There’s a wonderful review essay in Commonweal meditating on this mystery. Jonathan Malesic compares Aquinas’s work compulsion with the contemporary cult of productivity. Aquinas is, he argues, the patron saint of burnout….

Malesic proposes burnout as the answer to the Aquinas conundrum, in contrast to the traditional view that Thomas had a vision and suddenly realized the pointlessness of it all. But I don’t see the two theories as mutually exclusive, and perhaps that’s because I’ve always loved the original explanation.

  • The Guardian‘s Oliver Burkeman responded to my New Republic essay on parenting as “work” in a column titled, “Don’t Treat Love or Leisure as a Job,” Sept. 1, 2017. From the column:

It’s hard to disagree with Malesic that, in an ideal world, we’d value all these interpersonal activities – and introduce policies permitting plenty of time for them – not because they’re jobs, but just because they matter. Things surely shouldn’t need to be work, and people shouldn’t need to be hard workers, in order to count.

Malesic’s argument is another useful reminder of the question to ask next time, and every time, someone tries to convince you to adopt some scheme to improve your personal productivity: productivity in the service of what, exactly?

  • Jesus Would Not Do Online Courses,” by Daniel Luzer in Washington Monthly, responds to my Chronicle of Higher Education essay about online courses in Catholic higher ed, Oct. 1, 2013.
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