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Saturday, March 2, 2019

Work as Religion

I’ve had a few GR readers point me to this article: “Workism Is Making American Miserable: For the college-educated elite, work has morphed into a religious identity—promising identity, transcendence, and community, but failing to deliver.” A little backstory about why this article struck a chord with me:
In seminary, we future pastors were warned about becoming too identified with our roles, so that our whole identity becomes wrapped in our religious work. The temptation is strong, since the pastorate is seen as holy work. But as any pastor will tell you, the pastorate also fails to deliver on “identity, transcendence, and community.” Churches are human institutions and when it comes to these supposed deliverables, they’ll let you down time and again, as do businesses and nonprofits. I’d have to write a novel to explain how that is so, but believe me, it is so (as well as why nonetheless committing oneself to a church as a pastor or a member is still crucial to one’s spiritual welfare). Thus, even pastors need to ground their identity first in Christ and in the various callings on their lives—husband, father, neighbor, and so forth—to retain a healthy relationship to their work.
Workism, of course, has been a temptation for men in particular for a couple of centuries now, as they have been socialized to find their identity in their work and career. “I’m a Ford man” or “I’m an engineer” and whatever. This has been also failing them for two centuries. I think it ironic that the last few decades women have been envying men in their careers—and have started on the same futile path of self-fulfillment in work. As many have discovered, it’s nice to have a career and put bread on the table, but it’s still called work for a reason. Women have one benefit over men in this regard: At some point, they may want to have children, and when that happens, it becomes immediately apparent the relative unimportance of a career compared to raising of children and nurturing the many relationships in one’s life. Men don’t have that built-in biological clock and can sometimes go decades before they get wise.
A New Boss!
Speaking of careers, Tim Dalrymple will be starting a new one on May 1, as the new president and CEO of Christianity Today. He was unanimously approved by our board last week. I’ve known Tim for about a decade now, and it’s scary how talented he is. I look forward to his leadership at CT. You should too. Read more about him here.
It’s Come to This in Some Places
Here is a poignant article about a school teacher in the Midwest who has been taking weapons training to prevent or short-circuit a school shooting.
My district’s school board struggled with the decision. After the Newtown shooting, parents came to board meetings demanding to know how the district would protect their children; locked doors and security cameras no longer allayed their fears. It was easy to see that in recent school shootings, similar safety measures had proven ineffective. …
In his navy suit, [the Buckeye Firearms Association] expert emphasized that it was a district decision and that we needed to do what was best for our students—even as his tone betrayed his conviction that every school in Ohio should have armed staff. He offered polished, if often unrelated, responses to the board’s questions: “It takes rural police an average of fifteen to twenty-two minutes to respond,” “Most school shootings last less than five minutes,” “Newtown was over in three.”
The author was ambivalent but agreed to the training. This week’s long read contain his reflections on the training.
The Christian Queen
My wife and I have been watching The Crown, and I have been intrigued by how the directors/writers have accented Queen Elizabeth II’s faith. She is shown regularly praying on her knees before she gets into bed, and an entire episode (with a couple of conversations with Billy Graham no less) revolves around Jesus’ command to forgive. I’ve not heard anything about that dimension of her life, but then I’ve not been much interested in news of the royal family. At any rate, her faith appears to be genuine and is becoming more pronounced in the last few years.
Grace and peace,

Mark GalliMark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor-in-Chief, Christianity Today

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