Richer by Far: The Men in the Vat (Upton Sinclair)

“Inanimate objects are classified scientifically into three major categories: those that don’t work, those that break down and those that get lost.” Russel Baker

“Some worked at the stamping machines, and it was very seldom that one could work long there at the pace that was set, and not give out and forget himself and have a part of his hand chopped off. There were the ‘hoisters,’ as they were called, whose task it was to press the lever which lifted the dead cattle off the floor. They ran along upon a rafter, peering down through the damp and the steam; and as old Durham’s architects had not built the killing room for the convenience of the hoisters, at every few feet they would have to stoop under a beam, say four feet above the one they ran on; which got them into the habit of stooping, so that in a few years they would be walking like chimpanzees. Worst of any, however, were the fertilizer men, and those who served in the cooking rooms. These people could not be shown to the visitor,–for the odor of a fertilizer man would scare any ordinary visitor at a hundred yards, and as for the other men, who worked in tank rooms full of steam, and in some of which there were open vats near the level of the floor, their peculiar trouble was that they fell into the vats; and when they were fished out, there was never enough of them left to be worth exhibiting,–sometimes they would be overlooked for days, till all but the bones of them had gone out to the world as Durham’s Pure Leaf Lard!” Upton Sinclair

“Do you see someone skilled in their work?
They will serve before kings;
they will not serve before officials of low rank.”
Prov. 2:29 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • It’s so unpleasant even to read these things. Imagine going to work at Durham’s each day.
  • Who do you know that has their safety or health endangered by their work?
  • Why are the men at Durham’s treated like “inanimate objects?”
  • No matter how skilled, these workers will never “serve before kings.” Why is that?

Abba, as a consumer, make me aware of how I contribute to the exploitation of others.

For More: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. New York: Doubleday, 1906.

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Daily Riches: Gargoyles and God’s Therapy (Malcolm Muggeridge)

“Newcomers to the Christian faith, the Journalist finds, are considered, by the nature of the case, to have lost their sense of humour: How funny he used to be! and now, alas, how solemn! how portentous! What an unconscionable bore he has become! This assumption that a sense of humour and a Christian faith are incompatible is totally mistaken. In point of fact, the writers of the great classics of humour – Rebelais, Cervantes, Swift, Gogol – have all been deeply religious. …The true function of humour is to express in terms of the grotesque the immense disparity between human aspiration and human performance. Mysticism expresses the same disparity in terms of the sublime. Hence the close connection between clowns and mystics; hence, too, the juxtaposition on the great medieval cathedrals of steeples reaching up into the Cloud of Unknowing, and gargoyles grinning malevolently down at our dear earth and all it’s foolishness. Laughter and mystical ecstacy, that is to say, both derive from an awareness, in the one case hilarious, in the other ecstatic, of how wide is the chasm between Time and Eternity, between us and our Creator. Let us then, while, as we should, revering the steeples, remember the gargoyles, also, in their way, purveyors of God’s Word, and be thankful that, when the Gates of Heaven swing open, as they do from time to time, mixed with the celestial music there is the unmistakable sound of celestial laughter. … How wonderful it is, this marrying of the ribaldry of gargoyles with the sublimity of steeples, this seeing of a saint in every clown and a clown in every saint, and the Fall of Man as being, at once, the measure and fatality of all our afflictions and the old banana-skin joke on a cosmic scale. …Laughter, indeed, is God’s therapy; He planted the steeples and the gargoyles, gave us clowns as well as saints, in order that we might understand that at the heart of our mortal existence there lies a mystery, at once unutterably beautiful and hilariously funny.” Malcolm Muggeridge

“What are mere mortals … that you should care for them?” Psalm 8:4

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you noticed the “immense disparity” between your aspirations and performance? Have you noticed it in everyone else too?
  • Can you laugh with the gargoyles at this situation – “unutterably beautiful and hilariously funny?”
  • Imagine “how wide is the chasm” between you and your Creator. Now imagine that Creator being undeterred by that chasm in his love for you.

Abba, thank you for the gargoyles.

For More: Conversion by Malcolm Muggeridge

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share it. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Laughter and Taking Your Proper Place in the Universe (James Martin, Karl Rahner, David Robb)

“If people don’t have some lightness in their lives then they end up taking themselves too seriously and are unable to move outside themselves. And a great deal of spirituality lies in putting yourself in an appropriate place in the universe. Those who can laugh at themselves can also look at themselves critically, but not harshly, a key element of emotional growth.” David Robb

“The truly holy are humble because they know their place before God. But how, with our accomplishments and our egos, especially in a culture that tells us that we have to be on top, to be number one, to be successful, do we keep that humility before us? Self-deprecating humor … is one way to do this. Laughing at yourself, not taking yourself too seriously, not making every situation about you, not demanding that life adjust itself to suit your needs, and laughing at yourself when you forget all this are good places to start.” James Martin

“Laugh. For this laughter is an acknowledgment that you are a human being. An acknowledgment that is itself the beginning of the acknowledgment of God. For how else is a person to acknowledge God except for admitting in his life and by means of his life that he himself is not God but a creature that has his times – a time to weep and a time to laugh, and the one is not the other. A praising of God is what laughter is, because it lets a human being be human.” Karl Rahner

“Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
‘The Lord has done great things for them.’”
Psalm 126:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is laughter in your repertoire? If so, how does it help you keep things in perspective?
  • If you can laugh at yourself, you can look at yourself “critically, but not harshly [which is] a key element of emotional growth.” Can you laugh at yourself?
  • It’s not about you. You’re not in control. Can you laugh at yourself “when you forget all this” and let humor bring you back to your senses and proper “place before God?”

Abba, keep me from taking myself or others too seriously. As your people, may our mouths be filled with laughter.

For More: Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”