Protestant Work Ethic


The Protestant work ethic is the view that a person’s duty is to achieve success through hard work and thrift, such success being a sign that one is saved. Having spent several years of my life collecting Unemployment, is it any wonder that I disagree?

The Germans have an expression, “Good enough is always your best.” The Germans are also famous for starting two World Wars, Nazism, and the slogan “Deutshland uber alles.” So, even though I am part German, I take their words of wisdom with a large grain of salt. “Deutshland uber Denmark” or “Deutshland uber Monaco” might have been good enough for me.

The Puritans believed that hard work was the way to Heaven. The Puritans also believed that some of their parishioners were witches and, so, they put them to death.

I think it is time to take another look at the Protestant Work Ethic. Let’s start with the Bible story about the Garden of Eden. What was Adam’s job? All he had to do was to come up with names for all the animals that God created. That’s a job that even I would relish. I might not have done as good a job as Adam, but my work would have been “good enough.” Maybe, instead of monkeys, I would have called them Hairy Tree-climbers. Then, squirrels might have been Furry Tree-climbers. Koala bears could be Cute Tree-climbers. Maybe not my best work, but good enough. The point is that while he lived in Eden, Adam did very little work.

Then Adam and Eve got thrown out of Eden for eating the forbidden fruit. They tried to blame it on a talking snake. I think that explains why people today are so stupid. Our first ancestors were obviously morons. The talking-snake defense?   Come on! I would have just told God that I didn’t realize that it came from the forbidden tree. I just found it on the ground, and thought it was from a different tree. I’m sure that Johnnie Cochran could have come up with an even better story, maybe something like, “They didn’t eat the pit, so you must acquit,” but I think that the “found-it-on-the-ground defense” might have been good enough. It was certainly better than the talking-snake defense. That sounds like Adam and Eve might have been smoking the forbidden fruit, not eating it, but, like I said, Adam and Eve were morons, and they were found guilty. What was their punishment? Work! Adam and Eve now had to make clothes, grow food, hunt animals, build shelters, yada, yada, yada. Life inside the Garden of Eden had been all play. Work was God’s idea of punishment. So why do we think that God values work so much? Based upon the Garden of Eden, I think that God’s idea of paradise is having fun (at least that’s what I think the God, who I don’t believe in, believes). Work is overrated. Play is underrated. God even has a Commandment to honor Him one day a week by NOT working, no servile work on Sundays.

Why were Protestant pastors so keen on work? Well, back in those days, a thing called tithing was popular in the church. Tithing meant giving the church one-tenth of all you made. It’s mentioned repeatedly in the Bible.

And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave Him a tenth of everything.

Okay, so the church is supposed to get one-tenth of whatever you make. There it is! The smoking gun. The reason the church wants you to work so hard. The church is working on commission.

If the church wanted you to achieve Paradise, they would say, “Play more. Have a good time. Enjoy life. Find new animals and give them names.” But they are more concerned with getting their commission. It probably pisses them off that there is a Commandment to avoid work on Sundays. 24-7 was probably their idea, and God had to talk them down to 24-6.

So, I am proposing a replacement for the Protestant Work Ethic, the Agnostic Play Program. Don’t pray – Play. Have a good time. Enjoy life, find new animals, and give them names. I think I’ll call snakes, long, thin crawly things that can climb trees, but can’t really speak to you (unless you’re Harry Potter).

Serpent in Tree

Peace & Love, and all of the above,


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