The Banker’s Witching Hour

“Witchcraft, and enchantment, and the wicked practices of necromancy, admit not even to a hearing . . . rising superior to all covetousness and usury.” ~ St. Cyril of Jerusalem

“Witchcraft, and enchantment, and the wicked practices of necromancy, admit not even to a hearing . . . rising superior to all covetousness and usury.”
~ St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Compound-interest,
mortgage bubble.

Most anything a man can get
By patient labor, toil, and sweat,
The witches can acquire as well,
Labor-free, by power of hell.
Their magic works in dark of night
To make each witch a parasite;
They prey upon poor souls in need,
To pay the price of Sloth and Greed.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Compound-interest,
mortgage bubble.

The cash that bankers dare to take,
Lurks in the bank, to boil and bake,
Until, by craft, the bankers press
Their loans upon those in duress,
Whereby some secret incantation,
Invoking interest and inflation,
Their wealth, like fat, is coalesced,
and a widow’s home is repossessed.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Compound-interest, mortgage bubble.

In time they rob all land & wealth; then rent it back to us in stealth.
Enchanted by their power and vice, we buy our homes at triple-price.
With eye of newt, & toe of frog, The Serpent’s tongue, & hair of dog,
In cauldrons they boil hemlock tea, invoking the demon, Usury.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Compound-interest, mortgage bubble.

(My apologies to those who are partial to the original poem from Macbeth.)

By charging interest for loans, bankers share three things in common with witches:

  1. Unnatural practices, against both nature and reason
  2. Slothfulness and laziness, self-enrichment without labor
  3. Disregard for the commands of God

Unnatural Practices

Some people have noticed similarities between witches and bankers:

Witchcraft and enchantment, and the wicked practices
of necromancy, admit not even to a hearing . . . rising superior to all covetousness and usury.”
~ St. Cyril of Jerusalem

“they are like witchcrafts and enchantments . . . which nature nor Art, can make to cohere with Reason. And that is, that money should produce and increase money
~ Robert Mason

“In his 14th-century epic masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, chronicling an imaginary journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, the Italian poet Dante put usurers into the same circle of hell as the inhabitants of Sodom and others engaged in acts of unnatural vice. And Saint Bernardino of Siena was famous for his passionate sermons during the 15th century denouncing the universal sins of witchcraft, sodomy and usury. They may have had a point—after consummating a loan with almost 5,000 percent interest, it is hard to imagine a payday loan borrower not feeling at least some posterior discomfort. And if history can be trusted, the community at large will eventually feel the same pain.”
~ Stephen James, The Ancient Evil of Usury

Like witchcraft and sodomy, the idea of “usury” or “interest” is against nature.
In real-life, wealth does not increase on its own.

Lay two dollars in a shoebox, and leave them for the night. Unless they are bewitched, they will not breed. A month from now, you will still have just two dollars. Not three or four.

Nor does money multiply when you spend it on necessities. If the current price of bread is a dollar a loaf, then your two dollars will purchase two loaves of bread.  Not two loaves of bread plus fifteen cents interest.

And riches do not automatically increase, even when spent on the tools of business.  Buy a bushel of wheat seed, and there will be no produce unless someone plants it. Invest in a tractor, and there will be no harvest, unless someone drives it. Purchase a storefront, and you will make zero profit, unless someone works there.

Slothfulness and Laziness

In God’s creation, the only legitimate way to increase wealth is through labor.
To change two dollars into three or four, you have to work.

On the other hand, witchcraft is one way to avoid working altogether. Why are people intrigued with witchcraft?  Because with it, you can get whatever you want, whenever you want it, without putting forth any real effort.

  • Why go to the effort of working on a relationship,
    when it is so much easier just to cast a spell for love?
  • Why take the time and energy to cook a meal,
    when you can just twitch your nose and conjure one up?
  • Why take time working for money,
    when you can cast money spells instead?

And why bother getting a witch to cast money spells,
when taking your money to a banker achieves the same results?

Either way, you will get richer, and you won’t have to work for it.

Disregard for the Commands of God

Of course, all of these things are prohibited by Holy Scripture.
According to the Bible:

Double, Double, Toil & Trouble

Holy Scripture and the Early Church Fathers unanimously condemned usury.
They prohibited interest-accruing loans.  

One of the reasons for this is because usury causes the victim to be double-charged for the use of the money.  He pays for it once by repaying the principal, and a second time by paying interest. To understand this concept better, consider the following scenarios.

When you loan out any other item, it suffers wear and tear:

  • Loan out your car, and those miles will make your next repair bill a little closer.
  • Loan out some clothing, and those clothes will be worn out just a little bit more.
  • Loan out your guitar, and the strings will need to be replaced a little bit sooner.

With most items, there is only a limited amount of use it can endure before it is worn out.
Suppose a particular car can run 100,000 miles before wearing out.  If I rent out the car, and someone else drives it for 20,000 miles, the car is partially used up.  I will only get to drive the car for 80,000 miles.  So it makes sense for me to charge rent, as a fair price to reimburse me for that wear and tear.

img_nathan_mayer_rothschild_quote_fullscreenBut money is not subject to wear and tear.  Suppose I loan you a hundred-dollar bill for a month.  Whether you hold onto it the whole time, or whether you use it for business purposes the whole month, as long as you give me back the full $100, you have not used any of it up.

In addition to the hundred dollars you return to me, I have no right to ask for an additional ten dollars (10% interest), as if the hundred-dollar bill suffered ten dollars worth of wear and tear during it’s month of use.

Now suppose I write up the car rental contract a little differently.
Instead of merely asking you to pay me rent in exchange for the car’s wear and tear,
you also have to let me drive 20,000 miles in a car of a similar make and model.
Whether you have to buy this other car yourself, or rent it from someone else, I don’t care. However you work things out, you have to give me 20,000 miles of driving time, in addition to the car rental fees that you pay me.

In other words, you have to pay me double.

Does this sound like a good and fair contract?
For most of human history, most people have answered with a firm “No!”

Unlike cars, clothes, and food, money doesn’t wear out.  An ounce of gold today is still an ounce of gold tomorrow. And compared to the vast majority of interest rates that are available, inflation is negligible. Two percent inflation is nothing in comparison to a 6% mortgage or an 18% credit card rate. Good luck trying to find a loan that is equal to the inflation rate, and nothing more.

If I loan you two loaves of bread,
I expect you to pay me back with two loaves of bread.

If I loan you two dollars, and you use it to purchase two loaves of bread,
I expect you to pay me back with enough money to buy two loaves of bread.

When you give back the two dollars, you have reimbursed me for the use of that money.

But if you pay me back more than two dollars,
then that interest is also a payment for the use of that money.

In essence, you are paying me back twice, for the same use of the same money.
That is why it is called “usury“.  And that is why Scripture condemns it.
The principal payment legitimately reimburses the money’s use,
while the usury payment is an extra payment, for no added value.

banking Henry Ford quoteSuppose a house costs $100,000.
If you get a 30-year mortgage, even at a “low” interest rate, you may end up paying $300,000 over the life of the loan. $100,000 pays the lender in-full for the use of his money. But what value does the other $200,000 pay for? And what work did the lender have to do, to earn that money?

They did not have to work. Why work for money, when you can steal the wealth of others? Why labor for wealth, when you can conjure it out of thin air?

The early church unanimously recognized that godly people do not charge interest on loans. This article provides helpful quotes from Scripture, and from several of the Early Church Fathers:  https://theorthodoxlife.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/they-do-not-charge-interest/

Godly people do not charge interest, because interest is theft.
This article provides additional quotes from the Early Church Fathers: https://theorthodoxlife.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/interest-is-theft/

Had the Salem Witch Trials been directed upon bankers, instead of upon innocent women, they would have been put to better use.  For it is they who bring curses down upon the weak and vulnerable, taking unfair advantage of people in their time of need.

~

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This is day thirty-two of the 40 Days of Blogging.
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About Fr Joseph Gleason

I serve as a priest at Christ the King Orthodox Mission in Omaha, Illinois, and am blessed with eight children and one lovely wife. I contribute to On Behalf of All, a simple blog about Orthodox Christianity. I also blog here at The Orthodox Life.
This entry was posted in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, 40 Days of Blogging, Deuteronomy 18:9-14, Money, Psalm 15:5. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Banker’s Witching Hour

  1. tpkatsa says:

    This argument has many, many flaws, but chief among them is the following statement:

    They did not have to work. Why work for money, when you can steal the wealth of others? Why labor for wealth, when you can conjure it out of thin air?

    How does a mutually-agreed to contract between two parties – the borrower and the lender – imply that the lender steals? The argument is absurd. Don’t you expect borrowers to understand the terms of the loan? Or is it the lender’s fault if they do not?

    This lecture is written as if the borrower were physically compelled to enter into a contract.

    The foolishness of comparing interest on a loan to witchcraft leaves one breathless with amazement.

    “Godly people cannot charge interest on a loan”. This is a howler. So Godly people can’t work for banks or credit unions?

    The comment about not being about to get a loan for at (or near) the rate of inflation is not accurate either. 10 and 15 year mortgages have been in the high 2%’s if you shop around. We are paying 3.3% on a 30-year right now. Inflation has also historically been higher than 2%; we are living in a period of low inflation – a good thing.

    Had the Salem Witch Trials been directed upon bankers, instead of upon innocent women, they would have been put to better use. For it is they who bring curses down upon the weak and vulnerable, taking unfair advantage of people in their time of need.

    Come on…This is nothing more than an appeal to emotion.

    • Yes, Thomas, your response to this post – as are all your others – are simply, and nothing more than, appeals to emotion. You quote no Scripture, council or Saint; and poke fun at the Saints of the Church and their interpretation of Holy Scripture. The Southern Baptist Convention would be proud.

    • Prostitution is also a mutually agreed to contract between two parties. As are murder-for-hire contracts and abortions and gay “marriages”. Are you also fine with these, Thomas?

      I’m not exaggerating here. I’m using your silly argument against you. You seem to think if both parties are in agreement that the action is justified, at least that’s what your response connotes.

      Whether these things are illegal or allowed according to civil law matters little. The Church, Holy Scripture and the Fathers are in agreement – these are evil . As is the evil sin of usury.

      Thomas, please submit to the Fathers of the Church to which you claim to belong.

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