Thursday, November 25, 2010

the craft of work? a theology getting me out of bed

This is another entry in the dictionary of everyday contemporary spirituality: W for the craft of work

I picked up philosopher, Richard Sennett’s book The Craftsman a few weeks ago. It was the embossed pencils that made up the book cover that caught my eye …

And then I checked the back and a whole lot of things clicked in my head. The book explores craftsmanship, the desire to do a job well, for it’s own sake and suggests this as a template for living.

  • craft as technique. Not mindless procedure, but the cultures in which we might flourish
  • craft as a unique and individual blend of skill, commitment and judgment
  • craft as the aligning of head and heart, intuition and intelligence, history and innovation

Which got me thinking about what gets me out of bed and how I approach work. When I mark an essay, it can be a burden. But could it be something to craft – through the assignments I set, the comments I make, the best practice examples I provide, the clarity of my responses.

When I teach, it can be stress of preparation. Or it can be the entering of sacred space, those moments of learning that will be unique to this moment and this group.

When I seek to innovate within academic structures, to implement new pioneer ministry/social entrepreneurial training options (details any day now) or to create a missional masters , it can be the drudgery of administration, or search for clarity around best practice.

When I meet with a post-graduate student, it can be an appointment. Or an attempt to craft a unique learning experience, to co-operate with what God has already been doing in a person’s life, the discernment of discipleship as God’s spirit shapes and moulds.

When I start researching, it is a craft honed by others into which I enter. As I write, it is a deadline. Or the time to bring vague thoughts into communicative life through the craft of concrete black and white shapes, to hone the tools of grammar and punctuation to make plain my flights of fancy.

Such is craft.

Theologically, this links with Robert Banks book, God the Worker: Journeys Into the Mind, Heart and Imagination of God. He suggests that God is a musician and a composer, a designer and a garment maker, an architect and builder, a crafter and an artisan. (I’ve been part of writing more on this here).

And humans are made in the image of God the Crafter.

To be honest, the workload this year has at times nearly consumed me. New job, new responsibilities, new culture – so many adjustments. It’s been too easy to view work as draining.

Work as craft. It provides a different way to approach the day and the desk, the week and the workload.

Posted by steve at 07:24 AM