Many thanks to Mike McLoughlin for the link on Faith at Work Blog. For new readers who arrived from Mike’s link – or from elsewhere, I’m taking the opportunity to re-state some themes.
- A spirituality engaged in the world of work. I recommend Gregory Pierce’s book Spirituality at Work: Ten Ways to Balance Your Life on-the-Job. (Go here for my review.) While I honor the Roman Catholic Church’s tradition of silence and meditation (especially through centering prayer), we need a spirituality that helps find God in the midst of noise, work and family. Our work is a service and a share in God’s creative effort. The contemplative life is different, not superior, to the active life. Martha has no need to resent Mary.
- If our work is creative and a service, our spiritual practices should reinforce, or at least not interfere with, it while we are “on the clock.”
- Institutions provide much of the resources with which we can provide service and exercise our creativity. Institutional culture also set the context for our work. A culture maybe healthy or dysfunctional. Cultures can be both dysfunctional and in denial for long periods of time. Businesses, being subject to market forces, are likely to pay the price for denial relatively quickly. Government agencies, subject only to James Madison’s constitutional system of divided powers, can survive a bit longer. My church, subject neither to market forces or citizens empowered by the vote, can maintain dysfunctional cultural patterns for centuries.
- I’ve not gone quite as far as Walter Wink in suggesting that the Powers of this world are spiritual entities (Eph 6:11-13). I would agree that corporate culture is a spiritual reality – at least in the sense that team spirit is a reality.
- One of the essential tasks of workplace spirituality is to positively influence corporate culture, challenging it if we must.
- 6. This can only be done by attending to our own personal growth and effectiveness. Following Msgr. Chester Michael’s book An Introduction to Spiritual Direction, I see this growth as individuation – psychological and spiritual health and maturity. It has four functions, authenticity, significance, transparency and solidarity.
- Authenticity means knowing ourselves as we are today. This requires acknowledging our false selves, as Thomas Keating terms it. The false self is the image that we create as a defense against the traumas of childhood. Clinging to it leads to numerous flaws and shortcomings. Our flaws and shortcomings are real – but not necessarily permanent. They are, however, hidden from us. We can identify them by self-examination. A spiritual director the on-line exercises of St. Ignatius; a moral inventory; or even a business book such as Moral Intelligence: Enhancing Business Performance and Leadership Success can help here. Personality tests such as the MBTI and the enneagram are also tools for self-knowledge. (Many Catholic conservatives are suspicious of the enneagram because it is presented as a mystical tool that one can use to reshape oneself. One would be a fool to use it this way, just as the statue ought not to seize hammer and chisel from the sculptor. Used as a tool for personal inventory, however, it can be helpful.) Once we uncover the false self, we can begin to appreciate our true self - the person God created us to be. This is the next function of individuation:
- Significance – realizing the fact that God loves us as we really are: with our gifts and shortcomings. There are a number of ways of doing this: liturgical prayer, lectio divina, (meditating on scripture), and centering prayer all help. To this I would add some sort of mind-body discipline that promotes health and increases awareness of our bodies. Golf, running and traditional Tae Kwon Do are all examples. Significance is difficult for many of us. We all have our own ideas of who we are (or have to be) and are reluctant to adopt another view, even if it is that of a God who loves us as father, mother, spouse and friend. Significance, however, is most helpful when we try the next function:
- Transparency – the ability to present our true selves to others in ways that will be beneficial to them. This depends on communication skills, clarity and persuasiveness, and the discretion to avoid communication information that might harm someone else – or harm ourselves. Lastly, psychological and spiritual maturity requires:
- Solidarity – the recognition that we are connected by love of neighbor to the familial, local, national and international communities in which we are planted.
In addition, I have opinions of some specific issues;
- While pro-life, I hold a position on abortion that is analogous to Lincoln’s position on slavery.
- While the past twenty years have seen a marked decline of warfare, the nature of armed violence has changed. The Catholic Church should be, but isn’t, rethinking its approach to the just war doctrine.
- As a retired senior intelligence analyst I contend that the Bush administration was half right, not wrong in its position on presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. This may have led to a worse outcome.
There it is, new readers. You are welcome to leave comments