Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About A (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung
This book is probably as sympathetic as the author is going to ever be in my own eyes. To be sure, going into reading this book I was aware that the author, as a Calvinist, was likely going to say something in a way that I wouldn’t appreciate . And, to be sure, that did happen at least a few times here. Yet the author’s open admission that he was dealing with a subject that he wanted to master for his own sake and his awareness that people can be busy for very good reasons made the author’s Calvinist virtue signaling more tolerable than it usually is. There was plenty of the usual finger wagging to be found, condemnations of pride and sloth and so on, but there was also an admission that being busy is not the bad thing, but being busy in the wrong things for the wrong reasons is what is the problem. And that is a message that I can cautiously endorse, despite my general dislike for the author’s persona as a writer. This may be the most enjoyable book I ever read by this author, which is fortunate because I plan on reading at least a few more of them.
This short book of a bit more than 100 pages is divided into ten chapters followed by a general index and scriptural index so the reader can be sure that he quotes enough scripture and not only the books of others or his own experiences, although to be sure there are many of these as well. The author opens with a discussion of the ubiquity of busyness in our contemporary world (1). After that the author discusses the three dangers of busyness to avoid in having one’s joy ruined, having our hearts robbed, and covering the rot in our souls (2). The next seven chapters consist of seven often harsh diagnoses for the reasons for our business–our pride (3), presumptuousness in trying to do what God does not expect us to do (4), our inability to set priorities so that we may properly serve others (5), our freaking out about our children (6), our addiction to technology (7), our inability to properly rest (8), and our misguided expectations that we should not suffer (9). It is in the tenth chapter, though, where the book takes a surprising turn and shows that our imitation of Christ will mean that we are busy, and that we must care about every serious matter even if we do not have the capability to do anything about every issue going on in the present evil world.
Despite the fact that the author’s approach is notably lacking in the milk of human kindness that one expects from writers, if not necessarily from many Calvinist ones, there was much to appreciate here. For one, much of the author’s commentary is spot on, although he is quick to note that it is hard to know the motives of the heart and that one cannot be quick to blame, a lesson more honored in the breach than in the observance, as one might expect. Additionally, the author’s recognition that it is not busyness but the reasons and nature of the busyness that is problematic gives the author not only a way to avoid condemning himself too harshly, but also provides a way for the reader to come to grips with busyness without being any less devoted to doing what is right. That is not to say that the author gets everything right–his misunderstanding of the Sabbath rest is both lamentable and also predictable. But such flaws are to be expected. This author gets much right when it comes to busyness and how to deal with it, and that achievement deserves to be recognized, given the universality of the problem.
 See, for example: