Purposeful or Indulgent? How We Define Free Time

Sponsored by Georgetown University Press

Recorded on 10/05/2020
Posted in The Authority File

Episode 158

With work, family duties, household chores, who has free time? And when we do, should we zone out to Netflix and a quickly-depleting box of Cheez-Its? Or is free time better used on altruistic efforts in our own communities? How do we make our free time not only restorative, but meaningful?

Conor Kelly, assistant professor at Marquette University, faces these questions in his new book, The Fullness of Free Time.  Years in the making, the text can be traced back to the logistics of a much-needed fall break getaway during his undergrad at Notre Dame. When he asked a friend if she’d like to join the group on the trip, she said a better use of her time would be spent volunteering. “What you’re talking about just seems indulgent, was basically what she got at, and I was jarred a little bit, as you might imagine. No one wants to think of themselves as indulgent, particularly when the opposite is selfless acts of service for the world around you.”

In this first episode of the four-part series, Kelly discusses how that fateful conversation stuck in his mind, coalescing into a dissertation and eventual volume. Kelly also explains the interplay between moral theology and theological ethics, and how studies from psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi informed his work.


About the guest:

Conor Kelly
Assistant professor of theology
Marquette University

Conor Kelly is an assistant professor of theology at Marquette University. He is a Catholic theological ethicist who works at the intersection of fundamental moral theology and applied ethics. He is the coeditor of Poverty: Responding Like Jesus with Kenneth R. Himes and has published articles in a number of journals, including Theological Studies, the Journal of Moral TheologyHorizons, and the Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics.