In praise of bores and boredom


G.K. Chesterton wrote that “there is no such thing as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person”[1]

From a thoroughly Christian perspective everything that exists is poetical; for everything was spoken into existence by the creative Word of God and continues in existence solely through his sustaining Word.

He (Jesus) is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact likeness of His being,

and He holds everything together by His powerful word. (Hebrews 1:3 ISV)

All that we see and are is therefore God’s love poem. Through the universe God makes poetic expression of His divine nature of Love.

Thus even the most mundane things have at their heart an inexpressible mystery and poetry. Indeed it is an ability to see this hidden reality that is the beating heart of every true theologian and artist. Theology, art, and poetry, at their best, reveal to us the beauty, poetry, and mystery that surrounds us but that we have lost the ability to see.

To paraphrase Chesterton,

“All these things were given to you poetical;

it is only by long effort that you have made them prosaic”[2]

A bore therefore is stronger and more joyous than the bored – for the bore finds joy and exultation in the prosaic. In his subject of interest the bore sees something of the divine spark; something that the bored cannot perceive.

It is therefore the bored who are to be pitied – for it is they who are blind and insensate to the very thumbprint of God before their eyes.

In contrast the bore is god-like;

“For it is the gods who do not tire of the iteration of things;

to them the nightfall is always new,

and the last rose as red as the first.”[3]

It is a fact of history that Christian faith – a personal encounter with the Risen Christ – almost always opens up a human soul to the mystical reality of the created world, enabling a person to encounter the poetic in the prosaic, the divine in the day to day. George Wade Robinson summed up this experience magnificently in his hymn,

Heav’n above is softer blue,

Earth around is sweeter green!

Something lives in every hue

Christless eyes have never seen;

Birds with gladder songs o’erflow,

Flowers with deeper beauties shine,

Since I know, as now I know,

I am His, and He is mine.[4]

As we encounter the Risen Christ, turn to Him in faith, and receive His Spirit who comes to dwell in us;

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:15-17, ESV)

One of the effects of the experience of the in-dwelling Spirit is to have our spiritual eyes and ears progressively opened – which enable us to perceive the Divine ever more clearly. One expression of this is learning to see, and to respond in worship to, the hand of the Creator made visible in His creation.

Some forms of Christian spirituality even major on this aspect of faith. Franciscan spirituality and Celtic spirituality are both very strong in this regard; teaching and training the Christian to encounter the Creator though His creation.

The next time that you find someone boring, or that you feel bored, try remembering that the fault lies in you and open yourself to see the poetry that surrounds you.

[1] G.K. Chesterton, Heretics, p17

[2] ibid., p19

[3] ibid., p18

[4] George Wade Robinson, ‘Loved with Everlasting Love’, 1876