Tuesday 8 September 2015

Christian Reflection on Work

The latest issue of Christian Reflection, published by the Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University, is available online, this one devoted to ‘Work’. The whole issue is available as a pdf here, and an accompanying Study Guide is available here. The main articles, with their abstracts, are as follows:

Robert B. Kruschwitz
Our labor should mirror God’s creation and care for the world, but too often it reduces to mere drudgery because we idolize work or distort its meaning. Our contributors explore work’s goodness in the Christian moral life and diagnose its contemporary diseases.

Darby Kathleen Ray
Consumer Culture and the Deformation of Work
Work can be a powerful source of livelihood, purpose, individual agency, social place, and connection to the divine, among other things. Yet work’s ability to confer these positive meanings is threatened by the dynamics of today’s consumer culture.

Joel Schwartz
Working for Dignity
A job’s goodness is not measured by salary, benefits, and ‘intellectual’ rather than manual labor, but by how well it preserves the dignity of workers and contributes to their fulfillment. This standard lends value to some jobs, particularly involving manual labor, that many disdain.

Christine M. Fletcher
On the Value of Caring Work
We undervalue work that cares for the weak, young, and old. And when we do value it, we prize it in the wrong way – as a display of our strength and virtues in care-giving. This reflects the individualism and consumerism of our culture, not the Christian Trinitarian perspective.

Jonathan Sands Wise
Of Magic and Machines: When Saving Labor Isn’t Worth It
At the heart of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is a conflict between two visions of good work: one worships efficiency and dominates the world; the other patiently draws out the inherent goodness within creation.

Heidi J. Hornik
Working in Fields of Sunshine

Heidi J. Hornik

Heidi J. Hornik
Labor’s Reward

Jeanie Miley
I Offer All I Am to You

Jeanie Miley
Worship Service

Matthew S. Beal
When Work Disappoints
In a peculiarly modern twist, work is more closely linked to vocation and personal identity. This heightens the spiritual toll of underemployment and unemployment. However a balm is not to be found in modern motivational mantras, but in practicing the presence of God in our work.

Mitchell J. Neubert and Kevin D. Dougherty
Integrating Faith and Work
Christians sometimes separate work and faith into secular and spiritual spheres. But recent studies show that if faith-work integration is emphasized in congregations, members experience work more positively and contribute positively to their workplace.

Robert Dickie
The Theology of Work in the New Economy
Two distorted views of work – the “poverty gospel” and the “prosperity gospel” – sidetrack many Christians in the new economy of part-time work. These two false gospels have the same flaw: they focus on what we earn and what we own rather than for whom we work and why we work.

Robert M. Newell
On Not “Dying on Third”
Aging well and continuing to serve Jesus requires a deliberate counter-cultural response to much that is taken for granted about retirement from work. God wants us to remain active and alert in meaningful ways, always “in the game” before we reach “home.”

Gregory A. Clark
To Labor Not in Vain
If, as the Apostle Paul writes, “in the Lord your labor is not in vain,” then we need a way to understand our labor “in the Lord.” The books reviewed here make valuable contributions to thinking about work biblically and theologically. They help us to understand the conditions under which “all is vanity.”

Roger Ward
Work, Wealth, and Business as the Ground of Christian Discipline
The peculiar American struggle with faith, wealth, and work is expressed in four recent books that affirm Christians in business while offering theological critiques of capitalism or its effects. Balancing the spiritual dimensions of work with the norms of free market capitalism is an enlivening challenge.

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