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The Golden Rule 2.0

And a tip of the hat to elven_ranger for this....

"You cannot serve both God and money."

This is a direct quote from Jesus, and was considered so important that two of the Gospels, which usually have a tough time agreeing on any details of Christ's life, mention it (For the curious, it's Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13).  You have to keep in mind that what got Jesus in so much trouble was that He was basically calling for a religious revolution, that the Pharisees had become so complacent and entitled with their station in life, they forgot the people they were to serve with their guidance, understanding, and aid.  The story of the woman who could only give a few pennies in the collection box was praised for making what was for her a hard sacrifice while the rich folk tossed more in, but didn't really give it any thought.

The theme of money and its role in the world of a spiritualist is all over the Bible.  If we are supposed to live in harmony and not value material things, how do you balance that in a world where, as Eric Idle sings, "It's accountancy that makes the world go round?"  The answer is to do the best you can but keep that greed in check -- the saying isn't "Money is the root of all evil" but "The love of money is the root of all evil."  And lots of people do do their best.

Strangely, it's always the ones with the most exposure to the Bible that forget that lesson.

Germany has always been a very...interesting country, and that's not counting their tendency to rise up and attempt to take over the world every few generations.  In 1803, the country nationalized religious property, and to make up for it, levied a tax.  Anyone who is a registered Catholic, Protestant, or Jew has to pay 8-9% of their income to their church or they will not be considered "authentic" and will be denied religious rites (except for Last Rites) and can't work in church businesses.  Just last week, they unpacked themselves a brand new bishop who decreed that anyone failing to pay the tax could not receive Holy Communion or get a religious burial (and even that's not guaranteed, you need to sign a repentance before death or they can refuse.  I hate how so many religions are more focused on making sure you know what a piece of shit you are instead of trying to urge you to be better).

In 2007, Hartmut Zapp (which sounds like a GREAT name for a comic book hero) is a Catholic in Germany (they make up about 30% of the population, and that's been declining due to sex scandals.  And they say we Americans don't export anything) and filed a legal challenge.  He wanted to continue to receive Holy Communion and such, and didn't want to pay the levy.  His stance was simple -- being Catholic is about your personal faith, not how much money you kick in.  The German Catholic church said this amounted to partially leaving the church, and, like Ocean's 11, you were either in or out.  This week, the German court sided with the Catholic church, he HAD to pay the tax since it is part of being a good Catholic (really?).  The Vatican, which routinely sells all their gold and riches and uses it to help the poor around the world (#sarcasm, #I'msuchabitch), has endorsed the German church stance and the ruling.

The Scripture tells us, "Money talks."

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