Archive for the 'amateurism' Category

Amateur Hour

September 23, 2011

I am cognizant of the fact that people have to make a living, but there is a tension between engaging in spiritual work and receiving money for it, I think.  Discussion of the issue of whether college athletes should be paid and what it means, or has meant, to be an amateur, may be kind of illuminating on this subject.

The idea, in the context of amateur sports, that “[t]he amateur ideal was a restraining code that emphasized fair play and honor” (David Brooks in his column today in the NYTimes, which is what I linked to above) recalls to my mind that there is a different dynamic in spiritual work when one’s means of support comes from elsewhere.  Maybe it’s that we are more of the non-material world if that work remains unconnected to receiving money in return, and that we can understand and hence communicate better to others what we hear.  I don’t know for sure, and since there’s no convent that is affiliated with my somewhat idiosyncratic set of spiritual beliefs for me to apply to, I’ve basically muddled along on my own.  I am respectful of the fact that others have a different sense of how to strike a balance in their own lives between their spiritual work and their earning a living, and I believe that they are in the best position to know what that is for them.  But what I have always heard for myself has been to keep the two realms (work for pay and spiritual work) separate, and I’m thinking today that maybe it has to do with helping keep accessible to me whatever “restraining code” I am supposed to be internalizing and modeling through my own life.

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