We don't live in the old times where debts got written off every seven years in Jubilee. How many of the people you know and who live near you are tied into their lifestyles of bad work and bad consumption by the need to repay debts?

I think the traditional Quaker understanding that a person had to be free of debt to be a good disciple is pretty radical. I want all people to have freedom to choose but how free can we be if debts keep people trapped in bad work, bad consumption to feed the work pattern and yet more consumption and alienating recreational pursuits to alleviate the pain of the bad work and bad consumption? Does my neighbourhood needs a credit union more than it needs scripture?

I can't let go of this question: if so many thousands of people are right with God why is the world in such a state? I experience a God who leads the way to life changes, who teaches me how to live to overcome oppression and cut off its roots in this world. The world to come will stay beyond us if we do not listen and obey.

In this generation with climate change effects starting to seriously kick in, it's got so bad we humans are threatening the chance of future generations to even exist in order to have a go at following God. I guess it seems to me time is running out for people to repent. The story of God talking to humanity might actually end pretty soon if we humans don't show some serious collective clue and start living from God's order of the world instead of all this exploitation, war, oppression, collusion and hatred.

Our citizenship in God's world to come is meant to make us ill at ease in this world. If I'm understanding it right that stamp on our spiritual visa is meant to fuel our commitment to meeting the needs of the poorest and most oppressed. We are judged spiritually by our relationship to the oppressive powers and with those who are most in need in this world. We're not meant to relax because the stamp on our visa will get us out of hell. We are going to be right here with the crucified Christ in this suffering world until the hungry Jesus is fed and sheltered.

The people in the developed world, for example in the neighbourhood where I live, are oppressing and collaborating with the oppressive order out of ignorance and I think also out of a sense of helplessness. There is unease because the suffering seed inside is always trying to speak to people, but the real needs of shelter, family, work, are keeping people locked into a cycle of debt and bad work.

Until the cycle is cut how can we/they get off the backs of those suffering most under capitalist exploitation in the rest of the world? My God is the God I can rely on to cut the knot of oppression and collaboration. We have to pray ourselves free together and we have to show how it can be done, as easy and obvious as we know, and before we run out of chances.

Views: 36

Comment by Alice Yaxley on 5th mo. 29, 2009 at 10:09am
I mentioned credit unions above, that's one way forward.

The reason I don't go into that is that my faith tells me that the solutions to "how to get there" emerge once
1) we have our eyes on the goal, God's kingdom
2) we declare together, and live out together, our intention to co-operate with God's revelation of God's order

All of us, united in God, are brighter than any of us. We need each other for the particularities, no-one knows our lives like we know them.
Comment by Forrest Curo on 5th mo. 29, 2009 at 12:50pm
In terms of seeing how all this ties together, try michael-hudson.com Not only will he tell you what you've always suspected--but probably never saw as clearly--about the current economy;
in his 'articles' link you can find things you probably never guessed about that old Jubilee practice.

ie., they actually did it! It was not "an impractical priests' notion, probably never tried"--as modern interpretors are inclined to assume. Because the city-states of the ancient Middle East needed a population of independent farmers they could draft in times of war, while their upper classes kept playing their version of Ancient Monopoly until that population was virtually all foreclosed on & caught up in debt-slavery! The Israelites were copying a well-established, practical custom--that when a new king took office, or went to war, or wanted to celebrate a long war, he would proclaim a debt amnesty in his capacity as local representative of the Sun god.

Something that disturbs me in all this--is how thoroughly even our attempts to do Good Works are tied into the system of debt. If you collect money for some good purpose, and you want to have reserves...let alone that beloved hope of an endowment to cover future operating costs... you're going to end up with money to invest.

Now investment is the flip side of debt. You might prefer to lend your money to some real-world enterprise which would use it for expansion of some practical human good--but that is not where you can hope for high returns--while accepting low returns means your reserves will fall in value. So chances are overwhelming that your money will be invested in some purely abstract scheme that ultimately rests on people borrowing it for financial gambling, or at best, personal spending. When those small borrowers at the bottom of the pyramid have themselves and their first-born sons in hock over their eyebrows, not even government largess to the lenders can--or should-- keep that system working!

I suspect the vast majority of well-intentioned Quaker GoodDoers are entirely emotionally and intellectually wedded to this way of operating... So that that when I asked a young Catholic Worker student at Pendle Hill, "Why isn't there a Quaker Worker movement?" her response was that we preferred to drive into the bad neighborhoods for work, then drive home to the good neighborhoods to sleep. I don't think we are really that afraid of dirty hands or danger; it's a matter of class-culture, assumptions, customary methods, all related to that need for steady money--Whereas Dorothy Day, drawing on the resources of a large Catholic community--and faith in God--could make a virtue of "precariousness."

Again, customary approaches--would have most of the Quakers I know scrambling, first to deny the problem, and then to figure out some practical countermeasure! But you've put your finger on the only countermeasure we can trust: to rely on God for clear vision plus guidance through the murky bits.


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