Saturday 16 June 2012

Christianity, slavery and modern jobs


The striking lack of 'jobs worthy of respect' in modern conditions

seems to present a challenge to Christians - thwarting their hopes of a seamless and integrated life and apparently consigning them to the active service of evil.


In such a situation it is worth remembering the fact that there have been many, many Christian slaves; people who were owned by others, had little or no choice over what they did, how or when they did it - and were Christian. There have been prisoners, and conscripted soldiers, in similar situations.

But a slave or prisoner does not justify their condition - their condition is taken as a misfortune, or accident.


Perhaps, then, the problem is that of honesty - that modern people are dishonest about their work: dishonest to others and to themselves.

In trying to gain status for themselves, to pretend they are masters of their own destiny - self-realizers - modern people use their jobs to amplify and reinforce pride.

Perhaps if people were genuinely humble about their jobs and saw them simply as accidents or misfortunes; then their jobs may not harm their souls - in the way that modern jobs clearly do harm souls: training and corrupting people into lies, and lying about their lies.


Jobs lead us into sin. We are therefore paid to sin. The food in our mouth is the reward of sin.

Yet we are all sinners, Christians know this; and sin is not so much the problem as what happens next.

In this world we will sin, but we must acknowledge this fact, identify the sins, and repent them.


Perhaps the most insidious new sin of modern life is related to spin, hype, propaganda.

A bureaucrat, a functionary, a politician does something he knows to be wrong: he does it because he is forced to do it. He sins on orders.

OK. But the true corruption comes next - when he re-frames the sin as virtue; when he makes arguments to justify the sin and say it is good...

Pretty soon he is working on a campaign or helping frame legislation to propagate sin - to induce others to sin on the basis that it is not really sin but good.

Pretty soon he is vilifying others for failing to agree that sin is virtue, prosecuting and punishing - tormenting, maybe imprisoning and killing, others because they will not agree that sin is good.

Pretty soon he believes the hype, spin and propaganda himself. He begins to believe in his heart that those who resist evil are themselves evil.

That is evil.


The slave, the prisoner, the conscript may be forced into evil, may be forced to go-along with evil and aid evil by his labours.

But the Christian must be clear in his own heart that that is exactly what he is doing; and must repent and ask forgiveness.

Ditto the wage slave, the prisoner of 'the system', the conscript of the forces of evil.


Ditto all of us.

Let not pride stand in the path of humble acknowledgement that in this world we necessarily live by and from actively doing evil.



GeekParallax said...

A bit off topic bgc, but have you seen this link?

National Review learns "Lessons from Byzantium", but strangely they all seem to reinforce American exceptionalism.

Bruce Charlton said...

@GP - Clearly this writer values economics above all. But no society aims at economic success - it is a means to an end, or it is nothing.

In general, it is strange why he focuses on and tries to understand the weakness, rather than the strength, of such a long lasting polity.