In a recent post from a few days ago I suggested that the media, education and the arts might be best placed to help lead to a new scenario, opening space where believers and non-believers alike can imagine and work to a new future. I might be mistaken, I could be too pessimistic about, for example, politics, business or one of the other aspects of society. I hope I am, but where we are wedded to an-shackled consumerism it is difficult to be optimistic.
2008 supposedly brought about the (banking) crisis, but was it a crisis or a blip? It really depends on who one asks. For those, such as the youth of Spain, a crisis of enormous proportions, for those who received yet again a bonus for their ‘work’ in the economic realm the word ‘crisis’ surely has no meaning.
Consumerism seems to be the root issue with what is wrong. ‘I saw, it was to be desired, I took, I ate…’ Words so profound in ancient culture and if anything more profound today. Entrance to the land that was apportioned, strict laws about debt, restrictions about moving boundaries, and partial resets every 7 years and a major one every 70 years. Enjoy but live within boundaries. An economics that does not stipulate boundaries is not a biblical economics – and in the case of Israel a state enforced boundary.
A business model that is based on maximising profits is hard to justify biblically. Do not harvest to the edge of the field. From all business ventures there was legislation that gave from those businesses provision for the marginalised and the immigrant. All backed up by God’s authority!
Jesus’ team building had at its heart a strategy of how to lose money. Not some arbitrary loss but set in motion to break any love of money and to give a path of freedom to those who needed it from that. Thankfully even Judas found that path, even if he did not realise it due to being overwhelmed in sorrow.
A new economics is called for biblically, not a simple step of occupying the current ‘mountain’. If to be able to successfully ‘buy and sell’ (trade) is the mark of the beast perhaps there is an economy being called for that is deeper than that, based not on commodity but on life? Everything that flows from a resurrection based faith has to be life-giving.
Money is not evil, the love of money is the (or ‘a’) root of evil. Yet money itself is problematic. How much exists? How can a stock market lose x-billion or gain x-billion in a day? If I lose 20euros I have lost it, someone else finds it and they gain 20euros. The money is not ‘lost’. That makes sense, but money in the big scheme of things does not make sense. Run your private accounts on the less-than-500 year old system that we have and see if you are allowed to become rich or face a prison sentence.
Have someone loan you 1000 euros (it is a loan as you sign to ‘I promise to pay the bearer 1000 euros upon demand’, though legally the loan money is yours to do with what you wish).
From that loan to you, you can now loan someone 900 euros (and charge interest)
Then loan the next person 810 euros, the next 729 euros and so on (this is the banking system…)
After simply 10 times of doing this you will have loaned out 5.5k and still have almost 400euros left.
Imagine doing that over a week… you had nothing, you are loaned 1000 euros and have had enough money to loan out 5.5k. At the beginning of the week you were broke, at the end of the week you are the source for countless others, could invest ‘your’ remaining 400 euros, or have a (or 2 or 3) nice meal(s) out and start again the next week, meanwhile each person who you loaned to will be paying you interest… who would have believed that was possible?
What prompted such a system? The financing of war was the main ingredient. So much war is to do with establishing new boundaries.
Sadly the system is based on debt, and debt is based on how the present relates to the future.
This is what we have… I am not saying the creativity involved is evil, and I am thankful that good / evil are not the only two biblical categories but the very important ‘fallen’ category is there too. Yet the more fallen, or the more persistent something is to lean in that direction the harder it is to see something redemptive enter. Can we see something redemptive enter the economic realm? All things are possible, but this is why I suggested the arts, education and the media might be the areas where we can see a leverage effect take place. And the media maybe against all odds until recently might have been another area for pessimism, so that should give us a faith boost for the economic realm.
To all those who follow Christ whose context is the economic / money / business realm a big respect to you as you wrestle not against flesh and blood, but live out your lives and values in the light of the cross.
Footnote: do not try at a private level to work your finances along the banking loan model. I think prison might be the context that could lead you to.