41 min

Why Is It So Hard to Find Rest A Newsletter of the Christian Study Center of Gainesville

    • Christianity

In late October, the study center hosted an event for local clergy and ministry leaders. The theme of the event was Rest: What It Is and How to Find It. Even before the pandemic, it was clear that burnout was a widely distributed symptom of a restless culture. After the experience of the past year and a half, it was the all the more clear that we needed to rethink how we are ordering our lives. It was important, too, to think of rest not only as something we do on occasion to renew bodies, but rather as a way of being that we carried into all the facets of our lives. Dr. Horner and Mike Sacasas both contributed to the teaching and discussion, which sought to unpack the various sources of our exhaustion, physical and otherwise.

In the audio included with this installment, you can listen to a 40-minute clip from the morning session during which Mike explored the assumptions embedded in our economic and technological structures undermining our pursuit of rest and satisfaction. We hope you find the discussion edifying.

Below you can read a few of the sources that focused our discussion.

“‘Branding’ is a fitting word for this work, as it underlines what the millennial self becomes:  a product. And as in childhood, the work of optimizing that brand blurs whatever boundaries remained between work and play. There is no ‘off the clock’ when at all hours you could be documenting your on-brand experiences or tweeting your on-brand observations. The rise of smartphones makes these behaviors frictionless and thus more pervasive, more standardized. In the early days of Facebook, you had to take pictures with your digital camera, upload them to your computer, and post them in albums. Now, your phone is a sophisticated camera, always ready to document every component of your life — in easily manipulated photos, in short video bursts, in constant updates to Instagram Stories — and to facilitate the labor of performing the self for public consumption.”  — Anne Helen Petersen, “How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation” 

“The demands made by tools on people become increasingly costly. This rising cost of fitting man to the service of his tools is reflected in the ongoing shift from goods to services in over-all production. Increasing manipulation of man becomes necessary to overcome the resistance of his vital equilibrium to the dynamic of growing industries; it takes the form of educational, medical, and administrative therapies. Education turns out competitive consumers; medicine keeps them alive in the engineered environment they have come to require; bureaucracy reflects the necessity of exercising social control over people to do meaningless work. The parallel increase in the cost of the defense of new levels of privilege through military, police, and insurance measures reflects the fact that in a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy.” — Ivan Illich, Tools for Conviviality 

“Leisure, it must be clearly understood, is a mental and spiritual attitude — it is not simply the result of external factors, it is not the inevitable result of spare time, a holiday, a weekend or a vacation. It is, in the first place, an attitude of mind, a condition of the soul.” — Josef Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture 

“There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things of space, becomes our sole concern.” — Abraham Heschel, The Sabbath

Subscribe at christianstudycenter.substack.com

In late October, the study center hosted an event for local clergy and ministry leaders. The theme of the event was Rest: What It Is and How to Find It. Even before the pandemic, it was clear that burnout was a widely distributed symptom of a restless culture. After the experience of the past year and a half, it was the all the more clear that we needed to rethink how we are ordering our lives. It was important, too, to think of rest not only as something we do on occasion to renew bodies, but rather as a way of being that we carried into all the facets of our lives. Dr. Horner and Mike Sacasas both contributed to the teaching and discussion, which sought to unpack the various sources of our exhaustion, physical and otherwise.

In the audio included with this installment, you can listen to a 40-minute clip from the morning session during which Mike explored the assumptions embedded in our economic and technological structures undermining our pursuit of rest and satisfaction. We hope you find the discussion edifying.

Below you can read a few of the sources that focused our discussion.

“‘Branding’ is a fitting word for this work, as it underlines what the millennial self becomes:  a product. And as in childhood, the work of optimizing that brand blurs whatever boundaries remained between work and play. There is no ‘off the clock’ when at all hours you could be documenting your on-brand experiences or tweeting your on-brand observations. The rise of smartphones makes these behaviors frictionless and thus more pervasive, more standardized. In the early days of Facebook, you had to take pictures with your digital camera, upload them to your computer, and post them in albums. Now, your phone is a sophisticated camera, always ready to document every component of your life — in easily manipulated photos, in short video bursts, in constant updates to Instagram Stories — and to facilitate the labor of performing the self for public consumption.”  — Anne Helen Petersen, “How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation” 

“The demands made by tools on people become increasingly costly. This rising cost of fitting man to the service of his tools is reflected in the ongoing shift from goods to services in over-all production. Increasing manipulation of man becomes necessary to overcome the resistance of his vital equilibrium to the dynamic of growing industries; it takes the form of educational, medical, and administrative therapies. Education turns out competitive consumers; medicine keeps them alive in the engineered environment they have come to require; bureaucracy reflects the necessity of exercising social control over people to do meaningless work. The parallel increase in the cost of the defense of new levels of privilege through military, police, and insurance measures reflects the fact that in a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy.” — Ivan Illich, Tools for Conviviality 

“Leisure, it must be clearly understood, is a mental and spiritual attitude — it is not simply the result of external factors, it is not the inevitable result of spare time, a holiday, a weekend or a vacation. It is, in the first place, an attitude of mind, a condition of the soul.” — Josef Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture 

“There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things of space, becomes our sole concern.” — Abraham Heschel, The Sabbath

Subscribe at christianstudycenter.substack.com

41 min