The geek world was sad to learn last week that author Neil Gaiman is going to take about a six-month social media sabbatical. He will not be tweeting to his 1.8M followers, 500K Facebook friends, or 1.5M blog readers. Why?
He wants to get really bored.
"I'll be taking about six months off," he said, "a sabbatical from social media so I can concentrate on my day job: making things up."
There has been little sign that the output of the creator of The Sandman and American Gods has slowed since he took up blogging in 2001 or since he joined Twitter in 2008, in which time he has published award-winning novels such as Coraline in 2002, The Graveyard Book in 2009 and now The Ocean at the End of the Lane, out next week. He has also written two episodes of Dr Who.
Gaiman thanks his Twitter followers in his latest novel for helping him check the prices of sweets in the 1960s but confesses that he would have "written the book twice as fast" without them.
He says the problem isn't the amount of time spent using social media; it's how it spreads into every cranny of our existence.
"People ask me where I get my ideas from," he said, "and the answer is that the best way to come up with new ideas is to get really bored."
I have long been a vocal critic of the amount of work congregations expect their pastors to do. We say we want leaders, and then we make them act like managers. A 50+ hour work week for pastors is ridiculous and violates our vows to care for these servants. But worse, I think, is that by expecting our pastors to be so busy, we force them to violate one of their ordination vows:
Do you promise to serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love?
Borrowing from Gaiman, the only way to protect energy, intelligence, imagination, and love is to protect sabbath even more stridently. Creativity requires space.
And, yes, pastors are also guilty of not practicing sabbath, and it's damaging their health as well as their creativity. What do you say we all rise up and force these folks to take care of themselves? What do you say?