Why we need a new theology of work

Why we need a new theology of work February 8, 2017


Excellent points about work and faith made by Jonathan Malesic here recently:

American workers put in more time on the job than most of their global economic peers, and increasingly, the boundary between work and not-work is a fuzzy one. As a result, the labor force increasingly experiences work as precarious, discontinuous and materially unrewarding.

There is also a problem in the way we talk about our work. As the stability of work that characterized the industrial era becomes rarer, the terms that theologians, philosophers and the magisterium developed to describe the moral significance of jobs—not just terms like career and craft, but vocation and co-creativity, too—become irrelevant. Despite the strength of its social teaching, the Catholic Church, not to mention many Protestant denominations, has yet to develop terms people in the postindustrial West can use to connect their work to their religious commitments. [Read more]

Part of the solution he recommends is the Benedictine Rule, including its bias against specialization.

Taking Benedict’s approach would force us to reconsider how we think about our work. Instead of, “What work am I called to?” we might ask, “How does the task before me contribute to or hinder my progress toward holiness?” Not “How does this work cooperate with material creation?” but “How does this work contribute to the life of the community and to others’ material and spiritual well-being?” Not “Am I doing what I love?” but “What activity is so important that I should, without exception, drop my work in order to do it?” [Read more]

He also has some good things to say about why you shouldn’t be a workaholic and why the renewed creation will look like a really good party. I’m a big fan of Malesic’s thought; stay tuned for more.

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