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Thread: What is work?

  1. #51
    LL P. Stewie Beorn's Avatar
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    I didn't say God couldn't endure his creatures. I said he doesn't have to endure them.
    Take the weakest thing in you
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  2. #52
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    I don't have any problems if someone wants to explain work as a "divine duty" in some way, and that the general "order" of things is that "If you don't work, you don't eat". But the "work ethic" as an end-all be-all type of virtue must be challenged. There are all kinds of virtues, and they must be weighed against each other. If work was the only good to keep in mind, slaves would be kept down, and told to convince themselves not to grumble about their labor "Because God wants them to work hard". People would never go on strike and enact necessary workplace and pay changes, because society would be guilt tripping them with some "You should work hard and not complain" bullshit. And if someone wants to leave their job because it required some kind of dishonesty on their part, then more power to them. They shouldn't be guilted into thinking they did something wrong and that they are lazy. They are following high ideals themselves by choosing honesty over dishonesty.

    Further, nature itself would tell us that sometimes it might be "better in God's eyes" to be lazy. People invent all kinds of non-sensical work that God "might not want them to do". Take raking the leaves, for example. I happen to find scattered leaves beautiful. And if there is a God, then I imagine no one else was responsible for those leaves except God. YET... some knucklehead might stroll by my yard and grumble under his breath that "I'm lazy" for letting the leaves remain as they are. He thinks he's justified in being that way because God "values hard work", and that somehow, I'm clearly a case of someone who doesn't listen -- yet this would be the Work Ethic taking itself too seriously for it's own good. A case where the ideal of hard work has lost sight of how nature and even God may want us to behave.

    Basically, like I said.. there are many virtues. Not just one that overrides them. Sometimes there's a place for hard work, sometimes there's not.

    And Beefeater, I'm not targetting you here necessarily. I'm sort of ranting into the air here. Hope you don't take it personally.

  3. #53
    *hmmms* theadoor's Avatar
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    Work is putting your energy into smth that provides you smth useful in return.
    Oh yeah?

  4. #54
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beefeater View Post
    You're not being rude at all. If anything I was being lazy, by not fully explaining myself.

    Through God's benevolence to the entirety of humanity he has established a general order of prosperity and poverty. That is by his common grace (grace bestowed on the christian and non-christian) those that are diligent in their work prosper and those that are lazy do not prosper. This is simply the normal way the world works. Ultimately though all favor showed to humans both in worldly and spiritual affairs is unearned because all humans are fallen and sinful.

    So as a Christian I don't work primarily because I want God to favor me... he has already shown favor to me through my salvation by the sacrifice of his son. I workout out of thankfulness... or at least I should. It is only of secondary importance that I also work with the knowledge that God is just and that I will either be rewarded for my good works in this world or in the next.

    God may decide according to his will to deter from the normal. He may cause poverty to fall upon a diligent person through no fault of their own. A Christian views such an occurrence as an event that God will use to make us more righteous. If we maintain faith in God through troublesome times we will become more humble and more like Christ himself (who was no rich man.) Even if a Christian is lazy and falls upon hard times I don't view that as punishment merely for the sake of punishment. My God does not bring harm upon his children unless ultimately it will do them good.



    Now as for bad things that happen to non-christians it is a completely different story. Anything good that happens to either a lazy non-christian or a diligent non-christian is because of God's unmerited common grace to them. Any poverty or anything bad in general that happens to a non-christian whether they are diligent or lazy is a just result of God's wrath upon them. It is justified because they are fallen and sinful.

    So while there is a general order, God may deter from that to accomplish his own ends. The raising up of Pharaoh, an evil man who prospered through the enslavement of the Israelites, is an excellent example of where God deters from the norm.



    This is all to say that everything that happens on earth ultimately occurs to bring glory to God.


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  5. #55
    Gotta catch you all! Blackmail!'s Avatar
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    In French, the word we use to say "work" has a curious etymology.

    It is "travail", and it comes from Latin "trepalium", which means... torture instrument. :eek:
    "A man who only drinks water has a secret to hide from his fellow-men" -Baudelaire

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  6. #56
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    france is awesome and offers the most paid holiday leave time out of anyone (*correction, so does finland). america doesn't even have laws on it.. it's left up to employers (yeah, smart idea!).

    actually, here's an interesting link.

    [edit] also, even japan and s. korea are better off - and those are clear cases of cultures that are comparable with american "work ethic". possibly even more serious about it. so i'm just pointing this out in case someone wants to come in with an "America! Fuck yeah!" speech and say that countries that don't work as hard have worse economies. they don't necessarily.

  7. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chunes View Post
    I do lots of things for free that I consider work.
    Are you certain? If you get some form of reward other than the pleasure derived directly from the activity itself, then you are not doing it for free.

  8. #58
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackmail! View Post
    In French, the word we use to say "work" has a curious etymology.

    It is "travail", and it comes from Latin "trepalium", which means... torture instrument. :eek:
    Yeah ahah, it's similar in Spanish and in some southern Italian dialect. The same word is used for the locution "giving birth".

    actually, here's an interesting link.
    Mm, it'd have been better if the used average rather than minimum. Most of my friends get 30 days a year of paid vacation.
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  9. #59
    LL P. Stewie Beorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDude View Post
    I don't have any problems if someone wants to explain work as a "divine duty" in some way, and that the general "order" of things is that "If you don't work, you don't eat". But the "work ethic" as an end-all be-all type of virtue must be challenged.There are all kinds of virtues, and they must be weighed against each other. If work was the only good to keep in mind, slaves would be kept down, and told to convince themselves not to grumble about their labor "Because God wants them to work hard". People would never go on strike and enact necessary workplace and pay changes, because society would be guilt tripping them with some "You should work hard and not complain" bullshit. And if someone wants to leave their job because it required some kind of dishonesty on their part, then more power to them. They shouldn't be guilted into thinking they did something wrong and that they are lazy. They are following high ideals themselves by choosing honesty over dishonesty.
    When you apply the Bible to the modern western world I don't really disagree that other virtues might need to be taken into serious consideration when considered in relation to work ethic. I'm not sure its necessarily lazy to strike. Remember the first massive slave revolt in history was that of the israelites and that was ordered by God.

    Nor do I think that this kind of work ethic should be propagated in any kind of authoritarian manner. I don't like big government and I'm suspicious of big business. Rather, a strong work ethic should primarily be pushed by lowly pastors and priests that have their congregation's best interests at heart.

    But, you must consider that for thousands of years a strong work ethic was absolutely necessary for survival and thus it might trump many other virtues. The Israeli slave revolt in egypt would have likely resulted in massive amounts of death if God had not provided for them.

    Further, nature itself would tell us that sometimes it might be "better in God's eyes" to be lazy. People invent all kinds of non-sensical work that God "might not want them to do". Take raking the leaves, for example. I happen to find scattered leaves beautiful. And if there is a God, then I imagine no one else was responsible for those leaves except God. YET... some knucklehead might stroll by my yard and grumble under his breath that "I'm lazy" for letting the leaves remain as they are. He thinks he's justified in being that way because God "values hard work", and that somehow, I'm clearly a case of someone who doesn't listen -- yet this would be the Work Ethic taking itself too seriously for it's own good. A case where the ideal of hard work has lost sight of how nature and even God may want us to behave.
    There's this wonderful thing within Christianity that few outside of the church have heard of and many within the church do not understand: It's called "Christian Liberty." Augustine best summed up the term with his phrase "Love God and do what you want."

    I think you are confusing Protestant work ethic with societal expectations. God does not make the Christian a slave to society those in the 50's who thought so were wrong. There is nothing in the Bible that speaks of raking leaves. Now if you are pissing off your neighbors that brings in other issues.

    My point is that Everyone has a calling, a purpose, and God requires us to diligently seek out that purpose. This gives confidence to both those that work long hours in difficult work and those that spend more time contemplating.

    If someone is called to be a supreme court justice then they will likely have to work 80 hour weeks for most of their life. I believe it is possible to do this while still being virtuous and not ignoring other responsibilities.

    If someone is called to be a writer they may spend hours simply reading, writing, meditating and contemplating in a comfy chair or listening to music for inspiration.

    I have a big tent view of work and what falls within the category. I think the most important work a person can do is the work of contemplation and reflection. The most important work of the day might be a contemplative walk through a park at the end of the day.

    The dean of my law school is fond saying: "Many people will tell me that they have 20, 30, or 40 years of experience. But, if they have not spent any time reflecting then all they have is one year of experience repeated 20, 30, or 40 times."




    And Beefeater, I'm not targetting you here necessarily. I'm sort of ranting into the air here. Hope you don't take it personally.
    Thanks, I don't take it personally and I think some of your frustration is justified. I'm an infp... I get sick of the silly things that SJs of the world want to push on me as a responsibility.


    Somehow I've gotten through this thread without the Frenchman Jean Calvin:

    "It is an error to think that those who flee worldly affairs and engage in contemplation are leading an angelic life… We know that men were created to busy themselves with labor and that no sacrifice is more pleasing to God than when each one attends to his calling and studies well to live for the common good."

    Ftr, I'm really working this stuff out as I'm posting. I haven't developed a completely defined theology of work. As you will see in some of my posts I refer to reflection as rest and in others I refer to it as work.
    Take the weakest thing in you
    And then beat the bastards with it
    And always hold on when you get love
    So you can let go when you give it

  10. #60
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beefeater View Post
    Augustine best summed up the term with his phrase "Love God and do what you want."
    And Augustine also taught that heretics should be tortured. And so they were for 500 years.

    And Thomas Aquinas taught that heretics should be killed and so they were.

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