"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.
work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to
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,
And to love
life through labor is to be intimate with life's inmost secret.
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
Love you bind yourself to yourself, to one
another, to God.
And what is it to work with Love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads
drawn from your heart,
Even as if your Beloved were to wear that cloth.
It 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 the fruit.
is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made
sweeter by his own loving.
Work is Love
- Khalil Gibran, The Prophet
"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. Crawford
"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
thought at the turn of the century denigrated
work which soiled the
hands conferring upon craftsman a
social status beneath that of a
telemarketing sales position.
Although this is true of most 'forward'
thinking Americans many Americans are rejecting this
popular cultural notion and finding that
working with the
hands is not as bad as some appear to
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
Innovation can mean looking
backward: "Labor," Congress decreed
consequence back in 1914, "is not
By 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 list.
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,
work at human scale. This is a
source of contentment, a
handhold against the
vertigo of an ever escalating race of
"People are 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
individuals 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.
"The only 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 1930.
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
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
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
Ultimately it is enlightened self-interest 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.
"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
from those who think themselves so
and for revealing it to little children."
(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 5 years
of age" he would be "ready for the study of the written
Torah, at 10 years of age 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
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 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.
Jesus was 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
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
The 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
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
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
Israel: "If you do not teach
your son how to work, you teach him how to be a
thief." Joseph and 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 trade.
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
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
preacher. 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
"It has always amazed me how Americans
assume that their
wealth comes out of thin air. Few expend much
sweat in accumulating wealth but rather gain it
from the sweat of others or simply from the system to which we are all
contributors."- Zena Thorpe
"While we bask in our lifestyle', we disdain
those who are willing to do the back-breaking labor that makes it possible." -
Victor M. Franco Jr. 8/31/2007
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