Volume 11, Issue 2, 2009
Religious Diversity: A Dialogue
Toward a Christian Philosophy of Work
A Theological and Religious Extension of Hannah Arendt’s Conceptual Framework
Hannah Arendt distinguishes between labor (life-sustaining activity), work (creative activity), and action (activity directed toward maintaining human relationships). This paper extends Arendt’s framework to three corresponding forms of inactivity: incorporating leisure, play, and rest into a balanced, sixfold framework provides a robust, philosophical theology of work as divine-human cooperation. The philosopher’s life of leisure suggests a synthesis of Adam Smith’s and Karl Marx’s contrasting views on labor. An overview of biblical perspectives highlights a similarly paradoxical role for play in “the work” of divine creativity. Finally, an attitude of religious “rest” empowers us to transcend alienating tendencies in employer–employee relationships.