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Catechesis in Contemporary Culture: The Heresy of Efficiency, Part 2
In the previous issue of The Sower (April 2009) we began to look at the writings of Dietrich von Hildebrand, and at his reflections on contemporary culture. His essay ‘Efficiency and Holiness’ speaks about the ‘heresy’ of efficiency. He argued that this involved a certain idolatry of work, especially of professional work. What did he mean? He saw this heresy present in the estimation that is often given to the realm of work, almost considering that it is here that we find the highest pinnacle of human life. Von Hildebrand does not mean in any way to demean the high dignity of work in man’s life, but rather sees the problem as one of shifting our understanding of man’s center of gravity away from the primary vocation to be a person, to that of our work and achievements. Where work is placed at the centre, the alternative we seek tends to be, not God, but amusement. And because this is not our true centre, other things become distorted as well. ‘Recreation’ and ‘relaxation’ become the label for all that is worth seeking apart from work. Von Hildebrand argued that we begin to approach the question of the good life simply in terms of amusement, so that any understanding of life’s real depth and dignity is frustrated. We neglect the spiritual, neglect the need for recollection. We let ourselves be distracted. How is this manifested in the realm of faith and catechesis?