[Marxism] Outsourcing Prayers

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Sun Jun 13 14:38:58 MDT 2004

In 1999, Michelle Conlin wrote in Business Week:

"Spiritual thinking in Corporate America may seem as out of place as a
typewriter at a high-tech company. But the warp speed of today's business
life is buckling rigid thinking, especially now that the sword-swinging
warrior model has become such a loser. Besides, who has time for decision
trees and five-year plans anymore? Unlike the marketplace of 20 years ago,
today's information and services-dominated economy is all about
instantaneous decision-making and building relationships with partners and
employees. Often, spiritual approaches can be used to help staffers get
better at the long-neglected people side of the equation. (...) Yet as the
workplace opens up to such things, ''more and more conflicts are going to
continue to erupt,'' says San Francisco-based employment lawyer Howard A.
Simon. The clashes split along the same lines the country does. On one side
of the divide are evangelical Christians, some of whom want workplace
spirituality to focus on a conservative message about Jesus Christ and who
think New Age efforts are demonic. On the other are those who fear the
movement is a conspiracy to proselytize everyone into thinking alike.
Somewhere in between are the skeptics who think it's yet another one of
management's fads, exploiting people's faith to make another dollar. (...)
In Silicon Valley, career coach to the high-tech stars Jean Hollands said
she had to change her company's name to the Growth & Leadership Center from
the Good Life Clinic, lest she scare off clients such as Intel Corp.  and
Sun Microsystems Inc. ''They thought it sounded like a Mormon touchy-feely
group,'' Hollands says. To this day in the Valley's heavily left-brain
culture, Hollands says she has to use euphemisms for talking about
psychology and spirituality, such as ''internal response system'' instead of
''feelings'' and ''concerns'' instead of ''fears.'' ''We're still cautious
about putting out that we're holistic, even though we are,'' she says.
That's why most companies and executives are careful to stick to a
cross-denominational, hybrid message that's often referred to as secular
spirituality. It focuses on the pluralistic, moral messages common to all
the great religions, such as plugging into something larger than yourself,
respecting the interconnectedness of all actions and things, and practicing
the Golden Rule. But it also puts a premium on free expression and eschews
cramming beliefs down other people's throats. (...) what's happening now is
something of a replay of the spiritual movement that took place at the last
turn of the century. The difference is that in those days, workers were
considered extensions of machines. Then in the 1930s, the
arm-around-the-shoulder theory of management was born. The idea was that
bosses need just issue a little praise, and productivity would soar. Later,
in the 1970s and 1980s, thinking shifted toward viewing workers not just as
bodies needing sustenance but as people with minds, says University of New
Haven Management Professor Judi Neal. Fueling today's trend, too, was the
collective revulsion over the greed in the late 1980s. That's when CEOs,
determined to rout insider trading and other skulduggery from their
organizations, furiously crafted ethics statements as a way to give their
employees a new moral compass. Once words like ''virtue,'' ''spirit,'' and
''ethics'' got through the corporate door, God wasn't far behind.
Best-sellers such as Jesus, CEO and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective
People (one of which is to cultivate spirituality) began to line the
oak-paneled bookshelves of America's managers. Seizing the moment, such
spiritual gurus as Deepak Chopra and M. Scott Peck began advising corporate
chieftains about how they could tie the new secular spirituality into their
management techniques. Team-building programs sprouted like mad. So too did
the Dilbertian sendups of these efforts, some of which swept through
organizations at the same time that downsizing was crushing morale. Body,
emotion, brain. The only thing missing from the equation was spirit. But
will this revival amount to anything more than a momentary sensation? No
matter how it shakes out, in the wake of the Internet's creative
destruction, new rules will have to be made. (...)

In the 1990s, a Workplace Religious Freedom Bill was proposed several times.
John Kerry introduced it again in late May 2002 to provide for "a reasonable
accommodation to a religious observance" and in April 2003 while the battles
raged in Iraq. http://www.theorator.com/bills108/s893.html . However, the
American Civil Liberties Union opposes section  893 of the Workplace
Religious Freedom Act "unless it is amended to ensure that the legislation
will not have the presumably unintended consequence of harming critical
personal and civil rights of coworkers, customers, or patients.  Unless
amended, the bill would threaten important rights of religious minorities,
racial minorities, women, gay men and lesbians, and persons seeking
reproductive health care and mental health services."


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