WANTED: A THEOLOGY OF WORK
AFTER SUNDAY: A THEOLOGY OF WORK, by Rev. Armand Larive
A lot has been written about business ethics. Books on the
spirituality of work are mushrooming. But is there a theology of work?
The 1965 classic Theology of Work by Fr. Marie
Dominique Chenu, OP is out of print. So too is the 1991 Work in the Spirit:
Toward a Theology of Work by Miroslav Volf, although discount copies are on
the Internet and a dusty copy or two can still be had from the publisher, Oxford
University Press (198 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016; $60.90). Still available
is the 1971 Work, Society and Culture by Yves Simon (Fordham University
Press, Box L, Bronx, NY 10458; $12.50), which is really a philosophy book. And
then there is the 1981 On Human Work by Pope John Paul II, available from
the National Center for the Laity (PO Box 291102, Chicago, IL 60629; $4).
Now happily comes
After Sunday: A Theology of Work by Rev. Armand Larive (Continuum
Publishing , 15 E. 26th St., New York, NY 10010; $21.95).
This book, Larive admits, is heavy duty. It is "meant to be
provocative, written with appreciation of what has gone before, together with
the hope that more will be studied, discussed, written and refined."
The book opens with observations on Christianity’s ambivalence
about work. Three chapters on the Trinity’s relevance to work in the world form
the heart of this book. It concludes with a meditation on the meaning of good
work and with suggestions for "tying together" work and Christian ministry.
Along the way Larive frequently mentions the National Center for the Laity,
specifically its 1977 charter, the Chicago Declaration of Christian Concern,
which he calls "one of the most eloquent statements of the gap between the
[institutional] Church and the working world." The NCL’s prophetic
Declaration, says Larive, "reaffirm[s] what ought to be obvious: that the
best place for the laity to exercise their Christianity is in their
occupations." Larive also quotes the NCL newsletter INITIATIVES and mentions
other NCL publications including Full-Time Christians by Bill Droel.
Larive, an Episcopal priest and a carpenter in the Puget Sound
area, also draws upon many of the people and organizations within the NCL orbit.
He cites William Diehl and Pete Hammond, active in the Coalition for Ministry in
Daily Life (PO Box 239, South Orleans, MA 02662). He references NCL recommended
books, including Good Work by Howard Gardner et al. (Basic Books ,
10 E. 53rd St., New York, NY 10022; $17.50) and The Liberation of
the Laity by Paul Lakeland (Continuum Publishing , 22883 Quicksilver
Dr., Dulles, VA 20166; $28.95).
The laity are supposed to be the core of the church, Larive
writes. "But in actual practice the laity are the clientele of the ordained.
They are [assumed to be] people who need to be nurtured and assisted into a
spiritual mode at worship, a social and ecclesiastical mode, and ushered toward
heaven in the mode of a flock. The result is a church that is mostly
self-absorbed with its own activity...If the church manages to break out of
self-absorption and move outward toward the world, it usually does so with
counseling and health efforts. These are very laudable measures, but alas little
or nothing is left for…the arena of secular occupations. Yet this is precisely
where the most unique gifts lie among the laity. If the church is to look
outward toward the world, then this unique gift must be given a place of honor
and articulated in the church."
Considering that 99% of Christians spend nearly all their
non-sleeping hours in the world--on the job, around the home and in the
community—it is perplexing that so little theological attention is paid to the
laity’s role as co-creators and co-redeemers, Larive concludes.
----William Droel, is the editor of INITIATIVES: IN SUPPORT OF
CHRISTIANS IN THE WORLD, published by the "National Center for the Laity", P.O.
291102, Chicago, IL 60629.
Just click on a book title below to read the
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