13 July 2020

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I have to give Adam a hat tip for this one, but it is worth considering that usury is a crime, and the current system of debt slavery — also known as student loans and mortgages — is inherently corrupt. When London and Brussels were worried about where the financial centre for Europe would be post Brexit, you know something is wrong. Most of us should be making things or fixing things. (I guess that includes professionals — who fix bodies, souls, accounts and the courts[1] for others). The system has too much debt for the real production as we slide into a deep recession, and what cannot continue will not. It would help if we (as Taleb noted in the essay, read it) paid more attention to sewage, power generation and rubbish collection than to projecting power to other nations. Sufficient to us is the evil of this time and within our tribe.

About two years before the recent collapse, at a dinner, a then (slow thinking) member of the Lebanese parliament kept bugging me for an economic forecast. There was already some anxiety in the air. My answer was that we were facing imminent financial disaster, but that it was not necessarily bad news, long term. Why? Because such a total collapse could lead to natural responses that are better than the one we would have spontaneously, going from patching bad stuff to patching worse stuff. The lira was artificially kept too strong for any industry to survive and the financial system (the Ponzi) was sucking up all the money and destroying the economic substructure. But my point was that the (unavoidable) collapse would lead to an adaptation, the weaning from chronic foreign “loans” and, possibly, a huge bounce. De-financializing the country was a necessity, and people never do that spontaneously. Nothing was going to be fixed without a collapse.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Medium

Taleb is from the Levant, and he knows collapses hurt. He’s worried about his people. Good on him. For there is a principle in play here, best shown in the history of Israel. God may have chosen them, but he made it clear that blessings did not continue if there was systemic disobedience. For the people of the Levant, discussions of rain is no metaphor, like in New Zealand the rain is needed because otherwise our water tanks, dams, farms and fields get very dry, very quickly — this does include irrigation systems because if there is no snow and rain in the mountains the lakes from which the rivers flow do not fill.

Leviticus 26:3-20

3 “If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, 4 then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5 Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely. 6 I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land. 7 You shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. 8 Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. 9 I will turn to you and make you fruitful and multiply you and will confirm my covenant with you. 10 You shall eat old store long kept, and you shall clear out the old to make way for the new. 11 I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. 13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves. And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.

14 “But if you will not listen to me and will not do all these commandments, 15 if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my rules, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant, 16 then I will do this to you: I will visit you with panic, with wasting disease and fever that consume the eyes and make the heart ache. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. 17 I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down before your enemies. Those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when none pursues you. 18 And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, 19 and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. 20 And your strength shall be spent in vain, for your land shall not yield its increase, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.

There is much out there at this time which is antinarrative and of use. Changing one’s diet. Lifting weights. Getting and holding down a job. Thinking truth. Refusing to parrot the falsehoods that are often mandatory. But some of the self improvement advice comes with another part: it will help you get a girl (or boy). That what you do with your body does not matter. The old theologians would argue that matrimony is good, and continence is also good, and choose one of these goods. Do not avoid the teaching of God on this subject.

Moderns invented the sins of trans-phobia, homophobia, and a few other neologisms to avoid the clear teaching of scripture. Yes, we have desires that are not within the two options. But we don’t go there: we don’t feed them.

Instead we learn how to control things [2].

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

4 Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honour, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

If you are not spending all your time in the pub trying to deal with those who are jaded by their habits, you can do things that are beautiful.

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1. NZ is not quite that corrupt. But we have many laws, and it takes legal advice to avoid being ensnared in them.
2. But says, the reader, you are married. Does not mean that we don’t need to control things: illnesses, exhaustion and the like happen to both wives and husbands. But, also says the reader, you have not been perfect. My response is no one has.