The Bible is all about economics

On December 8th, 2016, the Kairos Center hosted “The Land Belongs to God: The Bible’s Commandment Against Wealth and Poverty” at Union Theological Seminary. Our featured speaker was Dr. Michael Hudson, an economist who has studied the history of debt — as well as its consequences and the struggles that have been fought around it — in societies from ancient Babylonia up through today. Dr. Hudson’s recent book, J is for Junk Economics, was released in February, 2017, and his work on the history of debt in the Near East will be published by The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET) in early 2018.
Earlier in the day, the Kairos Center had a lunch conversation with Dr. Hudson on debt, politics, the Bible, and other issues. Below is an edited and condensed transcript of that discussion.

Kairos Center: Where did your interest in politics come from?

Dr. Michael Hudson: My father was a labor leader. He was sent to jail 75 years ago under the Smith Act for advocating the overthrow of the government through force and violence. The Attorney General later wrote it was the only thing he was ashamed of doing.
When he got out of jail, we moved to Chicago. I grew up in Hyde Park, went to the Lab School. It was a very formative experience. My closest friend in high school was Gavin MacFadyen — he was the head of the Center for Investigative Journalism and we spent a lot of time together. I grew up knowing most of the labor leaders and socialists in Chicago and elsewhere. People would come to the house – people who worked with Rosa Luxembourg, Karl Liebknecht – and they taught me the stories to remember when they all died.

— source | Sep25, 2017

Nullius in verba


On the Suffering of Jews, And Others.

The Jewish left has never much cared for Rosa Luxemburg. It was alleged that she was insufficiently Jewish—an assimilationist or, worse still, a self-loathing Jew. The proof-positive is a letter to her close friend in which she disclaimed a partisanship to the “special suffering of the Jews.”

I am just as much concerned with the poor victims on the rubber plantations of Putumayo, the Blacks in Africa with whose corpses the Europeans play catch…. [Their cries] resound within me so strongly that I have no special place in my heart for the ghetto. I feel at home in the entire world, wherever there are clouds and birds and human tears.

Ever-brooding social critic Michael Walzer poured scorn on this passage: it was Rosa’s falsely prideful declaration that “she had made the … break with her own past and her own people; now her heart was equally open to everyone’s sorrows.” But did she distance herself from “her own people”? Rosa’s collected works are currently being translated into English. One volume is devoted to her chronicle of the 1905-6 Russian revolution.[1] This popular insurgency was met with brutal repression by the Russian autocracy. One of

— source | Norman Finkelstein | Jan 15, 2023

Nullius in verba

New Clues Into Vatican Response To Holocaust

Vatican officials have always insisted Pope Pius XII did everything possible to save Jewish lives during World War II. But many scholars accuse him of complicit silence while some 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

“Pope Pius XII thought that he should not take sides in the war,” says Brown University professor David Kertzer, “and that therefore he should not be criticizing either side of the war, including the Nazis.”

Kertzer has written extensively about popes and the Jews. He won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for his book The Pope and Mussolini, which traced the rise of fascism in Europe. And he was among the first to have access to the Pius XII archives when the Vatican opened them in March, after decades of requests from scholars.

Kertzer has just published his early findings in an article for The Atlantic. The newly unearthed documents — some imbued with anti-Semitic language — are shedding light on the

— source | Sylvia Poggioli | Aug 29, 2020

Nullius in verba

Hindu Men Have Highest Number of Multiple Sexual Partners

Among men of all religions, Hindus rank at the top when it comes to having multiple sexual partners in India. They are followed by Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and Jains, in descending order. The Wire‘s analysis of National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) data reveals that Hindu men, who chose to have partners outside of marriage or were in live-in relationships, had 2.2 ‘mean number of sexual partners in their lifetime’. Sikhs and Christians had 1.9, while Buddhists and Muslims had 1.7, on an average. Jains had the lowest mean number of 1.1. The Survey was conducted by Mumbai-based International Institute of Population Studies for the Union government in 2019-20. As many as 1.01 lakh men out of a total of 8.25 lakh respondents across 29 states and seven Union Territories took part in the Survey.

— source | 09/Aug/2022

Nullius in verba

‘Vishwa Guru’ India Needs to Learn from Southeast Asia’s Pluralist Ethos

“Ramma cul sasn” – the king who has entered the religion [of Islam].

This was how the mid-17th century Buddhist-Hindu kingdom of Cambodia referred to its monarch, Reameathipadei, when he converted to Islam and took the title Sultan Ibrahim.

Although disapproving, the court respected the king’s decision – even after his death. “It is remarkable that Reameathipadei was given a Buddhist funeral and that his Muslim regalia were retained by a Buddhist-Brahmanic court,” writes Dutch scholar of Islam, Carool Kersten, in his study of contemporary indigenous and European accounts of the event.

History also records that the 15th century ruler of the then new Muslim state of Malacca, Sultan Muhammad Shah, became Shri Maharaja Muhammad after taking the prestigious title of his Buddhist-Hindu predecessors.

A pluralist ethos marks southeast Asia’s past and present, reflecting a civilisational maturity that shames those who speak of ancient India’s spiritual ‘legacy’ overseas in

— source | Mahesh Uniyal | 04/Sep/2022

Nullius in verba

Pope Apologizes to Indigenous Groups in Canada

On his historic trip across Canada, Pope Francis is apologizing for the abuse of Indigenous children who were removed from their homes and sent to church-run residential schools, where they faced psychological, physical and sexual abuse. Francis made the apology in Maskwacis, Alberta, the site of a former residential school.

The pope’s apology comes seven years after Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission accused the Catholic Church-run residential schools of taking part in a form of “cultural genocide.” The commission determined more than 4,000 Indigenous children died from neglect or abuse in residential schools across Canada. Unmarked graves are still being found. The first residential schools opened in 1883; the last one closed in 1998. During that time, over 150,000 Indigenous children were sent away to rid them of their Native cultures and languages and integrate them into mainstream Canadian society.

it was pretty much what I feared, that it would be one of those very carefully worded apologies where the church itself, the organization, doesn’t take responsibility for their policies and practices, the cover-ups, knowing that there were sex offenders all over the world, not dealing with the sex offenders, protecting them, and that, in fact, they themselves, the church itself, was the one responsible for all of the crimes that were committed by their Christian members because they issued the papal

— source | Jul 26, 2022

Nullius in verba

How India’s Spiritual Masters Fought Orthodoxy

Hundreds of years after his death, the Sai Baba of Shirdi (1838-1918) remains one of the most widely revered saints. He is worshipped by millions of Hindus, Muslims and others. Born to Hindu parents and brought up by a fakir, he was a harsh critic of religious orthodoxy and detested the Hindu-Muslim divide. He believed that the central message of both Hinduism and Islam was love, service and freedom.

Another saint who attracted both Muslims and Hindus was Kabir (1398-1448/55). He was born to or adopted by a Muslim family of weavers and so he was well acquainted with Islam. But going by his evergreen poems, it appears he had an intimate knowledge and understanding of Hindu thought and mythology too. He was critical of religious orthodoxy and authoritarianism and chided Hindus and Muslims alike.

Contrary to what is widely believed, India’s spiritual story is not all about Brahmanical beliefs, debates and disputes about Sanskrit literature, Upanishads and the Gita or even the caste system.

According to author Mukunda Rao, the spiritual strivings that were non-Vedic in origin and character outnumbered Vedic forms. And some of the best known mystics attempted to

— source | M.R. Narayan Swamy | 27/Jul/2022

Nullius in verba

An ‘imposter Christianity’ is threatening American democracy

Three men, eyes closed and heads bowed, pray before a rough-hewn wooden cross. Another man wraps his arms around a massive Bible pressed against his chest like a shield. All throughout the crowd, people wave “Jesus Saves” banners and pump their fists toward the sky.

At first glance, these snapshots look like scenes from an outdoor church rally. But this event wasn’t a revival; it was what some call a Christian revolt. These were photos of people who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, during an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The insurrection marked the first time many Americans realized the US is facing a burgeoning White Christian nationalist movement. This movement uses Christian language to cloak sexism and hostility to Black people and non-White immigrants in its quest to create a White Christian America.
A report from a team of clergy, scholars and advocates — sponsored by two groups that advocate for the separation of church and state — concluded that this ideology was used to “bolster, justify and intensify” the attack on the US Capitol.

Much of the House January 6 committee’s focus so far has been on right-wing extremist groups. But there are plenty of other Americans who have adopted teachings of the White

— source | John Blake | Jul 24, 2022

Nullius in verba