quotes and discussion from last night: Theology of Work?

Beyond work, then, lies the territory of other generic human activities that deserve Christain affirmation,. We need a theological understanding of art, for example, as a worthy pursuit…We need a theological understand of sport as a worthy pursuit in its formation of character, in its symbolism (fair play, honest effort, clear rules, penalties for infractions, unequivocal outcomes) in its contribution to physical & mental health…

What is your theological understanding of Art, Sport, or Play?

What do you think God’s relationship is to these?

What should the relationship between our soul and our pastimes be?

To be sure, art, sport & play can be loved inordinately, as can anything else, as Augustine warns us throughout his Confessions. My point is that it is also possible to value them too lightly… God is interested in more than productivity and spirituality.  He made the whole world, he is redeeming the whole world, and he expects us to garden and reclaim the whole world with him.  Part of cultivating the whole world is cultivating ourselves within it to become the best possible version of ourselves.  And that means all that humanity can be, including art, sport, and play of all legitimate kinds.

Do you agree with Stackhouse?

Should we cultivate ourselves along with the earth?

“It is not enough to say…that institutions have been given to us by God in order to restrain evil.  … One of the blessed ironies of God’s providence is that sometimes even manifestly evil institutions benefit others, whether it is splendid art and architecture left behind as the empire withdraws, or infrastructure that enables others to build better lives once the hegemony has receded, and so on.”

“The fundamental ethical questions for groups, then, is precisely how they are contributing to shalom.”

“What it means to improve the world will depend on the theological framework in which the Christian makes her judgment, so we need to provide her with a theology adequate to that task. What exactly then, does an insurance company do, and what should it do? …What does a rock band do, and what should it do–with due regard not only for its audiences but also for its songwriters, other bands that it can help or hurt, its backers, so on?…Is the world better because of this group? Is this group contributing as much as it can to shalom?”

So what should be the role of an insurance company, rock band, magazine, be?

Economists view companies solely on their ability to produce profit.

Should we as Christians hold the same view?

Each sector of society, and the groups and individuals with those sectors…maintains a central concern to improve the earth, to garden the world, to increase shalom, and will therefore welcome and cooperate with others who have the same concern.”

“Each individual is called by God to play a particular role in the gardening of the world. No one is useless, no one is free of responsibility and each is called to contribute to the generic human task of contributing to Shalom. …

This calling is also, therefore, a blessing.  It sanctifies our work, makes it holy, as something God accepts from us with pleasure….To persist in a truly awful job is an act of faith. It shows not only that we trust God for our future, but also that we believe he is not wasting us now.

We each therefore should seek to understand ourselves as thoroughly as possible in order to become the best version of ourselves that we can and make the best contribution that we can.”

p. 242:

It makes no sense to make bad missionaries out of good artists.  The world suffers the loss of the good artistic work that would have been done by such people.  More particularly, the salt and light they would have brought to the artistic community never penetrate.  … Thus, again our evangelicalism ironically is restricted precisely by an excessive focus on evangelism.  The redemption commandments must be properly related to the creation commandments or they will all be compromised.

Making the Best of It: Following Christ in the Real World by John Stackhouse.