Whatever we deny or embrace

Whatever we deny or embrace January 10, 2020

Here’s your open thread for January 10, 2020.

Today is, among other things, the 67th birthday of Pat Benatar. This might be my favorite song of hers:

It is also the feast day of St. Gregory of Nyssa. Gregory (c. 335-395) was not a fan of the sin of usury — a sin which, in the 4th Century, still meant lending money at any interest rather than the modern notion of lending money at “excessive” interest (“excessive” being vaguely defined as a higher rate than whatever it is one is charging). Here is a taste from his sermon “Against Usury”:

Love people, not riches. Keep on resisting this sin. Say to usury, once so dear to you, the utterance of John the Baptist, “Get away from me, you brood of vipers.” You are the ruin of those who take and hold you. You bring a brief moment of pleasure, but as time goes by your poison is noxious to the soul. You block the way that leads to life and close the gates of the kingdom. Having briefly delighted the eye and been a topic of conversation you are the cause of endless woe. When you have uttered these words say farewell to profit and usury and commit yourself to love of the poor: “Do not turn your back on the one who wants to borrow from you.” Because of poverty somebody is sitting at your door, pleading with you; at a loss he flees for refuge to your wealth, hoping that you might bring relief to his need. But you do just the opposite: you should be an ally, but you become an enemy, for you do not help him so that he can be freed both from the distress which is pressing on him and his indebtedness to you. Rather, you sow evils for this man who has come on hard times, strip the naked, injure the wounded, and pile care upon care and woe upon woe. Whoever receives money through usury takes a pledge of poverty and under the pretense of a good deed brings ruin on someone’s home.

Gregory also was not a fan of greed — a sin which, in the 4th Century, still meant having anything more than you needed while anyone else had anything less than they needed. He and the rest of his squad, the Cappadocians, are sometimes regarded today as hard-core class warriors because of their many fierce, unambiguous sermons against greed and wealth. But this was the 300s, and pretty much everybody in the church talked like that back then.

The Cappadocians — Gregory and his brother Basil, and this other guy also named Gregory — were called that because they all came from the same region of what is now Turkey. Cappadocia has some amazing landscape:

Wikimedia photo by Zeynel Cebeci

That’s a picture of “fairy chimneys” or “hoodoos” in Cappadocia. Those are natural rock formations, some of which have been turned into homes. I don’t remember ever thinking, “I’d like to visit Cappadocia” until just now when I saw that photo.

January 10 is celebrated as Majority Rule Day in the Bahamas. We do not celebrate Majority Rule Day here in America where, instead, we decided to have an Electoral College and, even worse, a Senate — thus ensuring that the 579 thousand people who live in Wyoming have equal say with the 12.8 million people who live here in Pennsylvania.

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