Thursday, November 3, 2011

Time Isn't Money

Wendell Berry's book The Unsettling of America is a virulent attack against the rising tide of commercialized agriculture. But, it's filled with thoughtful and general remarks about American culture. For Berry, of course, an agricultural crisis is a crisis of deeper proportions. It is a crisis of American character and it is a crisis that is spawned by the degradation of our society as a whole.

In one of his essays Berry takes aim at the common slogan, "time is money". As I read his small paragraph devoted to debunking this myth I thought of all the times that phrase had been barked at me. "John, hurry up, we don't have all day, time is money". "John! c'mon man, you should've been done with that an hour ago, time is money". What's the problem with that? It's true isn't it? The longer it takes to do a specific task, that is paid for by a pre-determined price means that the money that is being paid per unit of measuring time (seconds, minutes, hours etc.) lessens. Baloney! Wendell Berry would say. Sure, if all you are thinking about is the mathematical formula between the given number of money and the allotted amount of time to make that money, time is money. But time is not money. It is so much more. A dying man wants more time, he doesn't want more money. He wouldn't trade a week as a millionaire for fifty more years as a pauper. Time isn't money because not all of our time makes money, thank God. And, as we can all attest our most valuable time rarely makes any money at all.

Berry goes on to connect this slogan with the idea that, "people are money". It isn't difficult to map out the connection once you play a scene out in your head in which the phrase above would be said. If a boss tells his worker, "time is money, hustle up", he is essentially saying, "all you are is money, hustle up".

Unlike money, time is something that can be redeemed (Eph. 5:16 check the Greek not the ESV). We aren't mere stewards of time, we are its participants. In it we live and move and have our being. In it we perform acts that money cannot buy. In it loving acts are performed on us that money cannot buy. Time's value is unquantifiable. A novel can be bought, but it takes time to read it. Whiskey can be bought, but it takes friends made in time, and time itself to drink it with. Love cannot be bought, and it takes time to make it, and to share it.


P.D. said...

you seen this?

John Paulling said...

No... wild.

Jon Furst said...

Good post, John. I especially like that last paragraph.

Administrator said...

Proofing this:

...time is something that can NOT be redeemed...

Which was intended?