Shortly before he was martyred with others in 203 AD, St. Saturus related a vision he had of heaven. He said he and the other martyrs were carried eastward to a garden, where a handful of angels started exclaiming, “Here they are! Here they are!
The martyrs were taken to a group of elders and an aged man with a youthful face. The martyrs kissed the aged man, and he touched their faces with his hand. Then the elders told them, “Go and play.”
Fr. James Schall understood why the martyrs were told to go and play.
In his book, On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs, Schall explored the unseriousness of serious human affairs and the seriousness of unserious human affairs.
Yes, it is a paradoxical book, but that’s only to be expected from Schall—he was a devoted fan of G.K. Chesterton, the master of paradox.
The book is basically a series of loosely-connected essays that revolve around a very basic question: How ought we to live our lives?
The book never offers an answer to the question, but it provides guidance in an array of areas, as evidenced by the book’s subtitle: “Teaching, Writing, Playing, Believing, Lecturing, Philosophizing, Singing, Dancing.”
To these I would add Writing and Receiving Letters, Watching Sporting Events, and Spending Time With Friends.
It’s a book lightly-written, laced with references to Charlie Brown and other cartoons, but deceptively heavy. I found myself inclined—almost forced—to pause after every section and think about Schall’s words. He never belabored a point and often made statements without going forward and offering additional conclusions, but rather pointed to the truth and invited the reader to think about implications.
Consider Schall’s observation about wasting time.
Amusement, Schall said, might be the great and ultimate end of mankind. Amusement, after all, … Read the rest