"Indignity is hard to avoid when our whole economy
revolves around the creation and fulfillment
of phony needs. It is an indignity to make anything less than
an art out of your work." - Charles
"You work that you may keep pace with the
Earth and the Soul of the Earth.
For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons,
to step out of life's procession
marching in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite.
you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns
Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else
sings together in unison?
Always you have been told that work is a
curse and labor a misfortune.
But I say to you that when you work you
fulfill a part of Earth's furthest Dream,
Assigned to you when that Dream was Born,
keeping yourself with labor you are in Truth Loving Life,
compassion life through labor is to be intimate with life's inmost secret.
If you in pain call birth an
affliction and support of the flesh a curse written upon your brow,
Then I answer that naught but the sweat of your brow shall wash away
that which is written.
You have been told also
life is darkness,
and in your
weariness you echo what was said by the weary.
And I say that life is
indeed darkness save when there is desire to live,
And all desire to
live is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain
save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is
And when you work with Compassion you bind yourself to
yourself, to one another, to God.
And what is it to work with
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your
Even as if your Beloved were to wear that cloth.
is to build a house with affection,
Even as if your Beloved were to
dwell in that house.
It is to
sow seeds with tenderness and reap the Harvest with Joy,
Even as if
your Beloved were to eat
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your
And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into
a song made sweeter by his own loving.
Compassion made Visible."
Gibran, The Prophet
checked creative impulse
"Without the opportunity to learn through
the hands, the world remains
abstract and distant, and the passions
for learning will not be engaged. A gifted young person who chooses to become a
mechanic rather than to accumulate academic
credentials is viewed as eccentric, if not self-destructive." - Matthew B.
"Surround yourself as much as possible by imperfect
objects, especially handmade ones, not the
abstract perfection of machine made articles. In the future
life will abound with beautifully made objects, all of us will be craftspeople,
expressing our full talents in our work rather
than denying them for the sake of keeping a job. Part of this will be a
dramatic revival of traditional handcrafts, as "natural resources" will have
become so precious as to merit the best individual workmanship." -
"I do muscular work because of have muscles; and if
I don't use my muscles I shall become a bad tempered sitting-addict. Westerners
are mostly sitting-addicts. From the tycoon to the typist, from the logical
positivist to the positive thinker, Westerners spend nine tenths of their time
on foam rubber. Spongy seats for spongy bottoms." - Vijaya, an
Aldous Huxley's Island character
"Popular American thought on September 11, 2001
considered work which soiled the hands the job of illegal immigrants conferring
upon craftsman a social status beneath that of a telemarketing sales position.
A rugged period for American workers has triggered in some a need to
explore the simpler life of the
artisan. At the core is an urgency to create
objects of value and worth. Not everyone is going global. Not
everyone is cutting corners.
example we have Randy Merrel. What is important in life, as he sees it, are
family and comfortable feet. In his Quonset hut workshop that smells of leather
and wax. He leans over a table and wields a blade extracting mysterious
patterns out of a chocolate colored hide of
a water buffalo calf. His movements are
exact and just quicker than the eye can follow. From this supple hide, Randy is
creating a pair of custom fitted cowboy boots. In two or three weeks he will
finish and present them to a customer who has waited a year on a back order
Maker and wearer share a breathtaking
expectation. These boots will fit,
endure and satisfy like no others. "People want
objects that are real and personal.
They come here from all over the country. And they all feel an urgency for hand
crafted objects of value and worth
which appears to be coming from way down in their
souls. I don't see that America is
..." he pauses, "... well, America is not whole. "
What is going on is
the resurgence of the American craftsman. At whatever pace, true
artisans work at human scale. This is a source of
handhold against the
vertigo of an ever escalating race of
retreating from whirlwinds the whirlwinds of production demands and the
whirlwinds of an unstable economy," said Barry
Glassner, chair of sociology at USC. In his 1994
book "Career Crash," Barry Glassner
followed dozens of Americans as they redirected their lives, either because
they were laid off or could no longer bear the rat race. They were searching for what was
supposed to be the American dream, economic
stability and the emotional, creative rewards that come from feeling they were
making use of their talents and contributing
something they considered of worth .
Barry Glassner sees a strong
generational component to the revival
of the artisan. "Unlike the generation prior, baby boomers and by that i mean
those from middle and wealthy classes were raised to have
'meaningful' lives," said Barry Glassner.
"And that remains a very strong expectation.
are going back to work with their hands than ever before. There has been a
growing renaissance in the crafts for quite a few years," said the much
honored dean of America's craft
movement, Sam Maloof. Sam has spent almost half a century building wooden
furniture, in his small workshop in a citrus grove.
category of labor which gives the
workingman a title to all its fruits is that which he does as his own
master," Pope Pius XI observed in
Ann Reiss, a craft soap maker, states "My husband says that all of
the aging hippies who had our dreams in the 1960s and '70s are finally tired of
being part of the big rush.
Today our lifestyle is supported by our income, instead of our
income having to stay up our with our lifestyle. A one individual business is
really a life form."
Being a craftsman offers personal satisfaction, economic stability
and emotional rewards. As a craftsman i feel an urgency to build
objects of value and worth,
objects aesthetically pleasing. As a craftsman i am
dedicated to providing the highest quality product and to take the time to
carefully execute each and every process . Being a craftsman is living a life
style that includes care in all processes undertaken and which rewards the
individual with a feeling of contentment in
living a meaningful existence.
"Moments of elation are counterbalanced with
failures, and these, too, are vivid, taking place right before your eyes. With
stakes that are often high and immediate, the manual trades elicit heedful
absorption in work. They are punctuated by moments of pleasure that take place
against a darker backdrop: a keen awareness of catastrophe as an
always-present possibility. The
core experience is one of individual responsibility, supported by face-to-face
interactions between tradesman and customer.
There is good reason to
suppose that responsibility has to be installed in the foundation of your
mental equipment - at the level of
perception and habit. There
is an ethic of paying attention that develops in the trades through hard
experience. It inflects your perception of the world and
your habitual responses to it. This is due to the immediate feedback you get
from material objects and to the fact
that the work is typically situated in face-to-face interactions between
tradesman and customer.
Ultimately it is
not a harangue about humility or public-spiritedness that will compel us to
take a fresh look at the trades. The good life
comes in a variety of forms. This variety has become difficult to see; our
field of aspiration has narrowed into certain channels. But the current
perplexity in the economy seems to be softening
our gaze. Our peripheral vision is perhaps recovering, allowing us to consider
the full range of lives worth choosing. For anyone who feels ill suited by disposition
to spend his days sitting in an office, the question of what a good job looks
like is now wide open." - Matthew B. Crawford
"It is impossible to do anything intelligently with
something you know nothing about. Materials are most valuable for what they are
in themselves - no one should want to change their nature or try to make them like something else. To
know intimately the nature of wood, paper,
glass, sheet metal, terra cotta, cement, steel, cast iron, wrought iron,
concrete, is essential to knowing how to use
the tools available to make use of those materials, sensibly or artfully." -Frank Lloyd Wright
"0 God thank you for hiding the truth
those who think themselves so wise,
and for revealing it to little
(Jesus the Tannaim / Tekton /
Hebrews of the era Jesus lived were
innovators in comprehensive universal education. The majority, if not all, were taught to read
and write. The philosopher
Seneca remarked that the Hebrews were
the only people who knew the reasons for their relgious faith, something which
the apostle Peter continued to commend (1 Peter 3:15).
Jesus undoubtedly received a
Hebrew education perhaps along these lines: at 10 years
of age ready for the study of the Oral
Torah, at 20 for pursuing a vocation, at 30 for entering one's full vigor".
Jesus entered his ministry
as a wandering Tannaim practicing the Oral
Tradition at about 30 years of age.
Very little is said in the
Bible about Jesus' life between the age twelve and the beginning of his public
ministry when Jesus became almost two decades later.
The Bible does say
what Jesus did in that time: "Jesus left there and went to his hometown,
accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath
came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
"Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom
that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn't this the
carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the
brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?"
And they took offense at him." (Mark 6:1-3)
Greek word describing Joseph's trade was
"tekton" which included a master builder, master mason, master
carpenter and one skilled in metal
technology. Joseph was more than a simple carpenter in modern terms. Nazareth was
probably too small to support any sort of fulltime tekton, so Joseph travelled
to Sepphoris to find
employment selling his craft.
The historical city of
Sepphoris is situated four
miles from Nazareth. Sepphoris
was the largest city in Judea outside Jerusalem. Herod the Great had made it
his Galilean Capital. When Herod died in 3 BC his three sons were in Rome to
confirm their inheritance. While
they were absent a rebel leader named Judas attacked
Sepphoris. The Roman legions
soon crushed the rebellion, burning
the city and enslaving the inhabitants.
When the sons returned from Rome, Herod Antipas determined to rebuild
the city, and he initiated a great building program that lasted for 20 years
until he moved to Tiberias in AD 26.
about nine years
old when the construction began, and obviously much labor from Nazareth was
employed in the construction, including Joseph and his apprentice Jesus.
Archeological evidence from
Sepphoris indicates that Greek
was the common tongue.
Jesus' familiarity with Greek usages and Greek
theater is evident.
The word hypocrite comes from a Greek word
meaning 'one who acts in a play,' and was often
used by Jesus.
Jesus of Nazareth came into
contact with Romans and Greeks. The experience of both
Hebrew and Roman-Greek
culture adds light to
Sepphoris Herod Antipas
financed a major construction project at
Tiberias around 19 AD, which
could have provided employment for most of the tektons in Galilee, including
Jesus. Jesus would have been paid very little, at most 2 sesterces per day.
When the construction at Tiberias was completed, the local job
opportunities for tektons would have plummeted - Jesus and his co-workers would
have been thrown upon their own limited resources.
At that time Jesus
built or repaired boats by the Sea of Galilee and plows and
yokes for farmers.
majority of wandering rabbis had a
trade to support their learning and
teaching and there is no reason to doubt
that carpentry may have been the trade
that supported Jesus.
The Greek writer Justin says that "Jesus was
considered to be the son of Joseph the carpenter; and Jesus appeared without
comeliness, as the Scriptures declared; and Jesus was deemed a
carpenter (for Jesus was in the habit of
working as a carpenter when among men, making ploughs and yokes; by which Jesus
taught the symbols of righteousness and an active life).
In Jesus' own
hometown, neighbors and passers-by all identified Jesus, not as someone given
to international travel and other flights of fancy, but as a carpenter.
Joseph, Jesus' father,
was a tekton (Matthew 13:55), and Jesus followed the family
trade growing up. Career-hopping was
rarely practiced at that time; most sons, especially the firstborn, followed in
their father's profession. Jesus was no different.
There was a saying
among the Hebrew men in the nation of
"If you do not
teach your son how to work, you teach him how to be a thief."
Mary were hardly wealthy, and Nazareth was a small remote
village. The family of at least 5 sons
needed money to survive and construction is an honest
Jesus' years as a
carpenter was what made his neighbors
remember him. If he'd taken years off
to study in foreign lands, he wouldn't be recognized or remembered in such a
way - their identification with him points out that Jesus was locally known.
Carpenters at this time were highly skilled as there were so few trees
in Israel. Throughout the
sermons of Jesus, there are many references to things that a
carpenter or tekton would think about.
For example, Jesus spoke about the "narrow gate" that we have to go through.
Jesus talked about building a house
"upon solid rock" and not "upon the shifting sand", another concept
that a good 1st century tekton would have known about.
In a beautiful
passage, in Matthew 11:29, Jesus said that his "yoke" was easy. Using carpentry skills Jesus
could make a yoke that was comfortable
for the animals. In Matthew 21:33, Jesus talked about building a tower in a
vineyard. In another place, Jesus told the parable of a king who was going to
build a tower but did not count the cost. You can see the
mind of a tekton working here. You have
to know the expenses before you begin such a project. Jesus spoke about the "keystone" and Jesus spoke about a "city on a hill."
Jesus was a carpenter or tekton much longer than a
There are several things that are very significant about Jesus
profession as being a carpenter or
tekton. The fact that Jesus was a carpenter, for 15 to 20 years, emphasizes
that the Creator and Sustainer respects all honorable work that we might
do, even manual labor, as a carpenter or
tekton would have been engaged in. Jesus wanted us to understand that as long
as it is honest work that we are engaged in, then
any work is respectable in the eyes of the Creator and
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