The Secret Of Heavenly Rest

Just a few years ago sociologists were predicting we would soon have more leisure time than we’d know what to do with. Testimony before a Senate subcommittee in 1967 maintained that by 1985 people would be working just 22hours a week.

There were good reasons for those confident predictions. Computers were crunching through month-long tasks in fractions of a second. And robots had begun to handle the grueling jobs of heavy industry.

But after the computers have been whirring and the satellites spinning and the automation automating—we’re more out of breath than ever. As a Manhattan architect put it: “Technology is increasing the heartbeat.”

People are running out of time these days. For example, between 1967 and 1985 the amount of leisure time enjoyed by the average American shrunk 37 percent, and more than 40 percent of American workers put in more than 40 hours a week. Nearly 20 percent had second jobs. And that trend has continued to the present.

Above all, families are running out of time. Husbands and wives communicate more and more through the answering machine. It’s hard to schedule “quality time” with the kids, much less with each other.

One mother of a 14-year-old discovered her daughter had contracted a sexually transmitted disease. The news was quite a blow, but her response was to confide to a friend: “I know she has too much freedom, but I can’t give up my social life to watch her all the time.”

Priorities upside down. Time running out.

One study in a small U.S. community showed that the average time per day that fathers spent alone with their very young sons was—37 seconds! Families are out of time and out of touch. How can we slow down enough to get in touch again?