It must have been sometime around 1970 when I first heard The World Tomorrow broadcast with Garner Ted Armstrong. I would subsequently listen to it on the drive home after teaching my night school class. I had never heard about the “divided kingdom” or the 10 Lost Tribes and I was greatly intrigued by the idea that the people of Israel might actually have migrated to Europe, Britain, and America, and that Bible prophecy might pertain to present-day geo-politics.
My longstanding interest in history was further stimulated by these assertions but my energies at that time were preoccupied with my young family and academic career. It was a few years later, after a personal crisis and divorce that I began to look more deeply into all aspects of my life, including the spiritual. I had already a few years earlier put aside my belief in Catholic teachings but had not made the effort to supplant that faith with anything else.
It was with some trepidation that I began to read the Bible, something that the Church did not encourage. I quickly discovered why. There was much in the Bible that contradicted Catholic doctrine and practice, and it became obvious that the institutional objective was to keep “the faithful” in line and dependent upon the clergy. One case in point: Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven (Matt. 23:9 KJV). And, of course, Catholic priests insist on being called, “father.”
I also, about that time, took a subscription to the Plain Truth magazine, which I looked forward to reading each month. I found most of the articles on geopolitics and current affairs to be well researched and quite insightful, which helped me to gain a more realistic worldview. I also made it a point to listen more regularly to the World Tomorrow broadcasts, which, following Garner Ted’s banishment had been taken over by Herbert Armstrong. I was rather dismayed to see the chaos and disintegration that followed Herbert Armstrong’s death, but there was a lot going on in my life at the time, and I had never involved myself with the Worldwide Church of God organization, so it simply passed out of my life.
A little less than two years ago, while waiting in my doctor’s office, I happened to notice a magazine that bore a peculiar resemblance to the old Plain Truth. I discovered that the Philadelphia Trumpet, under Gerald Flurry, is now being published by an organization that calls itself the “Philadelphia Church of God,” which looks to be a reincarnation of the Herbert Armstrong enterprise. I’ve been subscribing to the new PT for a little more than a year now and I must credit it with being similarly informative and insightful, despite some obvious political biases and blind spots.
It is clear that humanity is currently confronted with a multi-dimensional crisis—it is at once economic, financial, environmental, political, and social. A recent issue of Philadelphia Trumpet highlighted this in a lead article titled, The Upside-Down World (by Joel Hilliker). I can surely agree that the World is “upside-down” but that author’s assessment of underlying causes has the ring of typical “Christian conservatism.” Like so many of that ilk, it rails against liberal social norms but overlooks the gross inequities inherent in our political economy. I cannot recall ever seeing, either in the old PT or the new PT, any mention of usury or the debt-trap, and very little about social injustice, gross economic inequities, or state-sanctioned corporate privilege that enables the few to dominate the many.
Over the past several years, I’ve made a careful study of the structures of the money and banking system and discovered that there are serious flaws inherent in the way money is created and allocated. This has profound implications for all of us. As Thomas H. Greco puts it:
Money is a topic that few people understand. Sure, we use it every day and it seems familiar; but like water to the fish, we take it for granted and seldom give its role any notice. Yet the quality of the water that the fish inhabit is crucial in determining the quality of their existence. If the water happens to be polluted, the fish sicken and die. Likewise, money is a primary element of the modern economy that we inhabit. The quality of the money we use determines, to a great extent, the quality of our lives. (Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender. Chelsea Green, 2001)
Did you ever wonder why both the Bible (Old Testament and New) and the Koran make such a big issue about the practice of usury, or why it was so severely punished under Canon law for hundreds of years? Well, it turns out that the compounding of interest (usury) demands exponential growth, in this case the exponential growth of debt. All questions of equity aside, it is clear that in a finite world nothing can grow exponentially forever. Growth must at some point either level off, or there will be a catastrophic collapse. This is often seen with insect and animal populations. When they grow at an accelerating rate they inevitably overrun their habitats and exhaust their food supplies. So too, the amount of debt in the world must soon exceed the ability of the real economy to bear it.
This is not just theoretical; we can see it playing out right now. As the chart shows, even as late as 1965, total debt for all sectors in the United States was a relatively small one trillion dollars, or 1.5 time total economic output (GDP). By 2007 that had grown to more than $50 trillion or 3.5 times GDP, and George Soros, the billionaire financier and speculator is predicting that debt will soon reach 5 times GDP.
If you want to understand how the money system operates and the root causes of economic depressions, inflation, and so much of the violent conflict in the world, you should study Greco’s websites, http://beyondmoney.net/ and http://reinventingmoney.com/. You should also view Paul Grignon’s animated video Money as Debt (http://paulgrignon.netfirms.com/MoneyasDebt/index2.htm) which is available on DVD or on YouTube , (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVkFb26u9g8).
More about this in the next installment–Santos