Tag: Religion

Thrift Matters

Thrift Matters posted in Eleison Comments on January 3, 2009

Another brief visit to the United States gives me to think that a large part of the population, while concerned about the financial and economic state of their nation, are going about their business as though there is nothing too much to worry about. Perhaps there is not much else they can do. Perhaps it is only human to go on “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,” until the catastrophe hits (cf. Mt. XXIV, 38).

However, my own best understanding, from the commentators who make the most sense to me, is that a major catastrophe is on its way, which will go way beyond mere finance and economics. The best commentators see what stands to reason, namely that if the problem is deep and human, its roots are moral and, ultimately, religious. Let us back up with one commentator from today’s effects to yesterday’s causes (within the USA):—

Regulators and financial institutions “woke up too late” to the collapse of a pyramid of debt, partly because in its last stage it had been too profitable to them. In this last stage “liar loans” in the form of SIVs (Structured Investment Vehicles) had been invented to deal with borrowers on housing not repaying their debts. SIVs did this by packaging good mortgages with bad, and selling the packages as “investments” to gullible investors who did not do their homework. Everything seemed good until housing values fell, as they were bound inevitably to do. Then borrowers repudiated their debts, confidence cratered, investors and huge financial institutions were bankrupted, from the USA outwards to much of the rest of the world.

And why had housing in particular brought down the house of cards? Because housing, second most important part of the whole US economy, had become an investment as well as a home, and collateral for house “owners” to take out still further loans. Moreover since the 1970s, the US government had been subsidizing mortgages for people normally unfit to borrow (but who vote!), and it had been bullying lenders to make loans according to “equality” and not according to their better judgment.

Further back still, the government had set households the example (taught by the Englander John Maynard Keynes – “Tomorrow we are all dead anyway”) of living beyond one’s means, as though endless borrowing could ensure an endless increase of prosperity. Financial responsibility was made to seem a thing of the past. Such reckless behaviour on the part of the government had been greatly facilitated by the disastrous founding in 1913 of the private bankers’ Federal Reserve, enabling the government, amongst other things, to rob the mass of citizens without their realizing it, by means of inflation – five cents then bought what only a dollar can buy now.

But let us make no mistake – broadly speaking, citizens have from God the governments they deserve, especially when they are convinced that their government is “democratic.”

Kyrie eleison.

Extrarchal Cogitation

Extrarchal Cogitation posted in Eleison Comments on December 13, 2008

“Archa, archae” is the Latin for “box.” Thinking outside the box is not a popular activity – who wants to be shaken out of their comfortable mental routine? – but circumstances may soon force it upon all of us. It may not be a bad idea to get a little used to it sooner rather than later. Here are some considerations of an American, James Kunstler, who is not afraid to cogitate extrarchally!

The recent succession of massive bailouts by the USA government of mega-banks and mega-corporations TBTF (too big to fail), he says, is no better than injections of embalming fluid into the walking dead. Worse, the corresponding fabrication of trillions of dollars out of nothing virtually guarantees hyper-inflation in anything from six to eighteen months. But if the dollar is destroyed, how will the USA pay for imported oil? And without oil, what happens to our whole oil-based way of life?

Moreover, with the collapse of the debt pyramid, what happens to the whole fantasyland, built like most everybody’s houses and cars, on credit and debt? People will have to get back to real as opposed to virtual activity. Back to the distribution of property and growing of food as before the arrival of petro-agriculture. Back to the land, or social chaos! We must start thinking – outside the box – of alternate energies in place of oil, of production instead of consumerism, of localism in place of globalism.

Mr. Kunstler recognizes that a “zombie disease” has “eaten away our brains,” but he still puts his hope in a young generation of Americans realizing what an opportunity to rebuild is offered to us all by this meltdown, and he hopes that a revived American people will set its shoulder to the wheel. I wish I shared his hope, but the whole question is religious, and the closest that he gets to mentioning the Lord God is when he comments that “the meltdown is building straight into the Christmas holidays”!

Yet as the Psalmist says, to build the city without God is to build in vain (Ps. CXXVI). And, as Our Lord says, “He that gathereth not with me, scattereth” (Mt. XII, 30). All the suffering that lies in wait for us next year will be allowed by God for one supreme purpose, to help us to save our souls for eternity. If the collapse of our gimcrack paradise on earth merely makes us want to build a solid paradise on earth, he may have to increase the dose of suffering until we get the point.

Kyrie eleison.

Money-Men Supreme?

Money-Men Supreme? posted in Eleison Comments on November 1, 2008

There is a fascination in reading commentaries on the ever-evolving crisis of global finance. How much more do the commentators tell than they say, of a natural order being violated and taking its revenge! Yet nobody seems to know how the crisis will play out – except the master violators?

To get a glimpse of that natural order, it may be necessary to step back a few centuries. Let us briefly for our purposes define (1) religion as man’s relations to his God, (2) politics as his social relations to his fellow-men, (3) economics as the art of distributing goods between producers and consumers, and (4) finance as the art of handling money. Then the natural order is that as money exists to facilitate the exchange of goods essential to any society, so finance should serve economics. And as the State is ultimately responsible for the well-being of all its citizens, especially those most in need of protection (Leo XIII, “Rerum Novarum”), so the material goods of economics should come under the common good of politics. But politics can only adjust and ensure the common good of all men in any society if it is properly understood what man is here on earth for, and so politics should come under the true religion.

However, modern times, especially since Protestantism, have step by step turned this natural order upside down. England is a clear example. Firstly, politics in the persons of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, etc., virtually stamped out the true religion of God in England. Then within a hundred years the Bank of England was founded, the world’s first central bank, and the English government and people were off in pursuit of economics and the wealth of nations. But having made free enterprise sacrosanct meant freedom for the major money-men to gobble up the minor money-men, and so free enterprise capitalism turned progressively into the finance capitalism now reigning supreme, not only in England but all over the world.

Thus what we can observe today is both politics and economics vainly struggling against this overthrow of their natural priority over finance. To clean up the mess created by the financiers through derivatives in particular, the politicians are resorting to huge bailouts by the State, in a desperate effort to keep money circulating. On the contrary old-fashioned economists are appealing for a return to free enterprise, as though the mass of today’s citizens do not want to be nannied by the State.

But when the most decent of politicians and economists themselves believe in little but money, how can they possibly get their necks out of the noose prepared for them by the Masters of Money? These most likely think – by means of a slipknot around Vatican finances? – that they have the Lord God himself on a leash! Little, literally, do they know. Poor things!

Kyrie eleison.

La-La Landslide – I

La-La Landslide – I posted in Eleison Comments on August 2, 2008

Who said politics have nothing to do with religion, and religion has nothing to do with politics? The Lord God does not agree! There are few better places to find out what he thinks than in the Psalms of the Old Testament! Here is an official translation (Douay Rheims) of Psalm 81:

1. God hath stood in the congregation of gods: and being in the midst of them he judgeth gods. 2. How long will you judge unjustly: and accept the persons of the wicked? 3. Judge for the needy and fatherless: do justice to the humble and the poor. 4. Rescue the poor; and deliver the needy out of the hand of the sinner. 5. They have not known nor understood: they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth shall be moved. 6. I have said: You are gods and all of you the sons of the most High. 7. But you like men shall die: and shall fall like one of the princes. 8. Arise, O God, judge thou the earth: for thou shalt inherit among all the nations.

And here is how the Psalm might be rendered today:—

The Lord God stands right in the middle of the politicians, banksters and Lodges, and he stands in judgment upon all their doings! “How long are the pack of you going to go on misleading the world, and looking primarily after your own interests? Look after the poor, and stop designing and applying laws to destroy the family and create the fatherless! Stop just looking after the rich, and cancel the vile money system by which you have enslaved the world!” But the banksters paid no attention, and the politicians went on their blind way. Their whole system is going to collapse! I the Lord God have reminded them: “I gave you your high responsibilities, and I am your Father, but you will nevertheless die (to be judged by me), like even the mightiest of men!”

O Lord, enough of our poor world’s madness and wickedness! Step in, and reclaim your rightful heritage as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Kyrie eleison.

Truth Exclusive

Truth Exclusive posted in Eleison Comments on June 21, 2008

At a public conference I gave recently (not in Germany), a liberal of a venerable aspect and age doubted whether human beings are really that valuable. I deliberately sharpened the reply: “Place all the horses on earth in one pan of a pair of scales, and in the other pan one wretched but human beggar, which pan weighs heavier?” Instead of answering the question he said, “That´s religion, that´s not common sense.” At which point I became a little angry . . .

It was not so much his love of horses that was upsetting. After all, the horse is a noble and useful animal, and all the horses of the world are certainly worth a great deal. Nor was it even his implicit scorn of religion that was disturbing. After all billions of human beings alive today see no reason to take seriously what they understand to be religion. What was terrible was the heresy of heresies underlying his hippophiliac answer, namely the assumption that one truth can contradict another.

Of course liberalism is now as common as daisies (or dandelions), so the good man was most likely unaware of the objective enormity of what he had said. But what he had clearly implied was that there is one truth for common sense and another truth for religion. In other words truth is not one, nor absolutely exclusive of error, but there are different truths for different people at different times, above all in different domains, and they can flatly contradict one another without any problem. Thus what is true for common sense can be false for religion, and vice versa.

This disbelief in the oneness of truth, or in its attainability by human beings, is, if it is a conscious denial, the crime of crimes, and if it is an unconscious assimilation of the disbelief in truth so widely shared today, it is the loss of losses. To starve the mind of that truth for which it is made is a crime as infinitely greater than starving stomachs of food, as eternal life is infinitely greater than this little life we have on earth, 70 years or so. This is because disbelief in exclusive truth, or in its possibility, cripples thinking at its very root, turns minds into mush, and ultimately crumbles the indispensable natural foundations of that supernatural Faith without which we cannot save our souls (Heb. XI, 6).

The venerable lover of horses came up after question time to smooth things over: “I only meant to say that the question in that sharpened form is not common sense,” he said. It was much to be feared that he had little idea of all that he has lost.

Kyrie eleison.