Sunday, July 04, 2010

A little politics on a Sunday afternoon

Michael and I teach a Sunday School class at church every few weeks. I realized that we are teaching next week so today while everyone took naps I started reading our designated chapters in the Old Testament as well as some supplemental material. The subject of next week's lesson is "King Solomon: Man of Wisdom, Man of Foolishness" and describes the ascent and downfall of Solomon (who, incidentally, followed exactly in the footsteps of the previous two kings--his father, David, and Saul). And although the lesson really focuses on the spiritual aspects of humility and pride, I found an interesting quote that I thought pertained rather exactly to the state of our nation and, really, our lifestyle today that I wanted to share. It struck me because we seem to have sunk into a one-track mind regarding government, leadership, stewardship, and prosperity with no understanding of the variety of philosophies that exist regarding economy, wealth, growth and progression. It almost--ALMOST--makes me want to study economics, just to feel I have a greater grasp on the history and philosophy of the subject and therefore have a more valid voice to stand up and be heard.

As a preface, this is in reference to the remarkable fame that Solomon experienced due to his renowned wisdom, his remarkable building projects, and his unprecedented wealth. Unfortunately, these latter two achievements came at the expense of his people. He began taxing them heavily and relying on forced labor to see the fulfillment of these grand designs. So if you're feeling in the mood for a little politics, here is a (long, sorry) quote from "People of the Bible and How they Lived" from the Reader's Digest Association:

"The life of the common man had been disrupted. In the past a man's wealth had been calculated mostly by the land he owned, the number of flocks he had and the size of his family. Solomon's sweeping economic changes altered that system. Land was no longer of supreme importance--in fact, it may have become somewhat of a burden. The more land a man owned, the more crops he could grow, and thus the more he would have to turn over to the king's officers when collection time came around every 12 months. Likewise, flocks were surrendered to tax collectors and sons were forced to serve on month of every three in the king's labor force.
"Now wealth was calculated not by property ownership but by the amount of money a man controlled. Certainly more and more money in gold and silver came into Israel every year, but very little of it ever filtered down to the average Israelite, who had to surrender so much of his livelihood to the king's coffers. Instead, the money was used to pay growing international debts, salaries for the full-time government officials, commissions to merchants and artisans in the king's employ, temple and palace upkeep and other expenses."
For the first time in Israel's history, there began to be a distinct difference between 'rich' and 'poor.' The king and his household were rich; the common people were poor. In between were the salaried civil servants and the merchants and artisans, many of whom had organized craft guilds by that time. Such class separations had not been know in the Israel where a shepherd boy like David could be anointed king--only 50 years earlier." (emphasis added)

I'm not going to start waxing philosophic about politics and pretend like I know what I'm talking about. (Although I have been pondering lately about the difference one voice can make and the responsibility we have to speak out, but that deserves another post all to itself.) In this case, I merely wanted to observe that the more things change, the more they stay the same. That is all.

Good night, Gracie.


  1. That is awesome. What an interesting and thought provoking quote. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow, Erin, we have the same calling! Don't you just love it!!! It is my absolute favorite, even over my time in YW. I never thought I would say that because I loved YW.

    Have you ever listened to the BYU scripture discussions? They are one of my biggest resources for my calling. They offer so many pearls of wisdom. My husband thinks they are really dry, but I love them.

  3. Thanks for the resource, Tiercy--I'll have to check that out!
    I do love fact, if I had no other callings in the church than teaching for the rest of my life I'd be completely overjoyed. :)

  4. I totally agree. Usually you can just google search: scripture discussions and they will come up. But, here's the link:

    to get you started.

    I hope you love them as much as I do.

    Also, have you ever been to

    They reference all the scriptures (on the left) and you can search for one you are studying, and if there has been a reference to that scripture during conference, it will bring up the talk for you.

    Good luck with your lesson. Seems we are teaching opposite weeks.