The Value of Labor

The Great Reset

The technocratic world is upon us! We have graduated from the old ways of developing communities in a person-to-person manner and within natural environments, to developing communities in a technological manner, on a global and technocratic scale. This modern “advancement” would have likely be looked at as magical by our ancestors. Demonic, though, is probably more of the description many of them would have had. There are many reasons why they might have thought this, one of which I would like to discuss in this article. This involves the subject of labor and how it relates to God’s calling for our souls. How does the modern shifting of labor affect community and the way we live as Christians?

The Slippery Slope

The saints have spoken throughout the ages of how labor is good for the soul. Labor. Physical labor! But first, let’s briefly qualify (physical) labor. Although the vast majority of labor is physical in one sense or another, it simply cannot all be related to things like farming, construction, etc. All labor does indeed involve our interaction with the natural world…creation. This is a slippery slope within the technocratic world. For instance, the beauty of parchment with specially mixed inks from an ink fountain is no longer a part of our society…and even that might have been a compromise to some in the middle ages. The Christian worldview was extremely oral and communal for the first thousand years or so.  Most things were taught person to person. Those that did take up the pen were often called by God as hermits and ascetics, people that could experience the “off grid” life, as we might call it today. 

Nevertheless, this old world is gone, for the most part. Most of modern society has no desire to go “backwards” as many call it, and embrace the agrarian, “hunter-gatherer” lifestyle of the old. Technology is taking over almost every single aspect of our lives, and it has come to a point of what looks like a swift draft into a new demonic environment where only those who participate in the technology will be able to buy and sell and thus survive.

Saints such as St. Dorotheos of Gaza are very serious about guiding us to physical labor. One of his more poignant quotes is, "Let work humble the body, and when the body is humbled the soul will be humbled with it, so that it is truly said that bodily labors lead to humility" (Dorotheos of Gaza, Discourses and Sayings). Orthodox occupation involves true physical labor, from the muscle-bound labor of the construction worker to the gentle and sustained labor of the traditional doctor working with people in a natural environment. Our souls require this labor because we are made from God's labor.

Creation and Labor

Labor is a key aspect of God’s creative order. God Himself is described as a worker. He "founded" the earth, and the heavens are his "handy-work" (Ps. 8:4; 102:26); He is the "fashioner" of everything (Jer. 10:16); man is clay and God the potter (Isa. 64:7, based on Gen. 2:7). God worked six days at creating the world (so Ex. 20:11; in Gen. 2:2–3 "ceased") The people of God must do the same (Ex. 20:8). It comes as no surprise that many of God’s saints were workers or started as workers: Moses (Ex. 3:1), Gideon (Judg. 6:11), Saul (I Sam. 11:5), David (17:34), Elisha (I Kings 19:19), and Amos (1:1; 7:14).

All of creation hinges on labor. According to Genesis 2:5, a condition of the creation of plant life was the presence of a human being to cultivate it; Adam's role was to till and keep the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:15). The curse entailed by Adam's sin was not labor itself but the painful toil OF labor (Gen. 3:17). But He gives us rest from our labors, and explicitly says in the Gospel accounts that “blessed are you who labor, and I will give you rest.”

Christ and the Apostles' Occupations

Christ, of course, was a carpenter. This simply cannot be an arbitrary occupational choice of His. A carpenter is someone who holistically labors, taking the nature and fashioning it to help mankind in his pursuit of the abundant life. Christ earned his living and never once comprised by joining the more bureaucratic methods of income such as tax collecting.

St. Paul the Apostle was a tradesman as well. According to Acts 18, he made tents. Some fathers thought that he also was a leather craftsman. Nevertheless, he worked with the hands that God gave him to earn a living.

  • Do not hate hard work, especially farming, which was created by the Most High – Wisdom of Sirach 7:15

Have you ever heard of a priest blessing animals? Many of you have. But this tradition did not revolve around pets. It revolved around work. The animals were a significant part of the work force, and the priests would bless the animals so they could help produce food for the community.  

Modernity and Labor

The kind of work we do is very important to our spiritual wellbeing, but many of us are bound to our computers for “business”, and we are partaking in some “professional” job without even making use of our bodies. The modern age is here, and it seems to be rapidly closing in on us by robbing us of what God has designed us to do with our lives.

It ought to be the goal of an Orthodox Christian to physically labor, or, at least, to support those who labor. If one has labored and becomes a teacher of that labor, or a businessman of that labor, this is good. This is the natural way to become an “executive.” But to skip the labor and study how to capitalize on those that do…does this not strike you as odd? It is a modern concept brought about by radical industrialization of the 20th century. And now we are facing technocratic industrialization. Modern universities are going above and beyond teaching people how to capitalize on laborers, without learning the trades hands on. They are now teaching us how to become a part of the artificial intelligence that is now capturing our knowledge so as we are no longer needed to teach and manage people about the trades. So, first, we got taught the theory of the “how to” theory of teaching and managing laborers. And now they are taking our students to the next level, one that is distant not only from hands-on labor, but also from the personal teaching of the labor. The software can repeat and transfer the knowledge without us.

So if software (Artificial Intelligence) is now the teacher for most of our industries, how do you think corporations are going to utilize this advancement? Labor is now going to come from the countries like China, Africa, and Mexico since this digital teacher is able to travel anywhere and anytime to manage its slaves.

This harboring of knowledge is dangerous in so many ways because it separates the maker from the seller, creating “merchants, or middlemen.” This was a problem in the ancient times, but now that we have technology at our fingertips, it is quickly becoming cataclysmic. St. John Chrysostom explains this in his Opus Imperfectum of Matthew, which has yet to be fully translated into English:

“He who buys and sells cannot be free of lies and perjury…This means that a merchant can never, or almost never, please God. Therefore, no Christian should be a merchant. If he wishes to be a merchant, let him be thrown out of the Church according to the prophet, “Because I have not known bargaining I will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven”…He who buys a thing so as to sell it in the same unchanged and complete form but rather in order to work with it, he is not a merchant, for he is selling not the thing itself but rather his own work: that is to say, of one sells a thing whose value lies not in the thing itself but rather in the work he has put in it, that is not commerce. But he who buys a thing so as to resell it complete and unchanged and thus realize profit, he is a merchant who was thrown out of the Temple of the Lord. Of all merchants, and accursed, how much more accursed is he who gives at interest money that he has not bought but has been given him by God?”

St. John also condemns giving loans with interest. Again, this is something that has been happening for centuries, but is now happening on a radical level “due to Covid”, or, let’s be honest, due to technology and the pursuit of the technocratic worldview. Banking, real estate, and other middleman industries have become so incredibly “merchant-like,” that, perhaps, we should take heed to the words of St. John regarding them.

Time for our own "Great Reset"

The time to reconsider the conventional way of modern life is now. Our judgment draws near. We seem to be experiencing what the Apostle John explains in Revelation that those who don’t follow the “mark” will not be “able to buy and sell.” The ecumenist, technocratic economy is already here. Now, the devil is searching for people to make this final commitment to his community, prior to his eternal banishment.

If we are going to suffer through this, we need to do it together, as the Early Church did. It is the way that the Apostles taught the Church to conquer and “live abundantly” as Christ says. If there is any hope, it is through the actions of the Church doing what she has done in times past. Do not wait for your priest to persuade you. He already teaches you the revelation of God and empowers you through the sacraments. Take up your cross and do what Christ says in the Parable of the Talents, which is to reach out in faith and use your gifts for the kingdom. He says that if we do this with our talents, our gifts will multiply, and we will become victorious over the enemy.

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