Resources

Books and Articles

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Spirituality and Work Resources
Title & Author Language Links Tags
Advertising: A Roman Catholic Perspective by Jon Escoto
"We had a very interesting discussion on Advertising, slanted towards its feeding on the “greed” of man.  I found the Catholic Church’s Handbook on Ethics in Advertising” quite interesting.  As I browsed through it, I found the following points significantly striking:..."
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The Creation of True Wealth by R. Paul Stevens
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The Creation of True Wealth

R. Paul Stevens

God came to earth as a worker. Jesus was born in the marketplace, in fact in a hotel. Not actually in a nicely prepared suite but in the underground parking garage because the inn already had full occupancy. He was wrapped in a towel provided by the laundry service and placed in the back seat of a car.  He grew up in a working-class home. As a young man he learned a trade and before he had worked a miracle or preached a sermon he pleased the Father so much that at his baptism the Father said, “You are my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.”  Of Jesus’ 132 public appearances in New Testament, 122 were in the marketplace. Of the 52 parables Jesus told, 45 had a workplace context. Jesus called 12 normal working individuals, not clergy, to build His church. And some of them had questionable professions (tax collector, zealot). How can this be? Can we be human beings that are rich toward God and be so in the marketplace? What does it mean to create true wealth? And what is the true meaning of our lives, especially our lives in the workplace? Jesus doesn’t merely welcome these questions. He positively demands that we ask them, and he does so through parables.

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Advertising by R. Paul Stevens

and Richard Pollay

"Years ago Marshall McLuhan said, “Ours is the first age in which many thousands of our best trained minds made it a full-time business to get inside the collective public mind . . . to manipulate, exploit, and control” (p. v). Given its pervasive and persuasive character, advertising is without doubt one of the most formative influences in popular culture, shaping values and behavior and telling people how and why to live. It is estimated that the average North American is subjected to over one thousand advertisements daily in one or other of the media (television, radio, magazines, newspapers, billboards, direct mail) covering everything from perfume to automobiles, from fast food to insurance."

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The Church and The Marketplace by Steve Brinn
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The Church and the Marketplace:

Naming the Reality and the Challenge

Steve Brinn

An Unhealthy Détente

Over the past 37 years, as several close friends worked faithfully in church and para-church positions, my own journey unfolded in the marketplace. I practiced law, managed a real estate and resource investment company, operated a 3500-acre ranch and currently am leading a medical imaging software start-up. All along the way I have struggled to keep my faith vitally connected to my labors.

I am hardly alone in this: far more saints report every day to work outside the church than inside it. It is true that women and men in all vocations (including priesthood) face the same daily challenge – holding fast to hope in Christ and showing up for work with eyes open, without despair. Yet this common struggle, to approach daily labor with hope though the world groans for salvation, almost always is more difficult for the working laity than it is for their shepherds, for several reasons.

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Soul by R. Paul Stevens
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In everyday conversation the word soul can mean at least two things: (1) a precious human person (as in “Two hundred souls were lost in the plane crash”) and (2) the eternal or immortal part of a human being, an incorruptible core (as in “We commit the body to the grave knowing that she still lives in her soul”). We will see that the first is actually closer to biblical truth than the second (compare Acts 27:37 KJV). In the Bible soul and spirit are sometimes used interchangeably to speak of the interior of persons, especially in their longings for relationship with God. Add to this confusion one more word: the universal word heart as a metaphor for the motivating center of a person. This complex use of words reflects the contemporary confusion about what makes human beings “tick” and what constitutes a spiritual person. Gaining a biblical view of soul is important for several everyday matters: a healthy and holy sexuality, the nature of true spirituality, how we are to treat our bodies, why we have spiritual conflict and what happens at death. The Old and New Testaments use a wide range of terms to describe the way human beings are made, and these must now be considered.

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Sayings of the Desert Fathers by Alvin Ung
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Sayings of the Desert Saints: Perspectives on Work

From The Desert Fathers, Sayings of the Early Christian Monks,

trans. Benedicta Ward (London: Penguin, 2003)

compiled by Alvin Ung

p.5 #11

A brother asked a hermit, ‘Tell me something good that I may do it and live by it.’ The hermit said, ‘God alone knows what is good. But I have heard that one of the hermits asked great Nesteros, who was a friend of Anthony, ‘What good work shall I do?’ and he replied, ‘Surely all works please God equally? Scripture says, Abraham was hospitable and God was with him; Elijah loved quiet and God was with him; David was humble and God was with him.’ So whatever you find you are drawn to in following God’s will, do it and let your heart be at peace.

When you desire to follow God’s will, you can do whatever work you want (be it with people or in quiet).

p.5 #12

Poemen said, ‘To be on guard, to meditate within, to judge with discernment: these are the three works of the soul.’

Doing work for the inner life requires watchfulness, meditation and discernment.

p.10 #9

In Scetis a brother went to Moses to ask for advice. He said to him, ‘Go and sit in your cell, and your cell with teach you everything.’

Solitude is the crucible for transformation and learning.

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Organizational Values by R. Paul Stevens
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In organizational life, values determine what is cherished and important and how an organization is shaped and managed. The human body operates on blood; an organization operates on values, whether good or bad. Ideally these values are thoughtfully conceived and clearly stated in a document that can be read by members of the organization and recipients of the organization’s service. Sometimes the real functioning values of an organization are in conflict with the advertised ones. So the process of getting people to clarify what values are actually operating and what values should be foundational is one of the most important exercises that can be undertaken in organizational life.

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New Financial Twists by Steve Brinn
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New Financial Twists, Same Old Fallen World

Steve Brinn

Boeing makes cruise missiles, as well as airplanes.  Is an investment in its common stock sinful?  What about day trading?  How much current income should we stash in a retirement account before giving more than a tithe to the church? Are we responsible, in the eyes of God, if the managers of our pension fund invest in unjust enterprises? Is it a trespass to borrow money using multiple credit cards to keep rolling the sum over?  What about making money by selling short?

These questions illustrate why thoughtful Christians can feel overwhelmed today by issues concerning investment.  Many specific quandaries we face simply weren't present during Christ's life on earth. Still we believe God gives us all the guidance we need to faithfully work through both old and new questions regarding financial stewardship. 

Here is a survey of some of that guidance for pilgrims facing new financial twists and turns in the same old fallen world.

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My Paddles Keen and Bright by R. Paul Stevens
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My Paddle’s Keen and Bright: A Reflection on Canoeing in Canada

R. Paul Stevens is Professor Emeritus of Marketplace Theology, Regent College. He is married to Gail, who canoes from the bow, has thee married children and eight grandchildren.

My paddle’s keen and bright,

Flashing with silver,

Swift as the wild goose flies,

Dip, dip and swing.

At an international party outside Lijiang, the ancient cross-roads of the Silk Road in Yunnan Province China, each person was asked to sing a song from their homeland. Will we sing our national anthem? (A cartoon once showed Canadians singing the anthem with the first line in bold large type and then trailing off in smaller and smaller type until there was nothing coming out of their mouths!) Gail, my wife, and I decided, after a brief conference, on a canoeing song. “My Paddle’s keen and bright / Flashing with silver / Swift as the wild goose flies / Dip, dip, and swing.” The song itself, which we both learned at Pioneer Camp in Ontario as young teenagers, has a rhythm that is evocative of the spiritual journey. It was at that camp that my love for the Canadian canoe and canoeing was birthed. There I learned the “J” stroke, the draw, the circle stroke and the Indian stroke. Now, to be politically correct, it should be called the First Nations stroke—it is a marvellous twist of the paddle so you never remove it from the water enabling you to move forward soundlessly. This amazing craft opened up our vast land of rivers and lakes. One forty pound canoe can carry two adults and a load of gear, and can be portaged over the head by one person with paddles lashed to the thwarts to rest, uneasily to be sure, on the shoulders of the canoeist.

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Money in Christian History by John G. Stackhouse, Jr.
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Money in Christian History

by John G. Stackhouse, Jr.

Many medieval manuscripts blossom with splendid decorations: fabulous animals frolic within huge capital letters; lush vegetation curls through margins; and intricate abstract patterns form dazzling frames. By the year 1300, however, gothic manuscripts began to present more distasteful sights. In one of these drawings, a worried-looking ape crouches and defecates three coins into a golden bowl. In another, a monster-head vomits gold coins into a golden bowl. The subject of money—the subject Jesus is said to have addressed more often in the Gospels than any other—now shows up graphically in Christian reflection.

It shows up, furthermore, in all of the strong ambivalence that has characterized Christian views of money through the ages. Money is shiny and beautiful, but also somehow related to filth, waste, and evil. Sigmund Freud drew modern attention to the linkage between money and excrement. Our own colloquial speech makes plain our ambivalence and even antagonism toward money: that man over there getting out of the limousine is "filthy rich" or "stinking rich," while the poor fellow leaving the casino penniless has been, ironically, "cleaned out."

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