The Theology of Craft and the Craft of Work
From Tabernacle to Eucharist
An important reconceptualisation is taking place in the way people express creativity, work together, and engage in labour; particularly, suggests Kidwell, a surprising resurgence in recent years of manual and craft work. Noting the wide array of outlets that now market hand-made goods and the array of popular books which advocate ‘making’ as a basis for activism or personal improvement, this book seeks to understand how the micro-politics of craft work might offer insights for a broader theology of work. Why does it matter that we do work which is meaningful, excellent, and beautiful? Through a close reading of Christian scripture, The Theology of Craft and the Craft of Work examines the theology and ethics of work in light of original biblical exegesis. Kidwell presents a detailed exegetical study of temple construction accounts in the Hebrew bible and the New Testament. Illuminating a theological account of craft, and employing the ancient vision of ‘good work’ which is preserved in these biblical texts, Kidwell critically interrogates modern forms of industrial manufacture. This includes a variety of contemporary work problems particularly the instrumentalisation and exploitation of the non-human material world and the dehumanisation of workers. Primary themes taken up in the book include agency, aesthetics, sociality, skill, and the material culture of work, culminating with the conclusion that the church (or ‘new temple’) is both the product and the site of moral work. Arguing that Christian worship provides a moral context for work, this book also examines early Christian practices to suggest a theological reconceptualisation of work.
Table of Contents
Introduction Part I: Moral Making: The Construction of the Place of Worship 1. Building the Tabernacle 2. Building the Temple 3. The Temple Not Made With Hands: Reconceptualising the Temple 4. Jesus the Temple: Temple Construction in the New Testament Part II: Moral Maintenance: Sustaining Work Ethics in Christian Worship 5. Burnt Offerings: Challenging Modern Work Efficiency 6. Firstfruits and the Consecrating Relation 7. "Eaten" Offerings and Liturgical Sociality Conclusion: Seeking the Craft of Worship
The Revd Dr Jeremy H. Kidwell (MCS, Ph.D, Theological Ethics, University of Edinburgh) serves as Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh. He lectures in Christian Ethics, the Ethics of Work, Technology and Design and Environmental Ethics, and is currently involved in full-time research on an interdisciplinary research project focussed on Christian responses to climate change, titled Caring For the Future Through Ancestral Time.� Dr Kidwell's research is engaged primarily with Christian ethics, the environment and political theology. His most recent work, a co-edited volume Theology and Economics: a Christian Vision of the Common Good� (2015) brings together constructive reflections from Christian theologians and economists across the UK, USA and Europe and is the result of a two year collaboration.
'It matters that the work we do is meaningful, excellent, and beautiful. Jeremy Kidwell's biblically informed theology of craft and analyses of the negative impact of modern labour practices on human well-being invite re-examination of the very foundations of our conceptions of work. Drawing attention to how, in the ancient world, the place of worship was the place of craft-work par excellence, Kidwell revisits creatively the notion of consecration for describing the relationship between work and worship. Innovative and wide-ranging, this is an important new contribution to the theology of work, and wider questions of what's entailed in being human.' – Esther D. Reed, University of Exeter, UK
'Jeremy Kidwell has offered us an exemplary performance of Christian ethics done in an exegetical key. Going far beyond most of what passes as ‘business ethics’ or ‘theologies of work’, Kidwell delves deep and sensitively into both the problems and promise of work in an information age.' – Brian Brock, University of Aberdeen, UK
'… with its depth, its clarity, and its superb craftsmanship, Kidwell’s book fulfills his hope that encounters with "the strange worshiping world" of Scripture "might provide a context in which to sing the ethos of God for our workplaces and industries in fresh and creative ways."' – Brian Dijkema, Cardus, Ontario, Canada in Journal of Markets & Morality