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Posted by on Apr 4, 2019 in business, Culture, Economy, Theology, Work, World | 0 comments

Dreading Monday (Comment Magazine)

Dreading Monday (Comment Magazine)

The spiritual crisis underneath our jobs. Reviewing:  Working The New Press, 2004. 640pp.  Bullshit Jobs: A Theory Simon & Schuster, 2018. 368pp. The Job: Work and Its Future in a Time of Radical Change Currency, 2018. 416pp. “I had no concept of the horrible dread I would feel getting up in the morning to spend all day sitting in an office trying to waste time.” Rachel grew up in a poor family yet graduated from a prestigious British university with a physics degree. Yet soon after graduation, student debt forced her to take a job as a “catastrophe risk analyst” at a big insurance company. Rachel recalls the day she hit an existential tipping point at her new job: The final straw came after months of complaining, when I met my friend Mindy for a drink after a week of peak bullshit. I had just been asked to color coordinate a mind map to show, “the nice-to-haves, must-haves, and would-like-to-have-in-the-futures.” (No, I have no ideas what that means, either.) She ranted at...

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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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Posted by on Dec 20, 2012 in Art, Work | 1 comment

Choosing to do meaningful work

Choosing to do meaningful work

  We have to consciously choose to use our freedom well.  I’m aware of few authors who put this more pungently than Annie Dillard. In her book The Writing Life she reflects on her work as a writer. “Putting a book together is interesting and exhilarating. It is sufficiently difficult and complex that it engages all your intelligence…It is life at its most free, if you are fortunate enough to try it, because you select your materials, invent your task, and pace yourself.” The freedom to create something new is the heart of exhilarating work, a fact, I would think, not lost on the Creator himself. To dream up a project, bring it to reality, and see its affect on others – this is meaningful work. Yet there is an ugly opposite to this creative work as well. Dillard writes, “The obverse of this freedom, of course, is that your work is so meaningless, so fully for yourself alone, and so worthless to the world, that no one except...

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