August 17, 2010

Work Ethic in a Capitalist Society

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 3:52 pm by Editorial Team

“So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot.” – Ecclesiastes 3:22

Our culture has been slowly undermining a philosophy of work.   I blame capitalism, in spite of its many benefits.  The entrepreneurial spirit leads one to succeed and provides ample motivation to find satisfaction in work.  But beyond innovation and creativity, many of us find ourselves as simply a cog in the machine.  And for the majority of citizens, there is little motivation to succeed.

Sure we all want a nice paycheck, and we are incentivized to do what we can to earn a paycheck.  But there is a certain level of slack we can give without destroying that incentive.  There is a certain amount of acceptable laziness and incompetence within most jobs that will not lead to deteriorated incentives.  And we become a society that accepts some level of mediocrity, because frankly, work is just a means to earn money to do the things we want.

We have little satisfaction in work, beyond money, largely because we’re disconnected from the fruit of our labor.  We’re just a cog doing the minimum a cog needs to do in order to avoid replacement.   And yet work should be something that leads to some level of satisfaction.  For some, that satisfaction may come through helping others improve their experience in life.  But for many of us, watching numbers or words float across our eyes does not produce anything beyond a mere spark of temporal happiness.

When someone can find a work that is fulfilling and meaningful, it’s impossible to be mediocre.

“We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.”
Wendell Berry


August 25, 2009

Caesar is Lord

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 10:10 am by Editorial Team

We are drinking from a fountain of heresy.  We’ve bowed down to the rule of our society, and we’ve exchanged our trust in God for that of a harlot.

The Roman Empire was one of the strongest, most stable empires in history.  To the people of this time, Caesar was God — he offered protection, safety, and ultimatele security.  Few peoples could muster the strength to break down the Roman Empire.  Pax Romana meant 200 years of relative prosperity and stability.    For the people of this time, being a Roman citizen meant salvation — it was one of the most coveted prizes, because of the protections it afforded.  Salvation was found in Caesar, and he was worshiped for it.

In a world where Caesar was worshiped as Lord, a group of upstart radicals denied the lordship of Caesar in a proclamation against the Empire.  They claimed that Jesus was Lord, not Caesar.  It was no wonder that the Empire became so antagonistic towards these people.  They represented a direct threat to the Empire — and these people were persecuted, beaten, and killed.

One is apt to believe that this is not the case today in America.  But we have become bedfellows with democracy, with the American way of life.  We preach the gospel of the constitution — of the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.  Ultimately, the idol is security — the same security experienced under Pax Romana: the freedom to travel safely, to pursue wealth, and to do whatever we please.

For all of us, we find comfort in the American Empire in many different ways.  While we may not revere the President as Lord, we revere our political value system and the things it can achieve for us.

Some of us find security in ensuring that everyone around us is forced into our way of thinking about morality.  Some of us find security in a central government that protects basic rights and ensures a certain level of safety and security for all its people, especially the least of these.  Some of us find security in a limited government that makes few intrusions into our lives, allowing us to do whatever we please.  Some of us find security in promoting unfettered free markets that allow those with the means to achieve whatever they please.

And the echo of the early Christian martyrs rings in our ears: Jesus is Lord.

The free market is Lord.  Jesus is Lord.
Healthcare is Lord. Jesus is Lord.
A shared morality is Lord. Jesus is Lord.
A government safety net is Lord. Jesus is Lord.
My retirement savings is Lord. Jesus is Lord.
Wealth and material possession is Lord. Jesus is Lord.
Freedom and lack of government intrusion in my life is Lord. Jesus is Lord.
Strong protection of my rights and needs is Lord. Jesus is Lord.
My job and my income is Lord. Jesus is Lord.
Low taxes is Lord. Jesus is Lord.

When the empire beckons us to come worship at its feet, be it government, free market, or anything other power, the call reverberates in our hearts: the completeness of our existence is wrapped up in Christ and nothing else. He reigns over all. Jesus is Lord.