Friday Potpourri

There are so many things going on this week, and my mind is going in so many directions, it has been hard to focus on anything but my book for any length of time. So today I decided to just put together a potpourri of things that have caught my attention.

You Might Be…
David Wayne over at JollyBlogger has set off an orgy bacchanal carnival celebration of humor in response to his post You Might Be a Presbyterian If…. One of his answers to the Presbyterian question said if:

You can spell supralapsrian , suprlapsarian, suralapsrian, supralapsarian.

Well, I am definitely am not Presbyterian. By the way David, are you sure it is not really superlapsarian? I mean only the super-duper Christians know all this stuff.

Some of the best stuff is in the comments and on other sites referenced there and that really adds to the fun. Here are a few examples.

You know you are Lutheren if sharing the peace during the service takes more time than the sermon and you consider lottery tickets a serious investment.

You attend a community/non denominational church if the pastor prefers khakis and a polo shirt, the worship pastor is generally in jeans, and you’re lucky if the youth pastor wears socks.

You are Charismatic if as a single, you named and claimed the cute guy who sits in the third pew on the left as your future husband, but somehow it bounced off him and landed on the fat, balding guy in pew two.

Yes, it is fun to poke fun at ourselves and a good laugh is a fine way to set the morning on a positive note. But, it should be interesting to see how much of all this remains after we pass through the fire (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) 😉

Usury and Interest
I have been looking for some time into the subject of money and how God says we are supposed to order our financial lives. Recently I have taken up the issue of interest, which biblically was called usury. The Bible is pretty specific in the Old Testament about what you could and could not do. It also appears that the Church specifically rejected the practice until the Reformation. It seems at that time Calvin separated the idea of usury from the concept of interest. Some argue he violated the spirit of the Reformation and “sola scriptura” when he did that.

One thing to be sure, this is not a trivial subject. It is also obvious that most of the people writing on the matter that take an anti-usury stance have been shoveled off to the fringe and considered extremists, no matter how serious or reasonable their arguments are. That is not surprising since our whole economic system is setup around the concept of interest and leveraged capital. How do you escape it?

I am not sure I will come up with a workable solution right off the bat but since I am pursuing this primarily for my own life first, I can experiment. But one thing I do know from the research I have done so far, God demands that I extricate myself from the interest/usury cycle, as soon as and as completely as possible. I guess that begins to shove me over in with the extreme element. So be it, if that be the case. Obedience is the issue, not popularity.

Now you might even agree and feel it sounds relatively easy if all you are talking about is being debt free. That is a goal we all as Christians should have. No, it is a lot harder than that and also might mean such things as:

1. Getting rid of my credit card and instead only using a debt card, even for my business. Sure we say we will pay it off each month, but remember with a credit card we have entered into a contract that includes interest (think unequally yoked).
2. Removing that little line from my invoices that says I will charge 2% a month on invoices paid after 30 days. That was there to invite on time payment, but I can’t use that as an excuse any more.
3. Finding a bank account that doesn’t pay me interest on my money in the account. That might be difficult and I don’t want to have to go to money orders for everything. I buy everything I can off the Internet and I need some form of transaction mechanism. PayPal might be a solution, I don’t think they pay interest on positive balances, but you get the drift. This isn’t easy.

This is going to be an interesting and informative journey. I hope you are interested in following along with me.

Well now, only two things in my potpourri. That was pretty weak. I have got to get back to writing, so grace and peace to your day.

  7 comments for “Friday Potpourri

  1. June 10, 2005 at 4:57 pm

    I’m really interested in hearing more about usury/interest. One of my favorite lecturers once said that the things in a culture that are dangerous are not the things the culture debates heavily, but that things that people on both sides just take for granted. While I’m not convinced that interest and usury are the same (yet), it does really trouble me to know that they might be. As you point out, its almost impossible to divorce ourselves completely from interest in our society. One thing is for sure, there are many people that have been harmed and enslaved by debt.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts on this as you look into it more.

  2. June 10, 2005 at 6:28 pm

    I’m with Calvin on this one (possibly even Hobbes). My understanding of usury is that it’s excessive interest, or interest placed on a debt to keep the debtor forever at your mercy.

    In the Parable of the Talents, the landowner reamed the one-talent servant, saying “you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.” (Mt 25:27). I don’t think Christ would have condoned this practice if it equalled usury (sin).

    Getting rid of your credit card isn’t a bad idea, but receiving interest on a bank account or encouraging someone to avoid token interest on an invoice I don’t think violates scripture.

    –Chris (dFm)

  3. June 10, 2005 at 8:12 pm

    Thanks for following up on the interest/usury thing, and yes I am sure I spelled supralapsarian correctly, I mean come on, I am a presbyterian pastor after all.

  4. Chad
    June 10, 2005 at 10:45 pm

    William, I admire how you are taking practical steps to put your convictions into practice.

    Its encouraging to hear your thoughts on how you are going to start doing this. I think that Steps 2 and 3 that you mentioned are especially good ones.

  5. June 11, 2005 at 9:00 am

    Brant – It is going to take some time, since this will involve a lot of research. But, since it is now part of a committed life change it will be something that comes to fruition, one way or the other.

    Chris, from what I read Calvin agreed that the parable in question did not support usuary/interest. I will give what I think is an adequate explanation in a later post.

    David, are you really, really sure it isn’t super? 😉

    Chad, I talked with a friend last night about this and we started working through some things that I hope will prove fruitful in this area. That will eventually be the subject of another post.

  6. June 13, 2005 at 9:12 am

    I always spelled it super-duper, myself…

  7. June 13, 2005 at 9:59 am

    Doug, do you mean super-duperlapsarian? 😉

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