Working with Witherington 01

Ben Witherington III commented how we have lost the sense of connection between the work that we do and the world in which we do our work. It is particularly so since we (i.e., his readers, and I assume it still holds for the most of us who read this blog) live in a post-industrial age where “only a tiny minority of us are still farmers or gardeners.” (Work, 17) Farmers and gardeners are, of course, assumed to be the most primitive (in the neutral sense) work on earth. What happens, then? Well, since this sense of earthly connection is gone, we rarely think that what we do actually affects the earth, for better or for worse. Indeed, we have forgotten that we work “with the earth.” (17)

Moreover, we then come to the point of regarding “physical labor as the lowest kind of labor.” (19) Laborers occupy the lowest strata in our socio-economic caste. The more we can avoid physical labor in our work will be better. Thus sometimes we forget that work is physical.

Now, as I have mentioned before, the garden does not simply end with the same garden. It ends with a city. Thus in some sense technological advances, which include ‘labor-saving’ devices, are encouraged and expected. I genuinely thank God (and the inventors) for computers and MRI machines. Rigid conservatism is not the solution. Nevertheless, on the other hand Ben is right to say that we must not forget that our work is not independent with the earth where we do our work and that physicality is an essential aspect of our work.

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