I Didn’t Really Care For the Original Version

Come now, you rich, rejoice and be at peace for the blessings that are coming upon you.

Your riches have trickled down and your garments are $8 a pair.

Your gold and silver have impressed the shareholders, and their success will be evidence for you and will fatten your flesh. You have laid up treasure for the last days.

Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields and made your sandwich, which you kept back , are not of any concern to you (if you raised them, inflation would ensue anyway); and the cries of the harvesters pleases the ears of the Lord of hosts.

You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in your third house.

You have enabled, you have payed minimum wage to the righteous man; he cannot resist you (since unions kill business)


  1. Brilliant. The whole fattening your hearts for the day of slaughter thing (in the “original” version) is some scary shit, this version is much easier to take.


  2. Putting it like this concretizes it for me. I think we need to really turn up the heat on all the “austerity” rhetoric and the right-winged turn (in both parties) in recent politics.


  3. While I tend to agree with the wage issue, the rest of the premise is IMO false.

    You seem to think its a zero sum game as if the rich have horded the wealth and denied it from the poor.

    Neither side can make a valid claim.

    The Lord said to the man who had received the five duplexes and went out and invested in 5 more for those unable to purchase their own.“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many more.

    Then the Lord turned to the wicked, lazy servant who was perfectly capable of performing work, but has chosen to live off the public largest of public housing, food stamps since he can take trips to So Cal in the winter for the food stamps are now electronically transferred and thereby depriving the widow, orphan and the elderly in need.

    Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    For you were a Democrat and unjustly spend others retirement and exempted yourself from the laws you passed; wow too Republicans who refused to reduce your war machine and fed at the corporate well. You both have sowed the wind and will now reaped the whirlwind.


    1. I’m a little confused since I didn’t have party politics in mind at all when I was doing this. It was specifically musing on low wages and efforts to keep them low, who benefits from such arrangements and what stories are necessary to maintain the status quo. In the process someone mentioned to me that “raising wages just raises inflation,” which, while this happens to a certain extent, there are many other benefits even to inflation including debt reduction and even investing capital into projects rather than holding onto it in monetary form. But then it hit me that the fear of losing perceived purchasing power is precisely a manifestation of mistaking “options” for “power” – and this is a sign also of a failure to understand that what we think of as our “freedom” to purchase is more often than not a context predecided by those who make such choices, let alone considering the way our desire gets formed by advertising, etc… I honestly had no Republican vs Democrat ideas in my head.

      So…sure, there are people who abuse welfare systems and this is wrong. But it would have brought me a bit too far off of the James text to address that. Indeed I think that I only shifted the text to an appropriate degree in the opposite direction in order to let it come alive, it retains the majority of its force. I think the story of the lazy servant is quite appropriate for addressing welfare abuse. Either way, the economic abuse of the poor is so much more significant than those who abuse the welfare system that it really pales in comparison, and also what Scripture is generally far more concerned with. We as a country lose the overwhelming majority of our money to the war machine, which sits pretty at least as much as the next ten countries combined. We can spend trillions on unjust wars apparently, but we can’t afford public school and basic infastructure…bah!

      (for the record, I deeply sympathize with the papal encyclical tradition in matters like this, though perhaps I’d lean a bit more sympathetically toward stronger regulations, especially in the global system. The Christian ideal is of course “freely” assented to associations of charity)


  4. It was specifically musing on low wages and efforts to keep them low

    See to me that is political not market driven, but never running a business I don’t have a point of reference.

    What we face as a society is the transition to a global community. In our society even the poorest among us is materially wealthy. The economic safety system created in this country to protect the poor and the middle class have placed an impossible task for the business owner to break even let alone compete with foreign labor. Hence while the 1920’s could be seen as times of the means of production forcing labor to work for unjust wages the question is would you rather have a job and no protect or no job at all?

    US labor cost is $25.65/hour vs. $5.91 in Hong Kong and $1.31 in the P.I.


    1. Tom,

      Well I may be able to shed some light on this. I am an owner of a small business, or rather it is my wife’s so let’s say I’m a co-owner. We receive rent from stylists who use chairs and supplies at the salon, some of which goes toward paying for receptionists. We pay several dollars more per hour than other competing positions and we faithfully give incremental raises. That is money that could be going to us, but it is more important we feel to create a healthy work place and happy workers, for whom we are in a way, responsible.

      So shifting this back to larger employers, the kind that would put their owners in the $250,000+ bracket (we are still below the “poverty” line technically speaking), I entertain very serious doubts that larger employers are simply unable to pay fair and healthy wages: it just may necessitate that they don’t take home as much money, or they can’t expand at as rapid a rate as they could otherwise.

      The evidence is a bit coloquial, but it seems relevant.


  5. Sorry I think my point has taken the topic off in another direction.

    Your response would make sense to me if you competed with markets around the globe. And you engage in a service and I was really thinking of a material product which is sadly what most of the job losses have occurred.

    At New Balance for example the US worker has to produce something like 15 times as much product as a given foreign worker to remain viable in the global market. I don’t think that there are many USA companies that are able to produce that against the foreign wage backdrop.

    And with China needing to create 150 million additional jobs over the next 20 years with the majority of them low tech it will come from future displaced American and European workers.

    I wish I had a Christian solution to it, but I don’t.


  6. “Who is the covetous man? One for whom plenty is not enough. Who is the defrauder? One who takes away what belongs to everyone. And are you not covetous, are you not a defrauder, when you keep for private use what you were given for distribution? **When some one strips a man of his clothes we call him a thief.** And the one who might clothe the naked and does not- **should not he be given the same name?** The bread in your hoard **belongs** to the hungry; the cloak in your wardrobe **belongs** to the naked; the shoes you let rot belong to the barefoot; the money in your vaults **belongs** to the destitute. All you might help and do not- to all these you are doing wrong.” – St. Basil the Great, Sermon on “The Rich Fool”

    “Do not say, ‘I am using what **belongs** to me.’ You are using what **belongs** to others. All the wealth of the world **belongs** to you and to the others in common, as the sun, air, earth, and all the rest.”- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on I Corinthians.


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