Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Neither a Leader Nor a Borrower Be...

In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis points out that ancient Greeks, Jews in the Old Testament, and Christians in the Middle Ages all forbid leading money at interest, and that in the modern world, our entire economic system is based on charging and paying interest. If charging interest were outlawed today in America, our economy would collapse.

But is it healthy for us to rely so heavily on something that three quite different past societies found wise to forbid? Would the current chaos our economy is in have been avoided if we also followed this rule? Or would we personally be better off if we tried to follow it in our daily lives? It would mean no credit cards, no mortgages, no investing in the stock market. Certainly some of us would be better off than we are now, but not all of us.

I don't have any answers here, just questions and thoughts. Let me know what you think of this, and what your life would look like if you decided to follow this rule.


  1. This is a hard one. I know some people can live off the grid, drop out of society, etc., and I admire them. However, that is totally out of my comfort zone. I can't, for instance, imagine not saving for retirement. Retirement investments fit this definition of lending. I am not saying I disagree with C.S. Lewis though--just that I can't imagine living that way.

  2. What did people do without lending? Live at home with their families until they saved enough to build/buy a house? Own fewer unnecessary objects? Spend more time being in touch with their land and their food? Rely on each other rather than insurance companies? Doesn't sound at all bad to me, in fact it might just work.

  3. That's a good question, Becky. Obviously people managed to survive and have meaningful lives before lending became the standard. The things you point out don't sound so bad to me, either. We can look to the Amish to see how it might work. They eschew insurance and rely on each other...and seem to have built a thriving community.