Category Archives: Golden Rule

Science Wars Myth

SCIENCE AND RELIGION

The idea of inevitable conflict between science and religion was decisively challenged by John Hedley Brooke in his classic Science and religion: Some historical perspectives (Cambridge, 1991). Almost two decades on, Science and religion: New Historical perspectives revisits this argument and asks how historians can now impose order on the complex and contingent histories of religious engagements with science.

Bringing together leading scholars, this new volume explores the history and changing meanings of the categories ‘science’ and ‘religion’; the role of publishing and education in forging and spreading ideas; the connection between knowledge, power, and intellectual imperialism; and the reasons for the confrontation between evolution and creationism among American Christians and in the Islamic world. A major contribution to the historiography of science and religion, this book makes the most recent scholarship on this much misunderstood debate widely accessible. (Dixon et. al. 2010, Front Material, in Science and Religion: New Historical Perspectives)

I propose, then, to present to you this evening an outline of the great sacred struggle for the liberty of Science-a struggle which has been going on for so many centuries. A tough contest this has been! A war continued longer-with battles fiercer, with sieges more persistent, with strategy more vigorous than in any of the comparatively petty warfares of Alexander, or Cxsar, or Napoleon … In all modern history, interference with Science in the supposed interest of religion-no matter how conscientious such interference may have been-has resulted in the direst evils both to Religion and Science, and invariably.
—Andrew Dickson White, “The Battle-Fields of Science” (1869)

The antagonism we thus witness between Religion and Science is the continuation of a struggle that commenced when Christianity began to attain political power … The history of Science is not a mere record of isolated discoveries; it is a narrative of the conflict of two contending powers, the expansive force of the human intellect on one side, and the compression arising from traditionary faith and human interests on the other.
—John William Draper, History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874)

The greatest myth in the history of science and religion holds that they have been in a state of constant conflict. No one bears more responsibility for promoting this notion than two nineteenth-century American polemicists: Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918) and John William Draper (1811-1882). White, the young president of Cornell University, became a believer in the warfare between science and religion after religious critics branded him an infidel for, as he put it, trying to create in Ithaca “[a]n asylum for Science—where truth shall be sought for truth’s sake, not stretched or cut exactly to fit Revealed Religion.” On a winter’s evening in December 1869 he strode to the podium in the great hall of Cooper Union in New York City, ready to smite his enemies with history, to give them “a lesson which they will remember.” In a melodramatic lecture titled “The Battle-Fields of Science” the historian surveyed “some of the hardest-fought battle-fields” of the “great war” between science and religion. He told of Giordano Bruno’s being “burned alive as a monster of impiety,” of Galileo’s having been “tortured tured and humiliated as the worst of unbelievers,” and much more, ending with the latest scientific martyrs, Cornell University and its beleaguered president. As White must have anticipated, his lecture sparked even more controversy, prompting, according to one observer, “instantaneous outcry and opposition.” Over the next quarter century White expanded his talk into a huge two-volume work, A History of the Warfare of Science ence with Theology in Christendom (1896), widely translated and frequently reprinted down to the present. In it, as Elizabeth Cady Stanton gleefully noted, he showed “that the Bible has been the greatest block in the way of progress.”‘ (Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Kindle Locations 39-49). Kindle Edition.)

Draper was equally exercised when he wrote his History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874). An accomplished physician, chemist, and historian, Draper largely excused Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy of crimes against science while excoriating Roman Catholicism. He did so, he wrote, “partly because its adherents compose the majority of Christendom, partly because its demands are the most pretentious, and partly because it has commonly sought to enforce those demands by the civil power.” In addition to chronicling the church’s age-old opposition to scientific progress, he ridiculed the recently promulgated doctrine of papal infallibility, which he attributed to men “of sin and shame.” He never publicly mentioned, however, what may have agitated him the most: his antipathy toward his own sister, Elizabeth, who had converted to Catholicism and who for a time lived with the Drapers. When one of the Draper children, eight-year-old William, lay near death, Aunt Elizabeth hid his favorite book, a Protestant devotional tract-and did not return it until after the boy had passed away. The grieving father angrily kicked her out of his house, no doubt blaming the Vatican for her un-Christian and dogmatic behavior. Draper’s tale of “ferocious theologians” hounding the pioneers of science “with a Bible in one hand and a fiery fagot in the other,” as one critic characterized his account, understandably provoked numerous counterattacks. The American convert to Catholicism Orestes Brownson, who described the book as “a tissue of lies from beginning to end,” could scarcely contain his fury. “A thousand highway-robberies or a thousand cold-blooded murders,” he fumed, “would be but a light social offence in comparison with the publication of one such book as this before us..” (Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Kindle Locations 49-59). Kindle Edition.)

(….) Discussions of the relationship between “science” and “religion” originated in the early nineteenth century, when students of nature first began referring to their work as science rather than as natural philosophy (or natural history). Before that time there were occasional expressions of concern about the tension between faith and reason, but no one pitted religion against science or vice versa.’ By the 1820s, however, books and articles featuring the phrase “science and religion” in their titles were starting to appear. One of the first, if not the first, English-language books with the words in their titles came out in 1823: Thomas Dick’s popular The Christian Philosopher; or, The Connection of Science and Philosophy with Religion. By midcentury “science and religion” was becoming a literary trope, and during the 1850s and 1860s several American colleges and seminaries established professorships devoted to demonstrating (and preserving) the harmony of science and revealed religion.4 (Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Kindle Locations 59-64). Kindle Edition.)

Although a few freethinkers, most notoriously Thomas Cooper of South Carolina College, denounced religion as “the great enemy of Science,” antebellum Americans, especially the clergy, worried far more about the threat of science to orthodox Christianity than about religious barriers to science. By the middle third of the nineteenth century some observers were beginning to suspect that “every new conquest achieved by science, involved the loss of a domain to religion.” Especially disturbing were scientific challenges to the first chapters of the Bible. During the three decades between about 1810 and 1840 men of science pushed successfully to replace the supernatural creation of the solar system with the nebular hypothesis, to expand the history of life on earth from 6,000 to millions of years, and to shrink Noah’s flood to a regional event in the Near East. Many Christians readily adjusted their reading of the Bible to accommodate such findings, but some biblical literalists thought that the geologists of the day were taking too many liberties with God’s word. The Reverend Gardiner Spring, for example, resented scientific efforts to explain creation, which he regarded as “a great miracle,” incapable of being accounted for scientifically. “The collision is not between the Bible & Nature,” he declared, “but between the Bible & natural philosophers.”‘ (Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Kindle Locations 64-71). Kindle Edition.)

At the time it was not uncommon for men of science to engage in biblical exegesis while denying theologians and clergymen the right to monitor science. This practice, along with the increasing marginalization of theologians from the scientific enterprise, Charles Hodge, the most eminent Calvinist theologian in midcentury America. Although he continued to venerate men of science who disclosed “the wonderful works of God,” by the late 1850s he was growing increasingly frustrated by their tendency to treat theologians who expressed themselves on scientific subjects as “trespassers” who should mind their own business. He attributed the growing “alienation” between men of science and men of the cloth in part to the former’s “assumption of superiority” and their practice of stigmatizing their religious critics “as narrow-minded, bigots, old women, Bible worshippers, etc.” He resented the lack of respect frequently shown to religious men, who were instructed by their scientific colleagues to quit meddling in science, while they themselves belittled religious beliefs and values. At times Hodge worried that science, devoid of religion, was becoming downright “satanic.” He had no doubt that religion was in a “fight for its life against a large class of scientific men.”6 (Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Kindle Locations 71-78). Kindle Edition.)

The spread of “infidel” science—from geology and cosmogonies to biology and anthropology—caused many Christians, both conservatives and liberals, to feel under attack. According to the southern intellectual George Frederick Holmes, “The struggle between science and religion, between philosophy and faith, has been protracted through centuries; but it is only within recent years that the breach has become so open and avowed as to be declared by many to be irreconcilable.” Worse yet, even the working classes were joining the fray. As one British writer noted in 1852, “Science is no longer a lifeless abstraction floating above the heads of the multitude. It has descended to earth. It mingles with men. It penetrates our mines. It enters our workshops. It speeds along with the iron courser of the rail.”7 (Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Kindle Locations 78-82). Kindle Edition.)

The debates over Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859), in which the British naturalist sought “to overthrow the dogma of separate creations” and extend the domain of natural law throughout the organic world, signaled a shift in emphasis. Increasingly, scientists, as they were coming to be called, expressed pressed resentment at playing handmaiden to religion. One after another called not only for scientific freedom but also for the subordination of religion—and the rewriting of history with religion as the villain. The most infamous outburst came from the Irish physicist John Tyndall (1820-1893), who in his 1874 Belfast address as president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science thundered: (Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Kindle Locations 82-86). Kindle Edition.)

The impregnable position of science may be described in a few words. We claim, and we shall wrest from theology, the entire domain of cosmological theory. All schemes and systems which thus infringe upon the domain of science must, in so far as they do this, submit to its control, and relinquish all thought of controlling it. Acting otherwise proved disastrous in the past, and it is simply fatuous to-day. (Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Kindle Locations 86-89). Kindle Edition.)

Two years later Tyndall wrote a laudatory preface to a British edition of White’s The Warfare of Science. With such endorsements, the conflict thesis was well on its way toward becoming the historical dogma of the day, at least among intellectuals seeking freedom from religion.’ (Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Kindle Locations 89-90). Kindle Edition.)

Historians of science have known for years that White’s and Draper’s accounts are more propaganda than history.’ (An opposing ing myth, that Christianity alone gave birth to modern science, is disposed of in Myth 9.) Yet the message has rarely escaped the ivory tower. The secular public, if it thinks about such issues at all, knows that organized religion has always opposed scientific progress (witness the attacks on Galileo, Darwin, and Scopes). The religious public knows that science has taken the leading role in corroding faith (through naturalism and antibiblicism). As a first step toward correcting these misperceptions we must dispel the hoary myths that continue to pass as historical truths. No scientist, to our knowledge, ever lost his life because of his scientific views, though, as we shall see in Myth 7, the Italian Inquisition did incinerate the sixteenth-century Copernican Giordano Bruno for his heretical theological notions. (Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Kindle Locations 90-95). Kindle Edition.)

Unlike the master mythmakers White and Draper, the contributors to this volume have no obvious scientific or theological axes to grind. Nearly half, twelve of twenty-five, self-identify as agnostic or atheist (that is, unbelievers in religion). Among the remaining thirteen there are five mainstream Protestants, two evangelical Protestants, one Roman Catholic, one Jew, one Muslim, one Buddhist—and two whose beliefs fit no conventional category (including one pious Spinozist). Over half of the unbelievers, including me, grew up in devout Christian homes—some as fundamentalists or evangelicals—but subsequently lost their faith. I’m not sure exactly what to make of this fact, but I suspect it tells us something about why we care so much about setting the record straight. (Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Kindle Locations 95-99). Kindle Edition.)

A final word about our use of the word myth: Although some of the myths we puncture may have helped to give meaning to the lives of those embracing them, we do not employ the term in its sophisticated academic sense but rather use it as done in everyday conversation—to designate a claim that is false. (Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Kindle Locations 99-101). Kindle Edition.)

Galileo Goes to Jail

Falsehood is not a matter of narration technique but something premeditated as a perversion of truth…. The shadow of a hair’s turning, premeditated for an untrue purpose, the slightest twisting or perversion of that which is principle—these constitute falseness. But the fetish of factualized truth, fossilized truth, the iron band of so-called unchanging truth, holds one blindly in a closed circle of cold fact. One can be technically right as to fact and everlastingly wrong in the truth. (Urantia Book 48:6.33)

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Among some astronomers and even more astrologers, Copernicus’ claim won converts. But in 1615, the Roman Catholic Church declared the idea a heresy and in 1632 condemned the scientist Galileo Galilei to life in prison for disseminating it.
— Ken Zimmerman, RWER : More on what’s missing, 9/1/2020

[T]he great Galileo, at the age of fourscore, groaned away his days in the dungeons of the Inquisition, because he had demonstrated by irrefragable proofs the motion of the earth.
— Voltaire, “Descartes and Newton” (1728)

[T]he celebrated Galileo … was put in the inquisition for six years, and put to the torture, for saying, that the earth moved.

— Giuseppe Baretti, The Italian Library (1757)

[T]o say that Galileo was tortured is not a reckless claim, but it is simply to repeat what the sentence says. To specify that he was tortured about his intention is not a risky deduction, but it is, again, to report what that text says. These are observation-reports, reports, not magical intuitions; proved facts, not cabalistic introspections.

— Italo Mereu, History of Intolerance in Europe (1979)

The trial ended on June 22, 1633, with a harsher sentence than Galileo had been led to expect. The verdict found him guilty of a category of heresy intermediate between the most and the least serious, called “vehement suspicion of heresy.” The objectionable beliefs were the astronomical thesis that the earth moves and the methodological principle that the Bible is not a scientific authority. He was forced to recite a humiliating “abjuration” retracting these beliefs. But the Dialogue was banned. (Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Kindle Locations 757-760). Kindle Edition.)

The lengthy sentencing document also recounted the proceedings since 1613, summarized the 1633 charges, and noted Galileo’s defense and confession. In addition, it provided two other extremely important details. The first described an interrogation: “Because we did not think you had said the whole truth about your intention, we deemed it necessary to proceed against you by a rigorous examination. Here you answered in a Catholic manner, though without prejudice to the above-mentioned things confessed by you and deduced against you about your intention.” The second imposed an additional penalty: “We condemn you to formal imprisonment in this Holy Office at our pleasure.” (Kindle Locations 760-764)

The lengthy sentencing document also recounted the proceedings since 1613, summarized the 1633 charges, and noted Galileo’s defense and confession. (….) The text of the Inquisition’s sentence and Galileo’s abjuration were the only trial documents publicized at the time. Indeed, the Inquisition sent copies to all provincial inquisitors and papal nuncios, requesting them to disseminate the information. Thus news of Galileo’s fate circulated widely in books, newspapers, and one-page flyers. This unprecedented publicity resulted from the express orders of Pope Urban, who wanted Galileo’s case to serve as a negative lesson to all Catholics and to strengthen his own image as an intransigent defender of the faith. (Kindle Locations 760-767)

(….) The impression that Galileo had been imprisoned and tortured remained plausible as long as the principal evidence available about Galileo’s trial came from these documents, the sentence and abjuration. The story remained unchanged until—after about 150 years for the prison thesis and about 250 years for the torture thesis—relevant documents came to light showing that Galileo had suffered neither. (Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Kindle Locations 775-777). Kindle Edition.)

The new information about imprisonment comes from correspondence in 1633, primarily from the Tuscan ambassador to Rome (Francesco Niccolini) to the Tuscan secretary of state in Florence, and secondarily that to and from Galileo himself. The Tuscan officials were especially interested in Galileo because he was employed as the chief mathematician and philosopher to the grand duke of Tuscany, had dedicated the Dialogue to him, and had successfully sought his help in publishing the book in Florence. Thus the Tuscan government treated the trial like an affair of state, with Niccolini constantly discussing the situation directly with the pope at their regular meetings and sending reports to Florence. Moreover, Galileo was on very friendly terms with Niccolini and his wife. (Kindle Locations 777-781)

(….) With the possible exception of three days (June 21-24, 1633), Galileo was never held in prison, either during the trial (as was universal custom) or afterward (as the sentence decreed). Even for those three days he likely lodged in the prosecutor’s apartment, not in a cell. The explanation for such unprecedentedly benign treatment is not completely clear but includes the following factors: the protection of the Medici, Galileo’s celebrity status, and the love-hate attitude of Pope Urban, an erstwhile admirer. (Kindle Locations 792-795)

(….) In view of the available evidence, the most tenable position is that Galileo underwent an interrogation with the threat of torture but did not undergo actual torture or even territio realis. Although he remained under house arrest during the 1633 trial and for the subsequent nine years of his life, he never went to prison. We should keep in mind, however, that for 150 years after the trial the publicly available evidence indicated that Galileo had been imprisoned, and for 250 years the evidence indicated that he had been tortured. The myths of Galileo’s torture and imprisonment are thus genuine myths: ideas that are in fact false but once seemed true—and continue to be accepted as true by poorly educated persons and careless scholars. (Kindle Locations 839-843)

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Simple stories are poor vehicles for complex nuanced historical truth. The Catholic Church like all human institutions — is full of justifiable blame for the errors of evil and sin, even iniquity, but let the blame be laid on firm evidentiary foundations and not half-truths of simple stories careless with fact and truth, lest we be guilty of twisting hairs and casting shadows of half-truth for untrue purposes.

Value Crisis of Modernity

There are many examples in the modern world showing how this doctrine of the free market—the pursuit of self-interest—has worked out to the disadvantage of society.

— CAMBRIDGE PROFESSOR JOAN ROBINSON, 1977, cited in Buddhist Economics.

The approach used here concentrates on a factual basis that differentiates it from more traditional practical ethics and economic policy analysis, such as the “economic” concentration on the primacy of income and wealth (rather than on the characteristics of human lives and substantive freedoms).

— NOBEL LAUREATE AMARTYA SEN, DEVELOPMENT AS FREEDOM, cited in Buddhist Economics

In Buddhist economics, people are interdependent with one another and with Nature, so each person’s well-being is measured by how well everyone and the environment are functioning with the goal of minimizing suffering for people and the planet. Everyone is assumed to have the right to a comfortable life with access to basic nutrition, health care, education, and the assurance of safety and human rights. A country’s well-being is measured by the aggregation of the well-being of all residents and the health of the ecosystem.

Brown (2017, 2), in Buddhist Economics

As Toyota President Akio Toyoda recently commented, Toyota’s renewed commitment to society extends from putting customers first to “putting people first” and aiming to serve society as a whole. This mission statement stems from Toyota’s earliest values and explains why the company is closely aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals as inspiration for its long-term global sustainability strategy. At a European-level, the company is following this lead by contributing to society through its social and employment practices, such as its focus on diversity and inclusion

(….) “As we transform from an automotive to mobility company, and to produce mass happiness, we need to make more than cars, vans and trucks. We need to align with the Sustainable Development Goals, Green Deal and a better future”

Automotive World, Toyota’s mission to produce “happiness for all” with its business transformation programme, December 7, 2020

We live in the age of kikikan (危機感). Civilizational crisis is everywhere to be seen for those who are awake. The way forward is gapponshugi, a vision embodying a new motive for economic striving.

~ ~ ~

In the most dramatic moments of Italy’s debt crisis, the newly installed “technical” government, led by Mario Monti, appealed to trade unions to accept salary cuts in the name of national solidarity. Monti urged them to participate in a collective effort to increase the competitiveness of the Italian economy (or at least to show that efforts were being made in that direction) in order to calm international investors and “the market” and, hopefully, reduce the spread between the interest rates of Italian and German bonds (at the time around 500 points, meaning that the Italian government had to refinance its ten-year debt at the excruciating rate of 7.3 percent). Commenting on this appeal in an editorial in the left-leaning journal Il Manifesto, the journalist Loris Campetti wondered how it could be at all possible to demand solidarity from a Fiat worker when the CEO of his company earned about 500 times what the worker did.1 And such figures are not unique to Italy. In the United States, the average CEO earned about 30 times what the average worker earned in the mid-1970s (1973 being the year in which income inequality in the United States was at its historically lowest point). Today the multiplier lies around 400. Similarly, the income of the top 1 percent (or even more striking, the top 0.1 percent) of the U.S. population has skyrocketed in relation to that of the remaining 99 percent, bringing income inequality back to levels not seen since the Roaring Twenties. (Arvidsson et. al. 2013, 1-2)

The problem is not, or at least not only, that such income discrepancies exist, but that there is no way to legitimate them. At present there is no way to rationally explain why a corporate CEO (or a top-level investment banker or any other member of the 1 percent) should be worth 400 times as much as the rest of us. And consequently there is no way to legitimately appeal to solidarity or to rationally argue that a factory worker (or any of us in the 99 percent) should take a pay cut in the name of a system that permits such discrepancies in wealth. What we have is a value crisis. There are huge differentials in the monetary rewards that individuals receive, but there is no way in which those differentials can be explained and legitimated in terms of any common understanding of how such monetary rewards should be determined. There is no common understanding of value to back up the prices that markets assign, to put it in simple terms. (We will discuss the thorny relation between the concepts of “value” and “price” along with the role of markets farther on in this chapter.) (Arvidsson et. al. 2013, 2)

This value crisis concerns more than the distribution of income and private wealth. It is also difficult to rationalize how asset prices are set. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis a steady stream of books, articles, and documentaries has highlighted the irrational practices, sometimes bordering on the fraudulent, by means of which mortgage-backed securities were revalued from junk to investment grade, credit default swaps were emitted without adequate underlying assets, and the big actors of Wall Street colluded with each other and with political actors to protect against transparency and rational scrutiny and in the end to have the taxpayers foot the bill. Neither was this irrationality just a temporary expression of a period of exceptional “irrational exuberance”; rather, irrationality has become a systemic feature of the financial system. As Amar Bidhé argues, the reliance on mathematical formulas embodied in computerized calculating devices at all levels of the financial system has meant that the setting of values on financial markets has been rendered ever more disconnected from judgments that can be rationally reconstructed and argued through.5 Instead, decisions that range from whether to grant a mortgage to an individual, to how to make split-second investment decisions on stock and currency markets, to how to grade or rate the performance of a company or even a nation have been automated, relegated to the discretion of computers and algorithms. While there is nothing wrong with computers and algorithms per se, the problem is that the complexity of these devices has rendered the underlying methods of calculation and their assumptions incomprehensible and opaque even to the people who use them on a daily basis (and imagine the rest of us!). To cite Richard Sennett’s interviews with the back-office Wall Street technicians who actually develop such algorithms: (Arvidsson et. al. 2013, 2-3)

“I asked him to outline the algo [algorithm] for me,” one junior accountant remarked about her derivatives-trading Porsche driving superior, “and he couldn’t, he just took it on faith.” “Most kids have computer skills in their genes … but just up to a point … when you try to show them how to generate the numbers they see on screen, they get impatient, they just want the numbers and leave where these came from to the main-frame.” (Arvidsson et. al. 2013, 3)

The problem here is not ignorance alone, but that the makeup of the algorithms and automated trading devices that execute the majority of trades on financial markets today (about 70 percent are executed by “bots,” or automatic trading agents), is considered a purely technical question, beyond rational discussion, judgment, and scrutiny. Actors tend to take the numbers on faith without knowing, or perhaps even bothering about, where they came from. Consequently these devices can often contain flawed assumptions that, never scrutinized, remain accepted as almost natural “facts.” During the dot-com boom, for example, Internet analysts valued dot-coms by looking at a multiplier of visitors to the dot-com’s Web site without considering how these numbers translated into monetary revenues; during the pre-2008 boom investors assigned the same default risks to subprime mortgages, or mortgages taken out by people who were highly likely to default, as they did to ordinary mortgages.8 And there are few ways in which the nature of such assumptions, flawed or not, can be discussed, scrutinized, or even questioned. Worse, there are few ways of even knowing what those assumptions are. The assumptions that stand behind the important practice of brand valuation are generally secret. Consequently, there is no way of explaining how or discussing why valuations of the same brand by different brand-valuation companies can differ as much as 450 percent. A similar argument can be applied to Fitch, Moody’s, Standard & Poor, and other ratings agencies that are acquiring political importance in determining the economic prospects of nations like Italy and France. (Arvidsson et. al. 2013, 3)

This irrationality goes even deeper than financial markets. Investments in corporate social responsibility are increasing massively, both in the West and in Asia, as companies claim to want to go beyond profits to make a genuine contribution to society. But even though there is a growing body of academic literature indicating that a good reputation for social responsibility is beneficial for corporate performance in a wide variety of ways—from financial outcomes to ease in generating customer loyalty and attracting talented employees—there is no way of determining exactly how beneficial these investments are and, consequently, how many resources should be allocated to them. Indeed, perhaps it would be better to simply tax corporations and let the state or some other actor distribute the resources to some “responsible” causes. The fact that we have no way of knowing leads to a number of irrationalities. Sometimes companies invest more money in communicating their efforts at “being good” than they do in actually promoting socially responsible causes. (In 2001, for example, the tobacco company Philip Morris spent $75 million on what it defined as “good deeds” and then spent $100 million telling the public about those good deeds.) At other times such efforts can be downright contradictory, for example when tobacco companies sponsor antismoking campaigns aimed at young people in countries like Malaysia while at the same time targeting most of their ad spending to the very same segment. Other companies make genuine efforts to behave responsibly, but those efforts reflect poorly on their reputation. Apple, for example, has done close to nothing in promoting corporate responsibility, and has a consistently poor record when it comes to labor conditions among its Chinese subcontractors (like Foxconn). Yet the company benefits from a powerful brand that is to no small degree premised on the fact that consumers perceive it to be somehow more benign than Microsoft, which actually does devote considerable resources to good causes (or at least the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation does so). (Arvidsson et. al. 2013, 3-4)

Similar irrationalities exist throughout the contemporary economy, ranging from how to measure productivity and determine rewards for knowledge workers to how to arrive at a realistic estimate of value for a number of “intangible” assets, from creativity and capacity for innovation to brand. (We will come back to these questions below as well as in the chapters that follow.) Throughout the contemporary economy, from the heights of finance down to the concrete realities of everyday work, particularly in knowledge work, great insecurities arise with regard to what things are actually worth and the extent to which the prices assigned to them actually reflect their value. (Indeed, in academic managerial thought, the very concept of “value” is presently without any clear definition; it means widely different things in different contexts.) (Arvidsson et. al. 2013, 4)

But this is not merely an accounting problem. The very question of how you determine worth, and consequently what value is, has been rendered problematic by the proliferation of a number of value criteria (or “orders of worth,” to use sociologist David Stark’s term) that are poorly reflected in established economic models. A growing number of people value the ethical impact of consumer goods. But there are no clear ways of determining the relative value of different forms of “ethical impact,” nor even a clear definition of what “ethical impact” means. Therefore there is no way of determining whether it is actually more socially useful or desirable for a company to invest in these pursuits than to concentrate on getting basic goods to consumers as cheaply and conveniently as possible. Consequently, ethical consumerism, while a growing reality, tends to be more efficient at addressing the existential concerns of wealthy consumers than at systematically addressing issues like poverty or empowerment. Similarly, more and more people understand the necessity for more sustainable forms of development. And while the definition of “sustainability” is clearer than that of “ethics,” there are no coherent ways of making concerns for sustainability count in practices of asset valuation (although some efforts have been made in that direction, which we will discuss) or of rationally determining the trade-off between efforts toward sustainability and standard economic pursuits. Thus the new values that are acquiring a stronger presence in our society—popular demand for a more sustainable economy and a more just and equal global society—have only very weak and unreliable ways of influencing the actual conduct of corporations and other important economic actors, and can affect economic decisions in only a tenuous way. More generally, we have no way of arriving at what orders of worth “count” in general and how much, and even if we were able to make such decisions, we have no channels by means of which to effect the setting of economic values. So the value crisis is not only economic; it is also ethical and political. (Arvidsson et. al. 2013, 4-5, emphasis added)

It is ethical in the sense that the relative value of the different orders of worth that are emerging in contemporary society (economic prosperity, “ethical conduct,” “social responsibility,” sustainability, global justice and empowerment) is simply indeterminable. As a consequence, ethics becomes a matter of personal choice and “standpoint” and the ethical perspectives of different individuals become incommensurate with one another. Ethics degenerates into “postmodern” relativism. (Arvidsson et. al. 2013, 5, emphasis added)

It is political because since we have no way of rationally arriving at what orders of worth we should privilege and how much, we have no common cause in the name of which we could legitimately appeal to people or companies (or force them) to do what they otherwise might not want to do. (The emphasis here is on legitimately; of course people are asked and forced to do things all the time, but if they inquire as to why, it becomes very difficult to say what should motivate them.) In the absence of legitimacy, politics is reduced to either more or less corrupt bargaining between particular interest groups or the naked exercise of raw power. In either case there can be no raison d’état. In such a context, appeals to solidarity, like that of the Monti government in Italy, remain impossible. (Arvidsson et. al. 2013, 5-6)

There have of course always been debates and conflicts, often violent, around what the common good should be. The point is that today we do not even have a language, or less metaphorically, a method for conducting such debates. (Modern ethical debates are interminable, as philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre wrote in the late 1970s.) This is what we mean by a value crisis. Not that there might be disagreement on how to value social responsibility or sustainability in relation to economic growth, or how much a CEO should be paid in relation to a worker, but that there is no common method to resolve such issues, or even to define specifically what they are about. We have no common “value regime,” no common understanding of what the values are and how to make evaluative decisions, even contested and conflict-ridden ones. (Arvidsson et. al. 2013, 6)

This has not always been the case. Industrial society—that old model that we still remember as the textbook example of how economics and social systems are supposed to work—was built around a common way of connecting economic value creation to overall social values, an imaginary social contract. In this arrangement, business would generate economic growth, which would be distributed by the welfare state in such a way that it contributed to the well-being of everyone. And even though there were intense conflicts about how this contract should apply, everyone agreed on its basic values. More importantly, these basic values were institutionalized in a wide range of practices and devices, from accounting methods to procedures of policy decisions to methods for calculating the financial value of companies and assets. Again, this did not mean that there was no conflict or discussion, but it did mean that there was a common ground on which such conflict and discussion could be acted out. There was a common value regime. (Arvidsson et. al. 2013, 6)

We are not arguing for a comeback of the value regime of industrial society. That would be impossible, and probably undesirable even if it were possible. However, neither do we accept the “postmodernist” argument (less popular now, perhaps, than it was two decades go) that the end of values (and of ethics or even politics) would be somehow liberating and emancipatory. Instead we argue that the foundations for a different kind of value regime—an ethical economy—are actually emerging as we speak. (Arvidsson et. al. 2013, 6)

Toyohiko Kagawa (賀川 豊彦)

The Knowledge of God

There are very many religions in the world to-day. There are religions of self-interest, of tradition or convention, of authority, of sex desire, religions which worship a given social organization, an so forth…. But the religion which Jesus taught was a Way of Life, which experiences God intuitively through life and love. For that reason the teachings of Jesus cannot be understood through theory alone. The God of Jesus is not a theoretical God of the philosopher — “The Absolute,” “The Infinite”; the God of Jesus is Himself very Life (John i. 1-4). (Kagawa 1931: 19)

The religion of Jesus is a religion of life. People who are fully alive, people who are living strongly, can understand it; but those who deny life, who do not want to live, cannot get its meaning. The God of Jesus is a God of Action. People who stay at home and read their Bibles and pray and meditate, and do nothing for the poor, who beg help before their very doors–such people will find the God of Jesus unintelligible. His God is One who is naturally reflected in a man’s heart when he has saved even one suffering human being, or lifted up one who has been oppressed. The loveless do not know God. Only when a man has plunged into the blindly struggling crowd and tried to save them from their sins and failures, can he know this God. Only through the active movement of love will he intuitively come to know the God of Action. (Kagawa 1931: 19-20)

It is important to bear in mind this distinction between the God of idea and the God of Action. Jesus thought that when the conscience is keen, God will naturally grow in the soul. It will not be out of place therefore to examine some of those attitudes of soul which Jesus pointed out to be necessary to the knowledge of God: (Kagawa 1931: 20)

(1) The Mind of the Child (Matt. xi. 25, Luke x, 21, Luke xviii, 17). There are some very difficult religions in the world. For instance, the religion of Theosophy, recently so popular, could not be understood by babies. But Christianity can be comprehended in a wonderful way even by babes in their mothers’ arms. A child a year and a half old can pray. Or again, the study of the Zen philosophy in Buddhism is unsuitable for children two or three years old. If we had to read Spinoza, Bergson, Paul Natorp, or Riechelt, in order to know God, only a few of the intelligentsia could hope to be saved. But Jesus declared that his God is intelligible to children rather than to philosophers. The revelation of God in a child’s heart shows that God naturally lives in the hearts of human beings. If God really exists, there must be no time from babyhood till death when He is not with us. (Kagawa 1931: 20-21)

When the theory of Evolution was first introduced, people concluded that Evolution had conducted the funeral of God. When Rationalism was popular, people relied on reason and dispensed with God. But more recently, since religious psychology has been studied seriously, it has become clear that religion is deeply rooted in the heart of both the individual and the race…. Some say, “Karl Marx is enough for men. I have no use for religion.” However it may be for others, for me, since my birth, I could not help but be religious…. I was made in such a fashion that I could not help but worship God. I cannot possibly be satisfied with Materialism. A desire to believe God inevitably springs up in my heart, and I cannot help but seek Him. (Kagawa 1931: 21)

Religion is like one of the senses. It is the power of the perfect human being to perceive the ultimate values…. The experience of God is a growing as well as an intuitive one; Jesus pointed to the heart of a child, when speaking of how to know God…. God reveals Himself only in an innocent heart. (Kagawa 1931: 22)

(2) The Pure in Heart. (Matt. v. 8). This is but another description of the heart of the child. To see God, one’s heart must be clear. (Kagawa 1931: 23)

(3) The Heart of the Publicans and Sinners (Matt. xxi. 31). There is a special beauty in the return of a man who, confessing his sin in his wandering life, comes back to God. (Kagawa 1931: 24)

Christianity possesses three essential elements, different from those of other religions: (1) Life, (2) Self (personality, character), and (3) Salvation. It is a characteristic of the religion of Jesus that through it people who have lost their personality through living an aimless life are once more able to share in the life with God. It is for this reason the religion of Jesus is called a religion of salvation. (Kagawa 1931: 24)

Unless a man recognizes his need, that there is something lacking in himself, and longs to have that lack made up, no matter how much he reads his Bible and hears preaching, he will not understand Christianity. (Kagawa 1931: 24)

Faith acquired through reason only is liable to run away like water from an open sluice-pipe. (Kagawa 1931: 24)

But there is something strong and courageous in the man who comes straight back to God from a wandering life. Therefore Jesus said that traitors and prostitutes are quicker to enter the Kingdom of God. There is a deep meaning in the words of Jesus that the healthy do not desire a physician, but the sick. (Kagawa 1931: 25)

It [Jesus’ own religion] is not a one-way natural religion, it is a religion of salvation which makes a man right-about-face and be reborn again. Jesus pointed to himself as a revelation of this God of Salvation. As has been said already, Jesus thought of God as Spirit or Life. (Kagawa 1931: 25)

Again, Jesus said that God is One (Matt. xxiii. 9). (Kagawa 1931: 25)

God is our Father. Jesus felt intuitively that God is our Father. Jesus did not call God, as some Christian’s to-day do, “The Absolute” or “The Infinite.” He simply called Him the Father, or Holy Father, or Righteous Father. I do not know whether the Father is Absolute or not, but I do believe this Father. Christianity is a “Papa” religion, one that even children can understand. If God were a supplementary God, added on afterwards, He might be the Absolute and the Infinite; but since He is inborn, the God who grows in the very soul, He is “Abba Father.” Just as the baby calls his father, so Jesus called Him affectionately, “Abba, Father.” (Kagawa 1931: 25-26)

The God of Jesus is transcendent…. To sum up, the God of Jesus is the God who can be seen intuitively in life and love and conscience [service]. Unless there is a God of life and love there can be no religion of action. (Kagawa 1931: 26)

If we fully experience such a God, happiness such as we have never known before springs up in our hearts, or at least should do. Nevertheless, some people after they have become Christians are still pessimistic…. Such people know only the Cross of Jesus by not His Resurrection [more importantly, his life]. (Kagawa 1931: 28)

… many … know nothing about the powers of life and resurrection, they wander about seeking outside stimuli. But if you restore the freedom of God within, and the inner life springs up within you, outside stimuli become entirely unnecessary. Is there any stronger impetus in the world than that which we feel when our inner light shines out and the reviving power springs up from the bottom of our heart. (Kagawa 1931: 28)

There are two sides to religious experience: the one is man’s experience of God, the other God’s experience of man. (Kagawa 1931: 31)

To-day there are many theories as to the purpose of human life. Pater says that the purpose of human life is the aesthetic life. Epicurus said the real pleasure exists in pain. But, on the other hand, the Stoics asserted that the purpose of human life is self-denial. Still others say that the life of evolution is the true life. The Neo-Hegelian, Green, expounded the doctrine of perfection. It is not easy to read the hundreds of pages of his book of ethics. (Kagawa 1931: 31)

But Jesus taught us the doctrine of perfection long before Greed did. He taught us God as our ideal. “Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Without referring to the works of Spencer and to Green, I find this teaching entirely sufficient. (Kagawa 1931: 32)

This ideal can be reached through prayer. God requires our prayer. “Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Kagawa 1931: 32)

All religions can be divided into two classes: those which emphasize abstract meditation, and those which emphasize prayer. Examples of the first class are Zen, and medieval mysticism. Christianity from the first has been a religion of prayer…. The reason is that our God, that is, Life itself, works from within, through our personality. If we live within God, our prayers must be answered. (Kagawa 1931: 32)

Ask from your heart, through your personality, through all your life, and you will certainly get what you desire. It is never a mistake to ask of God. Therefore, if we pray from the bottom of our hearts for the reconstruction of mankind, our prayer will be heard…. But without reconstruction in the inner man society cannot be saved…. Social reconstruction is useless without the love of God. (Kagawa 1931: 33)

Bertrand Russell, in the last part of his book, Roads to Freedom, says that after all the various reforms have been carried out there will still remain a problem. That is, “even when Socialism or Communism is established, there are bound to be some people who revolt against society. It is a problem as to how to deal with such people.” The final problem of social reconstruction, and the one that is hardest to solve, is the problem of sin. The religion which cannot furnish a solution for this problem is useless to the human race. The God experienced through Jesus Christ is a God Who has power to solve this final problem of sin. (Kagawa 1931: 33-34)

But our religious experience through Jesus does not cease here…. There is another side to our religious experience; it is God’s experience as Man. (Kagawa 1931: 34)

A religion is not true which regards God simply as an ideal, towards whom we are pulled as by a cord. True religion says that God Himself possesses us. God Himself seeks man. There must be not only the experience of man going to God, but also of something coming back to man from God. The definition of religion has been rewritten by Jesus. It is not merely a question of man relying on God; it is also of God coming down to earth and experiencing man’s way of living. That is, God as Jesus, entered into man’s experience. God does not remain merely a god; He works inside man’s heart as the life of God. If this be true, then the Incarnation represents an event without parallel in human history. God’s incarnation in the body of Jesus–this is the supreme religious experience. When one thinks that God gave up His Throne and came down to live with man as Jesus, a labourer of Nazareth, for us to go and live in the slums is no great sacrifice. (Kagawa 1931: 34)

That is the sphere where God and man melt together. One is free to live either God’s life or man’s life. It is a life of the highest freedom. If we are taken hold of by God, we can go anywhere…. I have never been unsteady in my faith: this is not due to my holding on to God, but because God has possessed me. We must experience the “Abide with me” God, that is, the sphere where God and man melt together. (Kagawa 1931: 35)

If through the experience of Jesus we come to live the life of oneness between God and man, how can we thereafter, degenerate? We have entered the sphere of the deepest religious experience, in which we reflect God’s image in our hearts and make our hearts communicate with the heart of God. Such religious life naturally becomes a matter of the inner life, and refuses all petrified formalism, though it may make use of symbolism…. Jesus relentlessly rejected all religious conventions which were obstacles in the way of genuine religious life. (Kagawa 1931: 35)

Fasting itself may not be bad…. But when fasting becomes only a religious form, with God absent from it, then it is a hindrance to religion. In the time of Jesus, some Pharisees observed this convention. Jesus mercilessly criticized their formalism. He made a point of eating with the common people without distinction, even though they called Him a gluttonous man for doing so…. But the religion of Jesus was concerned with the commonest of common things; in it God experienced man’s life, and purified the whole of daily life. Some may say that for a religious person to take part in a social movement is to cheapen religion, but we participate in it because we are disciples of Jesus…. It is the same with regard to prayer; it must not be a mere formality…. Jesus absolutely rejected such forms. (Kagawa 1931: 35-37)

Sometimes the Sabbath day becomes a convention, and dries up the real life of religion. The Pharisees of Jesus’ time had forty prohibitions about the Sabbath day. Some of those came from the Law of Moses and others were added by themselves. These latter mostly related to work. They thought it was sinful for tailors to use needles and for clerks to use pens after dark on Friday evenings; women were not allowed to look in a mirror lest they become guilty of pulling out their grey hairs, that would be work! (Kagawa 1931: 37)

… to value the seventh day and get together once a week to worship God. It was begun because people needed a regular stimulus for the development of their souls. It is in this that there is to be found the importance of Sundays. But to think of Sunday superstitiously or idolatrously is another thing. Jesus endeavored to break down such idolizing of time. He strenuously rejected convention and taught people to worship God with their whole selves. (Kagawa 1931: 37-38)

Some live only a busy, superficial life, others live only in books, and there is no real life in it. But if you dig down hundreds of feet, the water under the ground will spring up unceasingly and with tremendous power. If the ship is caught in the Gulf Stream, it will go all the faster, the speed of the current plus that of the ship. Unless we move with the stream of God springing up in our hearts, we have not yet reached true salvation. Push out into the deep! Go with the tide! Why do you everlastingly bustle about daily business, digging a narrow ditch for yourself, while God’s great Gulf Stream is trying to move you? (Kagawa 1931: 38)

Jesus and Men’s Failures

The ministry of Jesus had one peculiar feature: He limited His religious mission to the sick, the weak, the poor, the wanderers and the sinners. That is, Jesus penetrated into the essence of the universe from the pathological aspect. In this chapter we will consider how Jesus and the God of Jesus strive to remedy the failure and weakness of mankind. (Kagawa 1931: 39)

What then, is failure; and what is success? It is important to know the meaning of these words…. What definition did Jesus give to “success”? He said that true success is to complete one’s life. It is to attain to eternal life; all else is failure. (Kagawa 1931: 41)

When we lack faith, our enterprises often fail. The great achievements of the world’s history have almost always started from some great faith…. The first people who talked of Socialism, beginning with Saint-Simon, were all imbued with the religious spirit. In particular the disciples of Saint-Simon were deeply religious. And among them Enfantin especially thought that religion and science must be harmonized, and the ideal life is one in which this has been achieved. (Kagawa 1931: 41-42)

Paul taught us Christian omnipotence: “I can do all things through Christ Who strengtheneth me.” We must learn faith-omnipotence. We must not too quickly accept “character-determinism.” …. Faith is a lever…. While we have this faith, we need have no fear of failure. But some people who have faith lack patience. Man’s works always needs time. Therefore we need patience. (Kagawa 1931: 42-43)

The Christian faith cannot be fully tasted in one or two years. Even a husband and wife, if they live together twenty or thirty years, and endure each other, will have a least a pleasant taste to one another. Justin Martyr was once called before Caesar in Rome and required to burn incense before an idol. He was an old man and almost dying, but he refused to do it. “What matter!” he cried, “I have believed in Jesus for a long time. How can I throw away my faith? I will follow Him to the end.” “Follow Him to the end!” Anyone who keeps his faith the end will surely be saved. (Kagawa 1931: 43-44)

Jesus Christ was crucified as a failure, and His disciples all ran away from Him. But, nevertheless, Jesus Christ did not call Himself defeated. Jesus was a success, though apparently a failure. There are many who think themselves successful, and do not realize that actually they are failures. (Kagawa 1931: 45)

Once I visited the home of a shipping millionaire with the chief editor of the Osaka Nichi Nichi newspaper. This house, a villa at Suma, was larger than a palace. It was said that the owner spent £600,000 to build this house in the style of Momoyama. It was a grand mansion, built of ancient cryptomeria wood. When I went to the house, I asked the editor, “What will the owner do with this house?” He replied, “He will confine himself in it!” At that time I was living in a house six feet square and found it quite comfortable. When Kropotkin was in prison, he walked five miles a day in his cell. This was because, in St. Petersburg, the air is damp, and he would run the risk of rheumatism if he took no exercise. When I was put in the Tachibana prison in Kobe, I followed Kropotkin’s example. My cell was about six feet square, and I could walk about six steps. I walked I the cell for about two miles every day. Thus I could think of my residence as being two miles wide! The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews could say, “Be content with such things as ye have; for He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee”; while St. Paul from prison wrote, “I have learned in whatever state I am therewith to be content.” (Kagawa 1931: 45-46)

Jesus Christ spent his life in destitution and had nothing to the last moment. But nevertheless the Crucified One was the most successful man who ever lived. True success is to succeed in, to inherit, life. The truly successful man is the one who can enjoy the life of God. (Kagawa 1931: 46)

When Japanese Christians become dead in earnest enough to sell off even their house-mats for the sake of their religion, Christianity will have power. (Kagawa 1931: 46)

Man’s life comes from the very origin of life. (Kagawa 1931: 49)

Jesus pointed to the perfection of the Heavenly Father as our ideal of perfection. If I ought to climb up to a hundred feet high, and stop at thirty, I am a sinner to the degree of the difference. Anyone who is meant to be a king, and stops at being a village headman, I losing as much value as a king minus a village head. Jesus Christ said a tremendous thing. If the omnipotent God is our Father, and the perfection of the Heavenly Father is our ideal standard, we must not stupidly stop half-way. (Kagawa 1931: 52)

When God is loved, for the first time Nature seems to us a lovable thing. When God and man are fused together, then man can be fused to Nature. For people who live the life of perfection, and love God, sickness, persecution, imprisonment and any other things will never be irritating, because theirs is the life which lays hold on the power which controls all Nature. (Kagawa 1931: 52)

Everything is mine! The mountains, rivers, stars–all of them–the Centaurus, the constellation nearest the earth, is mine also…. This is much more progressive than Communism. Instead of Kyosan-shugi, common-possession-ism (=Communism), I call this Shinsanshugi, “God-possession-ism.” (Kagawa 1931: 52-53)

But if we have all these riches in God, at the same time we need to remember that human personality is by no means completed. “God is the one perfect Personality” (Lotze)…. It is difficult for an imperfect personality or a faulty personality to understand the personality of God. Since God is a perfect, completed personality, we can only indistinctly see Him through our broken personalities. In proportion to the completion of our personalities He is revealed to us. Our personalities are extremely imperfect. (Kagawa 1931: 53)

We have to learn that since we ourselves have faults we must also forgive one another. (Kagawa 1931: 53)

Many people do not see each other’s good points, but only their weak points, and speak ill of them saying, “But So-and-so has such-and-such faults.” The very word “but” is often used with this criticizing meaning in Japan. They think that unkind gossip is valuable criticism…. We must always be forgiving each other’s sins. This is the best way for the completion of personality. (Kagawa 1931: 54)

Whole generations often go astray. And if in such an age we do not have the revelation of God, the consciousness of the true way to live, and of sin, will become blurred. In such a time we must fix our eyes upon some pure personality and imitate it…. [A]nd people look to Jesus as the only personality Who never wandered, and as the revealed God, then the age is bound to be revived. Through imitation of Christ our way of life will once more return to the right track. (Kagawa 1931: 55)

We cannot see how far we are degenerated at present because we do not look to Jesus as our criterion. An insane person is one who does not recognize the condition of his own mind; he cannot do so until he has recovered from it. But many people to-day do not recognize how far they have gone astray from God, and think themselves to be righteous. It is the present condition of mankind to be terribly unconscious of their sins. (Kagawa 1931: 55-56)

Jesus and Prayer

Jesus Christ prayed very often. Some people think that strong persons need not pray; but Jesus at all events felt the necessity. As has been said above, the religions of the world can be divided psychologically into two kinds: the religion of meditation, and the religion of prayer. (Kagawa 1931: 60)

We can have religious experience most in prayer. In Jesus’ experience, prayer and meditation were always one. Jesus usually prayed in a lonely place. This seems to have been His habit…. Jesus was not at all lonely when He was alone, but prayed always. We are strongest when we pray. We can know how earnest Jesus was in His attitude toward prayer through what He prayed about everything–and in every circumstance. (Kagawa 1931: 61)

We cannot be really religious until we have made our daily life and the problem of bread religious. Religious life is not something extraordinary, lie growing wings in order to fly up to heaven; it is simply to reveal God in our daily life, in the very problem of bread…. It is to be hoped that at our dinner tables there is always a deep religious atmosphere. (Kagawa 1931: 65)

… [I]f you eat in the mood of prayer, even though your meal is nothing but a rice-ball, you can eat pleasantly…. We cannot be said to be complete in religion until we come to handle even the problem of bread religiously in our daily life. Jesus often ate with His disciples. He made eating one of the religious rituals and added the problem of bread to the Lord’s Prayer. We need to remember this very clearly. (Kagawa 1931: 65)

On another occasion when the seventy disciples returned from their successful mission, Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, “I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth” (Luke x. 21-22). Jesus prayed when he was glad. (Kagawa 1931: 66)

We want to be those who pray at all times. True prayer is conversation with God. We must have more of this conversation and more praise of God in our prayer…. If we have contact with children in the spirit of prayer and bless them with our whole hearts, the children will grow up to be great persons. (Kagawa 1931: 68)

Jesus … did not teach a form of prayer, but in compliance with the request of the disciples He showed them a model prayer. That is the Lord’s Prayer. It was originally given by Jesus to His disciples in order to educate them. Tolstoi went so far as to say about it, “Our prayer must not be more than this. It is selfish to pray beyond the limits of this prayer.” From whatever aspect it is viewed, the Lord’s Prayer is a model prayer: “Our Father in heaven, enable us to worship you; let the ideal kingdom come, and make your will completely accomplished.” If prayer be such a thing as this, how can it be called superstitious or contrary to reason? If we always had such a beautiful religious spirit, the purified spirit of prayer, we should never make a mistake. (Kagawa 1931: 69)

Again, Jesus knew the defects of mankind, and so in the next place He prayed that we might forgive one another. He did not forget to pray that in horizontal contacts–that is, socially–we should forgive one another’s sins; nor did He forget to pray that in vertical contacts–that is, in our relation to God–our daily lives might be protected from mistakes. (Kagawa 1931: 70)

“Thy will be done.” Do your very best, but after that leave the matter entirely to God. (Kagawa 1931: 71)

Prayer is a part of man’s original nature. He can never be satisfied with merely meditative religion, and naturally and involuntarily inclines to move on to the religion of prayer. For example, the Shin sect of Buddhism forbids prayer, but when the Emperor Meiji was dying, we saw that their formula of invocation was changed to prayer. Indeed this very formula, which they have to repeat countless times daily, already shows a transition from the religion of meditation to that of prayer. (Kagawa 1931: 73)

… if we think of prayer as the expression of our aspiration for God, we give up vain repetitions or forms…. Our prayers should be simple and to the purpose. Jesus warned the scribes who made long prayers for a show. Another feature of Jesus’ prayer in this connexion is that He used the simplest language. (Kagawa 1931: 74)

The important thing is that our daily life itself should become religious, and all religious life be woven into daily life. It is kind of malady that to-day our daily life is disunited into two or three compartments, and in some that there is not a religious compartment at all. In our life there ought not to be any such distinction as “the religious life,” “the artistic life,” etc. (Kagawa 1931: 74-75)

Some may think that unless a thing is difficult it is not deep; and so they may feel grateful for the Kegon Sutra, which common people cannot understand. But the deepest religion must be that which has most contact with our daily life, and is in closest touch with reality. The religion which is rooted in our original desire, and grows up from out of it, is the only real one. To pray we need not use artificial words. There is nothing wrong if we pray in our ordinary everyday language. (Kagawa 1931: 75-76)

But there are some folks who say they prefer a difficult religion. Religions of the world may be divided into two groups: religions centering round a person, and impersonal religions. In the former the emphasis is on God, but in impersonal religion the emphasis is on Law or Reason. Impersonal religion does not recognize personality or will, therefore it makes man’s desire itself an illusion and would destroy it. (Kagawa 1931: 76)

In India there originated a religion which emphasized the thought of nothingness. Many people are interested in it because their desires are not granted. In Japan there are many Nihilists to-day. From the view-point of “Mu no shisô” — Nothingness Idea — such a religion might be more interesting than the religion which starts from personality and self. This form of religion in its most purified form becomes pantheism. (Kagawa 1931: 76)

But the religion of personality starts first from myself, from me. Incidentally this is the most natural scientific method. It discovers the existence of psychological law in the universe where God and man, also man and man, stand face to face. A poet, Shiki Masaoka, left as his last poem one called “The Autumn Wind.” In it occurs the line:

“To me, no god, no buddha.” (Kagawa 1931: 77)

This is not merely a nihilistic idea; it seems to me to be his realization that there is some religious idea even in the depth of the void. But the religion Jesus taught was a religious life where prayer grows in the warm contacts of personality with personality. Jesus taught us to pray together. Prayer has a social aspect. (Kagawa 1931: 77)

The world is opened by prayer. What one prays for is always accomplished. Prayer, at the very least, uplifts the heart of the one who prays, and develops high ideals in his mind…. His [Jesus’] daily life was worship…. We must take our gladness and sorrow and all of everything to God, and look into the world where God and man melt together. (Kagawa 1931: 77)

The Death of Jesus Its Before and After

The Apostle Paul said, “For those who are on the way to destruction the story of the Cross is nonsense, but to us who are being saved, it means all the power of God” (I Cor. i. 18). There have been few who express the issue so clearly. Nothing has been more discussed in the world than the problem of the Cross. There is a school of thought to-day which says that Christianity has become too doctrinal: that it has become a religion of the Cross — the worship of suffering: but this is not real Christianity: that real Christianity is the life of Jesus Himself: it is necessary therefore to emancipate Christianity from the religion of Paul, the religion of the Cross, and come back to Jesus Christ Himself. (Kagawa 1931: 78)

A religion which does not look at life, self and God squarely is easily corrupted by one or another of these forms of idolatry [space-idolatry or time-idolatry], and will never be thoroughly completed either in culture or in expression. (Kagawa 1931: 82)

The religion of Jesus is the religion of crucifixion, that is, of redemption. It is the religion of action which unites meditation and prayer. To walk in prayer, continually asking and receiving power from God, and again to transform this power into new actions of love, this was the religion of Jesus…. Jesus discovered this law and established the religion of redemption in which prayer and meditation are combined into one. (Kagawa 1931: 84-85)

The disciples of Jesus were blamed for picking ears of barley and rubbing them with their hands on the Sabbath, because it was the same as the labour of grinding them in a mill. Religion itself had become to that extent external and superficial. Jesus of course, strongly emphasized inward religion against such superficial and outward religion. (Kagawa 1931: 86)

It is undeniable that the disciples experienced something on this occasion. Ten or eleven different groups or disciples actually saw the risen Jesus. Some people criticize hastily, saying that such an extraordinary thing could not have happened; but Christianity is founded on this strange faith. The idea of resurrection has existed from the early days, but there have been no certain instances of resurrection except in the case of Christ. However people may deny the resurrection of Christ, they cannot deny the fact that by it the history of the world has been turned upside down…. Jesus was truly revived in the hearts of the disciples. (Kagawa 1931: 103)

Jesus’ disciples must be those who serve other people …. The true value of Christianity is shown in doing menial and subordinate work willingly. (Kagawa 1931: 116-117)

Jesus said, “Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth. But I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard from the Father I have made known unto you.” (Kagawa 1931: 118)

Instead of having a special school building, He took His disciples to the mountains, to the beach, and to the park very frequently, and taught them while they were walking in the fields and mountains…. Moreover, Jesus’ school is a school of love. Modern schools teach us knowledge but not love. Jesus taught how to love people and how to serve community. (Kagawa 1931: 123)

It is not necessary to be intellectual, nor to practice self-mortification by going to the mountains or to the sea. Jesus’ religion is contained in the experience of the God of Action. “He that loveth not knoweth not God: for God is love.” Whoever lacks love lacks religious feeling. We must love people before we argue with them. In that loving, God Himself will be revealed. (Kagawa 1931: 125)

A blind man came to see Mr. Juji Ishii, the Christian philanthropist. He was illiterate and could not read anything, but he asked Mr. Ishii to let him learn Christianity. Mr. Ishii said to him, “If, when you practice massage, and are paid for it, you give that money to the blind men poorer than yourself, then you will see God.” So then this blind man, practicing massage every evening in Okayama City, used to go after one o’clock in the morning to the place where many blind men came together after their work, and put 2-sen pieces secretly into the long kimono sleeves of the poorest. He continued this every night, and gradually the heart of this man with sightless eyes was opened. After two weeks he cam again to Mr. Ishii and said, “Teacher, I have come to understand. God is love.” This man learned to know God by himself by loving men. God, who is unintelligible when thought of in a room or a library, will become known when one loves people. (Kagawa 1931: 125-126)

Uchimura Kanzō (内村 鑑三)

Uchimura saw the origins of denominations … as reflections of secular history in the country concerned. He asked which of these teachings actually represented Jesus’ ideas as opposed to historical accretions of almost two millennia. (Howes 2005: 10)

To me, forms are not only not helps for worship, but positive hindrances. I worship God inwardly in spirit and serve him outwardly in ordinary human conduct. [This formless Christianity is called mukyokai-shugi-no-Kirisutokyo, Christianity of no-church principle.] It is not a negative faith but positive; else my countrymen would never have received it….

Faith and Thinking

Faith is not thinking; what a man thinks is not his faith. Faith is rather being; what a man is is his faith. Thinking is only part of being; rather a superficial part . The modern man thinks he can know God’s truth by thinking . [but] Faith is the soul in passive activity. It is the soul letting itself to be acted upon by the mighty power of God. Passive though faith is, it is intensely active because of the power that works in it. This is the paradox of faith . The Christian is a newly created soul which engenders special activity called faith. Faith is thus a Christian activity of far higher order than thinking. It is the whole soul in beneficent action. (Howes 2005: 336)

Christianity the enemy of Buddhism? Not so! Christianity is a sworn enemy of these warlike Westerners, and not of Buddha and his peace-loving disciples. To make Christianity represent the Warlike West, and make it an enemy of Buddhism, a religion of love and non-resistance, is the greatest possible misrepresentation that can be made of it. (Howes 2005: 337)

Golden Rule and Business Ethics

[This extensive publishing of chapter eight of Jeffrey Wattles Golden Rule was done with his permission.]

The Golden Rule of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man

The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in America were times of great economic expansion and inequality, opportunity and abuse, times of American power and of world war. Early scientific doctrines of evolution were being used to gain understanding of the human species and social life, and the result was a profound challenge to traditional religion. Does religion render a person less fit for the rigors of competition, or does real religion empower a person to deal in a progressive way with those very challenges? As that debate went on, America was a center of a dynamic, religiously motivated golden rule movement, affecting society, politics, economics, business, and interfaith relations. Many enthusiastic individuals chose the rule as their motto; a popular literature on the rule arose; many a store was called “Golden Rule Store”; it was the custom to bestow on exemplars of the rule the nickname “Golden Rule.” Authors expounding the maxims for the exercise of a given craft would dub their principles “golden rules,” and many books carried titles such as Golden Rules of Surgery. A Golden Rule Brotherhood was formed with the intention of unifying all the religions and peoples of the world. During this period the golden rule came to symbolize a wholehearted devotion to the service of humankind. (Wattles 1996, 90)

This movement, which spread beyond the boundaries of Christianity, held the conviction that all men and women are brothers and sisters in the family of God, and they formulated the essentials of religion in the gospel of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. The phrase “brotherhood of man” was used to include, not exclude women. Since the struggle to synthesize religious idealism with scientific realism had become especially urgent, the golden rule became caught up in the debate. Does living by the rule render the individual needlessly vulnerable to rugged, evolutionary competition and conflict, or is the rule itself a vehicle of evolutionary progress? (Wattles 1996, 90)

There had been a growing sense that each individual is akin to every other human being. The fabric of humanity had been torn by religious wars between Christians and Muslims during the Middle Ages and between Protestants and Catholics during the early modern period. Europeans disgusted with the slaughter turned toward tolerance, especially since it was clear that professing a religion was no guarantee of morality and that some atheists lived highly moral lives. In the eighteenth century, Hume had proclaimed that every person has a spark of benevolent sentiment toward humanity, and Kant and others attempted to distill universally acceptable basics of religion and morality. In the nineteenth century, at all levels of culture, religious and secular humanitarianism flourished. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony used Schiller’s “Ode to Joy,” which reads, in translation: “Joy, beautiful divine spark. . . . your magic binds together what convention had strictly divided; all men become brothers where your gentle wing rests.” Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) abandoned the life of a Russian nobleman and the privileges of literary success for a life in some ways like that of a peasant. He defined art in terms of its capacity to arouse the feeling of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. His radical application of the Sermon on the Mount and his critique of luxury and oppression stimulated the idealism of many others throughout the world. (Wattles 1996, 90-91)

Among German theologians, Albrecht Ritschl ( 1822-1889) drew on Kant for a conception of the kingdom of heaven as the organization of humanity through moral action inspired by love; Ritschl’s influential student Adolf Harnack ( 1851-1930) used historical study with the aim of separating the kernel of original Christianity from the husk of associated Greek philosophic dogma. Painstaking scholarship enabled Harnack boldly to read between the lines of the New Testament text and to discover afresh Jesus’ persistent tendency to speak of religion in terms of family life. He presented the teachings of Jesus as, in sum, the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, and the infinite value of the individual soul. With this conception of religion, the golden rule would find new meaning and historical vitality. In interreligious relations, the new conception of religion reached an historic high-water mark at the World’s Parliament of Religions, organized in Chicago in 1893 by Presbyterian minister Dr. John Henry Barrows in conjunction with the Columbian Exposition. It is not surprising that the most frequently mentioned principle of morality at the parliament was the golden rule. Praise for the rule came from representatives of Confucianism, Judaism, and Christianity. The golden rule was perhaps the most widely shared commitment among all the religions; and it came to symbolize the participants’ commitment to live the warm brotherly and sisterly unity that most of them had experienced together during their days of the parliament. (Wattles 1996, 91)

FROM RELIGIOUS ETHICS TO BUSINESS ETHICS: ARTHUR NASH

Two sides of the American golden rule movement are represented by Arthur Nash ( 1870-1927) and J. C. Penney ( 1875-1971) respectively. Each wrote an autobiography from the perspective of a successful Christian business leader offering advice concerning the practical, moral, and spiritual principles of living that had proven themselves through years of personal experience in the competitive arena. Nash, whose story is recounted here in more detail, participated in the social drama of urban Christianity during the years surrounding World War I, and his application of the rule is religiously motivated from the start. Penney, by contrast, was a traditional, rural and small-town man who followed the golden rule as a moral principle and achieved success in business without religious motivation until his evangelical conversion later in life. (Wattles 1996, 97)

Is religion a sphere apart from business activity, or should there not be continuity between one’s religion and the way one conducts one’s business? As a bridge of continuity between religion and business was being built by those whose primary motivation was religious, it was found that the bridge could be traversed by others whose primary motivation was economic. In some cases, the intertwining of religious and business ideas resulted in an ambiguity that has lent itself to cynical interpretation. If Jesus could be popularly portrayed as the greatest advertiser and salesman in history in Bruce Barton 1924 bestseller The Man Nobody Knows, business writers could also promote religion as a tonic that would inspire an individual to conduct relationships in a way that should conduce to prosperity. Many unwitting secularists painted a veneer of religious idealism on their enterprises. (Wattles 1996, 97)

Although Arthur Nash had some tendency to let the rise and fall of his business affect his confidence in the evident, practical worth of religious principles, he remains one of the most sincere of the exponents of the golden rule as the guide to business relationships. Nash was born in a log cabin in Indiana in 1870, the eldest of nine children of strict Seventh Day Adventist parents. He referred to his parents as having a “stern, rigid, uncompromising” faith and “great and sterling character.” He was educated in Adventist schools and seminary and was sent to Detroit as an instructor in a school for Adventist ministers and missionaries. His refusal to conform to denominational boundaries led to conflict and the first of his two breaks with Christianity. He left Detroit and did not return for years. When he did, however, he was touched by the plight of the unemployed there, and with the help of others was able to open a laundry in which he was able to provide many jobs for poor people. Church people began to send him their business, and he met the Christian woman who would be his wife and the mother of his three children, and who convinced him that his objections to Christianity were not to the religion of Jesus but to the very lack of it. Inspired again, he reentered the ministry with the Disciples of Christ. But when in a funeral service he eulogized a man of considerable character who had no professed religion, he was asked to resign his ministry. He then found work to support his family selling clothing—and did very well at it. In 1909 he moved to Columbus, Ohio, started manufacturing men’s clothing, began to prosper, but lost nearly everything in the flood of 1913. He then moved to Cincinnati and was able to organize the A. Nash Company in 1916 with sixty thousand dollars in capital, making made-to-order suits for individual clients. A short while after the Armistice was concluded, he acquired ownership of the small shop that had been making his garments under contract. (Wattles 1996, 97-98)

Then came the breakthrough, the pivot of this narrative. Nash took over the limping business of a man who had leased floor space in the building of the A. Nash Company. The tenant had run a sweatshop in the depressed clothing manufacturing industry of Cincinnati. When payroll time for his new employees came around, Nash realized that some fine and vulnerable people were only earning four dollars per week. He had recently become impressed with the kind of world that could result if people would only practice the golden rule, and he had been giving speeches to that effect. He thought of raising wages substantially, but his son, freshly disillusioned from having participated in the war in Europe, resisted the idea. They had lost four thousand dollars during the previous fiscal year, but Nash decided he would close up shop rather than exploit people to stay in the clothing business. The stockholders agreed to close the company, and Nash agreed to make up their losses, but he decided to pay a living wage until they went out of business; he would put whatever capital remained as a down payment on a farm where he would at least have the satisfaction of honest earnings. He went in to announce the decision to the small group of workers. The speech is worth quoting in full (Wattles 1996, 98):

“Friends, you have heard no doubt that we have bought this shop, and I have come in to get acquainted with you. No doubt, too, you have heard a great deal about the talks that I have been giving during the War about Brotherhood and the Golden Rule, while pleading the cause of Christianity and its affiliation to my conception of true Democracy. Now I am going to do a bit of talking to you. First, I want you to know that Brotherhood is a reality with me. You are all my brothers and sisters, children of the same great Father that I am, and entitled to all the justice and fair treatment that I want for myself. And so long as we run this shop [which to me meant three or four months longer], God being my helper, I am going to treat you as my brothers and sisters, and the Golden Rule is going to be our only governing law. Which means, that whatever I would like to have you do to me, were I in your place, I am going to do to you. Now,” I went on, “not knowing any of you personally, I would like you to raise your hands as I call your names.”

I read the first name. Under it was written: Sewing on buttons—$4.00 per week. I looked straight before me at the little group, but saw no hand. Then I looked to my right, and there saw the old lady I have referred to holding up her trembling hand. At first I could not speak, because, almost instantly, the face of my own mother came between that old lady and myself. I thought of my mother being in such a situation, and of what, in the circumstances, I would want someone to do for her. I hardly knew what to say, because I was aware that when I went into the shop, that after agreeing to stand all of the loss entailed by the liquidation of the company, I could not go too far in raising wages. It seemed to be my obvious duty to salvage something for the boys who were coming home from military service, and for the daughter just entering the university. But as I looked at that old lady, and saw only my mother, I finally blurted out: “I don’t know what it’s worth to sew on buttons; I never sewed a button on. But your wages, to begin with, will be $12.00 a week. (Wattles 1996, 98-99)

Nash continued through the list, giving equal 300 percent raises for those earning the least, and raising the highest wages from eighteen to twenty-seven dollars. It was not a move made out of ecstasy, but in blunt lucidity about what it would subtract from the money he would have to invest afterward in a farm. For months thereafter he gave little attention to the clothing business, but when he needed to see how it was doing financially, he was surprised: their little business was putting out three times the quantity it had done the previous year. He then learned that after his little speech the Italian presser had concluded that if he were the boss and had just spoken like that to his employees and raised their wages, he would want his employees to “work like hell.” And that is exactly what they did. Soon the shop had more orders than it could handle. Encouraged, Nash turned his business into a laboratory for the application of the golden rule, and the business prospered greatly. (Wattles 1996, 99)

Nash’s leadership with the golden rule led to many changes in his business. He proposed a profit-sharing plan; the workers chose to take their benefits in the form of higher wages. By 1923 the workers owned nearly half of the company stock. The best-paid employees petitioned to extend the distributions based not on the wages but on time worked. “The higher-paid workers, therefore, on their own motion thus relinquished their claim to a considerable sum of money in order that the lower-paid workers, whose need was greater, could be better provided for.” Nash continued to raise wages, limited the profit of capital to 7 percent, and reinvested remaining profits in the extension of the business. He lived simply. When Nash proposed to withhold bonuses from those who had worked less than six months (since an employee had joined for a short time and left right after receiving a bonus), the workers insisted that the golden rule indicated assuming sincere motivation in every employeeand they prevailed. Nash and the workers agreed that the consumer should play a role in the setting of prices, and consequently their prices were drastically cheaper than others’ (sixteen to twenty-nine dollars for a suit instead of fifty to a hundred). They also agreed to return extra profits to the customer in the form of better goods and extra trimmings. And they proposed, during a time of unemployment, to take a wage cut and make additional work for the unemployed in Cincinnati. They had abundant sunshine and fresh air and a healthy vapor heating system, and they remodeled their plant according to a schedule that the group agreed to. The work week was reduced to forty hours, and Nash was resolutely opposed to overtime. Every change was either proposed by one of the workers or thoroughly discussed in a company meeting. Nash supported labor unions; his firm unanimously agreed to make no clothes for a firm fighting a union and looked askance at someone taking a striker’s job; but he thought there was a better way to safeguard the rights of workers, and so he had no union in his plant. An experienced factory observer visited Nash’s workers and concluded that he was watching piecework, so rapid was the labor; but those people were working for an hourly wage. In one room, however, workers were taking such painstaking care with their work, the observer was sure they were on an hourly wage; but they were in fact the only one’s getting paid by the piece. Even during hard economic times they continued to grow from around $132,000 in 1918 to $3,750,000 in 1922. (Wattles 1996, 99-100)

Nash became widely known, and in 1923 he published an autobiography, proclaiming the golden rule as his cardinal principle, telling of his path to success, and reproducing two appreciative commentaries. After writing the triumphant account of his spiritual, social, and material success, the former preacher finally had a national pulpit that could not be taken from him. (Wattles 1996, 100)

In a posthumous 1930 edition of his book, completed by an associate, we learn the rest of the story. As a result of his renown, Golden Rule Nash became overcommitted to travel and speechmaking, and during the last four years of his life his business, now grown quite large, began to weaken in sustaining its original spirit. As Nash came to employ not a few hundred but 140,000 employees, the service motive did not permeate as thoroughly as before. Previously he had estimated that 90 percent of his workers identified with the spirit of his undertaking, and the other 10 percent worked alongside them faithfully. But now some people began to take advantage of the looser system of control; some subordinate executives did not keep pace with their leader. Favoritism, discrimination, and poor workmanship became noticeable, and morale slackened as Nash was away much of the time on speaking engagements with dinner clubs, lodge and church conventions, and chambers of commerce. (Wattles 1996, 100)

Nash’s resolution of the problem led to an expansion of his management philosophy. At first he approached a group of ministers and invited them to examine every phase of his operation and to report any situation where the teachings of Jesus could be more truly put to work. They refused, deferring to his greater experience in business. At length he decided to turn to a union. Previously, despite his sympathies with the union movement, Nash had endeavored to treat his workers so well that they would feel no need for a union. The enmity between labor and management, especially in the clothing industry, had been strong during the previous decade; now, however, in December of 1925, he turned to the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union, on account of its sustained dedication to the skills of the trade and to the welfare of the workers. The union’s technical competence, which Nash had previously rejected as deadening, proved most helpful. New methods accounting, inventory management, and finance were introduced. Thus many techniques of scientific management that he had scorned as mere mechanical substitutes for human cooperation were introduced, and he found that they in fact constituted the very extension and application of the golden rule itself. The business weathered a slump and emerged stronger than ever; sales for 1926 were fourteen million dollars. The workers owned most of the stock. It became evident that the supreme desire to apply the golden rule did not enable Nash to discover by himself every step of forward progress that he needed to take. He needed the union to show him that techniques he had opposed were in fact required by his own purposes. Nonetheless, it was by following the golden rule that he came to the union and thus to accept ideas he had previously rejected in the name of the rule. (Wattles 1996, 100-101)

He founded the Nash Journal as a forum for popular and inspirational tidbits of wisdom, business advice, editorials, news of the company and the world. In one of his rare forays in the direction of philosophy, Nash responded to an article in which his company’s success was explained in terms of the golden rule plus other factors of business judgment. He challenged the separation of the golden rule from good business judgment. (Wattles 1996, 101)

In order to perfectly live the Golden Rule, one in business, to begin with, would be compelled to buy his merchandise in such a way that he would be dealing with the seller on the basis of the Golden Rule, as well as buying for his customers on the basis of the Golden Rule. The thought I want to bring out, is that we have left most things religious and spiritual down in the boggy swamps of sentimentalism. The efforts of the church in the past have not been directed as much as they may be toward educating and equipping men and women to live large and full lives. Whatever success has come to the A. Nash Company in living the Golden Rule has come because there has been enough business knowledge to enable us to live it to just that degree, and whenever we have failed in exercising the very highest and keenest business judgment on a truly ethical basis, it has been because we did not have sufficient insight to understand our obligation measured by the Golden Rule. . . . In other words, perfect and infallible living of the Golden Rule would require infallible mentality and undaunted courage. (Wattles 1996, 101)

Nash’s book argued that religion is needed for the socially effective practice of the golden rule. Any acceptable economic success must be based not upon profit-hungry manipulation but upon good relationships between those involved. Acting in accord with the golden rule is required in order for a business enterprise to flourish in its social relations, since the rule stimulates improved service. The practice of the rule in business should not be regarded as suicidal; often it is an aid to success. Religious motivation is usually necessary to motivate the wholehearted practice of the golden rule. Therefore, religion is essential for the flourishing of business and consequently for the flourishing of society and of civilization. In sum, Nash used the rule as a symbol of his Christian ideals of brotherhood and service and as a method to discover new ways of treating his workers and his customers well. (Wattles 1996, 102)

FROM BUSINESS ETHICS TO RELIGIOUS ETHICS: J. C. PENNEY

J. C. Penney experienced the golden rule during his early years more as a symbol of the rigorous, edifying, and self-denying morality of his “good and dedicated” father rather than as a symbol of the spiritual example of his “unselfish and saintly” mother. The son of a Primitive Baptist preacher (and the grandson of a preacher), the third child of twelve children (six of whom survived to adulthood), growing up on a farm, Penney recalls learning self-reliance by having to earn the money for his clothes beginning at age eight. He ran errands. He raised pigs. But when the neighbors complained about the smell, his father obliged him to stop raising pigs—an early lesson about the unwelcome implications of living by the golden rule. The boy turned to growing watermelons, spending the last nights before harvesting in the field with a dog and a shotgun to protect his crop. He took them to the county fair to sell them, and set up his wagon close to where the crowds were entering. Sales were becoming brisk when his father interrupted and ordered him to close down and go home. The lad had unwittingly broken the norm of selling along with other merchants who had set up inside the fair and had paid for a concession to do so. This was his second hard lesson about the implications of the golden rule. (Wattles 1996, 102)

The next phase of his life with the golden rule were his early years in business. He learned to sell dry goods. “I concentrated on two points: knowing the stock and exactly where everything was, and giving the customer the utmost in service and value, making only a small profit on each sale. I was particularly interested in the idea of keeping the store sold out of old stock.” He learned how “to add service and value from the woman’s point of view.” He stayed away from the cities, feeling that he knew “how to get close to the lives of small town people, learning their needs and preferences and serving them accordingly.” He liked working where he and those who worked with him “understood our neighbors as readily as they could understand us.” In 1902 he opened a store in Kemmerer, Wyoming, with the sign: Golden Rule Store. He and his wife worked together without any help at first, working hard, too hard, as Penney recalls, from early in the morning to late at night seven days a week. They abided strictly by the golden rule, they were extremely frugal, and they made money. As they began to hire people, Penney never hired anyone who did not have a “positive belief in a Supreme Being”; he selected people with “character, enthusiasm, and energy. ” He had large ambitions: “By our service to our customers we would create in them that spring of sparkling good will which would prompt them to want to help us to serve them.” (Wattles 1996, 102-103)

The last period of his life was marked by his religious conversion. Chronically troubled by his merely external engagement with religion, he had not been able to convince himself wholeheartedly that “it was enough for a man to lead a moral and upright life.” At the age of fifty-eight, having financially overextended himself in philanthropy when the Great Depression hit, this wealthy and successful man was brought to bankruptcy, alcoholism, and despair. Through an evangelical mission in New York City, he found God in a radiant and satisfying way and could then speak anew of the golden rule. “From our spiritual wellsprings come our capacities for unselfishness.” Penney proclaimed that the world must be transformed, would be transformed, and could only be transformed by the spiritually motivated practice of the golden rule, service to all people as one’s neighbors. (Wattles 1996, 103)

As civilization grew and horizons widened, the definition of “brotherhood” took on more exact meaning, and people came gradually to understand the golden rule as a basic principle, applicable to all relationships. In former periods business was identified as secular, and service as sacred. In proportion as we have discerned that between secular and sacred no arbitrary line exists, public awareness has grown that the golden rule was meant for business as much as for other human relationships.

Penny 1950, 52

Thus Penney joined men like Nash and Jones in holding to a religious conception of brotherhood as the basis for the replete practice of the golden rule. (Wattles 1996, 103)

CONCLUSION

The golden rule has functioned to mobilize sympathies, to sustain human dignity, and to express religious experience on a diverse planet in need of unifying ideals. Despite the follies of some of its champions, the rule, interpreted through the gospel of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, has showed itself a sturdy player in the encounter between religious idealism and scientific realism. (Wattles 1996, 103)

Evolution means progress as well as struggle. Not only does idealism need realism to make its ideals effective, but realism also needs idealism in order to keep pace in a progressive world. The fact that the rule provided a focus for the experience of harmony among members of different religions and the fact that the rhetoric of the golden rule could be an effective lever of reform give hope for the moral sense within the human heart and an incipient spiritual community. How, then, shall the golden rule be applied in practice? There is no formula for finding the proportion of legitimate self-interest in a life dominated by the service motive. There is no formula for determining when a sacrificial deed will have great leverage. Nor is the golden rule a substitute for gifted leadership, though it can contribute the moral focus for inspired leadership and teamwork. (Wattles 1996, 104)

Simply to ridicule the follies of idealism or to expose the scandals of a narrow-minded realism may make people more cynical about the prospect of combining idealism with realism. Pointing beyond cynicism, the biographies summarized here show how some, daring to treat others as they would be treated, found their way. Arthur Nash discovered that his apparently self-sacrificing wage increases won a profitable response from his workers, and they gained national attention for joining religious and moral dynamism with business progress. J. C. Penney respected the rule as a moral constraint on profit seeking and as a guide to service, and in the end also wrote of religiously motivated brotherhood. Samuel Jones, despite relative economic and political success, continued to aim, sometimes unwisely, for social and personal objectives beyond his reach. His sense of the pathos of life’s contradictions was much sharper than that of Penney or Nash. Nash and Penney showed that an individual and a company can flourish with a profound commitment to the rule. Jones, however, also showed that a society transformed by the practice of the rule is a long way off. (Wattles 1996,104)

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