I recently presented at the 2015 Faith & Knowledge Conference at the University of Virginia. As the website explains, “The Faith and Knowledge Conference was established in 2007 to bring together LDS graduate students in religious studies and related disciplines in order to explore the interactions between religious faith and scholarship. During the past four conferences, students have shared their experiences in the church and the academy and the new ideas that have emerged as a result. Papers and conversations provided thought-provoking historical, exegetical, and theoretical insights and compelling models of how to reconcile one’s discipleship with scholarly discipline.” The conference is typically for those in religious studies and “related disciplines (e.g., women’s studies, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, history, literature, etc.),” so I was grateful to be a part of it as the lone MBA student. My presentation was titled “‘Labour…Is Their Religion’: Toward a Mormon Theology of Work.” The abstract is below:
Despite the Platonic ideal, ordinary people do not spend the majority of their time in the act of deep contemplation. Instead, they are performing the seemingly menial tasks of daily life. This largely consists of one’s form of employment. Finding meaning in the lone and dreary world of day-to-day work has been a point of increasing interest among management experts and organizational theorists. Their findings yield fruitful insights, especially given that one of Mormonism’s earliest forms of consecration was a business organization known as the United Firm. The “inspired fictionalization” of the United Firm revelations is an early example of Joseph Smith’s cosmological monism, transforming a business entity into the ancient “order of Enoch.” This sacralization of the mundane was further elaborated by Brigham Young and recognized by non-Mormons as an oddity of the Utahns. The metaphysical overlap of the temporal and spiritual realms can influence the way modern Mormons conduct their business, inspire “Zion-building” within organizations, and pave the way for a Mormon theology of work and eternal progression.
Check it out.