Review: In praise of slow

“Swifter, Higher, Stronger” is the official motto of the Olympic Games, and the unofficial motto of western life too, it seems. In his book, In praise of slow, Carl Honore catalogues the various attempts to resist this that are occurring around the world today. He explores the tyranny of speed and the benefits of “Slow” to food, cities, mind and body, medicine, sex, work, leisure, and raising children.

His concluding thoughts serve as a good summary:

The secret is balance: instead of doing everything faster, do everything at the right speed. Sometimes fast. Sometimes slow. Sometimes somewhere in between… The great benefit of slowing down is reclaiming the time and tranquillity to make meaningful connections – with people, with culture, with work, with nature, with our own minds and bodies.

I think the point he makes is a very helpful one, and in regards to how we work and raise children I think it is essential. Elsewhere he investigates fairly uncritically some spiritual practices that I would consider dangerous. The book feels like an overblown magazine feature article, so it tends to drag. This could be the author’s intention: to not allow his readers to rush to the conclusion but take their time, and let the lesson sink in.

One of the things I’m aware of is that as my relationship with God matures, He simply will not allow me to fit Him into my busy schedule. No healthy relationship is built purely around when you will accommodate another person. Psalm 46:10 is easy to quote glibly in this context but it deserves repeated consideration:

Be still and know that I am God.

As a church leader I find the busy-ness of church life frightening: our understanding of mission is so often shaped by doing more, rather than doing the few things you’re called to do really well. You can read a compelling Christian argument for living life at a better speed here, as Paul Tripp argues that “frenetic western-culture busyness” is the greatest hindrance to community in the American church.

Talking of “Swifter, Higher, Stronger”, here’s someone with clearly a lot of time (and ink) on their hands: