SPU's Day of Common Learning yesterday hosted Nicholas Wolterstorff, philosopher previously from Calvin College, now from Yale, to speak on "Beauty, Love, Worship, and Justice" (not necessarily in that order). In inimitable philosopher fashion, he boiled down those four words to measures of worth (and didn't even have to mention the low-hanging fruit that is the etymology of the word "worship" which INCLUDES the word "worth"!). We implicitly judge worth with spending in the four dimensions: in space (with money) and in time. Whether you like it or not. And we're limited in what we can give. It's easy to forget the worth of invisible things. Recent advertising, the realms of the visible, is tuned to trumpet the worth of the immediate, to make watching five more minutes of that show seem to be worth so much, when the silence of turning it off would be worth much more. I write this blog because it's worth it to react and record, and to make it public. The action of writing is the end, not the means.
I've served on lots of committees and boards lately where financial questions are asked, and as a globe we're asking financial questions, obviously. Those questions are directly related to Wolterstorff's talk, it's what I found myself thinking of as he spoke. What's a organ worth to the congregation of the church if it only gets played twice a month? What's worship worth? What's a playground worth? General education requirements? An expensive instrument for a new class? A conference in Switzerland? A time investment in a Sunday class about Acts, what's that worth?
What will you give in exchange for your soul? What's that worth?
And then there's the time you respond to those questions in love, under material limits to be sure, but with the gratitude of being able to do any of it. Love is the most expensive thing in the world. Costly, yes -- but free.