Back during Advent, members of St. Philip’s Beloved in the Desert community shared some presentations on the theme of Rest (one of seven elements in the Episcopal Way of Love being pondered and practiced in churches across the country). One of those presentations caught my attention, and I’ve decided I want to contemplate the theme of rest over the next few weeks.
I’m beginning with some reflections on the idea that caught my attention: finance-dominated capitalism. The term comes from a book by Kathryn Tanner, Christianity and the New Spirit of Capitalism. I have not read the book, but this link takes you to an informative interview about the book by Christian Century. (FYI, my blog is part of Christian Century’s CC blogs network.)
Tanner says that finance-dominated capitalism “encourages people to think of themselves in the same way that profit-maximizing businesses think of them: their persons represent capital that must be put to maximally productive use.”
Ponder that for a moment. Stretching back to the beginnings of the industrial revolution and reinforced through the creation of efficiencies like the assembly line, humans have been put to “maximally productive use” for generations, without regard for the effect on our souls and bodies. Tanner points out that early capitalists actually capitalized(!) on the Protestant work ethic, because such dutiful Christians made compliant and committed workers. In contrast, she wants to encourage “an antiwork ethic that extends a Protestant understanding of God’s free grace to everyday life.”
As a solopreneur, I welcome that idea. I know I’ve bought into the “strive for success” model and struggle to live it out while still wanting to balance my own work-and-rest life. As I’ve reflected elsewhere, one word I’ve used to remind myself is “enough.” Studies show that the human brain can only do so much focused work in one day. My heart can only take so much of the world’s pain. In strong contrast to the constant push to maximize every moment of our time, most of us desperately need more rest in our lives.
I’ve pondered the idea of rest on this blog before and even changed the day I post because of the need for rest. As we dive/walk/run/slide into a new year, I invite you to consider how you might need to embrace grace and find rest rather than maximizing your capitalistic potential every day in every way. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share some of my further thoughts and suggestions for embracing different kinds of rest.