What Henry David Thoreau Can Contribute to a Theology of Work

Jonathan Malesic, one of our bloggers, recently sent out a note alerting his mailing list to a paper he’s written for the Journal of Religious Ethics on resources from Thoreau for dealing with the “suckiness” of work (TGR’s term, not Malesic’s).

The paper is behind a paywall, but if you belong to an academic institution you may have access to the journal through your institution’s library, and if not you can rent or buy the PDF if you’re interested.

Here’s how he describes his argument, to whet your appetite:

Christian theology thinks work is good. But work is often really bad. Thoreau recognized this, and his unorthodox spirituality can help Christians formulate theologies and spiritualities that reckon with work’s badness. Thoreau can help theologians see work in three ways: as a discipline that forms and deforms workers, as the effort to tap into the abundance (not scarcity) in nature, and as connected to God via the worker’s individual “genius.”

We’ve got another series of posts on the blog by Greg Forster also addressing the “suckiness” question (but not Thoreau), if you missed them.

Image: Wikimedia.

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