Some time ago, my wife showed me an article in Maclean’s dealing with the plight of “Scrapbook Widowers”—Men who have been “abandoned” by their spouses for their border-line obsession with the hobby of scrapbooking. The article itself is a great read, although a bit frightening. The amount of money that is poured into the craft (now a multi-billion dollar industry) is astronomical and I had no idea there were scrapbooking cruises and craft fairs. I can’t imagine looking at different kinds of paper, glue, and stickers for more than a few minutes, let alone days.
I guess that says a lot about my interest in crafts, doesn’t it?
My being creeped-out aside, we did have a great opportunity to discuss the importance of hobbies – specifically, when does our enjoyment of anything go too far and take the place of ultimate desire in our lives?
I don’t have to tell you about the different directions we’re being pulled in, the demands we all have on our time, and how important it is to have a healthy release from these demands. We all get that; I don’t think anyone would argue to the contrary. Hobbies are fantastic. One of my favourite hobbies is reading.
Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows I love books. I love them more than college kids love bad pizza at four a.m. I have a stack of books on my night stand about a foot and a half high, on subjects varying from theology to crime-fiction. It’s awesome! When I see another book I’d like to read, I get giddy. When people ask me what I want for my birthday, the answer is simple: Books, check my Amazon wish list.
The holiday when I’m not sure why I’m getting a present? Books.
There’s nothing wrong with books by themselves, even the ones I don’t like; although, if I don’t like a book or author, I’m happy to tell you why.
In excruciating detail.
Books, scrapbooking, golf, whatever… With very few exceptions, no hobby is in itself a morally bad thing. At worst, a hobby is morally neutral. So how does a hobby, like scrapbooking, become the cause of great unrest? Is it simply a matter of balance, maintaining a proper amount of time for family, work, and fun? The short answer: No. Balance isn’t the issue; the issue is the desires of our hearts. The desires of our hearts captivate our thoughts, deeds and words. They are the objects of our affections; the things of first importance.
There’s another word for this: Idolatry.
Wait—Scrapbooking is idolatry? Reading is idolatry? I thought hobbies were morally neutral? They are.
The Random House Unabridged dictionary defines idolatry as excessive or blind adoration, reverence, devotion to some thing. Our attitudes toward our hobbies that can take a neutral or good thing and make it, for all intents and purposes, a god. Our hobbies can displace Jesus as our Savior, and become the things that we look to for salvation: A round of golf will save me from having to deal with my family. Completing the next page in my scrapbook will make me happy. Finishing the next book on the pile will expand my massive intellect that much more and make me a more awesome.
We look to a round of golf, or completing the next page in our scrapbook, or finishing the next book on the pile as our source of joy, instead of looking to Jesus for that joy. We take our preferences and put them above Him.
Think about it: How many guys can rhyme off the career stats of their favourite football player, but can’t tell you a thing about their children’s interests, their wives’ eye colour, or tell you a thing about the Gospel? How many women can one-up the other moms indefinitely, recounting their child’s every accomplishment, no matter how minor, but can’t tell you why their faith is important?
What do our lives say about who we worship?