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A podcast about faith, work, theology, and economics

February 12, 2018

Episode 13 - The Dream Betrayed, Part I: The Dilemma Of The Working Class


In this episode of Ergasia, we begin an examination of the relationship between the Church and the working class through the book The Dream Betrayed: Religious Challenge of the Working Class by the Lutheran pastor and theologian, Karen L Bloomquist. Bloomquist begins by identifying the central dilemma of the working class in modernity: their betrayal by the neoliberal dream of upward social and economic mobility in return for a lifetime of hard work. But she also begins setting the scene for how the Church often fails to respond to the reality of that dilemma; and how it can develop a theology of incarnational ministry that propetically challenges the prevailing order, instead of merely helping individuals in distress.


Bloomquist, Karen L., The Dream Betrayed: Religious Challenge of the Working Class. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990.

December 24, 2017

Ergasia Digest #3 - 24.12.17


Welcome to Ergasia Digest #3, a roundup of the news from the world of faith, work, economics and theology. This week: what happens when corporations and unions, or corporations and governments, conspire to promote their own self-interest instead of the interest of the wider community; and how does adherence to economic ideology and political expediency impact the poorest and most vulnerable workers in the community?


Schneiders, Ben and Millar, Royce “Secret Woolworths deal with Shoppies union cuts wages”. Located at http://www.theage.com.au/national/investigations/secret-woolworths-deal-with-shoppies-union-cuts-wages-20171216-h05t1p.html

Pegg, David “Paradise Papers prompt criminal complaint against Glencore”. Located at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/dec/21/paradise-papers-prompt-criminal-complaint-against-glencore

Shierholz, Heidi; Cooper, David; and Wolfe, Julia “Employers would pocket $5.8 billion of workers’ tips under Trump administration’s proposed ‘tip stealing’ rule”. Located at http://www.epi.org/publication/employers-would-pocket-workers-tips-under-trump-administrations-proposed-tip-stealing-rule/

Jones, Janelle “18 states will increase their minimum wages on January 1, benefitting 4.5 million workers” http://www.epi.org/publication/18-states-will-increase-their-minimum-wages-on-january-1-benefitting-4-5-million-workers/

Author Unknown, “Loss of EU trade benefits could cost Cambodia $700m annually” Located at https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Economy/Loss-of-EU-trade-benefits-could-cost-Cambodia-700m-annually

December 21, 2017

Ergasia Digest #2 - 21.12.17


Welcome to Ergasia Digest #2, a roundup of the news from the world of faith, work, economics and theology. This week: the initial impacts of cutting penalty rates on employment opportunity and economic activity; the correlation (if any) between employment vacancies, employment rates, and wages growth; and productivity, human health, and hours of work.



Bagshaw, Erik “Penalty rate cut fails to stimulate jobs, survey shows”. Located at http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/penalty-rate-cut-fails-to-stimulate-jobs-survey-shows-20171213-h04csj.html

Elliott, Larry “Fall in employment rate spells end of UK jobs boom”. Locate at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/dec/13/fall-in-employment-rate-spells-end-of-uk-jobs-boom

Ferguson, Adele and Danckert, Sarah “'Don't speak out': franchise giant RFG warns against complaining publicly”. Located at http://www.theage.com.au/business/retail/dont-speak-out-franchise-giant-rfg-warns-against-complaining-publicly-20171209-h01y1i.html

Hutchens, Gareth “Penalty rate cuts followed by weakest consumer spending since 2008”. Located at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/dec/12/penalty-rate-cuts-followed-by-weakest-consumer-spending-since-2008

Ruggeri, Amanda “The compelling case for working a lot less”. Located at http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20171204-the-compelling-case-for-working-a-lot-less

December 9, 2017

Ergasia Digest #1 - 9.12.17


Welcome to Ergasia Digest #1 - a weekly round-up of news from the world of faith, work, theology, and economics. This is a new initiative of the Ergasia podcast, bringing real news stories into contact with theological reflection, posing questions from the perspective of a Christian theology of work.



Martin, Peter  "Big firms including News Corp, Exxon and Chevron paid no tax in 2016, Tax Office says". Located at http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/big-firms-including-news-corp-exxon-and-chevron-paid-no-tax-in-2016-tax-office-says-20171208-h01kxq.html 

Kaine, Sarah and Josserand, Emmanuel "Amazon's track record may signal a change in Australian industrial relations". Located at https://theconversation.com/amazons-track-record-may-signal-a-change-in-australian-industrial-relations-88146 

Partington, Richard "Gig economy workers in UK risk missing out on £22,000 of pension." Located at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/dec/07/gig-economy-workers-uk-missing-out-22200-status-workplace-pension

Butler, Sarah "Sports Direct and its staffing agencies paid workers £1m too little". Located at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/dec/08/sports-direct-and-its-staffing-agencies-paid-workers-1m-too-little

Kawase, Tomoshizu "Japan's taxman tightens scrutiny on wealthy". Located at https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Economy/Japan-s-taxman-tightens-scrutiny-on-wealthy


December 4, 2017

Episode 12 - Dead Man Working, Part V: A (Further) Theological Reflection


In this episode of Ergasia, we conclude our exploration of Dead Man Working by Carl Cederstrom and Peter Fleming (Zero Books, 2012). Does Cederstrom and Fleming's idea of the child as the helpless but ultimate subversive of the zombie apocalypse of post-industrial capitalism have merit? What is the response of a Christian theology of work to this idea? What do either suggest about how humanity can liberate its essence - and the essence of human work - from the clutches of an oppressive and controlling paradigm?


Cederstrom, Carl and Fleming, Peter Dead Man Working. Alresford: Zero Books, 2012.


September 2, 2017

Episode 11 - Dead Man Working, Part IV: A Theological Reflection


In this episode, the host of Ergasia, Brendan Byrne, offers a theological reflection on the book Dead Man Working by Carl Cederstrom and Peter Fleming (Zero Books, 2012).  In particular, he focuses on Cederstrom and Fleming's characterisation of the world of post-industrial work as a "land of the living dead", one in which human life has been appropriated in the interests of an oppressive and self-sustaining system; and views their analysis through the lens of the Christian understanding of work's role and meaning in human life, and Jesus' own critique of secular and religious powers that exist absent the human need they are meant to serve.


Cederstrom, Carl and Fleming, Peter Dead Man Working. Alresford: Zero Books, 2012

Sedlacek, Tomas The Economics of Good and Evil: The Quest for Economic Meaning from Gilgamesh to Wall Street. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011

Quiggan, John Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk Among Us. Revised Updated Edition. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2012

August 22, 2017

Episode 10 - Dead Man Working, Part III: Exit Strategies


In this episode, we conclude our exploration of the book Dead Man Working by Carl Cederstrom and Peter Fleming (Zero Books, 2012) with an examination of the ways and means that people use to escape the life-consuming tyranny of corporatised labour - strategies that range from the absurd to the futile to the tragic.

CONTENT ADVISORY/WARNING: This episode includes a discussion of death - specifically suicide - as a response to the traumas of work.  If listening to this discussion will cause problematic thoughts and feelings, please either skip that part of this episode, or skip this episode altogether. Australian listeners requiring support should contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. International listeners should contact a qualified medical practitioner or counselling service in their area.


Cederstrom, Carl and Fleming, Peter Dead Man Working. Alresford: Zero Books, 2012


August 8, 2017

Episode 9 - Dead Man Working, Part II: The Girlfriend Effect


In this episode, we continue our exploration of some of the secular critiques of corporatised work as articulated in the book Dead Man Working by Carl Cederstrom and Peter Fleming. In particular, we examine the emergence of "emotional labour" and the phenomenon of the "girlfriend effect" to which it has given rise: the phoney reality of work-as-life that consumes the whole of our humanity, creating a fake identity which we can no longer distinguish from who we really are.


Cederstrom, Carl and Fleming, Peter, Dead Man Working. Alresford; Zero Books, 2012. 

July 29, 2017

Episode 8 - Dead Man Working, Part I: The World of the Living Dead


In this episode, we begin a new series exploring some contemporary critiques of work based on the book Dead Man Working by Carl Cederstrom and Peter Fleming. Cederstrom and Fleming describe the world of corporatised work as the "land of the living dead" in which the motifs and symbols of resistance to work - as well as biopower, the key characteristic of our humanity - have been co-opted by corporatism to trap humans in an endless regime of pointless and unfulfilling labour.


Cederstrom, Carl, and Fleming, Peter, Dead Man Working.  Alresford; Zero Books, 2012. 

May 5, 2017

Episode 2 - The Theology of Work


In this episode we will explore the necessity for the Church to develop a systematic theology of work, using as our lens an encounter between Jesus and a crippled woman as told in The Gospel According to Luke.



Bloomquist, Karen L. The Dream Betrayed: Religious Challenge of the Working Class. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1990.

Dunlop, Tim Why The Future Is Workless. Sydney: NewSouth Publishing, 2016.

Volf, Miroslav Work In The Spirit: Toward A Theology of Work. Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001.