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Author Topic: The Protestant Work Ethic and it's effect on the Orthodox peoples  (Read 18228 times) Average Rating: 0
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GabrieltheCelt
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« on: September 29, 2008, 04:19:22 PM »

So as I understand it, the PWE derived from Calvinistic theology which, I think, believes that a persons 'worldly success' is a sign of their salvation or God's Elect.  I think it must have influenced the authors of Communism and, to a lesser extent(?), Socialism.  As Orthodox Christians, does the PWE have any negative effects on our outlook in life?  Are there any positive effects stemming from the PWE?  In addition, can an Orthodox worldview compete with the PWE and more importantly, should it?

Those of us who live in the West are enjoying many benefits of the PWE, but to what extent has it hurt us?


Edit- I wasn't sure where to put this thread and though I can see it easily being shoved over into Politics, I hope it will be awhile before it does because we have a good opportunity to learn much about ourselves.  At least I hope I will learn as much as an Orthodox raised and living in the U.S.A.
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« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2008, 05:02:51 PM »

I've never seriously studied the theology of the "Protestant Work Ethic", but  didn't realize it stemmed from Calvinistic theology. My former faith excelled in their own work ethic like no other, and, from my observations, this fierce "work ethic" seemed to be connected with a sort of utopianism often found in restitutionist churches (a desire to return to "primitive christianity"), hard-working Germanic roots, and several NT Bible verses.

I personally found the constant emphasis on physical labour exhausting and tedious, and much prefer the more contemplative, mystical Orthodox approach. Not all of us are cut out to be work horses.
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« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2008, 05:39:19 PM »

I know that it's quite common to find the roots of the modern Capitalist work ethic in Protestantism, especially Calvinism.

However, from what I heard from my grandparents and my mother-in-law, people in Ukrainian villages before the Soviet takeover (1917 for Eastern Ukraine, 1939 for Western Ukraine) worked extremely hard, even though very few of them were Protestants and the great majority were Orthodox.

My mother-in-law grew up in a little hamlet ("khutir") owned by just one family, albeit a large extended one, with brothers, cousins, second cousins etc. living next to each other in a few one-story huts made of wood and clay. For the most part of the year, everybody worked in the fields or in the small hamlet shop, 6 days a week (no work on Sundays), from before dawn till late night. And it wasn't like they were barely surviving - in fact, my mother-in-law's father kept buying extra land, and once astonished his friends from a nearby village by ordering a big tractor by mail from the USA. Smiley

What surprised me is that they did not really drink hard. I used to think that Slavic people always have been hard drinkers, but my mother-in-law denies this. She says that in her family, when she was growing up in the 1930's, before 1939, it was a custom for the extended family to gather around a big table on major holidays, and to pass a GLASS of liquor (not a bottle, but merely a glass!), so that men would take one small gulp from it and pass it to a next guy. When all men made their one sip, that was it. Everyone was happy and they would start to sing, play a violin and a harmonica, and dance. There was never any re-filling of the glass. Nobody was ever drunk. Everyone knew that first, being drunk is a sin and a shame, and second, you have to go to that field early next morning, so how can you possibly afford to get drunk and to have a hangover?

Things changed only after the Soviet "liberation" and forced collectivization. All the work ethic evaporated, and drinking became rampant.
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« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2008, 06:02:20 PM »

Very interesting, Heorhij! I really wonder if most rural Europeans weren't hard working for the most part?  Obviously, the onset of communism upset the balance and people lost their incentive to work, which was unbearably tragic.

However, going back to my former faith, what bothered me was that physical labour was extolled above other forms of earning one's bread. Higher education and "book learning" were held suspect- inferior to working by the sweat of one's brow.
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« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2008, 06:25:38 PM »

going back to my former faith, what bothered me was that physical labour was extolled above other forms of earning one's bread. Higher education and "book learning" were held suspect- inferior to working by the sweat of one's brow.

No, that was definitely not the case in rural Ukraine. Parents always tried to get their kids to schools, thinking that education is something wonderful, something that will maybe allow their kids to have an "easier" life.

There is one hilarious story by a Western Ukrainian writer, Ivan Franko, written in the ~1880-s, titled "The Scholarship of Hryts." Hryts was a 6-year old boy from a poor village in the Carpathian mountains, who helped his parents by shepherding geeze. Once, his father sold some grain for a good price, and was able to pay to a village teacher, so that Hryts could go to the village one-room school. There, the teacher showed the kids big printed letters of the Cyrillic alphabet, and the kids said their names aloud. Then the teacher made syllables from the letters, and again, the kids cried, loudly, what those syllables were, for example, "B and A - BA! H and A - HA!" Hryts had no clue what was going on, but when he came home, his father, who never went to any school, asked him: "What did the teacher teach you today?" - and Hryts said, "he taught me ABABAHALAMAHA." The father was shocked - wow, what a difficult subject was his son learning!, - and asked, "and... have you learned it?" "Yes, I have!" said Hryts. So, a couple of days later, the proud father was having some liquor with his friends in a "shynok" (canteen), and told his friends that Hryts just looks small and thin, but in fact he is now a great scholar, because he learned ABABAHALAMAHA. Soon, went on the father, he will become a priest, or maybe even move to a city and work as a university professor!  Grin
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« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2008, 08:13:50 PM »

Something occurred to me as I was driving this afternoon.  I don't believe the dichotomy lies with 'hard work' per se, as we find many instances of working hard in Scripture; particulary Proverbs.  One aspect of the Protestant Work Ethic lies in the unique maxim "Time equals money".  Here we can begin to see the seeds of Capitalism I believe.  It seems that the PWE begins with "Work hard" and ends with "...to get ahead."  There's this definate notion of working in order to amass monies. 

In Orthodoxy, and Roman Catholocism as well I believe, working hard is a part of life too.  But our lives are, or were, ordered around the sacrements (or mysteries); that is, our lives are measured by the Church year and are sacremental.  We aren't, or weren't, as concerned about making money as we seem to be these days.  I doubt it was intended, but the PWE seems to be centered around money, where as Orthodoxy is centered around the community. 

Heorhij, I think you touched on this with your stories of your family back home.  Thanks for sharing them BTW. Smiley 

Thoughts?  Anyone??
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« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2008, 10:45:30 PM »

I tend to wonder where your equating the "PWE" with money is coming from.

My real exposure to the PWE is in churches where, as soon as you set foot in the door, people had some class for you to attend, some committee for you to join, some children's event for you to help organize, etc.  Just super-organized, very well-staffed, and highly volunteer-based activities and ministries within a congregation.  Also -- and I suppose money comes in here, if at all -- the PWE was directly related to the tithe -- as in, you work hard to make money, and the most important part of that money-making process is the fact that ten percent comes right off the top and goes to the church...and in my mom's house, that was gross, not net.

The PWE seems to be so ubiquitous and touching all aspects of life because, in doing away with a liturgical calendar and holy days, there was more time to work.  This desacramentalized life to a degree, as Gabriel said (and Fr. Stephen Freeman also has commented on this), but it can not be said that it completely divorced man from some sort of devotion to God.  Following the industrial revolution and the protestantization of parts of the West, the offering that used to be one of time spent in the holy place doing the work of the people in ευχαριστια to God, was now one of legal tender in the collection plates that was the "new fruit" of the sweat of one's brow.  Hardly as holistic (unless the worker had a tradition of prayer while working), but it surely makes for good, grassroots funding of church plants and missionary efforts independent of any state church funding.  The PWE, in this case, was and is an example of the evangelical conviction that "if you want something funded and/or manned, you have to do it yourself."

I have to say, this is one of my biggest frustrations with Orthodoxy here in America (I have no idea what it's like in other countries; probably it's very different, as our American obsession with parachurch ministries is more than likely bizarre to other countries).  We're small, mostly, because many folks are used to the state funding these massive buildings with breathtaking iconography.  Stunning visually, but the fact is that many people in our OCA parish who immigrated here were shocked that the government wasn't funding our mission.  That they should, themselves, take an active part in financial ownership and stewardship of the mission was completely lost on them (this is mostly why our priest of twenty-plus years is just now within reach of becoming full-time...enough folks who grew up tithing are now attending, so finances are for the first time making this really feasible).

Evangelical churches tend to grow, also, because as I said above, folks catch the spirit of volunteerism as soon as they walk through the door.  Children's scripture memorization club once a week?  The sign-up sheet for leaders is soon full.  Choir?  Same deal.  Sunday school teachers for sixth grade, seventh grade, eighth grade, etc?  Done and done.  However, you walk into many Orthodox parishes, and it's...liturgy...and coffee hour.  And while that's the indispensable core of our Faith, other ministries and spiritual gifts the Spirit's given to the faithful ought to flow from that core.  Bible study leaders...church school teachers...men's and women's group coordinators...outreach organizers etc.  We shouldn't just be "busy being busy," but didn't Christ "give gifts unto men" that some might be "apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ"?

It seems the recognition of lay roles within the life of a congregation is a very positive result of the PWE that, imo, the Orthodox could stand to learn from...not in blind imitation, mind you, but in a bearing of the fruit that faith, repentance, and Eucharist should naturally bear out.  Forgive me if I've offended.
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« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2008, 11:53:43 PM »

I tend to wonder where your equating the "PWE" with money is coming from.
Maybe I got ahead of myself regarding money or at least the love of money.  I think Capitalism grew out of the PWE which grew out of a desacramentalized way of life.  Personally, I'm very pro-conservative and pro-capitalism but recently I've begun to wonder if this (pro-capitalism) is in line with the Orthodox phronema.  And I didn't mean to imply that there are no aspects of the PWE that are beneficial (see my OP) such as not relying completely on the Government.  My real intent here was simply to learn more about the differences (if any) between my culture and my faith and to what extent the PWE influences my life.

  Forgive me if I've offended.
No offence taken- forgive me if I have offended any y'all.
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« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2008, 09:04:23 AM »

One thing that I've seen with the Puritan work ethic is that everyone should work, regardless of ability. This really creates despair in those who for some reason or another cannot work. My brother-in-law, for instance, has been battling thyroid cancer for several years, and barely has energy enough to tend a small garden (maybe 1/4 acre). He sells jams and melons, and makes some money doing that, but for the most part he's been out of work since his diagnosis.

In places where the Puritan work ethic has not taken hold , a more socialistic mindset allows the people of that country to feel a sense of collective responsibility for a person who cannot work. But here, accepting charity is akin to accepting defeat. People will refuse the help of those who want to give it because they feel that they are somehow detrimental to society because of it.

Just a note: I call it the Puritan work ethic because it does not apply to many Protestant countries, such as Scandinavia and Germany.
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« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2008, 09:18:36 AM »

I have to say that I do think capitalism was born out of Protestantism. Personally, this is how I see things:
Do what you love... Do it well... You don't need to earn a lot of money, as long as you are providing for you and your family...
A good quality of life and good community is infinitely better than living for work and living for the money and stuff you gain.
If you are physically unable to work though, that is completely acceptable.

The whole work ethic and capitalism could easily IMO lead to materialism, individualism, greed, gluttony etc... Capitalism is based mainly off of a person's lack of self control. They want you to buy and buy and buy to run the economy. But I would have to say, the best economy IMO would be one that has both socialist and capitalist tendencies. (balance)
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« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2008, 10:05:48 AM »

My real exposure to the PWE is in churches where, as soon as you set foot in the door, people had some class for you to attend, some committee for you to join, some children's event for you to help organize, etc.  Just super-organized, very well-staffed, and highly volunteer-based activities and ministries within a congregation.  Also -- and I suppose money comes in here, if at all -- the PWE was directly related to the tithe -- as in, you work hard to make money, and the most important part of that money-making process is the fact that ten percent comes right off the top and goes to the church...and in my mom's house, that was gross, not net.

Very well said. I saw exactly this, exactly what you just described, when I joined an American Protestant "church" (PC-USA) in 2004. And that's, basically, what drove me out of there very quickly. I was immediately "put to work" - even though I was just baptized in February 2004, I became an elder and a Session member in January 2005. Everyone in that congregation was supposed to be "busy, busy, busy." There was absolutely no room for any sanctity, stillness, holy mysteries, worship per se. All was work, business, "doing things," "getting things done." And people were terrible to each other as they were engaged in this permanent business of "getting things done": everyone thought (and talked!) about "getting MY credit" (!!!), there were "power groups" (based mostly on the thickness of the wallet), etc.
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« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2008, 10:22:01 AM »

My real exposure to the PWE is in churches where, as soon as you set foot in the door, people had some class for you to attend, some committee for you to join, some children's event for you to help organize, etc.  Just super-organized, very well-staffed, and highly volunteer-based activities and ministries within a congregation.  Also -- and I suppose money comes in here, if at all -- the PWE was directly related to the tithe -- as in, you work hard to make money, and the most important part of that money-making process is the fact that ten percent comes right off the top and goes to the church...and in my mom's house, that was gross, not net.

Very well said. I saw exactly this, exactly what you just described, when I joined an American Protestant "church" (PC-USA) in 2004. And that's, basically, what drove me out of there very quickly. I was immediately "put to work" - even though I was just baptized in February 2004, I became an elder and a Session member in January 2005. Everyone in that congregation was supposed to be "busy, busy, busy." There was absolutely no room for any sanctity, stillness, holy mysteries, worship per se. All was work, business, "doing things," "getting things done." And people were terrible to each other as they were engaged in this permanent business of "getting things done": everyone thought (and talked!) about "getting MY credit" (!!!), there were "power groups" (based mostly on the thickness of the wallet), etc.

This all sounds very familiar and  is also what turned me off my former faith. I had spent several years working under this group as a missionary in Ukraine. They literally worked us to the bone, and we were supposed to show the Ukrainians how to work efficiently by our unceasing toils. We worked hard all day and then almost every evening there was some sort of teaching session we either had to present or attend. When I got home from the teaching session, I had to prepare a large amount of food to take to the office the next day to feed the myraids of people who would descend upon us. Sundays were uber busy as well-there was no rest even for the Lord's Day. Church in the morning, a quick meal and then off to a remote village where we would have yet another church service. They had an attendence chart for church and an American sat in the back glancing around and checking off names of those present. Then we'd return to Kyiv late in the evening and the Americans would plan some sort of staff party to which attendance was obligatory. Oh, and the committees! Food committees, youth committees, and on and on. I was so tired after a few years of this that I simply had no desire or energy for anything of this nature.

I will add, there were constant, very un-christian clashes between the American staff members, which I now realize were fueled by the constant rubbing of shoulders and exhaustion everyone was prone to due to this regime.
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« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2008, 11:44:09 AM »

There's a very similar work ethic among Copts ever since the Arabic invasion, i.e. worldly success as a type of "salvation".  However, it's not salvation in the doctrinal sense, but salvation in the sense of "Lemme try to get to a very well-respected position with lots of money so that I can pay the jizya, keep my faith and my family's faith, and try to win the respect of Muslim neighbors" (although the jizya nowadays have been abolished, in the past, when it was not, most if not all Tax-collectors were Coptic).  It is interesting enough that Coptic parents today push their children to become doctors because that is the most respected and successful career today, and this thought carried over in the diaspora.

Perhaps, this Protestant work ethic started as a way to compete with the majority Roman Catholics, which later turned into something doctrinal.

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« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2008, 02:50:39 PM »

Very well said. I saw exactly this, exactly what you just described, when I joined an American Protestant "church" (PC-USA) in 2004. And that's, basically, what drove me out of there very quickly.

This all sounds very familiar and  is also what turned me off my former faith. I had spent several years working under this group as a missionary in Ukraine. They literally worked us to the bone, and we were supposed to show the Ukrainians how to work efficiently by our unceasing toils.

Heorhij, thank you for the "well-stated" compliment.  I do hope it's clear from the rest of my post, though, that my experience was different.  I looked at (and to some degree, still do look at) lay participation in parish ministry and outreach as one of the ways that, in practice, the Orthodox parishes here in general have a long way to go.  We've got the "sanctity, stillness, holy mysteries, worship" down in our services, but all that is meant to prepare and feed us so that we can minister to others -- feed the hungry, proclaim the gospel, etc.

It seems like it usually falls on a few hardy volunteers to do a LOT in our parishes.  Getting the rest of the parish to step up and volunteer for things is like pulling teeth sometimes.  We're not called merely to tread water and liturgize; we're called to minister to needy people outside (and, yes, inside) our parishes.  That cannot happen, logistically speaking, without deliberate, organized planning and dedicated, sacrificial volunteers that are there every time there's a service (and even some times when there's not).  Even if it's something as simple as a soup kitchen out of the parish hall!  Or church school, or a youth group, etc.  If folks have to be begged to bring food to coffee hour and give even a small fraction of their income for church needs, then the shortsightedness may make it difficult even to keep the lights on, much less reach out and actually grow through ministry to the community.

So I actually was complimenting the PWE for its dedication to outreach and (more specifically) lay involvement in church life.  Folks must come to stand and pray in the nave.  Of course.  But if that's all that parish is doing, it is not enough.
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« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2008, 03:15:33 PM »

DavidBryan, forgive me, brother, I did not mean to be ironic (and it does look like I "twisted" the sense of your post)...

I think, the truth is "somewhere in between..." American Protestant communities remind me of Martha in Luke's story (Luke 10:38-42); they "work" hectically and forget "this one thing, the only one needed." In our parishes, perhaps, one can sometimes see the other extreme...

When I was in Ukraine this past summer, and went to DLs to Orthodox churches in Kyiv and in Luts'k, I noticed that there is very little of what one calls "parish life" there: no bulletins, no announcements, no after-church snacks or lunches. Those things are just unknown.... And I, actually, like that. I don't know, maybe it's just me - I am not a "party animal," I am very introvert, do not like big gatherings of people, chatting with those I am not close to. And I would never, never work as a "youth leader," or a "community organizer," - I don't have one single bone of that kind in my body. If you ask me, my ideal thing would be just living near an Orthodox church and keep coming there for services, talk with the priest and occasionally with other parishioners - and that's it. No "work." Smiley

But I realize, on the other hand, that faith is about relationships, so there should be SOME "work..."
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« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2008, 03:42:28 PM »

DavidBryan-  I'm beginning to see what you see re: the PWE and I agree with you 100%.  Bills, taxes, and mortgages must be paid, buildings and lawns must be upkept, bulletins and emails must be posted and sent out, etc. etc...  Because of the strict separation of Church and State, if you and I and others don't step up then these things won't get done and for this to happen commitees and councils must be formed and volunteers sought.  I hadn't thought of this as a part of the PWE, but I see that it is one aspect and I fully appreciate it and agree.

Heorhij- My girlfriend is from Romania and so I get to learn things from an Eastern European perspective.  She's basically said the same things you've mentioned as far as parish life is concerned- no bulletins, announcements, no after-church pot-lucks, etc...  Like yourself, she's not accustomed to these things either.  She's told me that eating and drinking in the church building is a major no-no in Romania, and that they don't have all these councils and meetings.  When we recently had an ethnic festival, she thought we were all crazy! Cheesy LOL!  Eating, drinking, and partying at Church?  Only in America!! Cheesy  After I explained to her that WE, not the GOV'T, are responsible for the bills and upkeep, and these things are not cheap, she understands that it's a necessary...evil?  Probably not the best word, but understandable.

 Fogive me if I offended...

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« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2008, 08:26:11 PM »

So as I understand it, the PWE derived from Calvinistic theology which, I think, believes that a persons 'worldly success' is a sign of their salvation or God's Elect.  I think it must have influenced the authors of Communism and, to a lesser extent(?), Socialism.  As Orthodox Christians, does the PWE have any negative effects on our outlook in life?  Are there any positive effects stemming from the PWE?  In addition, can an Orthodox worldview compete with the PWE and more importantly, should it?

Those of us who live in the West are enjoying many benefits of the PWE, but to what extent has it hurt us?


Edit- I wasn't sure where to put this thread and though I can see it easily being shoved over into Politics, I hope it will be awhile before it does because we have a good opportunity to learn much about ourselves.  At least I hope I will learn as much as an Orthodox raised and living in the U.S.A.


I think one of the bad things about it is that in an increasingly secular society, it causes us to worship "work"/"our jobs" instead of God. It also causes us to choose our jobs/work, over our family and faith.

Alot of marriages may be destroyed because of putting work ahead of family. It makes work the only thing important in life.


There needs to be a balance, and I don't think the Protestant or Puritan work ethic gives us that. Instead, it gives us the tendency to be addicted to work.......to have no time for family, friends, and Church.




 


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« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2008, 09:39:47 PM »


There needs to be a balance, and I don't think the Protestant or Puritan work ethic gives us that. Instead, it gives us the tendency to be addicted to work.......to have no time for family, friends, and Church.

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Amen!  This is what I was thinking of when I introduced the topic. 
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« Reply #18 on: October 04, 2008, 03:38:59 PM »

I've known people who actually left church because they didn't like all the pressure to volunteer.  Tithing is another sore spot because so many of us can barely afford to pay our bills, let alone a 10% gross tithe.  Everything keeps increasing--basic necessities like utilities, water, food, gas--making it harder all the time for people even to save money for emergencies or job loss.  I do see the need for more money and volunteering in my church, or it could close its doors in the next few years.  But at the same time, I don't want to see the hyper-emphasis on money and work that I've seen in Protestant churches.  I like the concept of 2 hours' pay per week, which is much smaller and easier on a tight budget than 10% gross.
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« Reply #19 on: October 04, 2008, 03:40:57 PM »

I think one of the bad things about it is that in an increasingly secular society, it causes us to worship "work"/"our jobs" instead of God. It also causes us to choose our jobs/work, over our family and faith.

Alot of marriages may be destroyed because of putting work ahead of family. It makes work the only thing important in life.


There needs to be a balance, and I don't think the Protestant or Puritan work ethic gives us that. Instead, it gives us the tendency to be addicted to work.......to have no time for family, friends, and Church.

Amen!  No time for family, friends or church means no time for the things which give life meaning.
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« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2008, 11:25:18 PM »

I have to say that I do think capitalism was born out of Protestantism. Personally, this is how I see things:
Do what you love... Do it well... You don't need to earn a lot of money, as long as you are providing for you and your family...
A good quality of life and good community is infinitely better than living for work and living for the money and stuff you gain.
If you are physically unable to work though, that is completely acceptable.



Thank you for your post! As a Presbyterian growing up, THIS is what I learned. Find your CALLING to your VOCATION and work hard at it when it's time to work, worship (or attend Bible study and Wednesday prayer and Sunday night services when its time to do that, attend to your family when it's time to do that (kind a a time for every season approach). It wasn't about money (and the thing about being rich equalled proof of being among the elect is pure fabrication) it was about CALLING.

Anyone got a problem with that?
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« Reply #21 on: October 06, 2008, 06:59:27 AM »

^ Yep. The idea of calling is basically an excuse to do what I what to do and cover it up by saying it's God's will. It's the untouchable faith argument. Any objective objection becomes a personal attack when I say "It's my belief." So "I am called to a purpose" really translates to "I'd like to do this with my life." There may be nothing wrong with that, but it's difficult to make good decisions when no one is allowed to tell you the truth, for fear they may violate your sacred revelation.
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« Reply #22 on: October 06, 2008, 12:08:37 PM »

^ Yep. The idea of calling is basically an excuse to do what I what to do and cover it up by saying it's God's will. It's the untouchable faith argument. Any objective objection becomes a personal attack when I say "It's my belief." So "I am called to a purpose" really translates to "I'd like to do this with my life." There may be nothing wrong with that, but it's difficult to make good decisions when no one is allowed to tell you the truth, for fear they may violate your sacred revelation.
Though your theory has some merit, it seems to be a gross misunderstanding/exaggeration.  I know some folks who wanted to pursue one vocation (in some cases quite lucrative) but ended up submitting themselves to what they genuinely believe was God's will for them.  Some felt anger because they were sure God wasn't using their natural talents.  Some felt intense fear.  One friend I have is a brilliant finish carpenter and is exceedingly talented and in demand.  He absolutely loves working with wood and really thought he'd go into business for himself.  But he submitted his will to what he felt was God's will and became a youth pastor for a fraction of what he could be making.  He told me he is naturally shy and reclusive; he doesn't feel at ease with public speaking.  I might be correct when I say his theology is wrong, but I would never say he's using the idea of calling as an excuse.  And he's probably one of many thousands of Protestants who have humbled themselves before God's will.
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« Reply #23 on: October 06, 2008, 04:21:22 PM »

^ Before God's will, or before their culture's expectations?
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« Reply #24 on: October 06, 2008, 05:10:28 PM »

^ Yep. The idea of calling is basically an excuse to do what I what to do and cover it up by saying it's God's will. It's the untouchable faith argument. Any objective objection becomes a personal attack when I say "It's my belief." So "I am called to a purpose" really translates to "I'd like to do this with my life." There may be nothing wrong with that, but it's difficult to make good decisions when no one is allowed to tell you the truth, for fear they may violate your sacred revelation.

Once again, the Orthodox response is completely ignorant of protestant groups who do not reduce everything to personal interpretation or private experience.

Ascertaining one's calling, as I learned it, included assessing one's gifts, one's skills set, one's interests and inclinations.
Example: I could never have been counselled to become a physicist, given my math scores.

It also involved others confirmation of your gifts, abilities, and interests and testing them in real life experiences.
Want to be in the medical profession, work at a camp in the summer for kids with heart conditions or diabetes, for example - see how you handle it and how you do. Want to be a teacher? Volunteer as a tutor. Etc.

It has to be ethically and morally legitimate.
No Christian "bookies," for example.

Practicality. Is your sense of calling something you can actually do in the normal course of things (not neglecting sacrifice and hard work). On the other hand, mere expediencey should not define calling either.
Example: becoming a concert violinist - not easy and takes alot of commitment and hard work - but not impossible (the expedient thing might be to get a business degree).

Finally came the personal discernment of what God's will might be for one's life. It would normally be consistent with the other above criteria and confirmed by others in your life who have discernment and wisdom. Although it also might allow for God to do something "out of the box" in a person's life - although UNLIKE the characterization in the quote above (that the protestant norm is based on pure speculative personal subjectivity), this would be an exception and out of the norm.

But it is a very responsible approach and not a spiritualized "cover" for doing what I selfishly want to do anyway.

And in regards to the OP, one's calling in life, as outlined above as a reflection of what I was taught, had nothing to do with making a bunch of money to confirm that one is one of the "elect."
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