Why Work: A Christian Work Ethic for Post-Industrial, Post-Protestant America

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Jonathan Malesic King's College Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

The opportunities for more fulfilling work that the post-industrial economy promised have proven elusive. Even leaving aside high and chronic unemployment, the moral conditions for finding fulfillment in work are being undermined by how post-industrial work operates. American Christians find little guidance from the church to help negotiate this economy and connect working life to spiritual life. This may result from the church lacking a theologically coherent vocabulary for talking about a work ethic in the contemporary economy. This project will provide that vocabulary. Guided by incisive analyses of the current working scene offered by several secular and social-scientific authors, it focuses on varying degrees of self-investment as the work ethic’s central theme. Those who find a cause for which to work may invest themselves heavily in it. Those with more limited opportunities may need to detach who they are from what they do in order to lead a fulfilling life. This ecumenical ethic is articulated in terms of three theological motifs: an account of the self as loved by God and working for others, the value of the secular as the sphere of work’s activity, and a Christological work ethic recognizing the union of Word and flesh in every worker.