No Man Shall Profit from Another Man’s Labor

“No Man Shall Profit from Another Man’s Labor”

The concept of rugged individualism is an American thing. Starting with the Puritans who preached “cleanliness is next to Godliness,” and coming through the great depression when Franklin Delano Roosevelt asked that Americans “pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” the combination of Christianity and diligence has been one of the guiding forces in what made the United States of America the great country it has been.

But a wider reading of the bible (narrow readings range form Jehovah’s Witness to Church of Christ to Seventh Day Adventist, and are also lumped under the title “fundamentalist” Christian) like the one the Quakers adhere to, and most Presbyterians and quite a few Methodists runs counter to the popular, yet ill-informed teaching of most Baptist churches, especially in the south of the United States.

George W. Bush, raised Methodist, had to switch affiliations to Baptist when the Methodist Church of the United States came out against his Iraq war. He was notably, the only U.S. President to switch religions mid-term.

So how does this apply to the rise of Christianity, mainly in the cities, of South Korea, and how can we learn from the title of this article, how the Christian church, ostensibly an offshoot of the teachings of Jesus himself, has been warped in many cases, to the point where the guiding principles (including the ten commandments) of the church have been ignored, and tolerance of, especially GREED, has been whisked under the altar carpet, with all sins absolved by the stroke of a Sunday prayer.

Recall the seven deadly sins:  The currently recognized version of the list is usually given as Wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins

Religions should be graded based on how well their followers follow their “bibles” or Korans, or Bhagavad Gitas or Old Testament, etc. Since World War II United States Christian political leaders have been miserable at following their own book, often led astray by fundamentalists who promise to round up many votes in trade for an increasingly religious government, one Jefferson warned about when he inscribed the principle of separation of church and state.

The Sermon on the Mount, as written by Matthew, says that “Jesus condemns the “good works” of fasting, alms, and prayer, when they are only done for show, and not from the heart.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sermon_on_the_Mount

Love thy enemy as thou love thyself is in there, and the Golden rule “treat others as you would have others treat you,” is also in there, and when slapped, “turn the other cheek” meaning offer your aggressor another slap, as, perhaps you deserve it, but in no case should you raise a hand to hurt anyone else. This is a condemnation of war, is it not?

So if a Christian leads his country into war, or is greedy or commits adultery, and then shows up at church to get these absolved, that in itself is condemned by Jesus.

The Quakers are certainly the most peace-loving Christians, and, as the “Prince of Peace” Jesus condemned war, and though the bible says war may at times be inevitable it NEVER condones war, and Jesus sure didn’t. Then what are Americans and Koreans to think of the inexcusable, unnecessary and horrific wars the United States has been involved in since 1960? The only President who resisted these wars-of-greed was a Catholic, John F. Kennedy, and it is no coincidence that he was assassinated BECAUSE he was against fighting a major war in Vietnam.

Kennedy was the only Catholic ever elected President, and it is also interesting to note the huge majority of US presidents who go to church, but who were also Freemasons. Starting with George Washington himself, this band of earth-controlling “gentlemen” have wielded great power, and been inadequate Christians, especially when held to the standards Christ himself ascribed.

Christ was a left-wing radical… a man who suggested rich people give to charity, greed is a sin, and that, in effect, no man should profit from another man’s labor. This makes him, in today’s world, a socialist. He was also an environmentalist, and, were he alive today, might be requesting people to stop driving cars for the sake of future generations.

Thus, any church that flies conservative values in the name of Christ should break away from Christianity and form their own religion. The only hint of a conservative value coming from the Bible comes from the Old Testament’s 10 commandments (thus predates Christ). #5: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you,” fits nicely into the Confucian principles Korea has followed since “the first century after the Chosun dynasty was founded (when) the volume of legislation that was concerned with social issues was unusually high.” (“The Confucian Transformation of Korea” Martina Deuchler, P.3) This means that Confucian principles were being made into LAW. It is this long-held tie to Confucianism that made it easy for fundamentalist Christians to get a foothold in Korea. The Seventh Day Adventist church in particular has found its way to control, some people estimate, as much as 30% of the Korean food supply.

“Only about two percent of the Asian population is Christian, and while Christians are to be found in virtually every Asian country, it is South Korea that has witnessed the most spectacular and historically significant Christian expansion, particularly over the past three decades, the period of the country’s remarkable modernization.” http://www.tparents.org/library/religion/cta/korean-christianity.htm

Because CONSERVATIVE values run throughout Confucian and fundamentalist teachings, it has been relatively easy for fundamentalist churches, and others to synergize the two beliefs and gain great strength in South Korea. But Jesus was NOT conservative in any way. He instructed his disciples to welcome believers of all religions into the prayer service…something many fundamentalists wipe out by their continual harping about how only followers of Jesus will go to heaven. Hmmm, the Ten Commandments say that people should follow ONE GOD, not ONE JESUS to be able to float upward upon death. Thus why wouldn’t a Jew or Hindu or Muslim or Buddhist also be able to pray their way into heaven?

In South Korea, but even more so in the United States, Koreans use their church service as a full-service religion, discount-rate country club and place to do business at the lunches that characteristically follow the services. This is an excellent use of the Christian church to the extent that it promotes brotherhood, but is a kind of strange use when it comes to deriving profit from fellow parishioners.

In a “correct” reading, one would find Jesus to place people over profit, which puts him in direct opposition to most capitalist practices, if not all. So how do card-carrying capitalists, rich ones, greedy ones, manage to hold their heads up without embarrassment in church? Because so many of the ministers are up on the altar condoning their behavior! Cleanliness is next to Godliness, the most Puritanical of beliefs, is in effect, a code for the fact that rich people are closer to God than poor people. How is this? Because in colonial times in New England, USA, the only people who could keep a clean house, were in fact, rich people. The “Puritan work ethic” was instilled so that the WORKERS at the small manufacturing plants would work very hard in order that the church leaders and owners of the business could make a large profit. This “original sin” of American religion has been passed down and quoted often by such notables as President Ronald Reagan.

The Catholic belief that birth control is a sin is directly linked to their belief that a huge underclass helps the rich guys stay rich, and it is those folks who, after all, donate to the church, as they should, if they believe their donations will create the type of prayers that will get their ilk into heaven.

In these tricky economic times, it is of immediate concern that we re-learn how to help our fellow men and women because a new depression is not a futuristic horror story, but has already begun. In the 1930s my mother’s father, a carpenter who walked 8 miles or so each way to earn 25 cents a day, raised four children on that somehow. He also had a mark on his house that meant that nearly every night a “hobo” from the nearby train tracks would be visiting them for supper. Delmar Spellman knew his house was marked and, slightly poor as they may have been, they never removed the mark, and never turned anyone away from a meal. It’s my firm belief he made it to heaven.

What worries me is that the all-or-nothing, fire-and-brimstone, black-and-white with no shades of gray churches that dominate the Christian (and at times Muslim) worlds will, instead of instilling the brotherhood once trumpeted by Jesus, cause further rifts, and make way for a new depression-era criminality that no church should condone. If we do not find ways to become friends on a local level now, then the ill-fated politicians and the big money that controls them will throw us into one war after the other to try to bail out their economies…and we will have to decide whether to bear arms against one another, or lend each other a hand.

This diatribe is not meant to get people to quit their churches, temples or synagogues or mosques, but is written in the hope that we can have enough friendship at the local level to outweigh (somehow) the horrors that are increasing at the global level.

And for those keeping score at home, here are the Ten Commandments, ever so misquoted:
1. You shall have no other gods before me.

2. You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

5. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

6. You shall not murder.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

8. You shall not steal.

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Comments
23 Responses to “No Man Shall Profit from Another Man’s Labor”
  1. doug stuber says:

    The seven deadly sins are: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. (Wikipedia)

    It was an error NOT to include these in the above “essay.”

    Thanks,
    Doug

    • Paul Aaron says:

      Thank you for correcting the error! and for sending the blog. Paul

    • Commandments and “sins” are needed to remind those who want to forget them. How about subsuming all the caveats under, “Treat everyone as you want to be treated?” Unless one is a sociopath/psychopath the “Golden Rule” should be enough to make the world a decent place in which to live. Recognizing that everyone, and everything in the universes, is an aspect of one’s self, part of universal energy-entity–a healthy essence would need noting more. Without self-universal love-respect-compassion–nothing is strong and lasting.
      Great job,Doug.

  2. This is the discussion Americans need to be having. Sadly they lack the intestinal fortitude and willingness to engage.

  3. doug stuber says:

    Doug,
    This is to let you know that your essay will be used at UF in a class, Race, Religion and Rebellion, by my friend, Zoharah Simmons, Religion Professor–and a Sufi.
    Gwen

    Folks, another Stuberessay/editorial and or poem has been picked up by, of all places, a Religion professor at my alma Mater at the Univestiy of Florida…Go Gators!

  4. koreamaria says:

    Christianity in Korea scares me. It is prone to ‘cultish’ exhortations by charismatic leaders. I was at GIC the other day when a man that I’ve seen engaging ‘foreigners’ in God talk, chatted me up quite inanely then turned to ‘You know God loves you.’ What exactly does one say to that when put into a conversation awkwardly? When he kept chanting it “God love you god loves you GOD LOVES YOU” I had to set boundaries and tell him I didn’t come to GIC to go to church. It was creepy and not such an unusual experience in Korea, but unusual for me at GIC.

    Churches in Korea are nonprofits. They don’t pay any taxes on what is collected or spent. ‘Bonuses’ given to clergymen are a contentious issue among secular tax payers.

  5. Dave MacCannell says:

    Great article, Doug. Just a few Biblical tidbits that relate directly: I enjoy the story about the dudes who were arguing, (maybe ending friendships, changing nuptial arrangements, even waging wars), over which of the 10 commandments was the greatest. So they asked Jesus and he said there were two tied for first. He mentioned the one God idea and continued to say that we should LOVE that one God with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength(s?). The other greatest commandment is to love your neighbour as yourself. God IS love and those who dwell in love dwell in God and God in them. Jesus gave these knuckleheads, (and US knuckleheads), a 10 Commandments Coles Notes. Aparently over the years we’ve decided it’s much easier to try to follow the other commandments in our own humanized ways.
    The number one cause of divorce: money. It’s probably the number one cause of feuds between families and friends too. Historically religion has been blamed for wars but I think most wars have been the same as today’s wars, all about the money. Religion in a lot of cases is just a facilitator that can drive men to such attrocities. If the love of money is the root of all evil and capital, (money), ism is the word to that definition then you bet Jesus was a social, (people), ist. It bugs me how people are trained to believe the wrong one of these words is ugly. Even Christians trained in their churches!
    I think more poor people are happy than rich people. I’ll let others fight over the money. Less stress and better friends that way.

    • Okay, this is all, then I’m going to watch Rachel Maddow.
      The Great Commandment, according to that recounting of a Jesus saying, is NOT part of the Ten commandments, that were, supposedly given to Moses on My Sinai, the first of which he destroyed. As Mel Brooks parodied in a film. Heck, why couldn’t the Hebrews be near a real mountain, like Kilimanjaro, Kenya, the Alps, or Everest?

      For me this is cultural myth making as my study, teaching and view of history indicates. I taught my own children, when they were told these fables in other settings, that, “Back in the day, the elders, who had nothing else to do, would sit and tell the village children stories while the parents were hunting, fishing and tilling–or making out..

      Well, the old folks had to have something to keep them busy and ensure food and stuff from the youth.. SH-H-H, don’t tell the controllers in the US halls of governance what I said. They’re already stealing the goodies for themselves and throwing everyone else, young,old, aged and unemployed under the taxation bus.

  6. “Godtalk” in any context can be frightening. Often the proponents of “belief” are unable to participate in any conversations “off-topic.” That’s a nice way of saying they’re in an altered state, on their own little space-ride. Scary.

    I think I understand something of the spiritual impulse, and its role in human life, but to divorce the rational mind for other possibilities–as well as evidence– prompts me to say, “I do not believe, I think.” I do not mean that I ignore the role of emotion, and, other areas of existence, it is that I refuse to be limited, and that is what “belief” tends to do, whether it is “belief,” in religion, science, or any singularity. Remember, “The world is so full of a number of things, I am sure we should all be as happy as kings?”(sic) Or Fools.

  7. Tim Dahlgren says:

    Doug,
    One of the problems with religion, at least for me, is its intolerance of other’s way of belief. I struggled with that concept being raised a Lutheran and felt extremely uncomfortable with the Lutheran dogma that “WE HAVE THE RIGHT ANSWER” and everyone who differs is going to hell. Made no sense to me. Religion, like any other powerful organization, unfortunately sees self preservation as a goal. And, since it is so powerful, they go to extremes to see that they maintain. My getting back to the church and converting to Methodism was encouraged by the minister with whom we met and took a ‘beginner’s class.’ He told me it was okay to not buy into all the tenets or stories of the church. As he said, I could put those ideas “in the closet and close the door.” So, I do and am happily inspired by the music and the message (at times). Plus, the church is simply another community in which I live and get to meet some good people.
    Take care,
    Tim

    • Tim, think about it, this religious tenet applies in most–if not all our endeavors. I just “dealt with” a post by a linguistics scholar who denigrated and denied the validity of the work of scholar in a “different’ but “related” field, because the scholar was not a linguist. To this and possibly, other linguists, ONLY other linguists are worthy of observations and insights about their world.

      I once spoke to a physicist at a major US university, mentioning that I was acquainted with Frifjof Capra, an outstanding, leading-edge, creative physicist, formerly of Stanford. The guy looked at me with disdain and said,said, “I’m solid state,” implying superiority of some kind–or a meaningful difference in universe.
      .
      Everything can be a “religion” with the same rigidity of concept, form and ideology, “putting down” those who are not initiated into the club.This is a major sign of continuing, ancient tribal affiliation.

      As for religion,if I have to ignore much of, that others accept, and use against others, I’m leery of that whole kit and caboodle.

  8. This all applies equally to women, except that men can’t do “real” labor (if you know what I mean).

  9. The use, in discussion, of the word “man, as significantly different from is, probably intended as a generosity of spirit. Distinction, as separation, e.g., segregation in mind and fact between “man and “wo-man” is an issue that is reflective of the primary, cardinal irritation in humanity. That is the ability to assume a substantive difference, when the differences are, actually complementary, both and all comprising the totality–the whole.

    A biology researcher wrote that her research indicates there are, at least, five sexes. Gender, I do not know as I do not recall her using the term. We’re talk biology. We ACT psycho-social.

    I’ve just written a rather long commentary on this topic of “separation”–the prime factor in life. Humans love to name and separate.

    The only reason this notion comes to mind, is, even with the best of intent, too often the concept is one of condescension, lack of respect for self in the complementary–the whole. All are of female and male,contrary to man-made recorded myth. The initial embryo is female for the first few weeks of existence. If the “Y” chromosome is present it becomes active at a time after conception.

    Now, do we need to waste energy denying, ignoring something that is ubiquitous, at least in the human species. It may well be, a universal, everywhere. Let’s get on with the important stuff–defeating the selfish brutes of the planet. Then, we may be competent to visit other worlds.

    Meanwhile, why can not humans cease manufacturing difference where there is distinction, or as the French say, “Vive la difference!”

  10. Edward Lyons says:

    The author of this article can appreciate the sardonically ironic situation of those who are committed to following the teachings of Jesus in the heart of the Great Southern Bible Belt. The Episcopal Church holds the tenant of the Ministry of Discipleship, conferred by the laying on of hands in an unbroken succession going back to Jesus himself. Accepting the Ministry means, in whatever individual form, living out the spiritual values of Jesus, & may Society be turned on its head.

    I am living the experience of leaving Virginia, where the Episcopal Church is one of the most influential, & residing temporarily in Georgia, where the Episcopal Church is a tiny minority in a sea of the more aggressive & narrow forms of “Christianity” spoken of in the article. Their values are not our values.

    The true teaching is that the wealth of heaven awaits those who live on earth in struggle against the dominant power structure, on behalf of the poor & the suffering. The spiritual path is to not be like those whose lives are like whitewashed tombs, clean on the outside but full of decay within. The Final Judgment will separate the true disciples from those who are hypocrites in the name of the Lord. Those who have kept the faith will live forever.

  11. Doug knows where I stand on most issues.
    He knows it disgusts me that Man refers to Jesus the Saviour and then spits in the face of his fellow Man and Woman.
    With sly humor I suggest Jesus,the person to whom everyone refers for issues of morality just might have been off studying under the Bodi tree for the missing 33 years.
    It is also a fact many of his teachings have been distorted for personal gain and continue so today.
    Certain words have particular meanings strictly by using lower case and upper case.
    A Catholic is actually a “universal”lower case and a buddhist is actually a self awakened indivdual who knows what is right and what is wrong.
    William Buckley Jr.wrote an essay long ago on A Nation of Sheep.
    We’re allowing ourselves to become a Universe of Sheep fearful in a chaotic world and not facing the outcome we shall disappear as a people if we continue our unawakened ways.
    For those who believe we exist to take what ever we feel is ours forsaking others,there is no exit.
    Doug is a personal friend of mine.He’s a husband,a father and a teacher to those who wish to learn.
    One needs to tend to his or her own shortcomings before attempting to interfer with others.
    Maybe then ,there would not be so much violence.
    Or is it too late for all of this reflection?I wonder and at the same time congratulate Doug for being courageous enough to share his thoughts.
    Thankyou.

  12. violacious says:

    The greatest threat to human kind, now and in the past, is the GREED for power. For with power comes money and control of others and the self blessing of an out of control ego. Libya,Bahrain, North Korea and Rhodesia might be obvious examples, but there are many in the United States and elsewhere. The promise of the ten commandments has yet to be fulfilled – if it ever is. We can hope that the evolution [is that the right term?] of religion and mans morality will slowly scour out those of great GREED from our world, but for now, there is little evidence of that occurring very quickly. Politics, governence and religion in the United States, Iran, Venezuala, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere seems to support GREED for power at the expense of the humanity.
    Will southern Baptists, Korean Jehovas Whitness’s or others have an impact on this great and growing problem? – by permission – TedM

    • dougstuber says:

      Perhaps churches can be the leaders against greed, and man’s inhumanity to man (is war terrorism? Indeed!) but too many churches (see Van Gogh’s story as a minister who was defrocked because he ONLY ministered to the poor) seak only the rich as paying congregants, and thus bruch greed away. The Heierarchichal Catholic Church, however, has been fairly adept at opposing war. It gets juddy, but all religions should oppose war, yet, the US media has folks beliveing that all muslims are hawkish Jihadists. Oh, then are all Christians like Bush, Milosvic, Hitler?
      Doug

  13. tamlyn young says:

    The warped filters that politics, ego and economics superimpose over spirituality make me wonder whether , if Jesus was alive, one of the first things he’d do is abolish Christianity

  14. “Jesus” never called himself “Christ.” He never founded an institution called “Church” (he didn’t speak any Anglo-Saxon dialect) “he” would not recognize the multi-establishment that has become a monstrous barnacle on the hull of a good idea, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you..Love your “God,” yourself and your neighbor.”

    That is, if one wants to “believe” that there lived a singular person around whom so very much positive and negative energy has evolved.

  15. Steve says:

    re: other religions and heaven
    “Those who do not believe are condemned allready”
    “Noone comes to the Father but by..”

    Now whether it’s true or how it is interpreted is not the point. The point is that anyone knowledgeable in Christianity knows that Jesus referenced himself as a means and also as the only means to eternal life on many occasions and as such we might be better not questioning yet affirming truthfully where and if He asserted other ways. It’s not as though noone has access to a Bible.
    Now, back to the topic of the title of this page.
    “No man shall profit from another man’s labour”
    As far as I am concerned profiting from another’s labour is theft.It’s theft by violence and threats of violence. It’s theft by deception and fraud which in turn is nothing more than another form of violence. It’s theft done by the at least ignorant, blind to if not incapable of the ways of human beings, to human beings unsure of how to address it. For it is not a command: “No man shall..” yet, then, a statement. of fact of what a man is to be like and now a statement. of fact of what many of us are like. It is a defining and determinative statement that clearly indicates fruits; justness, consideration, caring,…by which the tree,here man, is known. As for the rest, consider them what one may, they are certainly not by this statement’s measure men.

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