Monday, September 24th, 2012 :: 8:25 PM

"That's the ironic gesture, right? We're absolutely concerned — "Oh, we've got to do something," Right? And then, actually, […] it's what you're doing that's creating the problem in the first place, and yet your concern, it masks that.

[…]

"How many of us sit in Starbucks and talk about the evils of corporations? How many of us drive fuel-consuming cars while listening to radio programs about the environment? We engage in this ironic gesture all the time, and we don't experience it.

"Batman's a perfect example. What does he do at night? He puts on this crazy rubber suit, and he goes out and he beats up criminals, right? Then, after he's beaten up the criminals, the next day, he gets in his suit, and he goes and he works in Wayne Industries as Bruce Wayne. Now, what's really interesting, is he's doing this big stuff on Saturday night, you know, beating up on the bad guys, trying to to make Gothem City a better place. And yet during the day he's working in an industry which makes so much money that he can fund a high-tech military campaign and nobody even notices.

"How much money is Wayne Industries making? Wayne Industries is making phenomenal amounts of money. And one has to ask, is it not industries like Wayne Industries, who are making such vast amounts of money without any social regard; is that not the reason that there are criminals that he has to beat up? He's not made the connection that the very thing he's doing on Monday to Friday is the very thing he's fighting on Saturday night.

"He thinks the site of resistance is going out and beating up criminals, but he doesn't realize that what's he's doing in his grounded daily activity is creating and generating the very conditions that means he has to do that.

[…]

"The very thing he thinks is the site of Resistance is the thing he has to do to in order to feel good about himself so he can get the suit on and go into work the next day.

[…]

"What you find out is that the very place you thought was the site of resistance […] is the very thing the system requires in order to continue to run smoothly." (>>)

Sunday, September 11th, 2011 :: 9:34 AM

The parable of the workers in the vineyard:

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same.

And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’

When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage.

And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

So the last will be first, and the first will be last.

Part of William Barclay's commentary:

This parable may sound to us as if it described a purely imaginary situation, but that is far from being the case. Apart from the method of payment, the parable describes the kind of thing that frequently happened at certain times in Palestine. The grape harvest ripened towards the end of September, and then close on its heels the rains came. If the harvest was not ingathered before the rains broke, then it was ruined; and so to get the harvest in was a frantic race against time. Any worker was welcome, even if he could give only an hour to the work.

The pay was perfectly normal; a denarius or a drachma was the normal day's wage for a working man; and, even allowing for the difference in modern standards and in purchasing power, 4 pence a day was not a wage which left any margin.

The men who were standing in the market-place were not street-corner idlers, lazing away their time. The market-place was the equivalent of the labour exchange. A man came there first thing in the morning, carrying his tools, and waited until someone hired him. The men who stood in the market-place were waiting for work, and the fact that some of them stood on until even five o'clock in the evening is the proof of how desperately they wanted it.

These men were hired labourers; they were the lowest class of workers, and life for them was always desperately precarious. Slaves and servants were regarded as being at least to some extent attached to the family; they were within the group; their fortunes would vary with the fortunes of the family, but they would never be in any imminent danger of starvation in normal times. It was very different with the hired day-labourers. They were not attached to any group; they were entirely at the mercy of chance employment; they were always living on the semi-starvation line. As we have seen, the pay was 4 pence a day; and, if they were unemployed for one day, the children would go hungry at home, for no man ever saved much out of 4 pence a day. With them, to be unemployed for a day was disaster.

The hours in the parable were the normal Jewish hours. The Jewish day began at sunrise, 6 a.m., and the hours were counted from then until 6 p.m., when officially the next day began. Counting from 6 a.m. therefore, the third hour is 9 a.m., the sixth hour is twelve midday, and the eleventh hour is 5 p.m.

This parable gives a vivid picture of the kind of thing which could happen in the market-place of any Jewish village or town any day, when the grape harvest was being rushed in to beat the rains.

Fairness should always be used to ensure that people get what they earned, but never to prevent people from getting what they need. Generosity trumps fairness.

Monday, April 6th, 2009 :: 7:24 PM

"…or as Dr. Jonathan Edwards once put it, 'When people say, "I can't afford to give," what they're really saying is, "I can't afford to give without burdening myself." But the Bible says, 'Bear one another's burdens.' And if you say, 'I'm not going to help bear your burden without burdening myself'… How do you bear someone else's burden's without burdening yourself? You have to burden yourself to bear another burden. Look at the needs of the world, look at the needs of the church, look at the needs out there. You need to give until some of the burden other people are experiencing is falling on you, then there'll be peace and justice in the world." (>>) [MP3]

Monday, April 2nd, 2007 :: 10:06 AM

"True generosity is measured not by how much we give away but by how much we have left, especially when we look at the needs of our neighbors." (>>)

Friday, October 20th, 2006 :: 3:30 PM

This is cool. I'm going to try it.

Sunday, June 25th, 2006 :: 11:49 PM

" 'Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.' " (>>)

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005 :: 8:43 PM

" 'We live in the most affluent culture in the most affluent period of human history. If we can't discipline ourselves to learn the joys of generous living, I think we're an embarassment to the gospel.' " (>>)

Wednesday, July 13th, 2005 :: 10:47 AM

"In that particular case a poor defendant (Sanji) living in an apartment above a bakery was enjoined in a civil suit by the Baker, who sought damages arising from the defendant's habit of opening his apartment window every morning and taking in the aromas of the dark crusty bread, warm sweet rolls, and crunchy biscuits that wafted up from the bakery- without benefit or recompense to the plaintiff who toiled over the hot ovens to produce the smells. In his complaint the plaintiff argued in court that the defendant had been 'stealing' the smells, and sought damages for the 'whiffing and sniffing.'

"The court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, but in the remedy phase of the trial issued a symbolic judgment where it was arranged that the plaintiff would hear the 'clink clink' sound of the defendant's money as it dropped into a bowl, in lieu of an actual settlement." (>>)

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2004 :: 1:20 PM

"I was striving to be a monastic, convinced it was the only option if I were not to be a materialist. I knew that greed was a corrosive, and that endless wanting is one of the surest ways of corrupting your soul. I wanted to be free from greed and live freely. In my sincerity, I misdirected the trajectory of my life course. I had concluded that the opposite of greed was poverty and that the solution to wanting was not having. But I would soon discover that the opposite of greed is not poverty, but generosity." (>>)

Saturday, May 3rd, 2003 :: 8:42 PM

Proverbs 11:23-25 (>>)

The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.

One man gives freely, yet gains more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

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