Neither studying microscopic sea creatures nor studying Shakespeare nor designing exquisite copes nor compiling medieval sequences will ever be practical in a direct, worldly sense. Yet these are the small (and large) disciplines of life in community that must be sustained if we are ever to be an integral whole.
Sure, we should feed the hungry and clothe the naked and comfort the afflicted. We must do those things, and woe to us if our peculiar competencies are merely a distraction from doing so.
But I submit that true vocation, true work, is not, when seriously done, a distraction from something more important. It is the important thing, the human thing, that remains when all the “practical” problems have been solved, that remains when new problems arise that will never be imagined by our methodologies of utility. The question should always be: when we satisfy our need for material progress and success, what will remain? Lord help us if it is a world with nothing interesting to learn.
Sam Keyes, “Details Matter: On the Disciplines, Covenant, 29 Sep. 2016.