Ad Fontes

Politics, Theology and Christian Humanism

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Florence Li Tim-Oi

On 25 January 1944, Florence Li Tim-Oi (李添嬡, 1907–92) was ordained priest by Ronald Hall, the Bishop of Hong Kong, to assist in the ministry of the church during the chaos of the Japanese invasion. Previously, she had been made a deaconess in 1931, and made deacon a decade later to minister among the refugees from war-ravaged Mainland China fleeing to Macau. After the occupation, Li resigned her license, but not her orders, so as to assuage controversy surrounding her irregular ordination. When, in 1971, the Diocese of Hong Kong ordained two other women to the presbyterate, Li Tim-Oi was officially recognised as a priest.

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the USA added a commemoration of the eve of her ordination, 24 January, to their calendar in 2003. A year later, the sixtieth anniversary of her ordination, the Church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, celebrated with the dedication of her icon. Continue reading

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Money as Debt

Money as DebtI’m a fan of Paul Grignon’s animated films Money as Debt. They are pieces of advocacy for monetary reform, a tough issue that needs plenty of explanation. Almost any type of reform would be easier than this — electoral, political, social, ethical reform — which is perhaps an indicator of how important it is. Grignon’s new film, Money as Debt II: Promises Unleashed, introduces a light focus on bank bailouts, and it takes the educational message of the first film and develops a call for monetary reform.

The two films describe how around 95% of the money supply is bank credit, or debt money. This money is created by banks in the form of loans and mortgages. The loan isn’t taken from so-called ‘deposit money’ and given to the borrower, but created from nothing by the bank as a promise to pay. This promise to pay is considered to be money and may be exchanged for a house, car or for whatever we took out the loan. The first problem then is that the money supply is overwhelmingly in hands of private banks, generally unaccountable to governments. The second is that if a large proportion of the money supply is created by banks as the principal of loans, there is very little other money available from which to pay interest on these loans — it is almost as if the monetary system is designed to bring all money into the possession of banks and, no matter how diligent borrowers are, some will always default on loan repayments. To keep the economy working there is a demand that new loans are always taken out so that more money is introduced to pay off the interest on old loans. The treadmill never stops, demanding exponential growth and creating constant inflation. Problem number three is that natural resources, and the total global value that is derived from them, are finite, meaning that real economic growth can only occur with the discovery of new resources, greater efficiencies or redirecting the resources from another local economy (that old chestnut: imperialism is theft). Thus, a system that demands exponential growth in order to function is also demanding environmental destruction and the impoverishment of the poorer regions of the world. Continue reading