This is one of those holidays that bleed together in secular and spiritual ways. First the secular. Americans identify heavily with their vocations – be that paid or unpaid, we love to work. We love the meaning behind “a labor of love.” It’s also the substance of life, in our bodies, our minds, our day to day waking existence: what we work towards says a lot about who we are, and what we believe we were put on this earth to do.
But then there are many, many more who don’t have this luxury to consider it at all: work is ordinary, necessary, often underpaid or not paid, or work is simply unavailable. Then it’s working for survival.
Jesus spoke of these workers many times in his parables. Because how we treat workers has a lot to do with how spiritually evolved a civilization is, or how healthy the kingdom. Jesus turned our ideas about work and compensation on its head, which I’ll expand on this Sunday.
I was fortunate to interview Mark Maier recently on my new podcast POP! Talk about workers’ rights, the minimum wage, and wage theft. Mark is a professor of the economics division of social sciences at Glendale Community College. He showed us a brand new book called “Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor” by Steven Greenhouse. I’ve been reading it, it’s fantastic, and I look forward to honoring the wave of Fight for Fifteen by also sharing its story this Sunday. It started in Brooklyn and crested right here in Los Angeles and Pasadena. I’m proud to have played a personal role in this story.
I love my vocation and I love the feelings, ideas, and reality on the street when it comes to Labor Day. It’s a mixed bag of looking at ourselves and how we treat the least among us. A lot of ministers like to take the day off, but I wish I could talk about working and workers more often, and focus on real life parables. “Working,” by Studs Terkel is another book that I love and will share from this Sunday. It’s a compendium of interviews with American workers in the 60’s and early 70’s. “People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About It” is its subtitle. Might share the one who’s the only grassroots community organizer, winning better wages for the poor.
What better thing is there to work toward?
Happy Labor Day Weekend!