FROM SWANAGE TO AUSCHWITZ
I remember sitting on a pier in Swanage England when Joel my eldest son was five or six. As we sat there with our crab lines dangling far below in the water, hauling up the unfortunate prospects, something else unforgettable was taking place. Joel's attention was not on the crabbing but he was counting the number of people with crab lines. 'Dad, how much money do you think it cost to make those crab lines? How much did they sell them for?' He spent the next few minutes trying to calculate how much the manufacturers had made on this one day's transactions. It was unforgettable, not in some dramatic way but simply that he had begun to explore, at an incredibly early age, the principles of supply and demand, the principles of a wholesome product or not, the enjoyment of the customer and the issue, the alluring issue, of profit. It was unforgettable for me as a Dad because I saw the future for him. I saw just a glimpse that day of what God had made him to be.
Twelve years later, Joel and I were visiting Auschwitz and Berkenhau assessing the horrific impact of the holocaust. Looking into the ovens that had scorched and charred fathers, mothers, sons and misery, one of the things that struck us with incredible power was the fact that the Nazi perpetrators ran the whole thing as a business. Even to the grisly details of selling gold fillings and human hair. Gold that would find its way into the cynical banks of Switzerland or even our own Barclays Bank in Paris! Human hair that was sent off to line the suits of the rich, or alternatively as upholstery material on German furniture. Working out in great detail the maths of production, the ways to greater efficiency. It was as if the evil could somehow be covered by the routine, the normality and the pleasure of business principles. I remember the very strange feelings running through my own mind as I looked at the exhibits in the various rooms at Auschwitz, and saw many corporate names, names such as AEG, Bata, IG Farben, Krupp, Portland Zement and Siemens. Now I am sure that these corporations have changed since then, but how could respectable household names such as BMW (I even drive their cars) participate in a business venture with such horrific implications? I don't know if we will ever answer those questions satisfactorily.
In fact in a stamp of heretical wickedness over the gates at Auschwioz is the infamous inscription in German Work sets free. I have set my mind and life to find a wholesome view of work which does not denigrate it but rather that sees it as wholesome service to creator and creatures