Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Being and Utility

Perhaps it was Max Weber who first made the connection between the development of capitalism and the puritan work ethic in his 1905 classic text. The links he draws feel obvious to me and I believe that today, the reverse influence of capitalist culture back upon the church is also true. The more we "run" churches like businesses, the more cues we begin to take (unchecked) from the corporate world. How should we organize without rigidity? How do we program without using eachother? How do we strategize without loosing sight of faces? How do we hire, fire, promote and demote within a worshiping community, called beloved by God? How do we encourage eachother to live into our spiritual gifitings without defining people by their utility? Are we more than simply cogs in the Kingdom of God? These are some thoughts on my mind these days that connected with these words by Moltmann in which I experience comfort and rest.
“When a man sees the meaning of life only in being useful and used, he necessarily gets caught in the crisis of living, when illness or sorrow makes everything including himself seem useless… Whoever lays hold of the joy which embraces the creator and his own existence also gets rid of the dreadful question of existence: For what? …We are evidently supposed to be busy with something, as if our existence were justified or rendered beautiful by this. The opposite is true: Our existence is justified and made beautiful before we are able to do or fail to do anything." - Moltmann (Theology of Play, 1972)


Lian said...

It's amazing that you out this up now, as it is something, again, I have been thinking about a lot. As a stay at home mum I am beginning to feel a larger and larger gap between me and the working world. I have nothing much beyond toileting and sickness and pregnancy to talk about and find many awkward silences as my worth is measured up in the eyes of the person I am chatting to. I have realized that my existence cannot be justified by how much I work, but simply by who I am. -erika

Anonymous said...

Hey Phil,
I am not sure but I think Weber's text has been a little debunked. But a women I adore, Marilyn Robinson, does an amazing job correcting our notions of puritans and Calvin. I think you have read Gilead, but here amazing little book The Death of Adam, shows how far we have misunderstood this people. They would be the ones amening Moltmann, perhaps it was their less sincere brethren who invented capitalism.