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Posts Tagged ‘spirituality of work’

I am still resonating from the events of yesterday and still struck by how much religion and spirituality permeated the day. I came across this excellent essay outlining the religious imagery and references in the speech and placing them within the context of America’s long history of civil religion. The essay is by Jon Pahl, a professor of the history of Christianity in North America at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. And after you read the essay, explore the rest of this wonderful blog, Religion in American History, which is the product of a long list of prominent scholars of US religious history.

My favorite part of Pahl’s essay:

This was a speech about the spirituality of work. “What is required of us,” the 44th President intoned, “is a new era of responsibility–a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.” The President here argued that it is through our common work that humans find spiritual fulfillment, this side of eternity.

This idea of the spirituality of work is not new. It is something common to many faiths – Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam – another link to Obama’s foundation in plurality.

And I, for one, needed a reminder that I can find purpose and elevation in tasks I sometimes think of as drudgery, from housework to my work as a writer. For a variety of reasons, January has not been a particularly productive month for me, but I hope to take from this speech a new purpose. I am lucky to be able to work, lucky for the gifts I’ve been given, both in the accident of my birth as an American and in the talents I have. It is time to start thinking about how I can rededicate my skills and abilities for others. As the president says, there is a deep spirituality in that.

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