02 April 2012

Prophets and Profits

Karen Armstrong [Catholic Scholar]
It has been suggested that Jesus was crucified by the Romans for an attempted rebellion. Some Biblical scholars have seen the account of his overturning the tables of the moneylenders in the Temple as a truncated version of a coup, by means of which he and his followers took over the Temple for a period of three days.

The Woman with the Alabaster Jar by Margaret Starbird
The action that led to his immediate arrest by the authorities in Jerusalem was the overturning of the tables of moneychangers in the temple of Jerusalem during the Passover festival. Scattering coins all over the temple floor was a radical attack on the religious establishment of the Temple priests and Sadducees, the ruling elite who collaborated with the Roman authorities to preserve peace and order in the province.

 Muhammad - A Biography of the Prophet by Karen Armstrong, 1993, Excerpts
The Quraysh had become rich beyond their wildest dreams in the old nomadic days. They saw wealth and capitalism as their salvation, which seemed to have rescued them from a life of poverty and danger and given them an almost godlike security. They were no longer hungry, no longer plagued by enemy tribes. Money began to acquire a quasi-religious value. But aggressive capitalism was not really compatible with the old communal tribal ethic. It encouraged a rampant greed and individualism.

Instead of sharing their wealth equally, according to the old tribal ethic, individuals were building up personal fortunes. They were exploiting the rights of orphans and widows, absorbing their inheritance into their own estates, and were not looking after the weaker, poorer members of the tribe as the old ethos had required. Their new prosperity had severed their links with traditional values and many of the less successful Quraysh felt obscurely disoriented and lost. Naturally the most successful merchants, bankers, and financiers were delighted with the new system. Only two generations away from the penury of the nomadic life, they believed that money and material goods could save them. They made a new religion of money.

The new prosperity drew people’s attention to the disparity between rich and poor. All the great religious leaders and prophets had addressed themselves to these issues and provided their own distinctive solutions. The younger generation was growing disenchanted and seemed to be searching for a new spiritual and political solution to the malaise and disquiet in the city.

Richest 2% Own ‘Half the Wealth'
06 Dec 2006
The richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of all household wealth, according to a new study by a United Nations research institute. The report, from the World Institute for Development Economics Research at the UN University, says that the poorer half of the world's population own barely 1% of global wealth. What they mean by wealth in this study is what people own, less what they owe - their debts. The assets include land, buildings, animals and financial assets. Wealth is heavily concentrated in North America, Europe and some countries in the Asia Pacific region, such as Japan and Australia. These countries account for 90% of household wealth.

Chairman Alan Greenspan -- Monetary Policy Report to the Congress
16 Feb 2005
In a democratic society, such a stark bifurcation of wealth and income trends among large segments of the population can fuel resentment and political polarization. These social developments can lead to political clashes and misguided economic policies that work to the detriment of the economy and society as a whole.

Jesus Christ Superstar - Money Changers and Merchants

Here you live Jerusalem,
Here you breathe Jerusalem,
While your temple still survives,
You at least are still alive.
I got things you won't believe,

Name your pleasure I will sell.
I can fix your wildest needs,
I got heaven and I got hell.
Roll on up, for my price is down.
Come on in for the best in town.
Take your pick of the finest wine.
Lay your bets on this bird of mine.

What you see is what you get.
No one's been disappointed yet.
Don't be scared give me a try,
There is nothing you can't buy.

Name your price, I got everything.
Hurry it's going fast.
Borrow cash on the finest terms.
Hurry now while stocks still last.

Here you breathe Jerusalem,
While your temple still survives,
You at least are still alive.
I got things you won't believe,
Name your pleasure I will sell.


My temple should be a house of prayer,
But you have made it a den of thieves.
Get out! Get out!


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