September 9, 2022

What is work? Why do we do it? And what does it have to do with religion? Join CCSR Visiting Fellow Lauren Kerby to explore where Americans’ ideas about work come from (spoiler alert: race and gender are involved too). In this episode, review what deep stories are and how you can spot subtle, even invisible ways religion influences our society. Then get creative and start imagining new stories we can tell about how we want to live together.

About the Expert

Dr. Lauren R. Kerby is an expert in American religion and politics. Her first book, Saving History, explores white Christian nationalists’ version of American history through a study of Christian heritage tours in Washington, D.C. During those tours, she started paying attention to how religion can influence what people say or do even when it’s completely implicit. Her current project, Religion at Work, develops strategies to notice that deep level of religion in society, using Americans’ ideas about work as a case study. This series is informed by her own experiences of unemployment, precarity, and workplace sexism, even as it is made possible by her privilege as a middle class, educated white woman currently employed at Princeton University.

This series was filmed and produced on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded lands of the Lenni-Lenape people, who maintain a continuing relationship with their territory.

Start a Conversation

  1. Use the steps in the video to identify a deep story in your own life. Start with something that you recently thought was unfair. Why? What was that feeling about? Choose a keyword to analyze, and do a little research on how it’s been used. Check out what religions in your context have to say about it, and notice how the same religion may have multiple points have of view. Can you find the deep story? Where would you start to disrupt it and imagine something new?
  2. When you imagine a different world, where do you look? Think about your favorite books, art, movies, shows, video games, or other forms of creative expression. How are those worlds similar or different from ours? How could we use their fictions to inspire new deep stories about reality?
  3. Religion is everywhere in our society, in visible and invisible ways. What are some places you used to be sure religion wasn’t involved? Are you still sure? Why does it matter if there’s actually religion at work on some deep level in government, or education, or media?

Selected Sources

brown, adrienne maree, and walida imarisha. Octavia’s Brood. AK Press, 2015.

Greene, Maxine. Releasing the Imagination. Jossey-Bass, 2000.