How is modern work alienating? It lacks “self-directedness and opportunity for development in work” according to Miroslav Volf in Work in the Spirit.
Why is this a problem? Because it inverts “the means and the ends.”
Specifically: “human beings are created in the image of God in order to have a fellowship with God.” This necessarily implies “freedom and responsibility” are “divinely conferred” attributes of “personhood.” If a person is “compelled to do what he has not freely adopted as his own end” — for the sake of greater productivity, for instance — then that person is being treated “as a mere means.” This “contradicts” the person’s “nature as a personal being.”
I’m all for attempting to recover “self-directedness” of each worker. But the task seems too lofty. If every “compulsion” necessarily violates freedom, then the goal would have to be to transform work to such a degree that there is no compulsion and each worker is completely self-directed in all his work. That, to me, seems impossible, at least before the new creation.
Perhaps that is the point. We are to recognize we will never attain that goal on this side of heaven, but continue to work towards it nonetheless.
(Also, if this vision is true, i cannot wait till I get to “work” in the new heaven and new earth.)