"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,
And in keeping yourself with labor you are in Truth
And to love 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
and in your weariness you echo what was said by the
And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is desire
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 Compassion;
And when you work with Compassion you
bind yourself to yourself, to one another, to God.
And what is it to
work with Compassion?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from
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.
It is to
charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his
Labor is compassion made Visible."
- Khalil 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. 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
"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.
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
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 acqusition.
"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 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.
"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 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
"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
"Come to me,
all you who are weary and
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn
for I am gentle and humble in
and you will find rest for your Eternal Soul."
yoke is easy and my burden is light."
"Today more than 30 percent of the American
workforce needs a government license to work." - Chip Mellor 2/10
The Hebrews of the
era Jesus lived were innovators in comprehensive universal education. The
majority, if not all, were taught to read
and write Hebrew. 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".
a wandering Tannaim practicing
the Hebrew Oral Tradition,
entered his ministry at about 30 years of age.
Jesus, trinity bound
into man flesh, channeled Three Avatars of the Creator - Tekton,
popular understanding the Hebrew religion spread throughout the Mediterranean
as wandering Tannaim spread
the Torah by the Oral
Narratives overlook the life of Jesus between the age twelve and the
beginning of his public ministry when Jesus a became almost
Tannaim two decades later.
The Jesus Narratives do 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.
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)
The 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 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
Judah 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 enslaved the inhabitants.
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
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
experience of both
Hebrew and Roman-Greek
culture adds light to
Anyone who has ever worked in construction recognizes that accidents
occur and those engaged in the construction activity receive injuries. Anyone
with empathy, and every intelligent employer, is versed in basic first aid for
injuries sustained in labor. Jesus, as Joseph's foreman, would have understood
basic first aid.
Philo was unsure of the etymology of
the Therapeutae which he
explained as meaning either Physicians of Souls or Servants of
According to Philo, the
Therapeutae were widely
distributed in the Ancient world, among the Greeks and beyond in the non-Greek
The term Therapeutae occurs in relation to
followers of Asclepius at Pergamon and also occurs in relation to worshipers of
Serapis in inscriptions, such as on Delos. The term therapeutikos carries in
later texts the meaning of attending to heal, or treating in a spiritual or
The Therapeutae were on the
cutting edge (no pun intended) of medical science when Jesus worked with Joseph
in Sepphoris. Jesus was taught
by the Therapeutae how to heal
injuries sustained in accidents.
Jesus the Therapeutae recognized the
healing ability of the Holy Anointing Oil of the
Hebrews and shared it with the unclean.
After Sepphoris Herod Antipas financed
an infrastructure project at
Tiberias around 19 AD, which
would 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
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
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
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
solid rock" and not "upon the shifting sand", another
concept that a good 1st century Tekton would have known about.
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 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.
Jesus spoke about a "keystone".
Jesus spoke about a
"city on a hill."
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
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 Sustainer.
Jesus may have unwittingly signed his death
sentence by engaging in "anti-social" behavior.
Jesus condemned the
Pharisees for engaging in
exegesis as he recognized
the nullification of Torah through
the Sadducees for teaching the
worldview of the Zaddikim which nullifies life itself.
likely shared the Holy Anointing Oil of the
Hebrews with non-Hebrews, the Therapeutae and
the Pharisees disapproved of their close
scientific healing knowledge being shared with
"The breakdown of
social structures occurs when
creative individuals fail to lead through the excercise of creative power." -
"Creativity is a matter of illusion. We take raw
materials (ink, paper, memory, perspective) and fashion something that, no
matter how faithful to our experience, is a contrivance, an invention, an
elaborate shadow play. That's the miracle - that we can believe it at all, that
these tools, imperfect as they are, can stir us into trusting something that
is, on the most basic level, not actually there." - David L. Ulin
To sing and play an instrument, to dance, to draw, to create
beautifully crafted hand made objects from the materials available in the
as natural a part of
being human as it is to walk, talk, and play.
The atrophy of these
functions began with the advent of the Neolithic division of labor, and
accelerated as the division of labor
intensified with the global industrial revolution, which also created the means
to replace beautifully crafted hand made objects with mass-produced
back to stacks
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