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Daybook, Lectionary

Our righteousness must include economic righteousness.

I;ve said for some years that the structure of this economy is not sustainable. In NZ we have had three bailouts, and we simply have no money in the kitty — all the government’s spare caseh, and a fair amount of insurance money, is committed to rebuilding Christchurch, our second city, which was flattened two years ago in an earthquake. So if the banks fail, the depositors will lose. But the Banks have had to deleverage (by regulation) and the government has borrowed to get through this period. It’s risky and depends on the markets int he rest of the world being sane.

Which they are not. They are a house of cards, without the cards. And they will fall: what cannot be sustained will end. And people will then suffer. Therefore, I had difficulty sleeping last night. The secular cycle is turning, and all those people who have thought that they can continue to run zero interest rates and print money are now in difficulty. The Chinese stock market is falling, and the hot money is leaving NZ (dropping the price of the dollar) as Bernake tries to unwind QE before it all falls apart.

In times of trouble, turn to the word. For it was written in hard times far more than good times.

Psalm 15

1   O LORD, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill?
2   Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart;
3   who do not slander with their tongue, and do no evil to their friends, nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;
4   in whose eyes the wicked are despised, but who honor those who fear the LORD; who stand by their oath even to their hurt;
5   who do not lend money at interest, and do not take a bribe against the innocent. Those who do these things shall never be moved.

Acts 6:1-15

1Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. 2And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, 4while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.” 5What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

7The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

8Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. 9Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. 10But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. 11Then they secretly instigated some men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12They stirred up the people as well as the elders and the scribes; then they suddenly confronted him, seized him, and brought him before the council. 13They set up false witnesses who said, “This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law; 14for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us.” 15And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

In the times of the Apostles there was no social welfare system, and there was no corn dole. In Jerusalem: both existed in Rome (and maked Rome unstable — the use of the mob as a means of political power was a standard tool of the tribune of the plebeians, and made the republic unstable). The church took it upon itself to care for the widows. However, Paul was clear that this was the duty of all men first — that those enrolled in the widows should be those wihtout family or abandoned by such (and over 60 — those younger should re marry, in case they were tempted to renounce their vow of devotion to God and find another man). But this required administration, and this role fell to the deacons.

In the Psalm, the righteous man is shown by his financial probity. He keeps his word. He is honest, He does not oppress the poor. He does not demand usury from them, but instead gives micro-loans. He builds up his community instead of siphoning wealth from it. There is nothing centralized about this. This is not regulated by the state (and the tax man does siphon wealth from every community). Instead it is honest dealing that keeps him flourishing.

The non conformist communities became rich doing this. Because the Quakers were not able to enter the clergy, nor vote, nor enter any profession, they developed factories, workers housing, and the first human asylums since the Enlightenment. They did not require permission, nor did they seek forgiveness. Instead, all spoke well of them. And when the social networks set up by such men became subverted by the government and its minions, the institution failed, declined, and is now fossilized.

Our righteousness has to include our wallets. Not merely charity, but fair dealing, equal contracts, and an expectation that one’s word is sufficient. IF we are just, we should not need as many auditors, regulators, and our law schools should be small, How we have fallen.

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