how Oxford University replaced the gigantic oak beams in the ceiling of one of its dining halls. When the beams began to show signs of rotting, university officials were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to find lumber large and strong enough to replace them. But the university’s forester explained to them that, when the dining hall was built 500 years ago, their predecessors had planted a grove of oak tress so that the university could replace the beams when the time came. The trees needed were ready and waiting.

I like the idea of a “new aesthetic of slowness.”

We need one to build a wonderful, full life and have a relationship with our God. Psalm 46:10 says “Be still, and know that I am God.” In our increasingly fast lives our schedules become more and more full, with less time to simply sit and be with God. In fact, we increasingly feel guilty when we “indulge” in such a pleasure. We have lost sight of planting saplings that will one day grow, limb by limb, to a great forest.

One author tells of writing “prayer” in his calendar for the mornings but constantly rushing past it into the day. He finally gained a new aesthetic of slowness. In his calendar he replaced the word prayer with “meet with God.” This wasn’t merely another item. He slowed down and started keeping his appointment to talk with his Father.

It is just such a man who continues every day to build a fuller life. When he reaches his final days, the wonderful tree he has grown to become will be a testimony to the value of slowing down.

So by all means take a fast train or even faster plane. But start the day by going slow. Meet with your God. Grow.

Rick Cupp is Minister at the Kenai Fellowship; Wednesday meal at 6:16 p.m., worship at 7 p.m.; Sunday Bible classes for all ages 10:00 a.m.; Sunday coffee at 10:45 a.m.; worship at 11:15 a.m.

More in Life

Sierra Ferrell performs on the River Stage at Salmonfest in Ninilchik, Alaska, on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Salmonfest returns Aug. 2-4 for ‘musically infused family reunion’

The three-day event will feature art, festivities and an array of performers

Gold Peak play the opening set of the Seventh Annual Rock’N the Ranch at the Rusty Ravin on Friday, July 7, 2023, at Rusty Ravin Plant Ranch in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Gold Peak play the opening set of the Seventh Annual Rock’N the Ranch at the Rusty Ravin on Friday, July 7, 2023, at Rusty Ravin Plant Ranch in Kenai. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Music fest returns to RustyRavin

The annual nonprofit music festival is a fundraiser for Nuk’it’un, a transitional home for men

Lisa Parker, vice mayor of Soldotna, celebrates after throwing the ceremonial first pitch before a game between the Peninsula Oilers and the Mat-Su Miners on Tuesday, July 4, 2023, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
King of the River food drive extended, Kenai takes lead

The winning city’s mayor will throw the opening pitch at a Peninsula Oilers game

Chickpea lentil and spinach curry is served with rice and yogurt. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Finding comfort in memories

I believe that houses hold memories, and I hope the memory of our time there comforts it during its final, painful days.

Getting creative with camping

Making healthy, diverse meals while outdoors takes some planning

James Franklin Bush was arrested and jailed for vagrancy and contributing to the delinquency of minors in California in 1960, about a year before the murder in Soldotna of Jack Griffiths. (Public document from
A violent season — Part 4

James Franklin “Jim” Bush stood accused of the Soldotna murder of Jack Griffiths in October 1961

Will Morrow (courtesy)
Hard to say goodbye

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’ve been perfectly happy with my 14-year-old, base model pickup truck.

Minister’s Message: Faith will lead to God’s abundance

Abundance is in many aspects of our lives, some good and some not.

Most Read