“Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed – but hate these things in yourself, not in another.” Thomas Merton
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world” Albert Einstein
“Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation and I care not who writes its laws” Maier Amschel Rothschild
I’m looking to have a conversation. In my article “Stealing: Legalized By The Silence of Contemporary Christianity?” I haven’t prescribed (at least not at this point) how we should understand usury and greed, but instead created a space for conversation. I encourage you to read the full article by downloading it, but if you prefer, here are few thoughts to consider.
I have borrowed money, I have lent, and I have seen the beauty and the pain that can be associated with both.
Canaries were once regularly used in coal mining as an early warning system. Toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, methane, or carbon dioxide in the mine would kill the bird before affecting the miners. Because canaries tend to sing much of the time, they would stop singing prior to succumbing to the gas; therefore, their sudden silence would alert the miners to danger.
If you have watched any of the Republican primary debates, or even Tuesday evening’s State of the Union address by President Obama, you quickly realize that the coming election will be an election about the economy. A conversation about the economy is necessary among us. Unfortunately, contemporary Christianity has often stood on the sideline in silence leaving people vulnerable, to steal or to be stolen from. Given the silence, it is no wonder that we have become unclear on how to understand usury and greed.
Having canaries in the coal mines was considered advantageous for your well-being since they served as an early warning sign of danger and unsafe conditions. What are our dangers? What “canaries” do we have to alert us of unsafe conditions? Could our current financial crisis have been prevented? And how did we ever get ourselves in this mess?
While it is clear that markets are regulated, the real question isn’t “do we plan or not plan?” but “who plans?” Who influences the regulation? Ben Bernanke was depicted in the film Too Big To Fail as saying, “The Great Depression may have started because of a stock market crash, but what hit the general economy was a disruption of credit. Credit has the ability to build a modern economy, but lack of credit has the power to destroy it. Swiftly and absolutely.”
For the sake of creating a framework for our conversation, I would like to propose starting with two questions for us to consider:
- Is it desirable to establish a maximum legal rate? and
- By what means should usurious exactions be prevented?
What is your $.02?
Download the full paper Stealing Legalized By Christianity