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We See, You Say

How can anyone remain interested in a religion which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of his life? The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays. What the Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables — Dorothy Sayers, from a 1942 essay, “Why Work?”

No one; not Church, not government, not unions and more importantly, few individuals make that call these days. What a mess we have made of our nation. All of us have been quick to blame and slow to introspection. In the last week, we have heard that the post office is crumbling, a government-funded “dream” of green named Solyndra has crashed and burned taking with it $535 million of government loans from the U.S. Department of Energy along with 1,100 jobs. Now, they are being investigated by the FBI. Could it be that Solyndra was just another “boondoggle” as my grandmother used to say?

When was the last time we heard any entity encourage good work by individuals? Unless you are nearing retirement, I would bet none come to mind. Sadly, in the last 50 years we have become a nation of whiners more concerned with when we can retire and how much our vacation/benefit package is worth than the legacy we leave with our work ethic. -Now we have come face to face with our error and we are loathe to do anything about it. “They owe me”… seems to be the mantra in 2011. 

Living in an outlying area of St. Louis, Missouri, I am often on Interstate 44 heading to or from my destination. Just outside of the city lies a 500-plus acreage of land that has now been cleared but once was a thriving Chrysler factory that provided many jobs in the area. It is an almost daily reminder of failure. Not just of Chrysler, not just of our government, but our failure as individuals. Greed has many faces. But at its core, it is the face of an individual. Left unchecked by the Church for the past fifty years, it has been allowed to fester and grow. According to Ms. Sayers 1942 essay, it began much sooner in England.

How do we walk this back? I think the way back should begin as with all things, on our knees with the humility to ask for forgiveness for our part in all of this, and we all played a part. Second, should we not pray for wisdom? Solomon did and his literal fortunes were turned. We have begun to call good, evil and evil, good. God’s grace is needed to clarify our vision. Third, pray for godly leaders — those who willingly do the hard things, with no thought of self-aggrandizement or personal fortune, much like our Founding Fathers.

Finally, we must roll up our sleeves. Our finances must be brought back into line with our personal reality. I believe God set this nation apart over two hundred years ago. No other nation has offered so much to so many. It is time to recognize the blessing that is the United States of America and the blessing of work. “Let’s roll.”


Denise Smith lives and works just outside the St. Louis area. She is married to a Permanent Deacon in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and is the mother of three grown children and proud ‘Nana’ to two (so far….).   She is Director of a Crisis Pregnancy Center and active in her parish. She blogs at treacherousbrook.blogspot.com.
  • noelfitz

    This is interesting. I winder did Denise Smith ever hear of ‘Opus Dei’.

    When I worked in America some friends use to refer to the ‘work ethic’, since they thought that the phrase ‘Protestant ethic’ would insult my Catholic sensibilities, but at least they did not call it ‘Yankee ethic’.

  • I’ve been seeing online some of the things China has been building. They’ve got the Jiaozhou Bay bridge, 26.4 miles long, that opened this summer. They’ve got the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest power station, which is in the process of being finished. They are building a high-speed rail system to connect ten cities in the Pearl River Delta.

    The China National Space Administration is actively exploring the Moon and may send humans sometime during the 2020’s.

    What have we built lately? What on earth are we doing if we can’t even best the Chi-comms on infrastructure projects? Have we lost our will? Our bridges and roads are crumbling; we can barely keep up with maintenance, let along build something new.

    Our tortured moral, social, and economic situation is bearing its fruit, and we get reminded of it every time we hit a pothole.