Thursday, May 26, 2016

"How monks and monasteries saved civilization and killed usury"

Jones E. Alexis, "How monks and monasteries saved civilization and killed usury" (Veterans Today, February 12, 2014) -- a few excerpted passages:
In the first century, Christ cast the moneylenders out of the Temple, but they gradually arose again during the thirteenth century, which created economic panic among the peasants.

For example, the French town of Villefrance wrote to King Philip IV in the thirteenth century, saying that moneylenders “are absolutely and utterly destroying the town and district.”[1]

The moneylenders throughout the Middle Ages were involved in exploiting the peasants, and thus were hated. Even philo-Semitic historians such as James Parkes admitted that this was the case, where interest rates ranged between 22 and 173 percent.

Similar exorbitant interest rates were widespread throughout medieval England and France. The people behind all of this of course were Jewish moneylenders.[2] During that period, the word “Judaize” took a radical meaning.

Historian W. C. Jordan declared that it meant “to act like an outsider, to regard others not as brothers but under a different set of rules that permitted forms of exploitation that were forbidden to the circle of brothers and friends.”[3]

... the monasteries were dedicated for people who would follow the principle of not only self-denial, celibacy, and obedience, but would also abstain from worldly attractions such as wealth.

Celibacy was important because “those who did not marry did not need money to support their families, nor did they need the autonomy necessary to use that money wisely as heads of households.” As E. Michael Jones points out,
The monasteries became wealthy in the mundane sense by ignoring wealth. The individual monks renounced money, but their labors produced enormous wealth for the monasteries. The wealth grew over generations because the monks did not have children or the expenses they require.

More importantly, their lands were not constantly divided as children inherited the land from their father....[8]
By the time Charlemagne was crowned in 800, usury was already forbidden in the monasteries and Charlemagne reinforced that teaching. Charlemagne was a powerful force for spreading literacy and he even instructed those in the monasteries:

“Take care to make no difference between the sons of serfs and of freemen, so that they might come and sit on the same benches to study grammar, music, and arithmetic.”[67]

... [Few scholars] take into consideration the fact that kings and queens appointed their own “bishops” and “monks,” many of whom were sinful people that ended up following the course of this world, something that was radically different than the ways early monks saw the monasteries.

There is ample evidence which shows that lending money at interest was even practiced among some bishops in the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries,[76] but in every case these people were appointees who had been seeking an earthly kingdom.

Durant declared, “As wealth mounts, religion declines,”[77] a statement which seems to reflect what the early church stood for ....

Businessmen of course were the first to shout for joy when the teachings of the church with respect to usury declined....

Yet seldom are these practices placed in comparison to those monks who actually repudiated the practice of usury and even indulgences.

The only person able to do such differentiation (to my knowledge) is Edward Gibbon. Gibbon blamed the Church for the fall of the Roman Empire, calling those monks “unfaithful stewards” who were involved in “rapacious usury.”

But Gibbon also suggested that this was not a widespread phenomenon. Pagans were in awe of the Church’s charity in taking care of the poor and needy; this “materially conduced to the progress of Christianity.”[78]

A final point we should emphasize here is that during the Middle Ages and beyond, the Church established the most highly regarded institutions in the world.

Oxford and Cambridge, along with other universities in places such as Toulouse, Orleans, Naples, Salamanca, Seville, Lisbon, Grenoble, Padua, Rome, Perugia, Pisa, Modena, Florence, Prague, Cracow, Vienna, Heidelberg, Cologne, Ofen, Erfurt, Leipzig, and Rostock were founded solely for the glory of God and the benefit of His creatures.
[Hat tip to L.S.]

1 comment:

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Doc. ABS loves Italy and carries with him wherever he goes memories of trips there that dovetail tightly with this gentleman's recapitulation of the Monastic system.

ABS' chest swells with pride because he is a member of that self-same universal nation that produced such grand works and, even today, produces fantastic food with very low impact farming which came into existence due to the intellect and industry of the monks of the Farther of Europe, Saint Benedict.

Vivid memories include a short visit to a small town in Piemonte (Novara) that really fires the imagination and stokes Catholic pride. The memories are about a family run rice farm that is fed by water from a lake in the Alps - 30 kilometers away.

The water for the fields is brought to their farm via ancient trenches dug by Monks centuries ago and the entire 85 hectare farm uses that gravity fed water for each of their fields (sans pumps) carved out of the clay-based soil in plots of land in descending elevation heights; and that water, having served its purpose on their farm drains away to flood the fields of other lower lying farms etc etc and all of the families using that water cooperate monetarily to maintain the integrity of the ancient hand-dug trenches.

ABS is absolutely deeply in love with everything in Italy. The Bride would never do so but he would move there in a heartbeat.

The skyline of American cities reveals what we worship and the skyline of Italian cities reveals what they once worshipped with the difference being that Italian cities offer hope (their people could return to the Faith) whereas American cities offer no hope for there is no hope in a country constructed upon the sands of enlightenment naturalism.

In America, our skylines are financial institutions, Trump Towers, corporate headquarters, sports stadiums, whereas in Italy, the Duomo and countless Catholic Church spires atop impossible beautiful Catholic Churches.

Oh, by the way, on a trip to Italy, ABS read Dr John Rao's," Black Legends and the Light of the World", and it was an excellent recapitulation of Catholic history and the last one hundred pages or so was spectacular because he spent so much time on the ideas developed by the 19th century genius of La Civilta Cattolica, Padre Luigi Tarpelli (Jebbie) and the great Frenchman, and model layman, Louis Veuillot.

Both of those men have THE answers to what we Catholic laity must due vis a vis political parties in America.

The book is well worth reading if only for those sections beginning with "The Ninth Crusade."

The only caution about the book is his metaphor about the dance of life; a metaphor so wildly overused that ABS told The Bride that he would be end-up dancing at the end of a rope were he have to read that friggin' metaphor one more time...

O, and whenever he sees the Alps. ABS thinks of them as representing the great Catholic giants of the past and not, say, Mount Blanc; no, rather, Mount Borromeo, Mount Benedict, etc.

In any event, there is hope when young men like this gentleman keep these memories alive and teach youth about them