You shall not suffer a hedge fund manager to live among you?
A week ago, I was at a church service where the 10 commandments were being discussed. We discussed their influence on society today, and the reasons why they might have been important at the time they were written. At the end we had a big shout-out of commandments we could remember, and the Witches one came to mind. This is a verse I really struggle to understand, but then it suddenly dawned on me that there could be very good reasons for it. Let me attempt to explain…
First of all, the “suffer.. to live among you”. This doesn’t actually mean kill the witch or sorcerer that you find living amongst you. It means throw them out of your society, which admittedly, as a tribe in the desert, would be a death sentence. I think its right that we see this as an admonition to socially ostracise – a death sentence is hardly required in order to make the point that these people weren’t to be part of the Hebrew society.
So lets unpick why it was necessary to take such a dim view on such a person. The problem as far as I can see is that a Witch would be offering something that would poison the society. Rather than the person who offers a golden bull to the Israelites as an alternative god, one that must be worshipped through impotent but deep sacrifices and which would “feel right” because it reflected the image of a malevolent god that had been familiar to the Israelites in neighbouring communities, the spell-caster offers something completely different. What they offer is a cheap way out, to get one over on nature, faith in something that blinds us with sparkles and will ultimately make us its servant – and this happens regardless of whether they were actually consorting with evil spirits, or just the placebo effect. They offer us a simple, yet vacuous solution.
It all made me wonder who represents these people in today’s society. It was clearly something that God/the author felt had a massive impact on people’s lives and we humans are terribly good at recreating things that are bad for us. Sure some people invest a lot in stars and charms, and we should refuse to be distracted by these things – they’re useless and they prevent us seeing the world as it is. And so I thought that maybe that person might be the Hedge Fund Manager who sells a “financial product” that even he may not fully understand and which promises money for nothing more than pre-existing ownership of money and which will ultimately make us servants to endless growth.
It is said that, in the first two years after any recession starts, people in the West become very interested in Islamic Finance, with its focus on rejecting usury. I believe we must find ways out of usury that go deeper than simply cancelling bank accounts and storing money under the bed. But perhaps its that economic voodoo – the way it looks like we’re just making good use of our money – that makes us believe that this sort of market gambling is somehow an OK practice.
What the banks did was to sell us a package of economic lies and we became its’ slaves, and so did those who taught us the tricks. These people should not be at the centre of our society, running the government and banks. They should be pushed to the edges to give them some time to reflect on the warping of values that they have caused. And society must repent for putting its faith in such economic instruments and endeavour to pursue more wholesome relationships with our wallets and with each other.