Debt Money v. Banked Money – a Gold Problem

This is a post that continues a casual series about debt (here is the previous post).

Most money in circulation today only exists because someone took out a debt from the banking system, which promptly created the money from nothing. The simple way to express this is it is just like giving someone an IOU: If you want to trade with someone and you have nothing you can promise them something in return – so your promise is a debt to the person who gave you something of value in return for your promise. This is the concept of debt money.

Alternatively we can have money that is based on the value of something that is stored away. For example at one stage money used to be issued when you stored gold in a ‘bank’ (a bank being a store where things of value could be kept). Let’s call this ‘banked asset money’ – when you give the money to someone, they effectively become the new owner of the item kept in store.

I’ve commented on the problems of debt – that you become endebted to someone, you owe them and you are therefore controlled to some respect by the need to pay them off. However, most of our money in circulation is based on debt, by holding some money you are either in debt to someone (because the money is a loan) or someone else is (because the money is a loan).

It is my preference to not owe the loan myself, but to hold money that exists because someone else took out a loan and spent it and the money came to me (eventually). Is this a tacit acceptance of debt? Hmmm. I’m not sure that it is, but how about using ‘banked asset money’ where there is no debt at all?

The problem with ‘banked asset money’ is that there are loads of assets sitting in a bank doing nothing! Rather unproductive and inefficient. In this scenario it costs a lot more to have money because of the overheads of storage and the fact that stored stuff doesn’t get very well used.

I just had an email in about gold and the ethical problems of gold production. Much gold is basically stolen from the people of the country that it was mined in and also a lot of pollution is produced to create gold. If you have gold based money you are necessarily causing gold to be mined – as if you mine some gold you can exchange it for money. Using precious things as money tends to stop that material being used for useful purposes as it has an exchange value far in excess of its useful value (value to do something useful).

Most gold spends its time being valuable either as ingots or as jewellery (which has status because of its value) – only a small proportion of gold spends its time being useful – perhaps in electronic goods or dental fillings. (I’m basing this judgment of how gold is used based on this info: which states there is probably 3/4 of an ounce of gold per person and I reckon that an average person does not typically use that much gold for utilitarian purposes – I know that I have some electronics, but it won’t have that much gold in – therefore most gold must be used as a store of value instead.)

If gold is used to back money then we are poorer because it reduces the amount of gold being used for more useful purposes that would make us wealthier (in a practical way).

Storing grain instead of gold isn’t an ideal answer for ‘banked asset money’ either as storing grain has costs, unless you happen to be storing it anyway.

So using asset based currencies aren’t necessarily the right answer to the debt question.

To be continued…

The longest night of the year

Tonight we celebrated the winter solstice with a few friends around a lovely fire in our garden.

We seek to celebrate the passing of the seasons and connect with the ancient rhythms and cycle of the year. My interest in celebrating and connecting the passing of our days has been informed by my interest in Celtic and creation spirituality and my inner need for rhythm. I need to do this – to keep connected to myself, to god, to others, to the seasons and to creation.

I believe that the further we move away from creation the harder it becomes to connect with our soul. I believe that everything belongs and therefore I need to keep connected with the sacredness of life – with all living things.

When God speaks – the physical is created – in the first instance creation and in the second when Jesus was born – this is sacred materialism or incarnation.

I love winter – I see it as a time for going inwards – for reflection, for hibernation – ideally I would love to reduce my work time and listen to the seasons and my body, but our busy world often prevents this… so in our liturgy we seek to reflect on the past year, taking time to feel the cold and then the warmth of the fire…. Below is part of the liturgy that we use…

Tonight we welcome and celebrate winter
Light nights have faded and darkness covers the hours
The moon is visible longer than the sun
We welcome short days and long nights
We welcome coldness and cosiness
We welcome winter nights

Tonight we become aware that we have passed from the brightness of the sun
To the softness of the moon.
We have moved from neon illumination blinding us into outward activity
To the warmth of mellow light leading us inward
Help us embrace and discover this feminine journey in the comfort of sister moon.
We welcome you sister moon

mobiles and detached

I have been working on a project with some skaters and bikers in chard around getting lights and a path put in at the skate park. Yesterday at short notice the local paper wanted pictures. Whilst I dont keep record of young peoples mobile numbers, the fact they did have them made life easier. As soon as I saw one young person on the street they sent the word around and we had a good crowd within 20 minutes. The idea of being front page helped but it also meant I wasn’t going around rounding people up, and if I had not seen anyone we would have missed a really good opportunity.

As a rule I have not kept yp mobile numbers as recommended by some recent good practice guidelines, but it would make life easier. I amwondering if we should change the policy and am considering asking for consent to have the details once the young people are at stage 6 in the detached process. I wonder if with the ad hoc nature of detached projects there is more of a case. If there are other detached workers out there it would be know your policy.

God Giggled

It was the first Christmas and…

God giggled
God farted
God burped
God gurgled
God needed a cuddle
God was a baby…

Christmas reminds us:

That we don’t have to find God – he finds us in our humanity –
We don’t have to go up – he came down
We find God in the physical, in our bodies, in material, in humanity.
God became one of us….


Is anyone going to, or knows anyone going to IASYM in Cambridge from the South west that I could share a lift with, I am happy to drive but thought a car share may be good. I am in Somerset so could meet up here if someone was coming from Cornwall, Devon or Dorset, then I am travelling via A303 and M3?

Advent reflection for today

For God to become a baby he had to
Squeeze himself into a small space
Confine himself into a fallible body
Restrict himself to humanity
Reduce himself to limited movements
Become weak and vulnerable
Rely on humans to take care of him
For Christ to become one of us
He had to be born like us
The light was hidden within the womb
The thirst quencher received refreshment from the breast of Mary
The bread of life had to learn how to eat
The one who holds us, first had to be held
The Lover was loved
The way had to learn to walk
The word had to learn to speak
The teacher was taught
The creator how to create
This is our God…

Giving Whilst In Debt

I’ve had a couple of people say to me that of course you can give (money) whilst you are in debt, but I’ve kind of had my doubts about whether this is what God would want. The thing is about debt is that we enter an obligation to pay it back even though we don’t know whether we will be able to do so or not (simply because we do not know the future). It occurred to me that it would be good to pay back debt if you are able to do so, because you would be meeting your obligation and it might mean that you don’t default on your debt and fail to meet your obligation.

Also, it’s not even your money to give, really it belongs to the person who lent you money.

So there seemed to me good reason to not give money away whilst you were in debt. But then I was faced with the argument that then we would have a giving crisis in the church and everyone would stop giving. However, today I gave this point some further thought…

… I realised that if you pay off your debt sooner rather than later then you have to repay less money (less interest that is) because of the reduced period over which you were having to pay interest. Thus, over your lifetime, if you did not give whilst you were in debt but rather repaid your debt more quickly, you would be able to give more. You would be giving the lenders less of your money which would mean that you could give more of your money away. So it would appear to be in the interest of all for us to pay off our debts quickly, even if it meant stopping giving whilst we were in debt.

Of course the risk is that if you quickly pay off your debts, therefore ending up with more money you might just spend it on yourself or choose to take out another debt thereby stopping your giving again!

I can’t say that I find voluntarily owing somebody something an overly attractive situation to be in, I can only imagine that it restricts your options in life.Wah-Wah buy

Where did it start?


I have been having a conversation with Louis Krog who is doing some work on the history of the emerging church movement in the UK. I gave him a copy of some notes I put together for Denmark and some talks in the UK about the links between youth work and EC. He is trying to establish a time line and has put up a slide from me and and an alternative timeline here

Center Stage: Turn It Up full

and would like your comments. My contention is that a lot of the EC has some roots in different strands of youth work and developed through different expresions of youth work into altworship as the youth workers got older. Let us know what you think!