Love and Wonder

Understand, O dullest of people; fools, when will you be wise? The one who planted the ear also hears. The one who formed the eye also sees. The one who teaches knowledge to humankind also chastises. That same one knows our thoughts, which are but an empty breath. – Psalm 94:8-11 (NRSV, adapted) 

This past weekend I watched Marvel Studios’ newest feature film, Thor: Love and Thunder. First and foremost, I’d like to register a complaint that Marvel movies too often make me cry. It’s embarrassing, especially when so many other aspects of this particular film were laughable.  

Second, and more to the point, I appreciate the capacity of superhero movies to play creatively with real theological questions, and Thor: Love and Thunder plays with one of the best, most wrenching of theological questions: How do we make sense of a loving God when the world is overrun with agony and evil? What do we do when the gods disappoint us? 

The answer that the psalmist brings to this question might not be very pastoral—“Wise up, you dull people!”—but I find it helpful all the same. Do we want to know why there is agony and terror? Perhaps we should watch, listen, and pay care-full attention, rather than believing ourselves wise just because our thoughts swirl rapidly like empty dust devils. Do we want to know what to do when God disappoints us? Perhaps we should reapply what we have learned, relearn wisdom where knowledge has escaped us, and repent where we have erred. 

Do we want to understand holy love in the midst of evil? Perhaps we should practice wondering humbly, lest we be dulled to the world and listless to wisdom. 

Prayer: How desperately I want your attention, O God! And how unceasingly you demand mine. 

written for Daily Devotional

Quiet Quitting

In an office today, an employee will close their laptop at 5:00 p.m. and go home—without their laptop in hand, without a “to do” list of emails to write before bedtime, without a stack of work papers to read before returning to the office.

Why? Because work that spills into life beyond the office sucks dry their enthusiasm for the work’s purpose. Because work-related stresses are deteriorating their mental health. Because their job description specifies 40 work hours per week.

In a fast-food restaurant today, an employee will greet customers and run the register and take orders and mop the floor—but they will not step in to supervise the kitchen or offer to complete end-of-day tallies or stay late to cover a missed shift.

Why? Because life commitments beyond work need to be honored. Because work satisfaction doesn’t drive their self-satisfaction. Because additional responsibilities should come with additional pay.

“Above and beyond” is a highly praised work ethic in employees, but as a work culture of employers, “above and beyond” can contribute to dissatisfaction, burnout, and turnover.

Why? Because unspoken expectations (“You’ll complete 55 hours’ worth of tasks in 40 hours/week”) lead to unmet goals. Because “going the extra mile” is too often code for “working more for the same pay.” Because busyness isn’t purpose. Because the constant hustle to impress an employer problematically ties self-worth to professional achievement.

That’s why “quiet quitting” is trending in business news, as employees reinforce their personal boundaries around work: “I will work on my responsibilities within the limits of time and pay set for this job.” They’re not quitting work. They’re quitting the work culture of “above and beyond.”

Quiet quitting echoes the desire for justice heard across historical movements for workplace fairness: movements that urged fair wages, reasonable shifts, protections from exploitation, equal pay across genders and races, paid sick days; movements that achieved measurable rights for the sake of an immeasurable belief that people should not be defined by their economic benefit to others.

People should not be defined by their economic benefit to others. 

Not in the for-profit world. Not in the nonprofit world. Not in the church world. Not at all.

Somewhere in a workplace today, an employee is known as a person, not a job title; supported as a person, not a buffer against the bottom line; respected as a person, not a means to an end; engaged as a person, not an asset or liability. May it be so in every place of employment.

written for Witness for Justice

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