The sweat of the face

I woke up early yesterday to attend a 6:30 meeting in which the Stake Presidency instructed us in the manner of teaching. Actually, at 6:20 and after sleeping through the alarm my wife kicked me out of bed. I stumbled as I picked up a shirt from off the floor and tied a tie. I ate a leftover Saturday Krispy Kreme as I drove. I was glad I went, though. We discussed the Teachings of the Presidents and how to make them meaningful. An important take home message: ask the hard questions. Later that day, I sat pondering the introductory paragraph of the lesson. Speaking of Woodruff’s Character:

To sweat, was a divine command as much so as to pray; and in his life he exemplified in the highest degree that simple Christian life that makes for the physical, mental, and moral well-being of man. He believed sincerely in the moral supremacy of manual toil.

One summer between internships and education, I had a month off and lest I loaf, my mom got me four weeks in a manufacturing plant. I didn’t feel morally edified. In fact, it reaffirmed my desire to get a Ph.D. I asked the quorum if my job of sitting in front of a computer disqualified me from the sweat-induced blessing that Woodruff so valued.

Anyone who has served a mission and had companions that grew up on the farm knows the difference that results from hard work. The injunction, however, is not against laziness. The command is to sweat.

Perhaps this is the root of our affinity for the garden. At the turn of the century, the Relief Society proclaimed “those who eat without labor are the sick ones of this earth,” but the biblical account shows the Lord cursing the land:

[C]ursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground;

Can you be moral and not manual? Is modern work inherently less moral? The elders equivocated.

Comments

  1. Steve Evans says:

    Can you be moral and not manual?

    No.

    Is modern work inherently less moral?

    Yes.

    Those are the short answers. The longer version consists of a diatribe against modern capitalistic religion, in which we are so far separated from the fruits of our labors that all we do to build the kingdom is contribute some coins. Our forefathers hewed granite from the mountains to build temples to God – we arrange for automatic funds transfer. How can we aspire to the same blessings and revelation from God while our sacrifices are so pitifully incomparable?

  2. I know some of the happiest moments of my life were those where I was out and hard at work, sweating, going forward to accomplish something. I know that some of the unhappiest moments are those where I feel useless and like I am not accomplishing something of worth.

  3. Wow, it is not that I never disagree with Steve Evens, but rarely have I disagreed more.

    The anti-capitalists like to have it both ways. One week it is a shame that we don’t all work on a farm and cut granite from a mountain with our bare hands. The next week, it is a shame that we have poor people in this country who have to work hard in factories and picking fruit. Which is it?

    For me, my automatic transfer of funds represents a lot of work to get money into the source fund. Am I less moral because I work in front of a computer? No, that is ridiculous.

  4. Steve Evans says:

    Jacob, touchy touchy!! I work in front of a computer, too. Maybe your funds are not less moral. But I would certainly say that the tabernacle built with your own hands is far more meaningful than one you pay to have built. Why is that so? Perhaps “moral” is not the term. I’m willing to hear what it is, then.

    And Jacob, I’m not an anticapitalist and won’t engage your odd argument on those economic terms — I am speaking specifically as to the mixing of capitalism and religion, which are poor bedfellows. Our church goes a long way towards combating this, as anyone who’s worked at the cannery will attest.

    I am not trying to talk about economic theories, but the mixing of religion and capitalism, which is as evil as the mixing of religion with communism or with any other secular political view.

  5. Well, the part about the Krispy Kreme was interesting. The rest seems to reflect the LDS farmer’s mentality that work on the farm is real work and anything else is just loafing. And the LDS leadership mentality that no one is really working hard enough … except maybe farmers. Not being a farmer, I’ve learned to just tune that stuff out.

  6. Looking at the various careers of the Apostles, I think the assertion that non-manual labor is amoral loses ground. Does anyone have any data on the rate of produce gardens had by apostles?

    I would suggest that any moral value that is had by sweating is in the act of doing something worthwhile with your body. Wholesome activities that develop muscles, coordination, and strength are worthwhile. Health and a familiarity with the body’s abilities and functions is an important part of becoming a moral being. Why else would the church have allowed playing basketball every week count as ‘young men activities’?

  7. Steve Evans says:

    Starfoxy, from their various anecdotes almost all of the current apostles have done some kind of outdoor physical labor on a regular basis, whether on farms as children or in their own gardens. Uchtdorf is I believe the only exception.

  8. MikeInWeHo says:

    If manual laber is inherently more moral, then why not live like the Amish or something like that? That would certainly make blogging at work more difficult, however.

    My rural midwest upbringing (with farmer grandparents) gave me a tremendous foundation on which to build a successful professional life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, nor would I go back to it.

  9. Starfoxy, from their various anecdotes almost all of the current apostles have done some kind of outdoor physical labor on a regular basis, whether on farms as children or in their own gardens. Uchtdorf is I believe the only exception.

    I’m willing to bet this won’t be true in 20 years unless GA’s are only chosen from developing countries. If I’m right will GA’s in 20 years be less moral than GA’s now?

    If the prophet in 2025 has never worked manual labor in his life will you still sustain him?

  10. Steve- Uchtdorf had the delivery service with his bike that helped his lungs. I think that counts as manual labor.
    Anyhow, I’m inclined to think that ‘I worked on a farm as a kid’ is outside the range of the type of manual labor being advocated by President Woodruff. He compares it to prayer- something we are taught must be daily. So unless they all had gardens or some other form of manual labor for their active adult lives, I think we’re safe to assume that President Woodruff was doing just what Dave suggested.

  11. a random cougar says:

    “So unless they all had gardens or some other form of manual labor for their active adult lives”

    I think that’s exactly what President Woodruff was suggesting, and in this case I happen to agree with Steve. When we contribute physical labor to something, we appreciate it more (which is why families take turns cleaning the church). Plus, there’s a certain satisfaction that comes from manual labor, whether it be gardening or washing dishes.

    It’s one of the ways I feel like I’m (slowly) turning into my dad: he is always trying to teach me a greater appreciation for manual labor.

  12. I think all Wilford was trying to say is no matter what our education and profession, we shouldn’t see manual labor as something that is beneath us, and we should seek out every opportunities to move our bodies. Personally I do feel better morally, physically, and mentally after a day of good old fashioned manual toil. Things have become too easy.

  13. Steve Evans says:

    Starfoxy: “So unless they all had gardens or some other form of manual labor for their active adult lives, I think we’re safe to assume that President Woodruff was doing just what Dave suggested.”

    That’s what I’m saying — they all had gardens or some other form of manual labor.

  14. Ahh, I saw the phrase ‘as children’ and mentally added a ‘at some point in their lives’ to your response. I see now that it was imaginary. Either way it sounds like manual labor needs to be an ongoing thing to satisfy Brother Woodruff’s requirements, and despite the anecdotes I have a hard time believing that they *all* have consistently and continually had produce gardens or something similar.

  15. Steve Evans says:

    Yeah, I actually think they do, though this is based solely on anecdotal evidence and personal recollections. Actually in the case of most of them there’s the farm childhood coupled with an ongoing gardening or outdoor activity (does putting ceremonial mortar on temple cornerstones count?).

  16. “Morality” is the wrong label to put on it, but I can’t think what the right one is. There does seem to be a difference in satisfaction? achievement? connection? between doing something yourself and buying/paying someone else to do the same thing. For me, at least, seeing a couple of dozen bottles of fruit I canned myself is worth more than seeing an equivalent amount in Kroeger’s cans. Ditto crocheting, and even window-washing. But it’s got to be something I’m really good at — I don’t think I would feel the same about a room I painted myself, no matter how much I sweated.

    But morality is the wrong word, I think.

  17. Steve (#4),

    I am still unclear what you mean by the mixing of capitalism with religion, or how that would support your assertion in #2 that we cannot be moral without being manual. But, as you say, the issue may be with the word “moral.”

    To get to the bottom of that, I have to ask you what you mean by it being more meaningful if you build it yourself instead of paying for it to be built. Do you mean that it is more meaningful to the people who worked on it, or do you mean that the tabernacle (built ~150 years ago) would be less meaningful to us today if the early saints had contracted the work out?

    I certainly agree that I will naturally take more pride in and feel more connection with something I build with my own hands. (I would never attach morality to that feeling, after all, I feel a sense of accomplishment and connection with the chip I am designing even though I do it on a computer.) However, I do think you make a good point that we must do more to build the kingdom than just donate money. This is one of the reasons I think having a lay ministry is such a stroke of genius (despite some obvious drawbacks). Even without manual labor, there are bountiful opporunities to build the kindgom with our time and talents, and not just the money we make with those time and talents.

    I can agree with you in this sense: If there were a person who did nothing to build the kindgom expect donate money, I don’t think could aspire to the same blessings and revelations as our forefathers. However, that seems to be pretty far removed from the questions posed by the post.

  18. Jacob, see what Ardis said — the words aren’t quite adequate.

    For your question, I think both cases are true: the temple is more meaningful to those who worked on it, and it would be less meaningful to us today if it had been contracted out.

    I am not sure that these issues are far removed from J.’s post, although Stapley can be the arbiter of that question.

  19. I grew up on a farm, and all it taught me was manual labor sucks.

    And there’s a difference between planting a vegetable garden and planting 5 acres of icy, frozen strawberry plants.

  20. I’m with Ardis part of the way — I don’t think morality is the issue. I think for myself, it is happiness or perhaps contentment, although I’m sure there are plenty of people who might not agree. There are the endorphins, etc. the come from physical work and perhaps these can be replicated on the treadmill or stairmaster, I’m not sure that the creative process that is facilitated by gardening, painting a room, or pruning an apple tree is though.

    The best days for me are ones that are patterned after Helen and Scott Nearing who advocated “… a lifestyle giving importance to work, on the one hand, and contemplation or play, on the other. Ideally, they aimed at a norm that would divide most of a day’s waking hours into three blocks of four hours: “bread labor” (work directed toward meeting requirements of food, shelter, clothing, needed tools, and such); civic work (doing something of value for their community); and professional pursuits or recreation.”

    I think ultimately it comes down to a question of balance. Most people don’t have the luxury of dividing their day between bread labour, service and professional pursuits. But I think engaging in some form of manual labour or sweat equity brings joy.

  21. Steve, fair enough on the morality thing.

    I thought of another way I can sympathize with the comments in the post. I think there is something immoral about a person who thinks they are above manual labor. Stapley says he got a Ph.D. in part to avoid a career in a manufacturing plant. I am totally in favor of that and Pres. Hinkley often beats this drum when talking about getting the most education we can. However, if J. was no longer willing to lift a finger now that he has an advanced degree, well, that would be a problem I think. It would be a character flaw, and morality is intimately connected to character.

    So, if the temple had been contracted out because the early saints were unwilling to work on it and were too rich to get their hands dirty, it would say something bad about them and thus cast a bad light on what the temple stands for today. Of course, this was not the case then, and I don’t think it is the case today, even though the members today pay someone else to build the temples rather than doing it themselves. I don’t think the temples built today will mean less in one hundred years just because they are paid for by tithing.

  22. Jacob, they already do mean less. The ordinances performed inside are just as valuable, but nobody cares about, say, the St. Paul Minnesota temple as they do the Manti temple or the Salt Lake Temple. Why? because of the immense levels of sacrifice, physical hardship and pure consecration associated with those temples (not to mention superior architecture & design).

  23. Yes, I agree that the additional degree of sacrifice and consecration makes them more meaningful. I just don’t think it has to do with whether or not that sacrifice came in the form of carving granite by hand. If the saints today had to contribute 50% tithing for a few years to build a temple, it would make our temples mean more in the same sense. It is the consecration, not the manual labor, which is my point. The quotes in the post claim that it is morally superior to lift a piece of granite with a team of people rather than a crane. That is ludicrious.

  24. Jacob, I agree — but that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? If you want to contribute in ways other than physical labor, that’s fine, but the comparative level of effort is disproportionate. We’ll never contribute anywhere near 50% tithing, so we’ll never engage in an effort similar to the construction of those temples or those physical labors. Hence the “immorality” of not engaging in physical labor: no one ever puts in non-physical contributions in ways that would equal physical effort. The Church is just too easy for us to feel that same level of sacrifice.*

    Which is why we should feel bad, sitting in front of our computers.

    *except for Relief Society Presidents, Bishops and others who slavishly devote themselves to thankless callings. I believe those people will commonly devote enough time, expense and frustration in their callings to equal hewing granite by hand.

  25. Steve, THe people in St. Paul Minnesote care about their Temple. The People here in San Antonio love our Temple. It may be new and paid for with tithing, but it is ours and we love it dearly. And I didn’t hue granite for it (The Marble was imported from China I think) But My wife did lead the Jubilee Choir and I did help set up chairs and I did bust my but to get a bunch of names ready for temple work. And I sat in the parking lot as security and all sorts of other things. It was a wonderful treasured experience. And now I go to the Temple and I do work there for the dead. It doesn’t cheapen the blood sweat and tears that came before for the other temples, but man am I grateful for the one here.

  26. Amen about the RS presidents and Bishops. My hat is off, way off, to them. Of course, most of that slavish devotion is expended in air conditioned rooms, so it doesn’t satisfy the command to sweat. But I’m with you on the importance of sacrifice and consecration.

  27. Matt W., I’m not saying that we don’t love those temples. But note how your love for your temple is so linked to your personal experiences and sacrifices? That’s what I’m getting at.

  28. Steve (#24), you forgot to add Primary presidents to your list. :)

  29. As for the farm v. computer argument, let’s let President Woodruff give his answer:

    “The building up of the Zion of God in these latter days includes, I may say of a truth, every branch of business, both temporal and spiritual, in which we are engaged. We can not touch upon any subject which is lawful in the sight of God and man, that is not embraced in our religion. The Gospel of Jesus Christ which we have embraced, and which we preach, includes all truth, and every lawful calling and occupation of man.”

    Farms AND computers – all part of building Zion, all part of our religion. As Joseph Smith said, even the bells of the horses (and the mouse pads?) will be inscribed, “Holiness to the Lord.”

  30. We have probably all heard Elder Maxwell’s quote that “work is always a spiritual necessity even if, for some, work is not an economic necessity.” He does not define what kinds of “work” he is talking about.

    I’ve always felt that since “Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance…” (D&C 83:2) there is a stated directive to provide a living for our families or ourselves (Proclamation to the World also).

    I think there is a spiritual element to manual labor that is strengthening to us, especially when we are being good stewards of the Earth.

  31. Building things yourself is a great joy. However, there’s no special grace that comes from doing things in a foolish and wasteful way. That is just silliness. Use the correct tool for the job, that is wisdom. Don’t lift with muscles things that should be lifted with hoists, in other words. When you lift something with a hoist, you’re still doing it yourself. Pay extra attention to your rigging, by the way, and never let anyone get under the load or anywhere near it. To do things wrong, for instance, to let people carry things by hand that should have been carried using the right tool (hoist, or hand truck, or whatever) is to invite injury or death. There is not a bit of morality in that. Instead there is a solemn responsiblity of the foreman or supervisor to make the job site as safe as it can possibly be. Otherwise, he or she will answer to God and the families of injured workers at the judgement bar.

    The proper way to farm here in the U.S. is with tractors and other machinery, though capital costs may make that impractical for certain jobs and places. There’s no virtue in spending bodies and health in ways that are unnecessary and wasteful.

  32. You guys are smart in a lot of things, but you don’t seem to understand much about manual labor. It has no virtue for its own sake, but the job has virtue, when done right. If you want to sweat for sweat’s sake, go to the gym. =)

  33. I think there is virtue is appreciating the work that is done by others. Part of the value of labor, for me at least, is to understand how hard some people work.

    Bertrand Russell said:

    Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid.

    I have no idea why I was born to parents who loved me, who helped with my education, and who gave me a tremendous head start in life.

  34. Many years ago I sat in on cub scout den chief training being conducted by a wise, experienced mother, someone I really look up to. She explained that the craft things cubs do are important to begin boys having experience making things with their hands, that those who don’t do such things as boys become handicapped adults.

    I taught this lesson Sunday. That evening my home teaching companion decided to build himself a shed he was going to have built for him. I offered him my assistance. It can be a difficult choice to do things for ourselves when there are experts who can do the job in a third the time and an army of peasants who will fill container ships with merchandise for us, but it gives connection to our own lives and physical reality back to us.

    From John Derbyshire:

    Somerset Maugham once boasted that he never did anything for himself if he could pay someone to do it for him. There is something in that we can all respond to—heck, I don’t care much for housework, either. Given sufficient money, though, and/or a sufficient supply of dirt-cheap human labor, the Maugham principle leaves very few activities for human beings to occupy themselves with. It reduces us, in fact, to lotus eaters. Life of necessity involves a certain amount of grunt work. Much of that work is physical, some of it unpleasant and even dangerous. Life lived without that component, though, is lacking something important. If you tackle the grunt work in the right spirit, you will find strange rewards and satisfactions in it.

    Coal-mining and housework are not the best advertisements for this argument, though I do believe they fall under its scope. A better one, perhaps, is child-bearing. Here is another job Americans (and, as obsessively documented by my colleague Mark Steyn, the people of the postindustrial West in general) do not any longer much want to do. It’s messy, painful, slightly dangerous, and injurious to our looks. As a culture of fastidious, cowardly, security-conscious narcissists, this is unpleasing to us. Hence the population crash afflicting prosperous and sophisticated nations.

    Or take DIY. Four or five years ago I noticed that the standard home-improvement textbook on sale at my local Home Depot had a Spanish-language edition stacked alongside it. I have watched with interest as, over the years, the English-language edition’s pile got shorter and the Spanish-language one’s longer. I expect that Home Depot will eventually discontinue the English-language edition. Who will need it, when the English-speaking home-makers of America have all sunk into lotus dreams?

    Interesting connection he draws there between the curses given Adam and Eve. It makes a certain sense that a decline in sorrowing to bring forth children would go along with lifes without thorns, thistles and sweat.

  35. “An important take home message: ask the hard questions.”

    J.- what did you mean by that? Do we as teachers ask the hard questions, or do we as learners ask them, or both?

    In my experience, there is a dearth of any types of questions coming from either side.

  36. In high school I did one day of heavy manual labor (unloading crates from commercial trucks) and afterwards swore I would learn to work with my mind instead. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that being a surgeon is essentially on par with being an auto mechanic in terms of physical exertion.

  37. Regarding the previous comments about Temples — Church members in Orange County were asked to sacrifice to pay for our beautiful Newport Beach Temple. At first I resented this, wondering why we had to pay, when other areas had Temple provided for them out of tithing funds. The level of sacrifice was considerable for many families, including my own. A friend pointed out to me that as an endowed member, I’d already made a covenant to consecrate my all. That helped change my perspective. We had similar wonderful experiences during the open house and dedication as those mentioned by Matt in #25. In addition, every time I attend the Temple, I enjoy looking around the beautiful rooms and imagining what my contribution might have paid for. I believe many of us do value the Temple more than we might have if it had just been “given” to us by the Church. The feeling is that it is truly “our” temple, because we sacrificed to bring it about.

  38. “An important take home message: ask the hard questions.”

    J.- what did you mean by that? Do we as teachers ask the hard questions, or do we as learners ask them, or both?

    The point is that people rarely think in lessons anymore. The good teacher and the thoughtful student will ask questions that won’t be answered with the canned answer.

  39. J.-
    I think we need to stop being teachers of facts and start being facilitators of discussion, especially when dealing with adults in Sunday School.

    I think doing so is essential to bringing enthusiasm and the spirit back to adult classes.

    We had a EQ pres at one time who would preside, read the manual, then always even pick him self to say the closing prayer. It quickly became my objective to sabotage his lessons, I have to admit.

  40. Kevin Barney says:

    Peony, I had not heard that Saints in Orange County had to help pay for the temple. That is fascinating to me. I wonder why it was done for your temple but not others. How was this done? On something like the old assessment system, or were voluntary contributions (of any amount) requested?

    Has anyone else been asked to help pay for a church building since the Church stopped the assessment system?

  41. Kevin, no I haven’t, but I’ve been asked to pay for things that I’ve broken inside church buildings. Does that count?

  42. Kevin,

    Regarding the Temple in Newport Beach (not intended as a threadjack, but to respond to Kevin’s question). My understanding is that President Hinckley felt inspired that the Saints in Orange County should pay for the Temple. We were told this was the only the second time this had been done; I’ve forgotten the first, but it wasn’t recent. And, the intent was not to have a few multi-millionaires (of which the area has a fairly ample supply) write big checks, but for all members to sacrifice. I believe the entire cost of the building was covered by local member donations. When this policy was first announced, rumors flew, specific “quotas” were mentioned in some wards or stakes (specific additional percentage of your tithing, for example), everyone was trying to determine what we were “supposed” to do. The supposed quotas and suggested amounts were quickly quashed. Members were asked to meet with their Bishop and make a pledge. I believe (not sure) that varied expectations were set on a per-stake basis. This was to account for the fact that the affluent areas of the Temple District could shoulder a greater load than could the less affluent areas. The amounts that individuals pledged were confidential. Our Bishop did note that if each active family in our ward paid an amount equivalent to $800 per member/baptized member (??) we would meet our commitments, but this was clearly not to set an expectation, but to give us a general feel for the fact that the amount give should be a sacrifice. I don’t believe this amount was mentioned in all wards; it’s just the way it was handled in mine. Once pledges were in, we had reminders over the pulpit about the importance of making our contributions. Then one Sunday there was a letter read over the pulpit announcing that the full $20 million had been collected, and thanking all of us. It was a great collective effort by the members of 13 Stakes in Orange County.

  43. jothegrill says:

    Manual labor includes things like doing dishes, taking out the garbage, and giving children piggy-back rides, as well as the outdoor work. I’m sure that apostles 20 years from now will still have had experience with those things.

  44. Kevin Barney says:

    Quite fascinating, Peony. Thanks for sharing the details.

  45. Peony, I did not know that, and I go to church in building adjacent to the NB temple. I moved here the same month the temple was dedicated, apparently after the fund-raising had closed. It probably partly explains the general disdain in which I am held by the ward.

  46. You know, if I had helped pay for the temple, I think I would go more. That might sound sorta bad, but, I would as though I partially owned it and might feel inclined to spend more time there. I think thats really cool they did that, and am surprised I never heard about it before.

  47. Are we sure that there is something more praiseworthy than rank pride and attachment to material things in the notion that “It’s better (or whatever value scalar you prefer) because I did it myself!”?

    It seems to me that President Woodruff’s objection is not to capitalism (which such a notion addresses only indirectly), nor to the economically sensible division of labor (which such a notion addresses more directly), but to technology altogether, which — in the US at least — tends to provide mechanical solutions to increasingly complex physical actions, whether plowing a furrow, winding a watch, or performing the gazillion MIPS required to run the Net.

    I note that President Woodruff wasn’t the last to endorse such anti-tech/anti-efficiency ideas. Pres. Kimball was a staunch advocate of house gardening, though I don’t think I’ve heard such avid endorsements since his passing.

    Luddites, are we, in some regards?

  48. What’s a mip?

  49. Steve Evans says:

    MIPS = Million Instructions Per Second.

  50. Something that is interesting in this discussion about manual labor and ownership, is the recent change to have ward members have more of a vested interest in their buildings and clean them every week.

    The number of families that actually do this is small, however. I have yet to see a rush on Saturday morning by local members for cleaning supplies in the custodian closet.

  51. I’ve been mulling over the post topic today, and I thought of something, which I haven’t fully developed yet. I find it odd that manual toil is elevated to some sort of a saintly status. (Don’t misunderstand me, I have the greatest respect for those who perform exhausting labors.)
    The situation of eating bread by the sweat of the face was pronounced after the fall. As such, it can be seen as a less than ideal situation. The ground was cursed.
    One purpose of the Atonement is to reverse the effects of the fall. (Mainly this is focused on in the realms of sin and death, but it goes further.) Everything will be restored to its pre-fall state at some point. (See the 10th Article of Faith.) This leads me to believe that in the Milennium, when things are perfect, we will no longer need to toil, which leads me to believe that sweat itself is not morally superior, or else it would be the Millenial state.
    In a lot of ways, the industrial revolution, and the computer revolution have gone part of the way toward this particular portion of redemption from the fall. Many people no longer have to physically sweat to earn their living, mentally sweating, so to speak, instead.
    I hope this makes sense, and that I’m not stirring the pot too much.

  52. Keri – that is exactly why included the curse in the post. It is a very intriguing idea.

  53. I just thought of something else. I think that work is an eternal principle, but that toil, labor, or sweat (whatever word we’re using for it) is not. Adam and Eve were commanded to care for the garden, and to dress and keep it. This implies work to me. However, the toil and sweat of the face didn’t come until after the fall. I think this is a clearer and more succinct way of saying what I was trying to say in my #51 post.
    And thanks, J. Stapley, for being welcoming to my first comment here. I’ve been lurking on BCC for a month or so, but I haven’t said anything until now.

  54. :) Welcome aboard!

  55. hardlyperfect says:

    Being a relative newcomer to this blog, it is fast becoming apparent that I am a distinct minority here in the category of proffesion, being as I am a blue collar worker, employed by a large defense contractor. I work with my hands and know no other way…it has simply been my way of life as far as I can recollect from my earliest childhood memories on my grandfather’s farm. I would not say that our work today is les worthy, however, I believe that there is a great sense of joy to be derived from our work, be it the creation of our hand, or the excercise of our intellect. I like to believe that the Lord took an active role in some elements of the creation…getting his hands dirty so to speak, as opposed to filling only an administrative role or that of chief engineer. I believe that getting His hand into it gave Him an intimate personal connection with his work, and led him to declare His approval and satisfacton that it was good. Regardless, the advent of work at the expulsion from the Garden was one of the greatest blessings we will ever know and etrenal in nature. Not a curse by any means.

  56. I wonder to what extent “modern work” consists of blogging.

  57. When the Las Vegas Temple was built, the members were expected to contribute financially and raise funds. We had to raise a certain amount before they would even break ground. I remember the construction paper thermometer in the foyer that kept us all informed about how we were doing. Families donated what they could, the YW had car washes, even the primary kids had a penny drive and we were encouraged to find ways to contribute. I remember at the dedication, I was 11 or 12, but I felt like I had been a part of why we now had a temple.

  58. Wonderful conversation on
    We just discussed this lesson yesterday, Dec 17th. I asked specifically about “moral supremacy”. It is a very unequivocal phrase. The instructor put it to the group, with special attention to its application today.
    Two of the brothers (it was a HP group meeting), non-carpenters, professional men, had built their own homes. When asked about it, the one was silent for a moment, then thanked our instructor for making him think about it. His voice evidenced some surprise when he said he has the same feelings about that as he does when the Spirit whispers to him. The other concurred with that, and mentioned that some of the most specific, powerful revelation in his life came with regards to building that home while he was reading the scriptures.
    Others recalled the unity and camaraderie that were widely felt during welfare service projects, fundraising and chapel building in years past. My wife, later, noted that manual labour humbles the rich and raises up the poor (at least by giving them some common ground to talk about with the rich. We ought to have something better than the news, movies and sports!)
    One brother took issue, saying that mowing the grass is just a waste of his time, when he can hire someone for a fraction of what he can earn in the same hour. The work he does is more difficult anyway, and he feels like a slacker when he’s doing manual labour, “the easy stuff.” Now, I’ve felt just that way for many years, but recently taught an institute lesson about Section 59, honoring the Sabbath day. Elder Holland, in a CES video, says that one of the reasons God rested on the 7th day was just to lean back and enjoy what He had accomplished. He rested just for the simple joy of it, not because he was tired and needed to recover His strength or review his work so He could do better in the future.
    Where does President Woodruff say we ought to perform manual labour daily? I missed that in lsn 22, if it was there. I don’t remember seeing in Matthew Cowley’s biography, either – though I could easily have missed it. “One can only see what one already knows.” (Schweitzer)

  59. Thanks for commenting, Jack. You have highlighted a lot of the interesting dynamics at play.

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