Workism

workism 

Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes.  Haggai 1:6 (NLT)

The Genesis account of Adam and Eve resulted in the direction by God that man should eat food produced by the “sweat of his brow”.  Put another way, one result of their disobedience is that we have been “condemned” to work. OK, I can live with that.  We have to learn self-sufficiency.

I worked my entire adult life.  Sometimes too much, and I admit that there were times when I was a workaholic. Those were in my “BC” days when I didn’t know that one of my main responsibilities was to be the spiritual leader of my family.

I was mistaken that my only role was to be the breadwinner, and so working long hours seemed to be a virtue in my distorted sense of world order.  When I became a Christian, someone told me something I shall never forget. They said “they never knew anyone on their death bed who said ‘I wish I had worked more’.” Ouch!

Fast forward to today where life in America has gotten more complicated.  In the Atlantic, Judith Shulevitz wrote an article titled “Why You Never See your Friends Anymore.”  Her premise is that our current work culture has caused havoc on how we work, rest and socialize.

Her article traces the dislocation back to Stalin and Russia. Stalin wanted to undermine the family. In 1929, he changed the traditional workweek and eliminated Saturday and Sunday as days off.

Instead, each worker was assigned a color (orange, purple, etc.). which signified what day off they would have. Husbands and wives often had different days off which was deemed fine because it disrupted families.

It was intended to provide a continuous workweek, or nepreryvka. This attempt at social engineering backfired, but the traditional workweek did not return until 1940.   

Studies now show that almost a third of the American workforce are enduring similar and unpredictable work schedules.  Shulevitz says that this free time dislocation might end up being an American nepreryvka.

Employers are demanding what is called “schedule flexibility” where the 9 to 5 workday is in the rearview mirror, and your hours as an employee may be dictated more by market needs (i.e. busy times) than your needs.

White-collar employees are not exempt. Technology has made professionals and managers constantly “on-call”.  In a study, over 90% worked more than 50 hours a week, and a third worked more than 65 hours per week according to a Harvard Business School study.

As a result, a Harvard economist summarized the issue this way: “Professions devote the majority of the waking hours to their careers.” The result is predictable – it leads to the breakdown of family and social ties. I can relate to this, as I noted above. I bought into it, too.

A recent Pew research report on anxiety of the next generation showed that 95% of teens said that “having a career they enjoy” would be extremely important as an adult. Their aspirations for work ranked higher than any other priority including marriage (47%) and “helping other people in need” (81%).

Political philosophers have long said that if you want to create conditions for tyranny, all you need to do is destroy the “bonds of intimate relationships and local community.” Chasing the false god of workism is a potential tool in the toolkit.

Workism, it turns out, is a big deal. It is a kind of religion rooted in atheism which puts forth the concept that “work is not only necessary to economic production, but also the centerpiece of one’s identity.”

According to Derek Thompson in the Atlantic, workism is the “belief that any policy to promote human welfare must always encourage more work.”

Sound familiar?  Well, I touched on this latter thought in my post on History where I noted that the revisionist history was created with an aim to minimize parental control. If you damage the family through a work ethic that destroys time off, all the better.

These trends are troubling, to say the least. This “new” religion was conceived over 100 years ago and is now taking root in the next generation. It fails spiritually and destroys community by undermining the nature of social and family life.  We need to bow to a different altar by bringing balance back into our lives.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:    Your mentee is not exempt from this pull from peers to make workism a false religion. You have an opportunity to teach biblical values of a balanced lifestyle.

FURTHER READINGWhy You Never See Your Friends Anymore  Judith Shulevitz

Workism is Making Americans Miserable  Derek Thompson

WORSHIP: Listen to Kari Jobe remind us that I Am Not Alone

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History

history

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”  Ecclesiastes 1:9

The next generation has all of history at their fingertips. Literally. One problem: having it available and knowing history are two entirely different things.

Edmund Burke stated: “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”

I know it is stretch in this day and time when technology has changed the landscape to say that history repeats itself, but in many ways, it does.  If it didn’t, then you wouldn’t have ongoing efforts to erase or even rewrite history.

The Cultural Revolution in China was an attempt to purge the impure elements of Chinese society. It was an all-out attack on Chinese society by Mao Zedong. It resulted in the death of at least 1.5 million people. It attempted to erase history.

It was a repeat of Stalin in Russia and the French Revolution in the late 18th century. In both cases, the intellectuals, scholars and elderly were attacked, imprisoned or killed.

In Russia, the “bourgeois” or ruling class were all but exterminated. It was done under the auspices of an ideology, but it really was about power. It’s always about power.

So, what we have learned is that, if you don’t like your history, you can try and eliminate it like Stalin and Mao. Or, you can use a more subtle tactic which is to rewrite it. You just revise history to fit your narrative.

That’s happening now in many school systems in America. The College Board came out with a controversial AP U.S. History (APUSH) which is revisionist. The proponents deflect any criticism as coming from “ignorant” chauvinists.

It is still a battleground, particularly when 55 Scholars from a broad variety of disciplines protested its changes. The changes emphasize the warts or “blemishes” of the past, not on the achievements or successes.

This is a big deal.  In 2015, Congress was called on to withhold funding from nonprofits that developed APUSH because it “emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects.”

The revisionist narrative is that all whites are responsible for slavery and are to be condemned (no matter that they didn’t do it, but they are condemned since their forebearers may have been involved).

The result is a push for “reparations” to those in the current generation whose forbearers were “oppressed”. The idea is that the victims should receive some monetary benefit from those whose ancestors were responsible.

In effect, all whites are racists – the revisionist history is based on white supremacy.  And if you buy that, then you, as a white, are unable to fix it unless you fork over some money.  That narrative doesn’t bother to note that slavery exists today.

In fact, slavery is a bigger problem than it was 100 years ago. There are an estimated 45 million in slavery today. Instead of attempting to eradicate slavery entirely, those pushing this narrative want to make victimhood its goal.

Slavery and racism have become the new “original sin”.  Once you have sinned, you cannot be redeemed. That’s a dark message today, and it is being broadcast in the media and in our school systems.

One problem:  it is not the original sin.  That happened back in the garden when Eve, then Adam, ate the forbidden fruit.  The bible is full of flawed leaders, but the message is clear that even a flawed leader can make great achievements and be redeemed.

King David was flawed: he had Bathsheba’s husband killed so he could have an affair. Yet he was called a man after God’s own heart. Imagine what a revisionist version of David’s conduct viewed in the prism of the #MeToo movement would look like today?

Geoffrey Botkin wrote a telling article on why the public schools teach revisionist history. He traces it back to the early 20th century when a group of educators from Columbia Teachers College received funding from large foundations (Rockefeller, Ford and Carnegie) to change the curriculum for history in schools.

He quotes Sam Blumenfield who said: “The plain truth is that there has been in this country a deliberate plan to change American education so that the American people can easily be led into socialism.”

Botkin’s research found that the foundations that supported the revisionist mission had several motivations, including an attempt to “mold people through schooling“, and “eliminate tradition and scholarship“. There was a “clear intent to weaken parental influence” and “overthrow accepted (theological) custom”.

Their goal was to create Perfectionism as the “new secular religion aimed at making the perfection of human nature, not salvation or happiness, the purpose of existence”.

No surprise that a majority of the next generation find socialism preferable to capitalism.

The challenge as a Christian is not to put your head in the sand but recognize that a battle is being waged for the minds and souls of the next generation.  The revisionist agenda wants to eliminate the significance of the past and religion by putting society and the future on man’s terms.

God, in this agenda, gets shown the back door. We cannot let that happen.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Help your mentee look at original sources for history – not doctored textbooks. Help them to analyze them through a Biblical grid to come up with their own conclusions.

FURTHER RESOURCESWhy the Public School System Teaches Revisionist History (2010)

The Dumbing Down of America by John Gatto

It’s the 21t Century. Yet Slavery is alive and well. Washington Post

WORSHIP: Listen to This We Know. Passion.

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GI – W = E

formulas

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  James 1:5

This was a new formula to me.  I remember E = MCwhich came from Einstein. It’s part of his theory of relativity. I have only a vague idea what it means, but I do remember the formula.

The formula above was created by Denis Prager, a columnist for the Hoover Institute. As he notes, it is not a formula taught in schools.

It stands for Good Intentions Without Wisdom Results in Evil. Prager says that the term “rules of life” is another term for wisdom. Those are the pithy little sayings that almost always are true.

Prager explains that life has rules, just as natural science does. I have my own favorite “life rules”.  You can ask my kids which ones they remember. They will quickly come up with examples. Things like:   “Happy wife = happy life.”  After 53 years of marriage, I can attest to that bit of wisdom.

As I thought about this, I couldn’t escape remembering one of my mother’s favorite sayings: “The road of life is paved with good intentions.”  But it’s still a road, sometimes unpaved and bumpy.

Prager’s list includes one:  “Human nature is not basically good”.  This is straight out of the Fall from grace by Adam and Eve in the garden. He continues:  “Ingratitude makes happiness impossible.” You don’t have to reflect long to confirm that.

Prager’s theme is that the more that people live by rules of life, the better off they will be, and the better our society will be.  His PagerU website gets a billion hits a year by mostly those under 35 who are searching for “rules” that make sense out of life.

A provocative book by Jordan Peterson is titled “12 Rules of Life: An Antidote for Chaos”.  The premise of the book is that our next generation is searching for something that works in the post-Christian cultural vacuum where a biblical background provides structure.

One of Peterson’s rules in the book made me chuckle. Rule 10 is: “Do not bother children while they are skateboarding.”  I get that.

Peterson’s book has sold millions of copies, predominantly to the next generation who are searching for answers and not finding them in the usual places from their peers or adults in their life.

They have been taught to pursue “self-esteem” instead of self-control and it hasn’t worked well. Instead of leading to a fulfilled life, this “rule” has “led to moral and professional failure”.

Perhaps the best example of Prager’s formula is communism. It was initiated by good intentions of the rank in file, yet it led to the greatest mass murder ideology in the world. The leaders saw communism as a route to power.  It’s estimated that 100 million died..

Communism started as a means of building a beautiful future for humanity, one which would eliminate inequality and enable people to work as hard or as little as they wanted. It would provide citizens “free” education and “free” health care.  Proponents were convinced that they were good because their intentions were good. Sound familiar?

But what actually happened is another story. The advocates of communism (or socialism today) believe that good intentions is all that matters. It’s foolish because they don’t ask the question what will happen if their policy is actually enacted? In fact, they never ask that question.

A majority of the next generation favor socialism. It sounds good, and it’s intentions are good, so why not? Well, it never works. Ever. Every time socialism is touted as “the answer” it leads to a disaster, yet each time it’s proponents say: “this time it will be different.”

My way of saying this is that Good Intentions without Wisdom leads to Bad Consequences.

Climate change comes to mind.  It’s a good idea to be concerned about the environment. That’s the good intention. But the world is not going to crash in the next 10 years as some predict. In fact, over the past 50 years, there have been dozens of predictions of the end of the world due to climate change that didn’t occur.

The issue is not climate change. Climate has always changed. Most of the east coast of America was under glaciers at one time. The question is: how much change is an anthropogenic phenomenon?

Yet climate change activism has been taught in schools and now is accepted as true, even though it is not, contrary to what 16 year-old Greta Thornburg said at the UN recently.

The challenge here is that the next generation has been taught to believe a lot of things that come from good intentions. But they have lost the ability to do critical thinking on their own and challenge those ideas.

.MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  You are in the best position to help your mentee navigate through what appears to be popular ideas which often don’t get challenged by social media.

FURTHER RESEARCH: The Equation that Explains Evil– Dennis Prager

Wrong Again: 50 Years of Failed Eco-pocalyptic Predictions – Competitive Enterprise Institute

Over Half of Millennials Identify as Socialist  American Institute for Economic Research

100 Years of Communism – and 100 Million Dead– Wall Street Journal

12 Rules of LIfe: An Antidote for Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson

WORSHIP: Listen to God of Wonders by Paul Baloche

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Reflections

 

reflectionFor now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:2

This might be a short post. It was not what I was thinking about writing this week, but it is a topic that keeps me on my toes spiritually and it kept cropping up in my mind.

A song by Keith and Krysten Getty is titled “Speak, O Lord.  The lyrics:  “Take your truth and plant it deep in us.”  It continues: “Shape and fashion us in Your likeness;  That the light of Christ might be seen in us today.”

If we want to be a role model for others, the song hits it on the head. We should be the role model Jesus gave us and be His reflection to the world.

In my power point presentation on mentoring, I use a quote from Jim Henson who created the Muppets. Henson said:  “Kids don’t learn from what you try to teach them.They learn from who you are.”

As the above picture shows, sometimes what or who we think we are reflecting doesn’t correlate. That’s why it is hard to live this life alone: we can’t rely on ourself to be sure we are reflecting Jesus. As Jeremiah 17:9 notes: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

When we become more like Him, we reflect, as it were, Him to others around us. But, if you are like me, we mess up constantly, so the task is not about perfection but about progress. If we blow it, we should take stock, learn from our mistakes and commit to be better in the future.

In today’s world, many of the next generation have not had parents who were role models. We are in a post-Christian and Post-Truth era.

Some have come from single parent households, often with absentee fathers. Some have lived with parents who were critical, harsh, neglectful or even abusive. They may even feel guilty and think that God the Father is judging them the same way.

Their view of our Lord is tainted by the distorted image they have seen here on earth.

While each of us can’t fix the past, we can be ever mindful that “who” we are will be a reflection to our children, mentees and the world around us.  We may be the only image of the Lord they get to see.

I had lunch with my wife and one of her bible study friends this week. Her friend, Barbara, told a story that occurred while she was visiting Dallas on business trip. She visited a large well known church, but when the service was over, she was unable to use Uber to get her back to her hotel. So she called a yellow cab instead.

When she got in the cab, the driver, noting that she had just left a church, asked her if she could explain the trinity: God the Father, Jesus the son and the Holy Spirit. Her response was classic. She said the trinity was like water which can be in three forms:  ice, liquid and steam. But they are all water.

Over the next couple of days, she called the same cab driver when she needed transportation. On her last trip, she asked the driver if he had ever made a faith decision. He said “Yes. I just gave my life to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

Barbara didn’t try and give a theological dissertation on the trinity. She was winsome and used an analogy that is easy to understand. She was not critical, judgmental nor confrontational. She was just reflecting Jesus.

We can all learn from that.

That’s the challenge: we need to do start each day with the goal of being more like Jesus to others.  Oh, and I didn’t say it would be easy. Human interaction, even among Christians, is fragile and often fraught with emotions.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Who are you reflecting today?  You need to be authentic and transparent.  Admitting your failures goes a long way with the next generation who seek authenticity in people they trust.

WORSHIP: Listen to Speak O Lord with Krysten Getty

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