Western culture:

  • takes up where Tower of Babel left off, with its pretentious work, and deifies human efforts as such.
  • the industrial/mechanical machine is the symbol of this way of life which attempts to control and manage.
  • technology promises to give us control over the earth and other people, but promises are not fulfilled.
  • structures become more important than the people who live in them, machines become more important than the people who use them.
  • we care more for our possessions with which we hope to make our way in the world than with our thoughts and dreams which tell us who we are in the world.

Eastern culture:

  • a form of pious laxity, which manifests deep-rooted pessimism regarding human effort.
  • since all work is tainted with selfishness and pride, the solution is to withdraw from all activity into pure being, like Buddha.
  • all trouble comes from doing too much; therefore, do nothing.
  • say as little as possible, do as little as possible; finally, at the point of perfection, you will say nothing and do nothing.
  • goal is to withdraw absolutely and finally from action, from thought, from passion.

Psalm 127 insists on a perspective in which our effort is at the periphery and God’s work is at the center.

Source: Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society.