Too often, a Christian view of business is couched in terms of pros and cons. Jeff Van Duzer, in his theologically saturated business book Why Business Matters to God, reorients the discussion to focus not on the worthiness or ethics of business, but why it matters in the first place.
Building his case for business on a vocational theology defined by the creation story, Van Duzer expands the role of business beyond just being a means to an end for workers and businesspersons alike. In the creation story the material world is forefront and “good,” which for Van Duzer is a starting point for redefining the role of business. If the material world matters to God, then what we do with our material goods?the creativity, the entrepreneurship, the buying and selling of goods and services?is a furthering of God’s original creation. Next, Van Duzer does something interesting. Taking the theological perspective of Miroslav Volf and the creative theory from the Tolkien/Sayers camp, he defines the role of the Christian business and business leaders:
Pilgrimage of a Soul:
Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life Phileena Heuertz.
Paperback: InterVarsity Press, 2010
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]
Change that ushers in a new way of life begins deep inside. Conceived when personal longings we’ve hardly noticed are touched by a boundless longing too great to be contained, the new way of life needs a period of gestation to grow and knit its parts together. Unfortunately, the old life with its long-established habits looks askance at this unasked-for pregnancy, tries to block the labor, and kicks the cradle every chance it gets. That’s one reason people go on pilgrimage or take a sabbatical far from home: to give incipient change a chance to take root and grow new habits that will bear fruit on the return to “normal life.”
In Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life, Phileena Heuertz reports back on just such a journey. The daughter of a Bible-centered pastor, Heuertz describes growing up in a community where the roles of women in relationships, church, and professional life are viewed as subordinate to the roles of men. By the age of seventeen she knew she wanted to be a missionary. Her vocation found focus at college, where she met her future husband, Chris Heuertz. Inspired by his missionary experience, particularly his time serving with Mother Theresa at the Home for the Dying in Kolkata (Calcutta), Phileena joined Chris on the core leadership team of Word Made Flesh, “an international community serving Christ among the most vulnerable of the world’s poor” (www.wordmadeflesh.org). In time she also entered into a practice of contemplative prayer and regular retreats which deepened her spiritual life while awakening her “true self”—a self that longed for mutuality rather than subordination in relationship.
Phyllis Tickle’s newest book, The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why, arrived yesterday. At 172 pages, this small but elegant volume (aren’t all Tickle’s books elegant?) both informs and disappoints. Tickle takes on the daunting task of reviewing the major turning points or ‘Great’ events in the life of the Christian church. Her contention is that every 500 years or so the church goes through a ‘great’ transformation.
Counting back from the present, the Great Reformation took place about 500 years ago — 1517 to be exact. Prior to that, The Great Schism occurred when the Eastern and Western churches split over icons and statues. Five hundred years earlier, Gregory the Great blessed and encouraged the monastic orders which would preserve the Christian faith through the Dark Ages. Of course, 500 years before that, we’re back in the first century and the time of the apostles. Today, Tickle contends, the church in in the throes of The Great Emergence.
But, the Great Emergence is not just religious. It is also cultural, technological, and sociological. Of course, context shaped each of the other ‘great’ church transformations as well, and this time is no different. …
Matthew Sleeth: The Green Bible focuses the reader on the vast amount of scripture that deals with God creating, sustaining, and commanding us to maintain the world. The format of verses highlighted in green allows the reader to easily find relevant scripture. What is God’s first commandment to mankind? It is now printed in green. We are to placed on earth to protect and care for the garden. This charge, found in Genesis , has no time limit. It hasn’t run out. We live in an era when environmental questions abound. What should we do about water or fuel shortages? How should we help refugees displaced by flood or drought? The answers can be found in the Bible.
Not only is The Green Bible a tool for finding God’s operating instructions for earth, it is an example of how everything we do can model stewardship and sustainability. Care has been taken in the manner of printing and binding The Green Bible, which reflects the understanding that there is no “away.” Everything we use will eventually return to our closed system of food, water, and air–even our Bibles.
Question: Most of us think of science as a virtuous or noble profession and view scientists as people motivated purely by the pursuit of knowledge—in and of itself. From where does this idea originate and how did it come to dominate our ideas of the sciences?
Steven Shapin: If, indeed, we do think this—and the extent to which we do is becoming an interesting question—the origin of the sentiment is classical. The Greeks believed that human beings innately desired knowledge and that the pursuit of knowledge was virtuous in itself. In Christian conceptions of Nature as God’s Book—on a par with Scripture—the study of Nature had the power of moral uplift, ennobling those who pursued natural knowledge. Moreover, we have to appreciate that it was only in fairly recent times that scientific research became a job, ultimately paid for by the State or by industry. For the great majority of scientists before the twentieth century, scientific inquiry was more a calling than an occupation: the normal historical state of affairs was for the scientific practitioner to be an amateur—however competent—doing it for love and not money.
The monastic tradition of the Church, and particularly the Benedictine stream, has gifted the broader Church with a rich heritage that values working hard and working well.This heritage has also been reflected more recently in the writings of Wendell Berry and other writers associated with the new agrarianism.For those readers who are deeply rooted in this heritage, Richard Sennett’s new book, The Craftsman, is an eloquent gift. Sennett, an esteemed sociologist at NYU, sets out in this book to explore “the intimate connection between hand and head” (9). He notes, however, that in the Western world this connection has become strained. Sennett attributes this divide in large part to our use of technology that “we did not make for ourselves and that we do not understand” (7). In demonstration of this point, Sennett posits the example of CAD software. Despite its mathematical precision, CAD eliminates the intimacy that was had in previous generations between an architect and the space in which he was working. In this previous era, the architect would, through a cyclical process of drawing, walking around and experiencing the site, become intimate with the details of the space in a way that the standard use of CAD does not allow.Continue Reading…