John Lilburne's journal about rules, manuals, industrial life and kingship.

 

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1812 L Fri 18 Jan 2002

I found particularly interesting the first reading for Mass today: 1 Samuel 8:4-7.10-22. Briefly the peope want a king and Samuel tells them the difficulties this will involve:

... He will take your daughters as perfumers, cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields, of your vineyards and olive groves and give them to his officials. He will tithe your crops and vineyards to provide for his eunuchs and officials. ... (1 Sam 8:13-15)

But the people still want one, "We want a king, so that we in our turn can be like the other nations; our king shall rule us and be our leader and fight our battles." The reading concludes with God telling Samuel to "Obey their voice and give them a king."

The Jerusalem Bible in the footnotes presents this chapter 8 as "anti-royalist" and 9:1 - 10:16 as "royalist". They may be correct. But I think it could be argued that chapter 8 is also royalist: the decision for a king is made in spite of the difficulties this involves, making it an informed decision, that should be supported.

Now I will discuss a more recent piece of writing I read this morning in one of the journals on www.livejournal.com. Her essay expresses the frustration of an employee in following a Manual, with its crazy rules about watching lights and dials.

I see it as part of the price of industrial life -- just as Samuel was telling the people about the downside of having a king. There are rules to be followed that may not be particularly enjoyable but they still need to be followed. They are part of the price of belonging to an industrial society.

To me another lesson from the story is that if there is a poor Manual it is a major problem. So it should be taken seriously and efforts made to improve it.

Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 18 January 2002.