Saturday, June 07, 2008

Kevin Vanhoozer, call your office

Apparently we owe our cubicled existence (in part) to Reformed theology (HT: The Corner). Excerpts:

Max De Pree, one of the most important figures of both the cubicle revolution and its theories of management, hails from a place far from California in almost every possible way. The little community of Zeeland, Michigan is home to the Herman Miller office furniture company, about 5,000 people, and more than a dozen Dutch Reformed churches. De Pree spent most of his career as an executive at Herman Miller, the company his father founded. Under the leadership of Max and his brother Hugh, Herman Miller sold the first office cubicle, the Action Office, in 1968.

. . . .

If the California version of equality and freedom at work took its inspiration from communal farms and the remnants of hippie spirituality, De Pree’s version was straight Midwestern Protestantism. A member of the Reformed Church in America, De Pree told a reporter in 1986, “Each of us is made in the image of God. And if that’s true, then you cannot make the assumption that some of us are uncommon, and some of us are common.... We are all uncommon.”

I mention KJV because of his connections to Reformed theology (in the Dutch tradition*) and his exhortations to Christians to be intentional about creating culture. I guess it goes to show that culture creation doesn't always go right, even if your theology is correct.

Then again, Mrs. Chaka is about to move from a no-walls and barely-a-desk "workstation" to a real cubicle, and she's pretty happy about it. So maybe the cubicle is an improvement.

*In my mind at least, the Dutch stream of Reformed theology is more well-known for its embrace of the creation as good and its focus on the imago Dei and common grace than for its take on predestination. See Plowing in Hope, He Shines in All That's Fair, etc.


Adam said...

"Private conversations, whether in person or by phone, take on the character of an intrigue, a fact exploited endlessly in office sitcoms"

I'm reminded of a few of the early scenes in The Matrix,. Neo is trying to hide in the cubicles while he's on the phone with Morpheus.

It's seems that the cubicle life reinforced the idea of being stuck in the matrix, life being pumped out of you without your being aware of it.

Mrs. Chaka said...

Nevertheless, Adam, I love my new cube. For me, at least, it is a step up.