“Your own personal Jesus, Someone to hear your prayers,Someone who cares”
~ Depeche Mode
Faith is slowly getting back in fashion. From serious op-eds on why God’s preferred pronoun should be “they/them” and not “he/him”, to the Pope’s position on vaccines, and economic papers on the merits of personal faith as a means to cope with inequality; religious overtones are popping up in all sorts of unexpected places in popular discourse.
Perhaps this should come as no surprise; pandemics, melting arctic ice sheets, (and even the possibility of a rogue comet or two flying uncomfortably close to Earth to look forward to in the 2030’s) tend to focus our collective minds on our inevitable mortality.
While some of us (especially the richer mortals among us) rage against the slowly dimming light by investing in “immortality” treatments, from “young blood” transfers, to experimental drugs, and even cryogenic decapitation; for many of the rest of us, we need a more accessible means of coping with our reality. The reality, that is, that we are, essentially, a species of strongly intelligent naked apes clinging to our third rock from the sun and spinning through the vastness of space towards an uncertain fate. Not only that, staring death in the face for 18 months during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic has made many of us question our life choices; particularly with regards to why we are spending the best years of our lives working in pointless jobs we don’t even particularly enjoy. The resulting “Great Resignation” has plunged countless businesses into existential crises of their own, as they struggle to maintain and motivate their workforces.
Of course, wherever there are problems, there is a business opportunity. Existential crises, it turns out, are a particularly lucrative problem to solve. After all, who can put a price on coming to terms with life, the universe and everything?
Stepping up to fill the God-shaped hole in our post-pandemic souls, a new breed of corporate spiritual guides and divinity consultants are cashing in on our existential dread. Companies, desperate to attract and retain talent, are hiring spiritual consultants, from a diverse range of religious and spiritual backgrounds, to address the spiritual and mental wellness of their stressed and depressed employees. These corporate spiritual guides are set to get to work in alongside the team of life and fitness coaches, psychologists and financial advisors, and other consultants Heads of Employee Wellbeing (the role formerly known as Human Resources) are compiling to address overall employee mental, physical and, now spiritual wellness. The divinity consultant’s key role is to help employees find some sort of meaning in what may otherwise be somewhat soul-destroying work.
Perhaps the most (in)famous example of this trend was when Donald Trump hired Paula White, a self-described “American preacher, author, televangelist as well as a proponent of prosperity theology and Christian Trumpism” to join the inner sanctum of the White House, as Chair of the his administration’s Evangelical Advisory Board, after seeing her preaching on a television show.
However, Paula is far from the only spiritual guide-on-retainer. Sacred Design Lab bills itself as a “design lab” for the human soul – for hire by any business in need of enlightenment by the hour. Their team of “designers, theologians, practitioners, strategists, and gatherers” promise to help companies understand the world and solve internal and external problems from a spiritual approach. Another business, Ritualist, is in the business of helping other businesses to design “rituals” to improve their office life and team dynamics.
Only time will tell whether this “Hail Mary” strategy will be enough to save us from ourselves.
By Bronwyn Williams
Foresight | Futurist | Strategist | Economist | Trend Analyst
Image credit: Stephanie LeBlanc