E-mail | | V&FT
The first chapters of this cybertome on usury have shown that the taking of interest is contrary to the ideal of conscientious and simple living which is set forth in the Vow of Non-violence. We must take an explicit stand against all unrighteousness which works against peace. And one of the greatest sources of unrighteousness in the modern world is the "monetization of debt" which debases the currency and redistributes wealth from workers to debtors.
An exhaustive description of a Godly economy which would give us a mature enough perspective to understand God's rationale for prohibiting interest and currency debasement would run many more pages. We don't understand why God's Prophets condemn interest and false weights and measures because while they were in the wilderness communing with God and observing human action, we were in the city grabbing for all the "gusto" we could. We are spiritual infants compared to the Prophets. Hopefully, these papers have made their opposition to interest-bearing investments, mortgages, and debased currencies (indeed, Biblical culture as a whole) a tiny bit more understandable.
The Catholic Worker places great emphasis on "Personalism." I am a product of an impersonalist culture.
The Catholic Worker is both anti-communist and anti-capitalist. I have absorbed the "individualism" and the collectivism of the age in which I was born.
R.J. Rushdoony contrasts the modern age with an earlier, more Christian age.
Prior to the Civil War, although a radical39 ferment was apparent in the 1840's, the character of American life was not collectivistic or individualistic. It was Christian, familist and personal; a sense of community, personal and familist, generally prevailed. Evolutionary thought emphasized impersonal process, and the cities, previously governed by a Christian concept of government and community, now became sanctuaries of impersonalism. Truly rational man40 meant impersonal and rootless man, and the cities, even after the development of roadways and ease of transportation made them economically less advantageous to industry than decentralized industrial development, continued to grow because they met a psychological need. The flight from personalism and responsibility, from roots and from history, meant a flight to the city. Corporate and statist impersonalism and collectivism grew simultaneously with "rugged individualism," a [lawless] and impersonal individualism which moved in contempt of personal, moral, and Christian considerations.41
I have become secularized. Therefore I de-personalize others.
Bill Gothard draws the picture of a man standing in front of another's house. The house is on fire. Shall he go inside, interrupt their TV viewing, and announce the danger? What if he fears "talking to people"? What if they're really enjoying the TV show and might get mad at him if he interrupts them? Rejection is so painful. But the Bible tells us that "perfect love casts out fear" (I John 4:18). I'm convinced that our culture is on fire, and that God's will for my life involves talking to people. This is why in 1988 I put some distance between myself and my library (symbolizing my intellectual pursuits) and joined the Catholic Worker (to live face to face with the poor and other victims of an impersonalist culture). If I don't love people and can't be comfortable around them, I'll never know God's will for my life. My fear of people must be overcome.
It may surprise some to hear that I have such a fear, but it stems from the impersonalism which I have absorbed from the city. I can speak to an audience of a thousand people about usury, the gold standard, and Biblical Law, because they aren't individual real people, but merely an abstraction: an "audience." But carrying on a conversation about the ordinary and mundane things of life with just one other person - my neighbor - terrifies me. Fortunately for my selfish ego, I can live my entire life in the city and never talk to the same person twice. I never get the same cashier at the self-serve pump or post office, and the secularization of our nation has meant the depersonalization of society. I never have to enter into any personal relationship with anyone I meet, for all my contacts with people are expected to be short and secular. "Strictly business." Human beings are mere abstractions; tools for my own economic survival. Survival of the fittest. The fittest animal.
False weights and measures have made it easy for me to be a drone. Easy for an entire nation.
If "God so loved the world," then I must do so as well.
But this kind of "spiritual" understanding sometimes fades into oblivion when I face the hard reality of flesh-and-blood people. Sometimes "the real world" seems more "real" than God's Truth.
For the last couple of years I have thought about leaving the Catholic Worker Community and joining the "real world." "Get a job!" I've been told hundreds of times as I stood in front of the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station with my "VIOLENCE IS NOT THE ANSWER" sign. Well, maybe I will.
If I get a job, but put myself in the position of not using Federal Reserve Notes, "the real world" hits me like a ton of bricks. In order to survive, I must cultivate relationships with people who will do business with me - on God's terms. How many people are willing to barter or make other arrangements to avoid using abominable currencies? If I'm going to eat and sleep with a roof over my head, I'd better find out.
But self-preservation is not the only motivating force in this strategy. If I take God's Word seriously and understand the abominable nature of false weights and measures, I have a strong motivation to help others see how their lives are affected, and how their children might be injured by a nation which has turned its back on God's Law.
I was greatly encouraged by an article written by one who is trying not to pass debased currency. I believe it shows the practical advantages of forcing myself to confront the culture as it manifests itself in store clerks, and my next-door neighbor. It's surprising how many interpersonal skills I already know - in theory. Now I have the motivation to put them into practice. I have used endnotes to comment on the practicality of using gold or silver instead of Federal Reserve Notes.
(38) The co-founder of the Catholic Worker, Peter Maurin, prescribed "Round Table Discussions" as a means of bringing together workers and scholars, so that scholars would learn where we are, and workers would learn where we must go.
(39) A radical Humanist, or Enlightenment, character, not a radical Christian one. "Humanism" is the worship of man. "Radical" too often means a rigorously consistent worship of self.
(40) The goal of the Enlightenment, which worshiped man's mind.
(41) R.J. Rushdoony, This Independent Republic, Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1964, p. 80.
Cleansing the Home| | The Ungodliest Man in the World! | | God's Law Concerning Money | | Usury and Unabombers | | What About Borrowing? | | "The Evils of Capitalism" -- Wrong Enemy | | FRACTIONAL RESERVE BANKING AND VIOLENCE | | Getting out of Paper | | A Purified Life | | The Freemen of Montana | | For Further Reading
Vine & Fig Tree