Work We Must, but the Lunch Is Free


Work We Must, but the Lunch Is Free*

Bounty from on High—All or Nothing

The famous geologist Sir Julian Huxley used to go from
school to school in the manner of a traveling revivalist, preaching his gospel
of evolution: “In the evolutionary pattern of thought there is no longer
need or room for the supernatural. The earth was not created; it evolved. So
did all the animals and plants that inhabit it including our human selves, mind
and soul, as well as brain and body. So did religion.”1 He was fond of
reminding his audiences that there is no Santa Claus, and that mature people
should give up wishful thinking about such things as gifts and blessings,
spiritual or material, bestowed from on high.

The high school youth of my day took great satisfaction in
reciting the words of Omar Khayyam: “And that inverted bowl we call the
sky, whereunder crawling coop’t we live and die, lift not the hands to It for
help, for It rolls impotently on as Thou or I.”2 This is, as one eminent
commentator on the scientific scene, Hoimar von Ditfurth, puts it, “that ‘modern
view,’ still current today, that the earth with everything in it is dangling in
the isolation of a universe whose cold majesty disdains it. . . . Deep down we
are probably even proud of the detachment with which we accept our ‘true’
situation. . . . Much of the cynicism and nihilism characteristic of the modern
psyche can be traced to this chilling conception.”3

But within the past decade or so, leaders in scientific
research have begun to express the opposite opinion to this, saying that they
more than suspect the possibility (1) that the somebody out there
cares—that is, there is direction and purpose to what is going on; and
(2) that gifts sent down from above are more than a childish tradition.

The first of these ideas was recently expressed by the
biologist Lewis Thomas: “I cannot make peace with the randomness doctrine;
I cannot abide the notion of purposelessness and blind chance in nature. And
yet I do not know what to put in its place for the quieting of my mind. . . .
We talk—some of us, anyway—about the absurdity of the human
situation, but we do this because we do not know how we fit in, or what we are
for. The stories we used to make up to explain ourselves do not make sense
anymore, and we have run out of new stories, for the moment.”4 A grand
old-timer in biology, the 1937 Nobel Prize winner, Albert Szent-Györgyi,
recently wrote:

According to present ideas, this change in the nucleic acid
[which determines the nature of protein molecules formed in a cell] is
accomplished through random variation. . . . If I were trying to pass a biology
examination, I would vigorously support this theory. Yet in my mind I have
never been able to accept fully the idea that the adaption and the harmonious
building of those complex biological systems, involving simultaneous changes in
thousands of genes, are the results of molecular accidents. . . . The
probability that all of these genes should have changed together through random
variation is practically zero. . . . I have always been seeking some higher
organizing principle that is leading the living system toward improvement and
adaptation. I know this is biological heresy, . . . e.g., I do not think that
the extremely complex speech center of the human brain . . . was created by
random mutations that happened to improve the chances of survival of
individuals. . . . I cannot accept the notion that this capacity arose through
random alterations, relying on the survival of the fittest. I believe that some
principle must have guided the development toward the kind of speech center
that was needed.5

More surprising is the story now unfolding as various fields
of research combine to give us a picture of gifts being showered upon us from
on high—the literal reading of the Santa Claus or Kachina myth. Thus
Buckminster Fuller says: “Energies emanating from celestial regions remote
from Planet Earth are indeed converging and accumulating in Planet Earth’s
biosphere . . . both as radiation and as matter.”6 “We aboard Earth
are receiving gratis just the amount of prime energy wealth, to regenerate
biological life on board. . . . Van Allen belts, . . . the ionosphere,
stratosphere and atmosphere all refractively differentiate the radiation
frequencies, . . . separating [them] into a variety of indirect life-sustaining
energy transactions.”7 “Vegetation [is] . . . the prime energy
impounder”;8 from stellar radiation “the biologicals are continually
multiplying, their beautiful cellular, molecular, and atomic structurings”
that complete the equation.9 “Certainly the earth is not the center of
the universe,” writes von Ditfurth, “. . . but this crowded earth is
a focal point in the universe; one of perhaps innumerable places in the cosmos
where life and consciousness could flourish. . . . What a concentration of
mighty forces upon one more or less tiny point!”10 Is it possible that
someone does have us in mind?

This is the thesis the famous astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle is
now pursuing. In a talk given at Caltech last November (1981), he begins with
the strange fact that there are distributed in all directions throughout the
immensity of space particles whose presence is revealed by the way in which
they obscure the galaxies everywhere, making them all look hazy—whence
their original designation as “nebulas” or fuzzy clouds. After almost
twenty years of investigation, the inescapable conclusion has been reached that
“the grains had to be made up largely of organic material.” Like the
biologists quoted above, Hoyle too, as he puts it, “was constantly plagued
by the thought that the number of ways in which even a single enzyme could be
wrongly constructed was greater than the number of all the atoms in the
universe [and yet these were correctly constructed], so try as I would, I
couldn’t convince myself that even the whole universe would be sufficient to
find life by random processes—by what are called the blind forces of
nature.” That is where he, too, balks. “By far the simplest way to
arrive at the correct sequences of amino acids in the enzymes would be by
thought, not random processes. . . . Rather than accept the fantastically small
probability of life having arisen through the blind forces of nature, it seemed
better to suppose that the origin of life was a deliberate intellectual act.”
One of the most exciting things about the process, he finds, is that it is
still going on, and always has been, and to all purposes always will be.
Instead of beginning with a single cell on this one lone planet billions of
years ago, life has been brought down to earth from realms above in massive
installments. “It was quickly apparent that the facts pointed
overwhelmingly against life being of terrestrial origin . . . [here Hoyle
pursues a long line of argument and review of research]; e.g., because a few
comets are breaking up and scattering their contents all the time, the process
was not relegated to the remote past.”11 “Taking the view, palatable
to most ordinary folk but exceedingly unpalatable to scientists, that there is
an enormous intelligence abroad in the universe, it becomes necessary to write
blind forces out of astronomy,”12 as Thomas and Szent-Gyrgyi do out of

As if to counteract these growing heresies, the old
Darwinian view is being puffed today for all it is worth in a half dozen
prestigious TV documentaries in which we are treated to endless footage of
creatures ranging from amoebas to giant carnivores stalking, seizing, and with
concentrated deliberation soberly crunching, munching, swallowing, and
ingesting other insects, fishes, birds, and mammals. This, we are told again
and again, is the real process by which all things were created. Everything is
lunching on everything else, all the time, and that, children, is what makes us
what we are; that is the key to progress. And note it well, all these creatures
when they are not lunching are hunting for lunch—they all have to work
for it: There is no free lunch in the world of nature, the real world. Lunch is
the meaning of life, and everything lunches on something else—”Nature
red in tooth and claw.” Tennyson’s happy phrase suited the Victorian mind
to perfection. He got the idea from Darwin, as Spencer did his even happier
phrase, “Survival of the fittest.” Darwin gave the blessing of
science to men who had been hoping and praying for holy sanction to an
otherwise immoral way of life. Malthus had shown that there will never be
enough lunch for everybody, and therefore people would have to fight for it;
and Ricardo had shown by his Iron Law of Wages that those left behind and
gobbled up in the struggle for lunch had no just cause for complaint. Darwin
showed that this was an inexorable law of nature by which the race was actually
improved; Miall and Spencer made it the cornerstone of the gospel of Free
Enterprise—the weaker must fall by the way if the stock is to be
improved. This was movingly expressed in J. D. Rockefeller’s discourse on the
American Beauty Rose, which, he said, “can be produced . . . only by
sacrificing the early buds which grow up around it. . . . This is not an evil
tendency in business. It is merely the working-out of a law of nature and a law
of God.”13

In this divinely appointed game of grabs, to share the
lunch-prize would be futile, counter-productive, nay immoral. Since there is
not enough to go around, whoever gets his fill must be taking it from
others—that is the way the game is played. “In Liverpool,
Manchester, Preston, or anywhere else in England,” as Brigham Young
reported the scene in 1856, workers knew that “their employers would make
them do their work for nothing, and then compel them to live on roots and grass
if their physical organization could endure it, therefore, says the mechanic, ‘If
I can get anything out of you I will call it a godsend,’ “14 and does what
he can to rip off the boss. If he gets caught, he is punished, yet he is only
playing the same game as his employer.

Three years after Brigham made his observation, the Origin
of Species
appeared, putting the unimpeachable seal of science on the
lunch-grab as the Supreme Law of Life and Progress. And it was expressly to
refute that philosophy on which Brigham Young founded Brigham Young University
in 1875: “We have enough and to spare, at present in these mountains, of schools
where . . . the teachers . . . dare not mention the principles of the gospel to
their pupils, but have no hesitancy in introducing into the classroom the
theories of Huxley, or Darwin, or of Miall and the false political economy
which contends against co-operation and the United Order. This course I am
resolutely and uncompromisingly opposed to. . . . As a beginning in this direction
I have endowed the Brigham Young Academy at Provo and [am] now seeking to do
the same thing in this city [Salt Lake City].”15 With his usual unfailing
insight, President Young saw it was the economic and political rather than the
scientific and biological implications of natural selection that were the real
danger and most counter to the gospel.

The Two Employers

But what about those goodies that actually descend from the
sky, according to the New Astronomy? They take us back to our Latter-day Saint
creation story in which all the earth’s food supply is indeed brought from
above, as seeds of all kinds are carried down and planted in a special program
of preparing the earth for its great calling. “Adam, we have created for
you this earth, and have placed in it everything you could possibly
need—all finished and ready for use. Help yourself—of every tree
thou mayest freely eat.” Was Adam idle and bored, his character undermined
by such easy living? Hardly! He went happily about his work of taking good care
of the place; he enjoyed frequent conversation with angels, and in the cool of
the evening he strolls with the Lord himself—what a vast expansion of
mind and spirit that evokes! And to spend one’s days with a woman of infinite
understanding, whom age could not wither nor custom stale, was enough to fill
the days with endless delight. When Adam left the garden, he went right on with
his work of cultivating the earth, himself, and his numerous posterity,
engaging in the three activities that are recommended as the proper way of life
to all who work in the vineyard: “Behold, I say unto you that you shall
let your time be devoted to [1] the studying of the scriptures, and [2] to
preaching, and to confirming the church, . . . and [3] to performing your labors
on the land” (D&C 26:1). Study, the work of the kingdom, and the
cultivating of the soil were Adam’s calling for almost a millennium—and
he never got bored. Though no longer in Paradise, he enjoyed the visitation and
instruction of heavenly visitors, who undertook to teach him how he was to
return again to his preexistent splendor with enhanced qualifications and
credentials for what lay ahead. To merit such promotion, he was to be tried and
tested while he was here, and for that express purpose Adam had to come to an
understanding with another type of visitor, a person of enormous ambition and
cunning, who was purposely turned loose in the place to put Adam and Eve to the
test. What he tempts them with is lunch. We can put the situation in terms of two
employers who are competing for the services of the man Adam and his posterity,
who are intentionally placed in the middle between them: on the one hand, “the
devil . . . inviteth and enticeth . . . continually” to work for him,
while on the other, “God inviteth and enticeth . . . continually” to
work for him (Moroni 7:12-13).

The first employer offers us lunch, and since lunch is
something everybody must have, he is in a powerful position to bargain. He
explains that this glorious earth is his private estate, that it all belongs to
him to the ends thereof; in particular he owns the mineral rights and the media
of exchange, by controlling which he enjoys the willing cooperation of the
military, ecclesiastical, and political establishments, and rules with magnificent
uproar. He keeps everything under tight control, though, for all the blood and
horror—nobody makes any trouble in his world from the rivers to the ends
thereof. Well can he ask Adam, “What is it you want?” for he claims
to be the God of this World, and the Lord himself grants him the title of
Prince of this World. All who are not working for him on his estate he charges
with trespassing, including even heavenly messengers, whom he accuses of spying
out his vast property with an eye to taking over the whole of it. But he is
willing to make a deal if they have money. To have merely sufficient for your
needs, however, is not what he has in mind—that would be the equivalent
of the free lunch, lamely ignoring the endless possibilities for acquiring power
and gain that the place offers; this developer has a vision of unlimited sweep
and power—”You can have anything in this world for money!”
Beginning, of course, with lunch. Because money is the only thing that will get
you lunch—and since everybody must have lunch, that is the secret of his

This almost mystical identity of money with lunch we see in
the reports of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and others of their missions in
England, where people were literally starving to death in the streets, while
many in the city were living in the greatest opulence. The trouble was that the
poor people had to starve because they could get no money, and they could get
no money because the factories were closed, and the factories were closed
because of an unusually severe winter—an act of God. So there was plainly
nothing to be done and no one to blame—one does not oppose the laws of
nature and of God: There is no free lunch. Brother Kimball tells how his family
in this fair land lived for weeks on boiled milkweed; they had worked very
hard, but still there was no lunch for them, because the money they had saved
up by their diligent toil was suddenly worthless—it is money alone that
gets you lunch, mere work is not enough. Your prospective employer explains how
that is: The money part is necessary to keep things under control. For the
Kimballs, lunch was life itself, the bottom line of any economy. What would
happen, then, if lunch was always provided free for them? Would they not lose
their most immediate incentive to work—the need for lunch-money? And
since money, as they tell you in Economics 101, is “the power to command
goods and services,” who would ever do any work again? How can you command
somebody to work for you if he doesn’t need your lunch? That, the shrewd
employer explains, is why he must never cease reminding one and all in his
domain that there is no free lunch. It is that great teaching which keeps his
establishment going. “All I have to do to bring my people into line,”
he says, “is to ask them: ‘If you leave my employ, what will become of
you?’ That scares the daylights out of them; from the man on the dreary
assembly line to the chairman of the board, they are all scared stiff. And so I
get things done.”

So let us go across the road for an interview with the Other
Employer. To our surprise, he answers our first question with an emphatic: “Forget
about lunch! Don’t even give it a thought!” “Take no thought of what
ye shall eat or what ye shall drink or wherewith ye shall be clothed!” “But
what will become of me then?” you ask. Not to worry, “We will preach
the gospel to you, and then you will find out that lunch should be the least of
your concerns.” Let Brigham Young explain the situation.

We have been permitted to come here to go to school, to
acquire certain knowledge and take a number of tests to prepare us for greater
things hereafter. This whole life, in fact, is “a state of probation”
(2 Nephi 2:21). While we are at school our generous patron has provided us with
all the necessities of living that we will need to carry us through. Imagine,
then, that at the end of the first school year your kind benefactor pays the
school a visit. He meets you and asks you how you are doing. “Oh,”
you say, “I am doing very well, thanks to your bounty.” “Are you
studying a lot?” “Yes, I am making good progress.” “What
subjects are you studying?” “Oh, I am studying courses in how to get
more lunch.” “You study that? All the time?” “Yes. I
thought of studying some other subjects. Indeed I would love to study
them—some of them are so fascinating!—but after all it’s the
bread-and-butter courses that count. This is the real world, you know. There is
no free lunch.” “But my dear boy, I’m providing you with that right
now.” “Yes, for the time being, and I am grateful—but my
purpose in life is to get more and better lunches; I want to go right to the
top—the executive suite, the Marriott lunch.” “But that is not
the work I wanted you to do here,” says the patron. “The question in
our minds ought to be,” says Brigham Young, “what will advance the
general interests . . . and increase intelligence in the minds of the people[?]
To do this should be our constant study in preference to how shall we secure
that farm or that garden [that is, where the lunch comes from!]. . . . We
cannot worship our God in public meeting or kneel down to pray in our families
without the images of earthly possessions rising up in our minds to distract
them and make our worship and our prayers unprofitable.”16 Lunch can
easily become the one thing the whole office looks forward to all morning: a
distraction, a decoy—like sex, it is a passing need that can only too
easily become an engrossing obsession. Brigham says, “It is a folly for a
man to love . . . any other kind of property and possessions. One that places
his affections upon such things does not understand that they are made for the
comfort of the creature, and not for his adoration. They are made to sustain
and preserve the body while procuring the knowledge and wisdom that pertain to
God and his kingdom [the school motif], in order that we may preserve
ourselves, and live forever in his presence.”17

And about work? I once had a university fellowship for which
I had to agree not to accept any gainful employment for the period of a year—all
living necessities were supplied: I was actually forbidden to work for lunch.
Was it free lunch? I never worked so hard in my life—but I never gave
lunch a thought. I wasn’t supposed to. I was eating only so that I could do my
work; I was not working only so that I could eat. And that is what the Lord
asks us: to forget about lunch, and do his work, and the lunch will be taken
care of.

Not being an economist, I must here turn to the scriptures,
where I find a succinct but detailed and lucid statement of the lunch
situation, that is, of God’s economic precepts for Israel, in the book of

Moses Distributes the Lunch

After Moses had led the children of Israel for forty years,
he summed up all the rules and regulations by which they were to live in a
great farewell address, which was to be preserved in writing on stone and
parchment and periodically and publicly read to all the people. All prosperity
and life itself in the new promised land would depend on the strict observance
of the law. Certain general principles were to govern every aspect of life
among the children of the covenant:

1. This is the law by which you are to live, and the only
(Deuteronomy 4:1): “It is your life: and through this ye shall prolong
your days in the land” (Deuteronomy 32:47).

2. However impractical and unrealistic these rules and
precepts may seem to the world, you are not of the world, but wholly withdrawn
from it, a people chosen, set apart, removed, “peculiar,” sanctified,
“above all people that are on the face of the earth,” “an holy
people” (Deuteronomy 7:6). Israel is under a special covenant with God
that has nothing to do with the normal economy of men; they are forbidden to do
some things and required to do others that may seem perfectly absurd to

3. The legal aspects of the thing are not what
counts—the business of lawyers is to get around the law, but you must
have it written in your hearts (Jeremiah 31:33), to keep it “with all
thine heart, and with all thy soul,” because you really love the Lord and
his law, which begins and ends with the love of God and each other (Deuteronomy
6:5). It must be a natural thing with you, taken for granted, your way of life
as you think and talk about it all the time, so that your children grow up breathing
it as naturally as air (Deuteronomy 6:7-9).

4. Remember that everything you have is a free gift from
God: You had nothing and he gave you everything (Mosiah 2:23-25).

5. Never get the idea that you have earned what you have;
beware lest “when thou hast eaten and art full, . . . then thine heart be
lifted up and thou forget the Lord thy God,” and you say to yourself: “My
power [ability] (koakh) and might of mine hand [hard work: otsem yadhi, meaning
the strength of my hand, or etzem yadhay, meaning my own two hands] hath gotten
me this wealth [fortune]” (Deuteronomy 8:10, 14, 17). But you must bear in
mind that God alone has given it all to you, and that it is not for any merit
of yours, but for the sake of confirming promises made to your fathers that he
has done it—if you forget that for a moment you will be destroyed
(Deuteronomy 8:18-19). “And while our flocks and herds were increasing
upon the mountains and the plains,” said Brigham, “the eyes of the
people seemed closed to the operations of the invisible hand of Providence, and
they were prone to say, ‘It is our own handi-work, it is our labor that has
performed this!’ “18

6. The gifts of God have come to you not because of your
righteousness, because you are not righteous, and have in no wise deserved what
you have received, nor are you worthy of it (Deuteronomy 9:4-29). It is all
given to fulfill promises made to righteous men before you. Moses’ parting word
to the people after forty years of struggling with them was, “Behold,
while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the
Lord; and how much more after my death?” (Deuteronomy 31:27).

As the law is laid down to Israel by Moses, each precept is
accompanied by a reminder of their endless obligation to Jehovah, who took them
in his charge when they were the lowest of the lowly and brought them with
signs and wonders to a land where they have everything. With this in mind, God
expects them to be as loving, merciful, and open-handed in dealing with
down-and-outers as he has always been with them (see Deuteronomy 15:7-8). With
this goes a promise, that no matter how much they give to others, he will
always make it up to them many times over, “for the Lord shall greatly
bless thee” (Deuteronomy 15:4).

Let us remember that Israel had been living for forty years
on a free lunch—manna from heaven. They did not have to work for it;
indeed, they were effectively prevented from taking any advantage of such a
bonanza—it was simply their daily bread to which everyone had a right and
of which no one could take more than he needed for himself on one day. If you
ate more, it would make you sick; if with far-sighted business sense you
stocked up on it, you would find yourself properly rebuked, for the stuff
rotted and stank after twenty-four hours, except on the Sabbath. Every attempt
to make the manna an object of free enterprise was ruled out—this was the
ultimate free lunch. On the day the people entered the promised land, Moses
told them that from then on there would be no more manna—but the free
lunch would continue without a break. For in this hill country, he explained,
they would be just as dependent on the rain of heaven as they ever were on
manna from heaven for their sustenance, and God alone would provide it as ever
(Deuteronomy 11:11-15). And what would they do to keep it coming? “If ye
shall hearken diligently unto my commandments, . . . I will give you the rain
of your land in his due season, . . . that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and
thy wine, and thine oil. And I will send the grass . . . for thy cattle, that
thou mayest eat and be full” (Deuteronomy 11:13-15).

And what were the specific commandments they are thus
enjoined to keep? That is what Deuteronomy is about. A large part of the law is
taken up with “forms and observances” (cf. Ezekiel 43:11); in
particular, all the people are required to come together at regular intervals
to celebrate, feasting and dancing together with great rejoicing, both to thank
God for the abundance he had given them and to solicit a continuance of his
bounty. Everybody was to have a good time and observe perfect equality in all
things, seeing to it that nobody went hungry or neglected. With the first
harvest in the new land, they were to bring a basket with samples of all the
firstfruits in it, place it before the altar, and say: “a Syrian ready to
perish was my father [Amorite, meaning “displaced homeless wanderer,
vagrant”], dying of hunger; and he hath brought us into this place, and
hath given this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. And now,
behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O Lord, hast
given me.” The starving Syrian in question was Abraham the Hebrew (which
also means “a displaced vagrant”). Saying this, “thou shalt set
it before the Lord thy God, and worship before the Lord thy God: and thou shalt
rejoice in every good thing which the Lord [Jehovah] thy God hath given unto
thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is
among you,” to show the Lord: “I have not transgressed thy
commandments, neither have I forgotten them” (Deuteronomy 26:5, 9-13). If
the people ever fail to observe this joyful activity of giving and sharing,
they will suffer a complete reversal of all the promised blessings, “because
thou servedst not the Lord [Jehovah] thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness
of heart, for the abundance of all things” (Deuteronomy 28:47). In
bringing his substance to the Lord, every man shall say: “I have brought
away the hallowed things out of mine house” and then “give them unto
the Levite and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow,
according to all thy commandments” (Deuteronomy 26:13). What was thus
hallowed or consecrated to the Lord’s work could not be used for any other
purpose—it was still manna and not negotiable.

In passing through any field or vineyard in Israel, anyone
was free to take what he needed if he was hungry (as the Lord and the apostles
did; Mark 2:23); if the owner denied him that, he was breaking the law; if the
person took more than he needed for lunch, then he was breaking the
law—it was still manna (Deuteronomy 23:24-25). When gathering harvest,
said the law, never go back to make sure that you have taken all the olives,
grapes, or grain of your farm to the barn or to the press. That may be sound
business practice, but the Lord forbids it. Some of it must always be left for
those who might need it. From the wine and olive presses we get the word “extortion,”
meaning to squeeze out the last drop, another way to make a margin of
profit—putting the squeeze on, wringing out the last drop. The Latter-day
Saints, like the ancient Israelites, are to accept God’s gifts gratefully and
not “by extortion” (D&C 59:20).

The “primitives” and the ancients everywhere
celebrated the free gifts of heaven with seasonal rites closely resembling
those of the Israelites. The ritual showering of food from heaven was an
important part of the ceremonies, dramatized by the actual throwing down of
food and tokens from a high platform, mobile or stationary, into the crowd of
worshipers. To these rites, which we have treated at some length elsewhere,19
Israel added a strong sense of moral obligation. Under the Mosaic Law everyone
was constantly being tested for his generosity quotient; for as Brigham Young
often reminded the Saints, God has placed whatever we have in our hands only to
see what we will do with it—whether we will waste, hoard, or bestow it
freely. Though generosity cannot be legislated, no one in Israel could get out
of taking the proper test, to show how far he was willing to go, granted
complete free agency, in carrying out God’s express wishes regarding the
distribution of his bounties. “A tribute of a freewill offering of thine
hand” was required of everyone; the offering could not be evaded, but the
amount was left entirely up to the giver, “a freewill offering . . .
according as the Lord has blessed thee” or, as the Septuagint puts it, “to
the limits of your ability.” The amount is left up to you because it is
you who are being tested (Deuteronomy 16:10).

Thus at the end of six years, a servant must be allowed to
leave the master absolutely free of all obligations; and “thou shalt not
let him go away empty” (Deuteronomy 15:13); no, nor with two weeks’
severance pay, either: “Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock,
and out of the floor, and out of thy winepress, of that wherewith the Lord thy
God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him” (Deuteronomy 15:14). And
then comes the most important part of the test: “Thou shalt surely give
him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him
(Deuteronomy 15:10). It is how you really feel about it that counts. If you
hear of a poor man in the neighborhood, “thou shalt not harden thine
heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother” (Deuteronomy 15:7-11).
It is not sound business sense, obedience to orders, compliance with custom, or
recognition of duty that are being tested, but the feelings of the heart, the
capacity for compassion. No one is ever to charge interest for a loan, and
every seven years all debts shall be automatically canceled (Deuteronomy
15:1-2). Only by such a sweeping and uncompromising order as “the Lord’s
release” can men break the insidious network of indebtedness by which
Satan holds all mankind in his power.

But one may not refuse a loan because the Lord’s release is
near, in which whatever you lent will not have to be paid back: “Beware
that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the
year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother
[the calm, appraising stare], and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the
Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee” (Deuteronomy 15:9). This is an
example of that meanness of spirit that offends God more than anything else. We
have no laws ordering men to be charitable and openhanded, or penalizing that
meanness of spirit that so often means an enhanced profit, for the obvious
reason that no one can know what is in the heart of another. But God knows, and
meanness of spirit is the one thing he will not tolerate. If one loved God with
all his heart and soul and his neighbor as himself, few if any laws would be
necessary; for such love, said the Lord, comprises all the Law and the
Prophets; laws against base and contemptible actions are unnecessary for people
to whom such actions are themselves unthinkable.

Thus, to bring a flawed offering to the temple may be a
shrewd and thrifty move, but it “is an abomination unto the Lord”
because it is also a mean and petty thing (Deuteronomy 17:1), as are also
double bookkeeping and different sets of weights in business (Deuteronomy
25:13). For the strong to take advantage of the weak is the standard pattern of
meanness: Israel is not to pull its weight against weaker nations nor “meddle”
in their affairs, even in her own interest (Deuteronomy 2:4-5). The greatest of
curses was reserved for King Amalek, because he attacked the feeble ones who
lagged behind when the Israelites were passing through his land (Deuteronomy 25:17-18).
Israel must never forget any favor shown them by another nation, even
reluctantly—ingratitude is meanness (Deuteronomy 23:7-25). To make
merchandise of another’s necessity is an offense to human dignity (though it is
the basic principle of present-day employment practice). Thus, if one takes a
captive woman to wife and then wants to get rid of her, she must go her way
free and not be sold for money, for “thou shalt not make merchandise of
her” (Deuteronomy 21:14). Anyone who takes advantage of a virgin must
marry her and pay her father handsomely, for “he hath humbled her”
(Deuteronomy 22:28-29). One who is just married is not permitted to go to war,
for by law he must stay home one year and “cheer up” his bride
(Deuteronomy 24:5). It is base to question the virginity of a bride
(Deuteronomy 22:13-30), and one who refuses to beget issue by his brother’s
widow is openly held in contempt, though he cannot be punished—he has
offended her human feelings (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). One is required by law not
only to shelter any escaped servant who flees to one’s house, but also to treat
him well, living in his new home “where it liketh him best”; and what
is more, the benefactor may not grumble about it—the slave’s humanity
outweighs all other factors (Deuteronomy 23:15-16).

Particularly reprehensible in Israel was the withholding of
lunch from the helpless, the best-known rule of all being that “thou shalt
not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn”—that is, to keep
him from eating any (Deuteronomy 25:4). We are told that the people of Sodom
and Gomorrah put nets over their trees to deny the birds their lunch, and “Abraham,
seeing it, cursed them in the name of his God.”20 The Ammonites and
Moabites were under a special curse for having refused the Israelites, their
enemies, bread and water while marching through their lands (Deuteronomy
23:4)—”aid and comfort to the enemy,” indeed! The Iron Law of
Wages may never be invoked in Moses’ world: “Thou shalt not oppress an
hired servant that is poor and needy,” that is, by offering him the right
to work on your terms (Deuteronomy 24:14). Some of Moses’ laws would be quickly
repealed by our present legislatures, such as that making it a crime to pretend
not to notice when another man’s ox or ass has fallen down and needs help
(Deuteronomy 22:4)—even as a priest and Levite once looked away from one
lying helpless and bloody by the road to Jericho. Regardless of expense, every
man must put a railing around the flat roof of his house lest somebody fall and
get hurt (Deuteronomy 22:8); that smacks of safety inspection—anathema to industry and especially to our Utah congressmen.

Private Property

In all the law of Moses with its perpetual concern for
giving and receiving, there is never any mention whatever of who deserves what,
whether rich or poor, or who is worthy to receive what he needs—God “maketh
his sun to rise on the evil and the good, . . . the just and on the unjust”
(Matthew 5:45). Need is the only criterion where lunch is concerned. Those who
basely set themselves to scrupulously calculate the exact point at which they
can open or close their hand to their brother, with meticulous definitions of “the
truly needy,” should consider how much of what they are giving is “truly
private property,” since the law of Moses deals impressively with the concept.

The words property and private have the same root (prop
=priv by Grimm’s Law) and emphasize the same thing—that which is the most
intimate and personal part of an individual. The Oxford English Dictionary
specifies “privatus—peculiar to oneself . . . that belongs to or is
the property of a particular individual; belonging to oneself, one’s own.”
And “proprius—own, proper, . . . property, the holding of something
as one’s own.” Both definitions fall back on Old English agen (German
eigen), “expressing tenderness or affection . . . in superlative, very
own.” Webster has “Latin privatus apart from the state . . . of or
belonging to one-self, . . . single, private, set apart for himself.” What
is privatum or proprium is therefore peculiar to one person alone (not a
corporation). It is something that I could not do without, under any social or
economic system, and that would have little interest for anyone else, such as
my clothes, shoes, books, notes, bedding, glasses, teeth comb, and so on.
Because they are personal and indispensable to me and of no value to anyone
else, they must be inalienable to me, for there is great danger if they fall
into the hands of another. The bully on the block who grabs another boy’s glasses
can get him to do almost anything to get them back, because he must have them,
and the bully knows it. The mill-owner who threatened to withhold lunch from
the workers could always get them to work on his terms, claiming their lunches as his private property to dispose of as he chose.

These two totally different views of private property are
sharply contrasted in a case often brought to mind by Brigham Young in telling
of the good Latter-day Saint businessman who buys a widow’s only cow from her
for five dollars “and then [goes] down on his knees and thank[s] God for
his peculiar blessings to him.”21 The widow’s cow was truly her private
property and by the law of Moses could not be taken from her. But Old Bessy was
something wholly different to the man who saw in her only an addition to his
profits. He had no more personal interest, that “tenderness and affection”
for one’s own, than a dealer has for a thousand acres of canyon land (set aside
by God as the proper sphere and element for his other creatures) that he bought
last month, hoping to sell it next month to a Chicago syndicate or Arab oil emir for a neat profit. Such cannot be called private property at all.

But lunch is. In Israel every man received a plot of ground,
assigned by lot, as his inalienable “inheritance”—it was his
lunch and could never be taken from him, even because of debt. It was only as
much land as he could “quicken” by his personal labor and loving
attention, and no more. The same rule was observed in the settling of the Salt Lake
Valley, where no man was allowed to buy and sell land or take more than he
could cultivate. The small farm bestowed from tribal lands was also lunch and
independence to the early Romans. But when the Conscript Fathers, claiming
special privileges by divine decree for and by themselves, seized thousands of
farms from the plebs to create their immense estates (the latifundia), as the
English and Scottish lords did in the nineteenth-century Enclosure Movement,
they forced the former owners either to stay on the land and go on working for
them as serfs—for lunch only; or to move to the city, where the emperor,
as God’s vicar on earth, provided the famous “bread and circuses.”
The landlords, the industrialists of the time, did not contribute to the public
lunch, the annona, which was a ritual and sacred affair, the food and
lunch-tickets (tesserae hospitales) being actually showered from the skies by
the emperor, acting as the kind and generous father of all. This should be
noted here, because bread and circuses are routinely deplored as the cause of
Rome’s decline. What made them demoralizing was their secularization; in the
later Rome, in which money was everything, nobody took the divine scheme of
things seriously (see the Roman Satirists); lunch was lunch and nothing more.
Rome’s Zion passed away with Numa, the Roman Enoch. So once lunch was taken
care of, the poor Roman had nothing to do but go to the shows and support the
political candidates who spent the most on getting elected, while the rich
enjoyed their notorious Roman banquets and the depraved pleasures that went
with them. For without a sincere religious awareness, the free lunch corrupts
rich and poor alike. It is the recognition of divine law that both sanctions and requires the free lunch for everybody.

The closing chapters of Deuteronomy describe point by point
the calamities that will befall Israel if every item of the law is not
scrupulously observed. It is the exact reverse of the list of blessings
promised if the law is kept. And these terrible things are more than warnings;
they are specific prophecies of just what is going to happen, and just what did
happen to Israel, “because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with
joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things” (Deuteronomy
28:47). The identical situation obtains in the Book of Mormon, to which we now

King Benjamin and the Free Lunch

In the time of Lehi, to judge by the Lachish letters and
other evidence, the ruling party in Jerusalem was sponsoring an enthusiastic
revival of the law of Moses in its purity. The trend is signified by the large
proportion of personal names ending in –yahu or –iah, referring to Jahweh,
Jehovah the Lord, who gave the law. Five hundred years later there was another
such revival among the Nephites, led by a pious and learned king, Benjamin, who
was determined to preserve the same law in its purity. The name he gave his son
Mosiah is clear indication of the survival of the tradition, of which King
Benjamin by his dedicated studies was well aware. At the end of his reign he
does exactly what Moses and later Joshua did: he summoned all the people
together in the great annual assembly (they brought their firstlings with them)
to hear a final exposition of the law from him as he handed over the rule and
priesthood to his son. His great farewell address covers the same points as did that of Moses, yet it is highly original.

In both books, Deuteronomy and Mosiah, the great discourse
on the law is divided into two parts. The first deals with the nature,
importance, and purpose of the law. The history of Israel is traced from the
beginning and the steps by which the people were brought to a knowledge of
Jehovah, recounting their trials, tribulations, follies, punishments, and
rewards. The holy nature of the covenant they have entered into is presented to
them, and the glorious rewards and terrible punishments connected with it. In
both books, the promised rewards are the same: You will prosper in the land the
Lord has given you, heaven and earth will bring forth in abundance, you will
never have to fear a foreign enemy—success and security should be yours,
for “a thousand generations” (Deuteronomy 7:9). “That ye may
prosper in the land according to the promises which the Lord made unto our fathers,”
says Benjamin, consciously appending his words to those of Moses (Mosiah 1:7). “Ye
shall prosper in the land, and your enemies shall have no power over you”
(Mosiah 2:31).

For his great farewell address, Benjamin summoned all the
people to gather by families around the temple, bringing “the firstlings .
. . that they might offer sacrifice and burnt offerings according to the law of
Moses; . . . that they might rejoice and be filled with love towards God and
all men” (Mosiah 2:2-4). There you have it in a nutshell. He begins his
discourse on an economic note: “[I] have not sought gold nor silver, nor
any manner of riches of you” (Mosiah 2:12). “I, myself, have labored
with mine own hands. . . . I can answer a clear conscience before God this day.
. . . Learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only
in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:14-15, 17). “I, whom ye call
your king, am no better than ye yourselves are” (Mosiah 2:26). He is
setting the keynote, which is absolute equality. And that follows naturally
from the proposition that we owe everything to God, to whom we are perpetually
and inescapably in debt beyond our means of repayment: “In the first
, . . . ye are indebted unto him . . . and will be forever and ever”
(Mosiah 2:23-24). Let no one boast that he has earned or produced a thing: “Therefore,
of what can ye boast? . . . Can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay,”
right down to the dust of the earth, it all “belongeth to him who created
you” (Mosiah 2:24-25). It is his property, not yours! What is more, no one
can even pay his own way in the world, let alone claim a surplus: “If ye
should serve him who . . . is preserving you from day to day . . . and even
supporting you from one moment to another—I say if you should serve him
with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants,” in other
words, consuming more than you produce, unable even to support yourselves (Mosiah 2:21).

And what do we do, then, to qualify for his blessings? “Behold,
all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised
you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land”
(Mosiah 2:22). It never fails, says Benjamin, “if ye do keep his
commandments he doth bless and prosper you” (Mosiah 2:22) and in return, “ye
are eternally indebted to your heavenly Father, to render to him all that you
have and are” (Mosiah 2:34), which is simply the law of consecration.

In his preliminary address, Benjamin, like Moses, impresses
upon the people at length the great importance of the instructions he is about
to give them, their binding obligation to keep them, and the great rewards that
will follow. He purposely gets them into a high state of anticipation by
telling them (confidentially) that what he is about to give them was made known
to him personally “by an angel from God,” so that this is indeed a
divine restoration of the law that is being celebrated (Mosiah 3:2).
Furthermore, he assures them that it is all good news, “that thou mayest
rejoice [said the angel]; and that . . . thy people . . . may also be filled
with joy” (Mosiah 3:4), for all this looks forward to the coming of the
Lord. Eager as they are, the people must again be cautioned before the law
itself is set before them, for though the law of Moses is adapted to their
weaker natures, these people, like those taught by Moses, remain “a
stiffnecked people” (Mosiah 3:14), and after all God did for them, “yet
they hardened their hearts” (Mosiah 3:15). “For the natural man is an
enemy to God . . . and will be forever and ever, unless he . . . becometh as a
child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to
all things” (Mosiah 3:19). At this point Benjamin again follows Moses’
example by declaring that the words “which the Lord thy God hath commanded
thee . . . shall stand as a bright testimony against this people” (Mosiah 3:22, 24).

Thus ended the first address of King Benjamin, by which the
people were quite overcome, crying out for forgiveness and receiving a manifestation
of the Spirit that filled them with joy (Mosiah 4:2-3).

Benjamin now recognized that they were ready to “hear
and understand the remainder of [his] words,” because at last they were “awakened
. . . to a sense of [their] nothingness, and [their] worthless and fallen state”
(Mosiah 4:4-5), aware that they could only put their “trust in the Lord, .
. . keeping his commandments. . . . Believe in God; . . . believe that ye must
repent; . . . always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own
nothingness, and his goodness and longsuffering. . . . If ye do this ye will
always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God” (Mosiah 4:9-13). That
being so, “ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live
peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due”
(Mosiah 4:13). And who decides what is due him? Not you! The Lord will tell you
that: “And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked,
[or] . . . transgress the laws of God” (Mosiah 4:14). Lunch will be
provided, and “ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one
another,” with no fighting or quarreling among themselves—this was
not to be a competitive society (Mosiah 4:15). And beyond your family, “ye
yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will
administer of your substance unto him.” A beggar is one who asks, for some
reason or other not having what he needs: “Ye will not suffer that the
beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish”
(Mosiah 4:16). He begs because he is hungry, and we must all eat to stay
alive—to turn any beggar down, for all you know, is to sentence him to
death—it has happened (Mosiah 4:16). The usual pious appeal to the
work-ethic—there is no free lunch—will not do: “Perhaps thou
shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I . . . will
not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may
not suffer, for his punishments are just”—I worked for mine! (Mosiah
4:17). Indolent and unworthy the beggar may be—but that is not your
concern: It is better, said Joseph Smith, to feed ten impostors than to run the
risk of turning away one honest petition. Anyone who explains why he denies
help to another who needs it, says Benjamin, “hath great cause to repent .
. . and hath no interest in the kingdom of God” (Mosiah 4:18), which
kingdom is built up on the law of consecration. “For behold, are we not
all beggars?” That is no mere rhetoric—it is literally true: we are
all praying for what we have not earned. No one is independent: “Do we not
all depend upon the same Being, even God, for . . . food and raiment, and for
gold, and for silver and for all the riches which we have? . . . You are
dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are” (Mosiah
4:19-20). And that is just what you must consecrate to the building up of the
kingdom: “O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one
to another” (Mosiah 4:21-22). We all give and we all receive, and never ask
who is worthy and who is not, for the simple reason that none of us is worthy,
all being “unprofitable servants” (Mosiah 2:21). “And if ye
judge the man” who asks for your “substance that he perish not,”
and find him unworthy, “how much more just will be your condemnation for
withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God,” who
wants you to hand it on and is testing you to see just how willing you are to
hand it back to him when he asks for it—not at some comfortably
unspecified date, but right now (Mosiah 4:22). Benjamin says he is speaking
here to the rich, but the poor may not hold back either, for everyone should
have enough but not wish for more; hence the poor who want to be rich, who “covet
that which [they] have not received,” are also guilty (Mosiah 4:24-25). In
giving, the poor may keep what is sufficient for their needs, and food,
clothing, and shelter covers it (Mosiah 4:26), for the rule is summed up
simply, that every man “should impart of [his] substance to the poor, every
man according to that which he hath”—which is also the wording of
Deuteronomy, for all have a right to food, clothing, shelter and medical care, “both
according to their wants“(Mosiah 4:26; 18:29).

Benjamin ends with the wise remark that no list of
prohibitions would be sufficient to keep the people from sin: “Finally, I
cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin: for there are divers
ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them” (Mosiah 4:29).
Instead of telling them what they should not do, he has told them what they
absolutely must do, the minimum if they would expect God’s blessings. If one
who has more than he really needs (and without what he truly needs, he would,
in fact, be one of the “truly needy”) withholds it from those who do
not have enough, he is stealing, holding on to that “which doth not belong
to you, but to God” (Mosiah 4:22), who wants to see it distributed

And that ends King Benjamin’s discourse, devoted not to
pious and high-sounding generalities but to the rule that whoever has more than
he can eat must share to the limit of his resources with those who do not have
enough. Two things are stressed in the address—need and the feeling of
dependence. As to need, not a word is said from first to last about hard work,
thrift, enterprise, farsightedness, and so on, the usual preludes to the
No-Free-Lunch lecture, and wo to the man who questions another’s qualifications
“the same hath great cause to repent” (Mosiah 4:18).

The second issue is independence. Charged with a special
emotional impact for Americans, the word has become a fetish for the Latter-day
Saints and led them into endless speculations and plans. “They that will
be rich fall into temptation and a snare,” says Paul—all of which
the Lord has strictly forbidden (1 Timothy 6:9). In the scriptures the word
independent occurs only once, describing the church with no reference to any
individual: “The church may stand independent above all other creatures”
because it is entirely dependent on “my providence” (D&C 78:14).
It is dependence that is important for Benjamin, total dependence on God; and
if you serve him with your whole heart and with your whole soul, you are free
from dependence on any other being. In the law of Moses, the Lord’s release
cancels all indebtedness of man, while God transfers his claims on our
indebtedness to the poor; it is through them that he asks us to pay our debt to
him. Let us refer back for the moment to Satan’s promise of independence. When,
following Satan’s instructions, Cain murdered “his brother Abel, for the
sake of getting gain” (Moses 5:50), he declared his independence: “And
Cain gloried in that which he had done, saying: I am free; surely the flocks of
my brother falleth into my hands!” (Moses 5:33). Recently this gospel was
proclaimed by one of the richest Americans addressing the student body of Ohio
State University (on TV): “There is nothing that gives freedom,” he
said, “like bucks in the bank.” This seems to be the policy we are following today, and there is no doubt whose policy it is.

Feeding the Multitudes

With the coming of the Lord in the meridian of time, the
feasts of thanksgiving and supplication continued, yet without the shedding of
blood, except at Easter, when the paschal lamb, like the earlier blood
offerings of the temple, remained a similitude of the great atoning sacrifice.
The Lord’s Supper and the agape (love, charity) were meals of real food, shared
whenever the Saints came together for a meeting; and when the Lord visited them
after the resurrection, he routinely shared a real meal with them, in which he
provided the food, looking forward to the time when they would all share in the new wine of the world to come.

The Lord gave lunch to the people in the first place simply
because they were hungry, they needed it, and he “was moved with
compassion” (Matthew 14:14, 15:32). He both fed them and taught them, but
the knowledge was worth far more than the food—he told them not to labor
for that (John 6:27). When he miraculously produced the lunch, they wanted to
accept him as their prophet and king (John 6:14-15), even as the Nephites, who
when they had eaten and were filled all burst out in one joyful chorus of
praise and thanksgiving (3 Nephi 20:9). Why the excitement? Hadn’t they ever
eaten dinner before? That had nothing to do with it; what thrilled them was
seeing clearly and unmistakably the hand of the giver, and knowing for
themselves exactly where it all comes from and that it can never fail. Now if
we ask, Who at these love-feasts got the biggest share or ate the most? we at
once betray the poverty and absurdity of our own precious work-ethic. Such
questions would be nothing short of blasphemous to all present, as if one were
to interrupt the ordinances and stop the feast by announcing: “Hold it
no free lunch?”

The free lunch looms large in the Sermon on the Mount. First
the Lord’s Prayer. “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11);
this comes with the understanding, expressed in the same sentence, that in
return we are to show the same free and liberal spirit toward each other that
he does to all of us: “And forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
Next comes fasting, a most effective reminder of God’s generosity to us and
also of our complete dependence on him, a thing to be joyfully acknowledged
(Matthew 6:16-18). Then an all-important principle; you cannot have it both
ways, you cannot work for both employers, you cannot lay up treasures both on
earth and in heaven—you cannot divide your heart between them; for to one
master or the other you must give your whole and undivided devotion—both
employers demand that, but only one of them can have it (Matthew 6:19-20). You must
go one way or the other, there can be no compromise. “No man can serve two
masters”: love and hate cannot be divided up between them, “ye cannot
serve God and Mammon,” mammon being to this day the regular Hebrew word
for business, particularly money and banking (Matthew 6:22-24). You must not
yield to the enticings of that other master, nor let his threat of “no
lunch if you leave my employ” intimidate you—you must ignore him and
his arguments completely: “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall
eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet . . . what ye shall put on” (Matthew
6:25). All such things are taken care of for God’s creatures: “Behold the
fowls of the air, . . . your heavenly Father feeds them. Are ye not much better
than they?” (Matthew 6:26). It was the practice in Sodom and Gomorrah, we
are told, to rob all strangers of their money and then let them starve to death
because they could not buy food; and the cities’ inhabitants would put nets
over their trees so that the birds would have no free lunch on their fruit. For
Abraham, such meanness, as we have seen, was the last straw, and “he

On the subject of dress and appearance the same rule holds
as for lunch—sufficient covering is necessary, but don’t go beyond that.
If you cannot add a cubit to your stature, don’t try to add other splendors to
your person that it does not possess: forget the obsession with an impressive
appearance that goes with aspiring to the executive lunch (“dressing for
success”); simply appear as what you are, and don’t fuss so much about it
(Matthew 6:27-30). “Therefore,” he says again, “take no thought,
saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or Wherewithal shall we be
clothed?” (Matthew 6:31). The Gentiles spend their time going after these
—but you are not Gentiles.

Now comes a most enlightening explanation of the economics
of the gospel, the answer to the natural question, How shall we get on in the
world if we don’t even think about such things? The injunction “take no thought”
must be taken seriously, since it is one of the most oft-repeated in the
scriptures, occurring in all the Gospels, in the Book of Mormon, and the
Doctrine and Covenants. Here the formula “all these things” applies
specifically to what we must eat, drink, and wear—food and covering
(Matthew 6:32). It occurs three times as an objective clause, and the key word
is seek. In the same breath we are told that the Gentiles seek after all these
things, but we are definitely not to seek after them. We are to be busy seeking
after something else, “the kingdom of God, and his [its] righteousness”
(Matthew 6:33). But what about the other things, won’t we need food and
clothing too? Of course, they are very important, and you can rest assured that
“your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things”
(Matthew 6:32), and he will provide them. If you have enough faith to trust him
(Matthew 6:30) and spend your days seeking what he wants you to seek, he will
“all these things” as you need them (prostethesetai).

“But seek ye first (proton) the kingdom of God and his
righteousness, and all these things will be added” (Matthew 6:33). It has
become customary to interpret this as meaning that one should first go on a
mission or get a testimony some other way, and then turn to the business of
getting ahead in the world. But the word for first, proton, means first in
every sense—first and foremost, before all else, in preference to all
else, and so on. It usually refers to time, but not in this passage. We are not
told to seek first the kingdom and then seek “all these things”;
nothing whatever is said about seeking them except the explicit command not to
seek them. There is no idea of a time sequence here: Does one ever stop seeking
the kingdom of God and his righteousness in this life, or was there ever a time
before, during, or after a mission when one did not need food and clothing? We
ever, for God supplies them ever.

The same teachings of the Lord are summarized in Luke 12, where
he makes it quite clear that the command to “take no thought” applies
not only to the apostles but to the entire church (Luke 12:22). He illustrates
the principle of taking no thought for the morrow by the story of a man big in
agribusiness (though it is only fair to note that it was a particularly fertile
piece of ground and not the owner that “brought forth plentifully”
and that the man himself did not, of course, do any work in the field). When
with foresight and planning he had completed his arrangements for a splendid
retirement, he congratulated himself, saying, “My soul, take thine ease,
eat, drink, and be merry”—the deluxe lunch assured complete
independence forever, with no humiliating necessity of praying for daily bread.
“But God said unto him, Thou fool! This night thy soul shall be required
of thee” (Luke 12:16, 19-20). Shouldn’t he have worked for lunch at all,
then? Answer: He should neither have made it the goal of his labors nor got it by manipulating others.

God is not pleased with those who rebuff his offer of free
lunch with pious sermons about the work ethic: “A certain king . . . made
a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were
bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again he sent forth, . . . saying,
. . . I have prepared my dinner, . . . and all things are ready. . . . But they
made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his
merchandise” (Matthew 22:2-5). Back to the office and the farm as they
virtuously called attention to solid work to be done and “made light”
of mere partying. Yet it was a gross insult to their generous host. “Deny
not the gifts of God!” is the final plea of the Book of Mormon (Moroni
10:8). Who would despise such gifts? We do, by not asking for them: “Yea,
I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh” (2 Nephi 4:35),
and they receive not because they ask not (2 Nephi 32:4). Moroni enumerates the
spiritual gifts in the last chapter of the Book of Mormon, yet we rarely ask
for these gifts today—they don’t particularly interest us. There is only
one that we do ask for in all sincerity, and duly receive, and that, for
obvious reasons, is the gift of healing. But the other gifts? Who cares for
them? We make light of them and prefer the real world of everyday life. We do
not even ask for the temporal gifts, because we don’t want them either—as gifts.

“Ye are cursed because of your riches,” says
Samuel to the people of Zarahemla, “and also are your riches cursed.”
Why? For two reasons: (1) “because you have set your hearts upon them,”
and (2) you “have not hearkened unto the words of him who gave them unto
you. Ye do not remember the Lord your God in the things with which he hath
blessed you, but ye do always remember your riches, not to thank the Lord your
God for them” (Helaman 13:21-22). They wanted the riches desperately,
worked for them diligently, and were obsessed with them once they had them; but
they simply would not accept them as gifts, but only as earnings. Today we have
gone so far as to drop the idea of “unearned increment” and insist on
labeling all income, even that of which the recipient is totally unaware, as “earnings.”
usaccept welfare!

Enough Is Enough

“Having food and raiment,” says Paul to Timothy, “let
us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6:8). We must have sufficient for our
needs in life’s journey, but to go after more is forbidden, though you have
your God-given free agency to do so. “Our real wants are very limited,”
says Brigham; “When you have what you wish to eat and sufficient clothing
to make you comfortable you have all that you need; I have all that I need.”23 How many people need to eat two lunches a day? We all eat too much, wear too
much, and work too much. Brigham says if we all “work less, wear less, eat
less, . . . we shall be a great deal wiser, healthier, and wealthier people

It should not take too much hard work to assure anyone of
the makings of a lunch; but what is one to do after that? That is the question.
Aristotle’s famous dictum in the Nichomachean Ethics I, that our proper
function on earth is not just to live but to live well, to live as we can and
should, reminds us that there should be no serious economic problems at the
human level: after all, mice, cockroaches, elephants, butterflies, and dolphins
have all solved the economic problem—their mere existence on earth after
thousands of years of vicissitudes is adequate proof that they have found the
secret of survival. Can we do no better than to dedicate all our time and
energy to solving just that one problem, as if our whole object in life were
simply lunch? “What is a man,” asks Shakespeare, “if his chief
good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more. Sure he
that made us with such large discourse, looking before and after, gave us not
that capability and god-like reason to fust in us unused.”25 And what is
it to be used for? Those very popular how-to-get-rich books, which are the
guides to the perplexed of the present generation, say we should keep our minds
fixed at all times on just one objective; the person who lets his thoughts
wander away from anything but business even for a moment does not deserve the
wealth he seeks. Such is the high ethic of the youth today. And such an ethic places us not on the level of the beast but below it.

For today many a TV documentary will show you the beasts of
the field not spending their days perpetually seeking out and consuming each
other for lunch, as we have been taught, but in pleasant relaxation, play,
family fun, bathing, exploring (for many of them have lively curiosity),
grooming, sparring, and much happy napping, and so on. Even the most efficient
killers hunt only every few days when they are really hungry, kill only weaker
members of the herds (thus strengthening the stock), and never take more than
they need, usually sharing it with others. We see leopards, lions, and tigers
between meals calmly loping through herds of exotic ungulates, who hardly
bother to look up from their grazing at the passing visitors. It is only the
human predator who keeps a twenty-four-hour lookout for victims in the manner
prescribed in the flourishing contemporary success literature.

“No free lunch” easily directs our concern to “nothing
but lunch.” The Adversary keeps us to that principle, making lunch our
full-time concern either by paying workers so little that they must toil day
and night just to afford lunch (his favorite trick), or by expanding the
lunch-need to include all the luxury and splendor that goes with the
super-executive Marriott lunch, about which Paul’s letter to Timothy is most
instructive. Let us return to it, considering the passage in the “original”:
“Having adequate nourishment (diatrophas) and decent covering (skepasmata)
we shall with these suffice ourselves (arkesthesometha). But those who want to
be rich (ploutein) fall into temptation (peirasmon, a test) and a snare
(pagida, a trap, noose, decoy), and into hankering for many things (epithumias,
a passionate desire to possess) which are silly (anoetous, mindless, senseless)
and harmful (blaberas), and which drag (buthizousi, plunge) human beings down
to ruin (olethron, deadly danger) and utter destruction (apoleian). For the
root (rhiza) of all evil doings (panton ton kakon) is the desire for money
(philargyria, cash-loving), being driven by which people have gone astray, got
lost (apeplanethesan; Hebrew, abad, stray from the path) from the faith and
become hopelessly involved (peripeiran, spitted, entangled) in agonizing
situations (odunais, rapids, pangs). But thou, O man of God, keep away from
these things” (1 Timothy 6:8-11). The Lord teaches the same lesson when he
tells how members of the church fall away because of “the cares of this
world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering
in, [which] choke the word (logos), and it becometh unfruitful (akarpos, fruitless, barren) (Mark 4:19; Matthew 13:22).

The parables of the Lord are particularly rich in matters
relevant to the free lunch, and in them Jesus appeals before all things against
meanness of spirit. What could be more abominable than to “offend one of
these little ones,” taking advantage of the helpless? What shall we say of
one who uses the gifts that God has given him to take from others, no matter
how legally, the gifts God intends to give them? “The kingdom of heaven is
like a certain king. . . . One was brought unto him which owed him 10,000
talents. . . . The servant fell down, . . . saying, Lord, have patience with me
and I will pay thee all. Then the Lord of that servant was moved with
compassion, . . . and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out and
found one of his fellow-servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid
hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest,”
and had him taken to prison (Matthew 18:28). It was all perfectly
legal—we cannot legislate pity and compassion; altruism, argued Ayn Rand,
is the greatest weakness in our society and the greatest obstacle to the
unhindered operation of free enterprise.26 But the kingdom of heaven, of which
the Lord is here speaking, does not operate on that principle: “O, thou
wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me,”
said the Lord. “Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy
fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?” (Matthew 18:23-35). Then the
king “delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due
to him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your
hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses [or debts, the word
aphete, cancel a debt]” (Matthew 18:34-35).

And You Are to Be Equal

For the last days everyone has been invited to work for the
kingdom with singleness of purpose and to enjoy the free lunch of the Saints.
The first words of the Lord to the youthful Joseph after he had introduced
himself in the grove were, “Behold the world lieth in sin at this time and
none doeth good no not one. . . . And mine anger is kindling against the
inhabitants of the earth to visit them acording [sic] to this ungodliness.”27 That being the present situation, we may well ask just what it is that
renders the present world so depraved. The answer is loud and clear: “Behold,
the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the
earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he
might have in abundance” (D&C 49:19). Malthus was wrong; there is no
need for grabbing, “for the earth is full, and there is enough and to
spare” (D&C 104:17). And what is wrong just now? But it is not given
that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world
lieth in sin
” (D&C 49:20). So that is where the offense lies; some are
taking more than they should and using the power it gives them over others to
make them do their bidding. But how much is too much? “And wo be unto man
that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need” (D&C
49:21). The one criterion for taking is need, specifically “for food and
“not for sport or display.

We begin, as in the other scriptures, with the basic
principle that everything we have is a free gift from God: “The earth [is]
my very handiwork, and all things therein are mine; . . . and behold this is
the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints” (D&C
104:14, 16). That does not mince matters but gets right down to business. He
wants us all equal, “that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are
made low” (D&C 104:16). And he wants to make us co-workers in the
project, which is all for our benefit: “It is expedient that I, the Lord,
should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I
have made and prepared for my creatures” (D&C 104:13). He wants all his
creatures to enjoy his bounty, with never a mention of who is worthy or
deserving—as ever, the only principle of distribution is that of need: “You
are to be equal, or in other words, you are to have equal claims on the
properties for . . . your stewardships, every man according to his wants and
his needs, inasmuch as his wants are just” (D&C 82:17). That
limitation on wants is important, since one often wants what one should not
have; a want is “justified” only when it is a true need, and as we
have seen, our real needs are few—”food and raiment,” mansions
and yachts not included. In introducing this particular revelation, the Lord
repeats for the third time what he has said in the grove: “The anger of
God kindleth against the inhabitants of the earth; and none doeth good, for all
have gone out of the way” (D&C 82:6). And always the same reason is
given for that anger, that men withhold God’s gifts from each other in a
powergame, and that this is the prevailing evil of the age.

How do we distribute it then? “I have given unto the
children of men to be agents unto themselves” (D&C 104:17). You are
perfectly free to make all the money you can; just as you are perfectly free to
break any one of the Ten Commandments, as millions do every day, though God has
forbidden it, as he has forbidden seeking for riches. But your behavior once
you have entered a covenant with God will be judged by the standards he sets: “Therefore,
if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made and impart not his
portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he
shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment”
(D&C 104:18). A clear reference to the rich man who fed Lazarus the beggar with crumbs (Luke 16:23).

Modern revelation has some interesting things to say about
idlers: “Let every man be diligent in all things. And the idler shall not
have place in the church” (D&C 75:29). We are all to work in the
kingdom and for the kingdom. “And the inhabitants of Zion also shall
remember their labors, inasmuch as they are appointed to labor, . . . for the
idler shall be had in remembrance before the Lord” (D&C 68:30). Note
that it is not the withholding of lunch but the observant eye of the Lord that
admonishes the idler. This refers to all of us as laborers in Zion, and “the
laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall
perish” (2 Nephi 26:31). That is the theme here: “Now, I, the Lord,
am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among
them; . . . they also seek not earnestly the riches of eternity, but their eyes
are full of greediness” (D&C 68:31). An idler in the Lord’s book is
one who is not working for the building up of the kingdom of God on earth and
the establishment of Zion, no matter how hard he may be working to satisfy his
own greed. Latter-day Saints prefer to ignore that distinction as they repeat a
favorite maxim of their own invention, that the idler shall not eat the bread
or wear the clothing of the laborer. And what an ingenious argument they make
of it! The director of a Latter-day Saint Institute was recently astounded when
this writer pointed out to him that the ancient teaching that the idler shall
not eat the bread of the laborer has always meant that the idle rich shall not
eat the bread of the laboring poor, as they always have. “To serve the
classes that are living on them,” Brigham Young reports from England, “the
poor, the laboring men and women are toiling, working their lives out to earn
that which will keep a little life in them [lunch is what they get out of it,
and no more]. Is this equality? No! What is going to be done? The Latter-day
Saints will never accomplish their mission until this inequality shall cease on
the earth.”28 But the institute director was amazed, because he had
always been taught that the idle poor should not eat the bread of the laboring
rich, because it is perfectly obvious that a poor man has not worked as hard as
a rich man. With the same lucid logic my Latter-day Saint students tell me that
there were no poor in the Zion of Enoch because only the well-to-do were admitted to the city.

But quite apart from who works hardest, how can the meager
and insufficient lunch of a poor child possibly deprive a rich man’s dinner
table of the vital proteins and calories he needs? It can only be the other way
around. The extra food on the rich man’s table does not belong to him, says
King Benjamin, but to God, and he wants the poor man to have it (Mosiah 4:22).
The moral imperative of the work-ethic is by no means the eternal law we assume
it to be, for it rests on a completely artificial and cunningly contrived
theory of property. Few seem to be aware today that less than fifty years ago
it was considered among the upper classes of England to be a disgrace to work
for a living, and the landed gentry refused intimate contact with families who
were (sniff) “in trade,” in other words, business. It is custom alone
and not an eternal law of nature that gives us our attitude toward these things.

A common objection to the economic equality on which the
scriptures insist is that it would produce a drab, monotonous sameness among
us. But that sameness already exists—we all have about the same number of
eyes, ears, arms, and legs. Few people are twice as tall or twice as short as
the average, and Binet was unable to come up with an IQ double the average.
Also, few of us need two lunches a day. We might as well face it, we are all
very much alike in such things, though the thought mortally offends some people.
It is in the endless reaches of the mind, expanding forever in all directions,
that infinite variety invites us, with endless space for all so that none need
be jealous of another. It is those who seek distinction in costly apparel,
living quarters, diversions, meals, cars, and estates who become the slaves of
fashion and the most stereotyped people on earth. And it is because communism
is a “dialectical materialism” that it is the drabbest show of all,
though our rival establishment is not far behind. “You may say,” says
Brigham, ” ‘If we live, we must eat, drink, and wear clothing'; and ‘He
that provideth not for his own household, has denied the faith, and is worse
than an infidel'; [by ‘providing’ the same writer means ‘food and raiment . . .
and therewith content’] numberless arguments of this kind will present
themselves to the minds of the people, to call them away from the line of their
.”29 It is Satan’s clever decoy to that fervid consumerism (Veblen’s “conspicuous
consumption”) that is a confession of mental, moral, and spiritual bankruptcy.

Brigham Young also noted, however, that if the wealth were
equally distributed one fine day, it would not be long before it would be as
unequal as ever, the lion’s share going to the most dedicated and competent
seekers for it. True enough. But wealth is not lunch, and to make it such is an
offense against nature. Let us say the lunch is equally distributed one day,
and soon one man because of his hustle is sitting daily on seventy thousand
lunches while many people are going without. He generously offers them the
chance to work for him and get their lunches back—but they must work all
day, just for him and just for lunch. Lunch and the satisfaction of helping
their generous employer to get hold of yet more lunches (for that is the object
of their work) are all they get out of it. Is this an exaggeration? Come with
me to the mines of Scotland in which my grandparents toiled, as described by
them and by Her Majesty’s Commission on the Labour of Women and Children in
Mines, 1842:

Children are taken into these mines to work as early as four
years of age, . . . often from seven to eight, while from eight to nine is the
ordinary age. . . . Female Children begin to work in these mines at the same
early ages as the males. . . . Parish apprentices, who are bound to serve their
masters until twenty-one years of age, . . . shall receive only food and
clothing. [Lunch is what they live for.] The employment . . . assigned to the
youngest Children . . . requires that they should be in the pit as soon as the
work of the day commences, and . . . not leave the pit before the work of the
day is at an end. . . . Children engaged in it are commonly excluded from light
and are always without companions. . . . In some districts they remain in
solitude and darkness during the whole time they are in the pit. . . . Many of
them never see the light of day for weeks together. . . . From six years old
and upwards, the hard work . . . begins, . . . [requiring] the unremitting
exertion of all the physical power which the young workers possess. . . . Both
sexes are employed together in precisely the same kind of labour. . . . [All]
commonly work almost naked. . . . In the East of Scotland [where the Nibleys
were so employed], a much larger proportion of Children and Young Persons are
employed, . . . and . . . the chief part of their labour consists in carrying
the coals on their backs up steep ladders. . . . The regular hours of work for
Children . . . are rarely less than eleven; more often they are twelve; in some
districts they are thirteen; and in one district they are generally fourteen
and upwards. . . . In the great majority of these mines nightwork is part of
the ordinary system of labour. . . . The labour . . . is . . . generally uninterrupted
by any regular time set apart for rest and refreshment; what food is taken in
the pit being eaten as best it may while the labour continues. [Why not? If
there is no free lunch, why should there be a free lunch hour?] In many mines
the conduct of the adult colliers to the Children . . . is harsh and cruel; the
persons in authority in these mines, who must be cognizant of this ill-usage,
never interfere to prevent it. . . . Little interest is taken by the coal
owners in the Children. . . . In all the coal-fields accidents of a fearful
nature are extremely frequent. . . . No money appears to be expended with a
view to secure the safety, much less the comfort, of the workpeople. . . . Very
generally in the East of Scotland, the food is poor in quality, and
insufficient in quantity; the Children themselves say that they have not enough
to eat; and the Sub-Commissioners describe them as covered with rags, . . .
confining themselves to their homes on the Sundays [because] . . . they have no
clothes to go in. . . . Notwithstanding the intense labour performed by these
Children, they do not procure even sufficient food and raiment. . . . The
employment in these mines commonly produces . . . stunted growth of the body. .
. . The long hours of work, [etc.], in all the districts, deteriorates the
physical constitution. . . . The limbs become crippled and the body distorted.
. . . Muscular powers give way. . . . This class of the population is commonly
extinct soon after fifty.30

One thinks of the infamous Roman mines, the ultimate in
human horror stories; yet the workers there were all condemned criminals and
enemies captured as slaves—these in Great Britain were innocent little
children. No free lunch to undermine their characters! The pious mine-owners even
waived the sacred imperative of the Sabbath in their case—even that
yielded to the sanctity of the workethic: “A custom bearing with extreme
hardship upon Children and Young Persons [is] . . . that of continuing the work
without any interruption whatever during the Sunday,” when “the
labour . . . is continued for twenty-four hours in succession”31—a
twenty-four-hour shift to make up for the every other Sunday they have off!
When some proprietors tried doing away with the system, it was found that it
was “without disadvantage to their works”—they lost nothing;
yet even after it was shown unprofitable, the “custom . . . still
prevails.”32 Better break the Sabbath than lose the honest day’s work these kids owe you. The triumph of the Work Ethic is complete.

Of course the mine-owners and their lawyers responded with
moral fervor to the charges in the report. They freely admitted that the
condition in the mines “in regard both to ventilation and drainage is
lamentably defective.”33 But what can they do about that? “To render
them . . . safe does not appear to be practicable by any means yet known”34—so don’t hold them responsible! Again, if “persons in authority
in these mines . . . never [interfere] to prevent . . . harsh and cruel
[treatment],” it is because, as they “distinctly [state], that they
do not conceive that they have any right to do so”;35 let us keep this on
a high moral plain: it is the owner’s own business what they do with their
property. If no money at all is “expended with a view to secure . . .
safety”36—remember, that would be confiscatory—need we be
reminded that in 1982 a very devout senator from Utah labored to cut federal
mine inspection in half to save money for the mining companies? If the kids
work in “passages . . . so small, that even the youngest Children cannot
move along them without crawling on their hands and feet, in which unnatural
and constrained posture they drag the loaded carriages after them,”37
again I ask you—is anyone to blame for that? Did the owners create those
thin seams of coal? To quote the report: “As it is impossible, by any
outlay compatible with a profitable return, to render such coal mines . . . fit
for human beings to work in, they never will be placed in such a condition [of
fitness], and consequently they never can be worked without inflicting great
and irreparable injury on the health of the Children.”38 So you see there
is just no way around it; the work must go on, since the coal is “a main
source of our national wealth and greatness,”39 which makes the mine
owners benefactors of the human race. Also bear in mind that if “notwithstanding
the intense labour performed by these Children, they do not procure even
sufficient food and raiment,” it is “in general” because of
their “idle and dissolute parents, who spend the hard-earned wages of
their offspring at the public house.”40 Though nearly all of the parents
worked in the mines too, very many of them were too crippled by sickness or injury to continue, but that is no excuse for getting drunk.

Of course we must not overlook the fun side of working in
the mines. “The coal mine, when properly ventilated and drained, . . . and
the side passages . . . of tolerable height, is not only not unhealthy, but . .
. is considered as a place of work, more salubrious and even agreeable than
that in which many kinds of labour are carried on above ground”41—an eloquent commentary on those other kinds of labor. And the
excitement of it: where “seams of coal are so thick that horses go direct
to the workings, or in which the side passages from the workings to the
horseways are not of any great length, the lights in the main ways render the
situation of these Children comparatively less cheerless, dull, and stupefying.”42 Here the little nippers could pop out of the side passages and take a look
at the magnificent sight of a feeble line of lights burning in the damp and
murky main passage—and when you hear a horse-car actually go by, what a
thrill! And rest and relaxation? “From the nature of the employment,
intervals of a few minutes necessarily occur during which the muscles are not
in active exertion,”43 so it is not necessary after all to “interrupt”
the work “by any regular time set apart for rest and refreshment; what
food is taken in the pit being eaten as best it may while the labour continues.”44 And that labor builds strong bodies: “The labour in which Children . .
. are chiefly employed, . . . namely, in pushing the loaded carriages of coals,
. . . is a description of exercise which, while it greatly develops the muscles
of the arms, shoulders, chest, back, and legs, without confining any part of
the body, . . . afford[s] an equally healthful excitement to all the other
organs.”45 So who are they to complain if they are crippled at the ages
“extinct soon after fifty”?46

The story of the mines has been told not to harrow up our
souls, but as a gentle reminder that the principles and practices of the
nineteenth-century industrialists are still wholly and enthusiastically
endorsed by the people of our own society, in proof of which we could cite
present-day instances almost if not quite as horrendous as Grandpa’s stories of
bonny Scotland. The reason things have not changed lies in the basic nature of
those principles, of necessity stern and inflexible. A thing is either free or
it is not; a free lunch would have to be for everybody, and that would never do
in the “real world” in which we live. The communists are even more
insistent than we are on having a world in which everybody must work, work,
work for lunch, with no other expectation in time or eternity than a booming
economy here and now. Their periodic slumps and collapses are as predictable as
our own, but that will not correct their fanatical obsession with a single way
of doing things. We are wasting our time talking about free lunch in the world
as we know it.

But the world as we know it is the very antithesis of Zion,
in which we should all be living at this very moment. I have cited a few
passages from the Pearl of Great Price, Old Testament, New Testament, Book of
Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants to show that whether we like it or not, in
all those five dispensations of the gospel the free lunch was prescribed for
all living under the covenant, and at the same time very special kinds of work
were assigned to each and all of them, the object of which was not lunch but
the building up of the kingdom and the establishment of Zion. Our real temporal
wants, we have been told repeatedly, are few, and they are taken care of by the
law of consecration. And in every dispensation, failure to act on principles
that they promised and covenanted to observe, the most important being the law
of love, has brought to an end the felicity of God’s people and covered them
with confusion as their enemies prevailed against them. No one is more
completely “of the world” than one who lives by the world’s economy,
whatever his display of open piety.

Thus Moses sums it up: “See, I have set before thee
this day life and good, and death and evil, . . . blessing and cursing”
(Deuteronomy 30:15-19). We have already seen what is required of us to merit
the blessing, and to these things Moses adds a useful list of the worst crimes
that Israel is likely to commit, the most certain to incur the cursing. There
are eleven sins in the list (Deuteronomy 27:15-26); all of them are of a secret
and underhanded nature, and at least eight of them consist in taking advantage
of weaker parties. The essence of evil being thus clearly exposed, the
rationalizing, theorizing, and legalizing of the dialectical materialists on
either side of the Iron Curtain is irrelevant to the issue—which is, that
anyone who can argue that it is permissible to deny food to the hungry when we
have food “shall with the wicked lift up his eyes in hell.”

This started out to be an exhilarating study of the
pleasures and advantages of the free lunch. But as it progressed it became more
and more depressing as the relevant scriptures accumulated and the gulf
steadily widened between the Zion of God and those Babylonian institutions in
our midst that brazenly bear the fair name of Zion as a gimmick to promote
local business.

We are being asked even at this moment to choose between the
peculiar economy that God has prescribed for us and what we have always considered
the more realistic, convenient, and expedient economy by which the world lives
and in which at the moment it is convulsively gasping and struggling to
survive. The difference between the two orders is never more apparent than at
lunchtime, in the homely perennial ordinance that was meant to unite us all for
a happy hour but which instead divides God’s children with the awful authority
and finality of the last judgment—in which, by the way, the Lord assures
us that the seating order is going to be completely reversed.


*This talk was given April 20, 1982, to the Cannon-Hinckley
Club at the Lion House in Salt Lake City. It was published in BYU Today
(November 1982): 8-12.

1. Quoted by John C. Whitcomb, The Genesis Flood (Philadelphia:
Presbyterian and Reformed, 1964), 443.

2. Omar Khayyam, Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, tr. Edward
Fitzgerald (New York: Avon, n.d.), LII.

3. Hoimar von Ditfurth, Children of the Universe (New York:
Atheneum, 1976), 10.

4. Lewis Thomas, “On the Uncertainty of Science,”
Key Reporter 46 (Autumn 1980): 2.

5. Albert Szent-Györgyi, “What Is Life?” in
Biology Today (Del Mar, CA: Painter, 1972), xxix-xxxi.

6. R. Buckminster Fuller, Intuition (New York: Doubleday,
1972), 135.

7. Ibid., 138, 142.

8. Ibid., 110.

9. Ibid., 112.

10. Von Ditfurth, Children of the Universe, 13.

11. Fred Hoyle, “The Universe: Past and Present
Reflections,” Engineering and Science (November 1981): 10, 12.

12. Ibid., 12.

13. John K. Galbraith, The Age of Uncertainty (Boston:
Houghton Mifflin, 1977), 48.

14. JD 3:323.

15. Dean C. Jesse, ed., Letters of Brigham Young to His Sons
(Salt Lake: Deseret Book, 1974), 199.

16. JD 11:115.

17. Ibid., 8:134.

18. Ibid., 3:257.

19. Hugh W. Nibley, “Sparsiones,” Classical Journal
40 (June 1945): 515-43.

20. Gerald Friedlander, Pirkê de Rabbi Eliezer (New York:
Hermon Press, 1965), 176; cf. Lewis Ginsberg, Legends of the Jews, 7 vols.
(Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1968), 1:245-50; cf.
Nathan Ausubel, A Treasury of Jewish Folklore (New York: Crown, 1948), 124.

21. JD 6:46.

22. Friedlander, Pirkê de Rabbi Eliezer, 176; cf. Ginsberg,
Legends of the Jews, 1:245-50; cf. Ausubel, A Treasury of Jewish Folklore, 124.

23. JD 13:302.

24. Ibid., 12:122.

25. Shakespeare, Hamlet, act IV, scene iv, line 38.

26. Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness (New York: Signet,
1961), vii-xi.

27. The 1832 recital of the First Vision as dictated by
Joseph Smith to Frederick G. Williams. See Milton V. Backman, Joseph Smith’s First
(Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1971), appendix A; cf. Dean C. Jessee, ed., “The
Early Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision,” BYU Studies 9 (1969): 280.

28. JD 19:47.

29. Ibid., 1:200.

30. “First Report of the Commissioners: Mines,” in
British Parliamentary Papers, 11 vols. (London: Clowes and Sons, 1842;
reprinted Shannon, Ireland: Irish University Press, 1968), 6:255-58 (emphasis

31. Ibid., 259.

32. Ibid.

33. Ibid., 255.

34. Ibid.

35. Ibid., 257 (emphasis added).

36. Ibid.

37. Ibid., 259.

38. Ibid.

39. Ibid., 258.

40. Ibid.

41. Ibid.

42. Ibid., 256.

43. Ibid.

44. Ibid.

45. Ibid., 258-59.

46. Ibid., 258.