Wednesday, April 30, 2014

2014 Conference Paper - Mormon Transhumanist Association

The following video is my co-author Allen Hansen presenting our paper "Worship Through Corporeality: Mormonism, Hasidism, and Management" at the 2014 Conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association. We probably should have trimmed it some for the 15 minute slot (he had to summarize the concluding management aspect for the sake of time), but we're nonetheless excited that we had the opportunity to present our work.

Summary: Despite the Platonic ideal, people do not spend the majority of their time in the act of deep contemplation. Instead, they are performing the seemingly menial tasks of daily life. This largely consists of one’s form of employment. Finding meaning in the lone and dreary world of day-to-day work has been a point of increasing interest among management experts and organizational theorists. Their findings yield fruitful insights into this area of Mormonism. Our paper discusses how the positive psychology underlying concepts of flow, mastery, engagement, and progress provides a powerful lens through which to realistically view human progression towards Zion and eventual divinization. Since we argue that engaging the heavenly means engaging the earthly, we also present a historical background and a theological approach drawn from early Mormonism and Hasidic Judaism. In building the Kingdom of God, Brigham Young continued along the path set by Joseph Smith whose theology collapsed the traditional distance between the sacred and the secular. The kingdom’s ideal was modeled on the prophet Enoch and the city of Zion. It encompassed both ritual behavior like prayer, and such practical acts as farming and construction work. In Hasidism, Enoch lore also played a vital, foundational role in the development of worship through corporeality: a doctrine teaching that mundane acts can be sanctified and transformed, thereby influencing for the better cosmic processes in the divine. This type of worship, we argue, affects the way Mormons should understand eternal progression, including the important stage of becoming Zion- a godlike community.

We hope to publish a version of the paper in the near future. It is more-or-less an abridged version of three different blog posts:

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