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Calvary & Book Passage Present: Carolyn Chen

December 13, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Join Calvary and Book Passage for an evening with Carolyn Chen, author of WORK, PRAY, CODE.

When human fulfillment is centered in the workplace, what kind of society do we become? Sociologist Carolyn Chen explores how tech companies are bringing religion into the workplace in ways that are replacing traditional places of worship, blurring the line between work and religion in her new book WORK PRAY CODE: When Work Becomes Religion in Silicon Valley.

Over the past forty years, highly skilled workers have been devoting more time and energy to their jobs than ever before. They are also leaving churches, synagogues, and temples in droves—but they have not abandoned religion. Chen argues that tech firms are offering spiritual care such as Buddhist inspired mindfulness practices to make their employees more productive, but that our religious traditions, communities, and public sphere are paying the price. Carolyn Chen spent more than five years in Silicon Valley, conducting a wealth of in-depth interviews and gaining unprecedented access to the best and brightest of the tech world. The result is a penetrating account of how work now satisfies workers’ needs for belonging, identity, purpose, and transcendence that religion once met. In observing the work culture of Silicon Valley, Carolyn Chen shares a cautionary tale for the rest of America: when we surrender our time, our identities, or resources, and even our traditions to the service of work, we don’t invest in building sustaining institutions and traditions that nurture community identity, and purpose outside of work. We all want our jobs to be meaningful and fulfilling. Work Pray Code reveals what can happen when work
becomes religion, and when the workplace becomes the institution that shapes our souls.

Carolyn Chen, a sociologist, is associate professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Getting Saved in America (Princeton) and the coeditor of Sustaining Faith Traditions. She lives in Kensington, California.

Advanced Praise for WORK PRAY CODE:

“Carolyn Chen walks boldly into the heart of Silicon Valley, the apex of America’s knowledge economy, to examine its culture, values, and practices. Work Pray Code is a terrific book, fascinating from start to finish, at turns inspiring and frightening. It establishes Chen as an essential interpreter of American society at large.”—Paul Spickard, University of California, Santa Barbara

“Chen brilliantly illuminates how tech companies colonize employees’ lives as they increasingly provide everything needed for a fulfilling existence, with troubling implications for our fractured public sphere. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in religion, work, and democracy.”—Jaime Kucinskas, author of The Mindful Elite

“Work Pray Code is an engaging book that takes the reader inside one of the industries that has profoundly shaped all of our lives. Through the tech workers she spent five years getting to know, Carolyn Chen gives us a matchless description of who they are, why they work so hard, what gives them meaning in life, and, for some, how their work has become a source of connection with the sacred.”—Robert Wuthnow, author of Why Religion Is Good for American Democracy

Please register below for this FREE event. We look forward to seeing you there!


December 13, 2022
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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Calvary Presbyterian Church
2515 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA 94115 United States
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