Thursday, October 5, 2023

Christian Priorities

One for the Christian right. 

Sexual impurity was a two-fold concern in the ancient olden days. First, it was to ensure that everyone's spreading their seed in fertile ground, instructing men to stay away from lieing with other men as if they're women as well as avoiding masturbation and barren women!! Guys like Leonardo DiCaprio who trade in for a new model regularly could be argued to be following this rule of avoiding any woman who's no longer fertile. But now that we have more than enough people in the world, and we can barely afford rent and food for ourselves much less children, we intentionally prevent the seed in fertile ground thing as much as possible anyway. So maybe don't worry so much about people spilling their seed willy-nilly. 

Secondly sexual licentiousness was as much a concern in the Bible as it was for Plato because it distracts citizens from more important things going on. When people allow their passions to take hold, they stop making sure their city is functioning properly and things could fall apart. The big lesson is to measure passions carefully - with reason - so that you can continue to get to work each day and keep the house clean and have space for a bit of contemplation. 

So it's counterproductive to these aims to spend your life distracted by other people's sins! All the people gathering with their children to yell about the sinfulness of others should take the log out of their own eye first. Judge not, remember. Can you feel the love in these videos?

However, if that's the thing that gets you out of bed every morning, instead of focusing on sexual impurity and yelling at kids while holding signs that say "I don't hate anybody," consider investing your time in the bits of the Bible involving usury

Charging interest on a loan is a sin. I know the definition of usury has changed to mean excessive interest, but why? Who benefitted from that definition creep? Hmmmm.... 

Exodus 22:25: "If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him."

Leviticus 25:35-37: If people are too poor to support themselves, help them and don't take any interest from them. 

Deuteronomy 23:19: "You shall not charge interest to your brother--interest on money or food or anything that is lent out at interest."

Okay, the next line lets you charge interest to foreigners, but, hey, isn't everyone our brother??

Ezekiel 18:8-17: "He does not lend to them at interest or take a profit from them." If a man lends at interest he is to be put to death! "His blood will be on his own head." 


But just imagine how much better off so many of us would be with that one little change to the law: no interest on loans, or maybe just no interest on loans if your net income is under $100,000 so all the rich people can collect interest off one another, or, at the very least, drastically reduced interest rates that aren't accumulative - none of this interest on the interest bullshit. Some people are in positions where they've paid $30,000 on a $20,000 student loan from twenty years ago and their balance is still over $20,000. That's definitely excessive.  

The word 'credit' comes from the Latin credere, to trust or entrust. We trust that the banks won't cheat us. But they so clearly are. THIS is what's worthy of protest. To the bankers and investment brokers: we don't hate who you are, we just hate what you do. Love the sinner, hate the sin. We want to help you to stop doing it and free you from this addiction to money and the sin of greed!  

I get that much of the progress we've made in society was because of the debt load spurring on the industrial revolution, but many amazing things we have are also from capturing and enslaving people and working them to death. Because it resulted in pyramids and railroads and other incredible feats doesn't mean we should KEEP DOING IT!! We've made great strides under a predatory system that enables some to get very wealthy while others struggle, but what further strides could we possibly make that justifies ongoing poverty and suffering for so many?? 

Getting into the good news section: Matthew 6:24: "No man can serve two masters." We have to choose the love of God or the love of money, it can't be both. Morality or wealth.

I didn't really understand the moral problem with wealth until reading Thoreau's Civil Disobedience and recognizing myself in his words. He explains that once you start accumulating nice things, then you change how you think and the way you exist in the world. Once you have stuff, once you're settled, you won't do anything that could possibly jeopardize your way of life. That means you won't think of standing up to your boss if they're doing something unethical much less walking away from that job. You need property to store all the things you've collected, and that leads to collecting more things, and so on, and so on, and so on. 

Things are unreasonably difficult for too many people. Now that we're seeing signs of environmental collapse, we have a greater need for equity, but we also know the powerful will be more galvanized to dig in their heels and hoard all the things for themselves, hoping their wealth will ensure their survival amidst the floods and fires, giving little thought to what will be leftOne economist explains, "A monetized economy cannot be sustained if everyone knows its end is nigh. Everything relies on trust in its longevity, as the very anticipation of collapse is enough to cause collapse." 

How much longer will we trust this system that acts in the interest in the few at the expense of the many?

These are certainly interesting times!

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