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Opinion | When Your Job Fills In for Your Faith, That’s a Problem


Consider what occurred to an entrepreneur I’ll name Taylor, who shortly soared up the ranks in her firm. Like most of the others I spoke to, she additionally poured herself into her firm by working 70 to 80 hours per week, consuming all her meals at work and limiting her social circle to co-workers, till her whole life orbited across the firm. Like John, Taylor had religion that her devotion could be rewarded by a extremely anticipated company acquisition, when the corporate’s worth could be exactly realized.

But when the acquisition fell by means of, it “broke my coronary heart,” she mentioned. “I couldn’t do it anymore, and so I left.” She spiraled right into a yearlong existential disaster that she described as a “loss of life of self.” Taylor relied on work so absolutely for her id and which means that after she left her job, she didn’t know who she was anymore.

“Who am I? What do I worth?” she requested herself. “I didn’t even know this stuff as a result of I gave every little thing to work.” With her sense of self so lengthy tethered to her firm’s efficiency, the failed acquisition revealed to her the poverty of a worldview that reduces values to mere {dollars} and cents.

Worshiping work prices the remainder of us, too. Today the theocracy of labor more and more governs life in different knowledge-industry hubs throughout America like Seattle, New York and Cambridge, Mass. It is hollowing out our religion communities and civic associations — the locations the place various teams of individuals hash out onerous questions of ethical worth, the very questions that Taylor was so hungry to have interaction with.

Across completely different religion traditions, clergy members in Silicon Valley say that their congregations are dwindling as a result of individuals are too busy working. Just a few a long time in the past, a pastor instructed me, the everyday member attended Sunday service and Sunday faculty most weeks. Today that member attends solely Sunday service as soon as a month, he mentioned. And he’s scraping for volunteers as by no means earlier than.

Worshiping work can be weakening our democracy, as well-paid professionals — traditionally among the many most politically engaged demographics in America — try politically. Silicon Valley politicians I talked to lamented the political apathy of busy rank-and-file tech employees who stay in a bubble. (The Musks and Thiels are a special story.) “They don’t become involved,” a public official instructed me. “They don’t vote. They don’t know their native representatives.”

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