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Posted by on Mar 27, 2013 in Work | 7 comments

Blessing the Status Quo

Blessing the Status Quo

  In an article  Gene Edward Veith wrote for The Gospel Coalition this past Fall, he concluded: “Our very work becomes transformed not in its substance—Christian workers mostly perform the same tasks as non-Christian workers—but in its meaning and in its value.” I’m generally a fan of Veith’s work, but this claim is truly astounding. Veith is claiming that when we truly understand the gospel’s influence on work, we will do the same tasks (and work) as non-Christians, but just feel better about it. That is, if we properly understand the idea vocation, our motivation and attitude will change, but the work itself will be no different. Astounding. With all due respect for my brother in Christ, let me ask some honest questions: Is this not a high priestly blessing of the status quo? Is this perspective not simply baptizing the ways of the world with thinly veiled language of “calling” and “all work is spiritual work?” Should Christians really not be engaged in different kinds of work, and not just in...

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Posted by on Jan 20, 2013 in Work | 0 comments

Working, Pt. 1: Sharon Atkins, Receptionist

Working, Pt. 1: Sharon Atkins, Receptionist

  For the next several posts, I’m going to highlight individual stories of people talking about their work. The interviews are from Studs Terkel’s masterful book Working, a compendium of first-hand accounts of people at work: steel workers, cab drivers, farmers, policemen. As I’ve read their stories, I’ve been moved to hushed silence. The cry for dignity, the frustration, the crafting of meaning through work – this is one of the most human books I’ve ever read. What I will do in each post is introduce the individual and his/her work, and then share a lengthy direct quotation from the interviewee. From there, I will offer some brief theological reflections on their experience. Sharon Atkins, 24, works as a receptionist for a large company in the Midwest. As an English major, she originally looked for copy writing jobs, but employers wanted a journalism major instead. So she took a job answering phones. “I changed my opinion of receptionists because now I’m one. It wasn’t the dumb broad at the...

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