The Parable of the Monkeys in the Vineyard

Just a quick report to all of my LE friends on some of my thoughts following this year’s American Academy of Religion meeting in Atlanta. I’ll share more in the coming weeks, but I want to call your attention to the work of one of the world’s leading primatologists. His name is Frans de Waal and he is a Professor in the Psychology at Emory University and the Director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta. And from what I saw at the AAR annual meeting, he’s also quite a funny guy. You’d have to be working so often with bonobos and monkeys.

So here’s my plan, follow it if you have a few free moments. First take some time to read my own personal favorite parable, the story of the workers in the vineyard. I’ve included a version below. Then and only then, take a few minutes to watch the linked video on some of de Waal’s subjects. I will not even bother adding any of my own thoughts, I’m sure that the connection will be obvious to most of you. ENJOY!

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (MT 20:1-16)

1. “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

3. “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4. He told them, “You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” 5. So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6. “About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, “Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?”

7. “Because no one has hired us,” they answered.

“He said to them, “You also go and work in my vineyard.”

8. “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.”

9. “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12. “These who were hired last worked only one hour,” they said, “and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.”

13. “But he answered one of them, “I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14. Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

16. “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

The video link is below. Enjoy!

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