“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.
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.”
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.”