Jill Lepore

‘The louder the talk about burnout, it appears, the greater the number of people who say they’re burned out: harried, depleted, and disconsolate. What can explain the astonishing rise and spread of this affliction? Declining church membership comes to mind. In 1985, seventy-one per cent of Americans belonged to a house of worship, which is about what that percentage had been since the nineteen-forties; in 2020, only forty-seven per cent of Americans belonged to an institution of faith. Many of the recommended ways to address burnout—wellness, mindfulness, and meditation (“Take time each day, even five minutes, to sit still,” Elle advised)—are secularized versions of prayer, Sabbath-keeping, and worship. If burnout has been around since the Trojan War, prayer, worship, and the Sabbath are what humans invented to alleviate it. But this explanation goes only so far, not least because the emergence of the prosperity gospel made American Christianity a religion of achievement. Much the same appears to apply to other faiths.’ (from the New Yorker)

I enjoyed this train of thought in an article about burnout. Of course there is one faith – if you want to call it that – where the sitting still, ritual, and letting go of notions of achievement are built in…

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