The term “Christian business professional” gives me a mild sense of visceral unease, like the words gonorrhea, peace officer, botulism and smegma. It just doesn’t sit well. You’ve seen them, unwrinkled, affluent white Republican types driving a Cadillac Escalade along the 405 freeway in Orange County, California, or some equally soulless and manicured place; the obligatory ‘Support Our Troops’ magnet on the back bumper next to the Jesus fish, cell phones glued to their ears, their faith and their earthly desires joined together as one. Untroubled minds in an untroubled universe. Dante never envisioned such horrors.
But then Dante never read the Wall Street Journal. For some reason I occasionally do. Pardon the lack of links, but I’m getting this from the paper copy and the online version is, of course, behind a pay wall. Long live free markets!
Friday there was an op-ed piece about a group of up-and-coming young Christian MBAs involved in something called the faith-at-work movement, “Doing God’s Work — At The Office.” They’ve solved a dilemma that plagued previous generations of Christian professionals, namely, how to reconcile the requirements of their faith with the requirements of business. In other words, how to get rich and still get to Heaven. I’ve never personally known any Christians who lost sleep over this, but apparently they exist. Their solutions is, I dare say, inspired:
Their mindset is captured by Dave Evans, co-founder of the videogame giant Electronic Arts and a design professor at Stanford. Mr Evans talks more like a theologian than a former Apple engineer. He points out that Genesis says humans were created in the image of God, so all of our work — not just church work — is holy. We are called to be co-creators, with God, of a flourishing life on Earth. “It is really a profound act of engaging the kingdom of God.”See how easy that is? All work is technically God’s work, so all work is okay. God made dirt so dirt don’t hurt, brothers and sisters. Do you design weapons at Raytheon? No problem, it’s God’s work. Do you peddle junk investments to unsuspecting dupes who will go bankrupt as a result of your advice? Rejoice. It’s God’s work, my friend. Are you a claims adjuster for a health insurance company whose profits depend on denying people coverage? Relax. Bend your knee and pray for two minutes. God will tell you that it’s all okay. That old lady was meant to get sick and die. The fact that you allowed it to happen means you are an agent of God’s will. See you at the company convention in Aruba!
And tell St. Augustine to take his hair shirt and shove it. Making a buck is a profound act of engaging the kingdom of God.
Every year they have a conference at Yale where, presumably, they come up with shrewder ways to proselytize at work or something, I don’t know. Maybe they conjure up bigger and better ‘Christian’ rationalizations for things like mass layoffs, wage cuts, outsourcing and political lobbying. You know, activities that characterized the life of Christ when he walked among us. I have a funny feeling there’s a scandal involving booze/drugs/hookers looming in this conference’s future, but for now the attendees are still pure. Frighteningly pure. Behold the CEO of tomorrow:
“I believe God has called me to the business world,” says Brian Myhre, who will graduate from Harvard business School in May and return to work at the Boston Consulting Group. At last year’s conference, says Mr. Myhre, “I appreciated the speakers who have led organizations and are able to treat employees as Jesus would and distribute profits as Jesus would.”
(There are a couple of remarks about how to treat employees. These lambs of Christ are planning to be the bosses, motherfuckers.)
So do you think this means they’ll treat their workers fairly and pay them a living wage, as Jesus would? Do you think that these future financial analysts and CEOs will donate their bonuses to charity and voluntarily render unto Caesar for the sake of those less fortunate, as Jesus would? Do you think so?