Lessons on Financial Sovereignty via the Bible and the Romanovs

Growing up Catholic, I came away with an incomplete definition of “usury.” At least in my experience, during the 1960s and ′70s, the lesson was that at one time in the church’s history the practice developed whereby people could catapult their deceased relatives from purgatory to heaven by ponying up a donation to the church. That’s what usury was. It was wrong; it’s no longer done. There was no mention of the concept of purgatory not being in the bible. Nor was there mention of usury also being the practice of charging interest on money loaned. In addition to this ethical study-by-omission by my CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) instructors, my schoolteachers weren’t teaching me about money either. The bible has plenty to say about money, and it’s consistent on the subject of lending. Old Testament, New Testament, the message is clear: We are to lend without expecting anything in return. The idea that money can be made off of money itself is the part that is evil and detrimental to society. Lessons on financial sovereignty and financial morality, above and beyond ethics, are needed for a strong and independent citizenry.

Ever notice how if you make less money and carry more debt, you’re given astronomically high borrowing rates? Kick the man when he’s down so he stays down. Back in the day when you could float a check, when checks were still a thing, occasionally you’d screw up and get hit with a bank fee. Then the bank fees for bouncing a check rose to $35, $38 a pop, which of course, causes something else to be returned due to unavailable funds. Checks that are not paychecks often have extended holds when you need them most. This can easily snowball if you’re running close to the bone. Essentially, you’re borrowing money from the bank at the cost of close to 40 percent. What are your options? Leave the bank in righteous indignation? “I’ll just take my overdraft fees somewhere else!”

Cousins Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and King George V of Great Britain pose together in 1913.
Cousins Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and King George V of Great Britain pose in 1913, on the eve of World War I. In the end, George would abandon Nicholas, his wife, and children to being executed by firing squad and bayoneting. (Credit: Image by German photographer Ernst Sandau. Wikimedia Commons public domain.)

Forty percent is an outrageous rate and only one example of how “the cost of money” can be hidden in fees or other expectations of return, such as return on investment. Jesus said repeatedly that we weren’t to do this to each other; we were to lend to even our enemies without thought of return. Proverbs also cautions about both lending and borrowing. Good people make themselves sick and sleepless with the weight of debt and how to settle their obligations, because they’re good people. They’ve entered into a contract and they want to do the right thing. Obviously, some people have zero intention of paying back loans, but the majority of people want to be conscientious. We don’t question the modern practice of charging interest on loans; we merely work harder and longer to make right on our commitments, feeling great when we pay off a bill, terrible when we’re forced to borrow again.

There are plenty of counterarguments about why lenders should get some reward for lending money. They’re taking a risk. They’re losing out on income they could make on some other investment on the money they’re lending to you. They may have worked hard for the money they have at their disposal. Why shouldn’t they earn something for that? And if interest rates are kept low, they make very little anyway. As a capitalist, I embrace these arguments. The question becomes, why aren’t we having moral discussions about money anymore? Why aren’t our schools and our churches teaching us from a very early age how to manage our money successfully with the goal of being able to give more? There’s another bible passage that gets scant attention. In Psalm 15:1, King David asks “O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?” Remember, David was such a warrior that God determined that because he had killed so many, it was not fitting that he be the one to build the temple. That honor would go to one who valued wisdom. However, what he’s saying is, who will be in your army, who will hold the high ground?

The answer comes in the following verses. A trick of writing is to end the sentence with the word you want to linger in the reader’s mind, end the paragraph with both the thought you want to reiterate and a hint to what comes next, enticing the reader to continue. The chapter ends here: “[He] who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent.” Hello!

Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychologist, without question, advances the conversation between the liberal and conservative camps, and I highly recommend exploring his videos or books. But, there are times that he oversimplifies the individual characteristics of conservatives. I’m sure he has plenty of data to back up his position, but it’s simply not true that liberals create and conservatives do. Conservatives can have highly creative ideas. It’s also not true that liberals have something important to tell us and that we’re just the keepers of stability and order. Conservatives also have something to tell liberals and we’re capable of sowing instability and disorder if we’re never heard. How does that apply to money? If too much of that sticks in your head, you’ll scramble your business ideas before they’re hatched and you’ll assume that your societal perspectives must make-way for liberalism. Both of those concepts are 100 percent false. You can be highly creative, and what you have to say is imperative to our country’s rebirth.

For instance, why can’t creating a franchise or becoming a franchisee be more accessible to more people? Why can’t franchises be cobbled together or multidimensional instead of providing a single product or service? Why can’t capital be provided that isn’t so onerous for the franchisee to pay back? Obviously, royalties are how the business creator gets paid, but could both loan repayment and royalty be paid so that the franchisee still makes both a comfortable living while learning and growing their business acumen, earning increasing levels of business control, to the point where the system could be tailored to each owner’s specialty in their respective communities? Hmmm. Royalty. What does that mean—exactly? Payment to a royal? Who is the royal in America? The government and the bankers, and not necessarily in that order.

Speaking of royals. Queen Victoria had a dream, a dynastian dream. She would play matchmaker all over Europe, securing British influence on the continent with all its associated perks. On the surface, the plan would lessen the chance of war and promote alliances and peace. Needless to say, that part was an unmitigated failure as the first half of the 20th century saw not one, but two world wars, a previously unheard-of phenomenon. On the eve of World War I, King George V of Great Britain, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and King of Prussia, and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia—all cousins—were pitted against each other. Or were they? I wonder if the monarchs of the era really had any power left. Were events and whatever was reported in newspapers and newsreels real or orchestrated? Clearly, there was war. The dead and maimed were real. But King George first said the Romanovs could seek sanctuary in England, then he reneged because he was afraid that communism was catchy. And boy, is it. But the end result was the betrayal of his cousin and his family.

But let’s review: Tsar Nicholas’ grandfather, Alexander II ended serfdom and tried to improve the lives of Russian people. Multiple attempts were made on his life, in the end one bomb caused him to dismount his carriage, and a second bomb shattered both legs. He bled out, slowly and painfully. Tsar Nicholas’ father, Alexander III died unexpectedly at 49 of nephritis, which is inflammation of the kidneys. It’s cured by—wait for it—hydroxychloroquin. Tsar Nicholas was the eldest. His next oldest brother, George, was killed in a motorcycle accident. The next oldest brother after that, was Michael and he was the first to be killed by the Bolsheviks. Now that is interesting. Want to know why? He was far more of a threat than Nicholas. He was his own man, in love and in politics. After Nicholas abdicated, Michael said he would only rule if the will of the people in a free and fair election wanted him to. And, he would only do so with the woman he loved by his side. He was also an Anglophile. Supposedly he was executed, but his body and that of his secretary’s have never been found. Odd. Moving on, all other Romanovs were gunned down, thrown into holes with bombs dropped in on them and left to bleed, or otherwise slaughtered.

Tally sheet from WWI: Germany destroyed. Russia destroyed. Britain victorious. America along for the ride and to divvy up the spoils and redraw the European map. Germany and Russia also resisted central banking in the past, as America had done…in the past. It doesn’t matter who rules a country; it matters who controls the flow of money. It’s a lot more complicated than I’ve outlined here, but that’s the basic gist. U.S. presidents who resisted central banking ended up like the Romanovs, poisoned or shot.

The answer lies in us, guided by Christ’s moral example and fueled by the open access to information about finances and running a business. A word of caution: Rich, powerful bankers are not in the least concerned about you finding out how to run a business. Learning how to do that and then operating the business will enslave you just as securely, if not more so than working for a paycheck because you’re fully invested heart, mind, and body. Be judicious with how much learning you do in proportion to how much doing you do. The time will never be perfect. You can never know everything. Observe through some books or videos what’s possible and how to do it, and then orient yourself as to where you are at where you want to be and how you can get there. Decide to try something and do it. Act. Then repeat, over and over, constantly adjusting, growing, improving, working more efficiently. Don’t get paralyzed or overwhelmed with the flood of information available. That is digital slavery to be constantly seeking and never doing. Humans are hardwired to seek. Limit screen time by reading more books, and seek God through the bible (not the online versions), small groups, and church.

It’ll take drive and persistence. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, but everyone is cut to be financially secure, and as Christians, if even a few of us can provide that to our fellow man, then we are living out Jesus’ plan for his people. As a place to start, if your church offers Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University program, take it. If not, suggest they do. Getting your personal financial house in order is imperative so that you can build wealth and give it away. Ramsey also has books, a radio program, and who knows what else at this point. Valuetainment is also a great way to learn about entrepreneurship, but again, long-form content is the new drug of choice: binge-watching. Watch some, plan, do, watch some more, plan, do… just don’t forget to actually do something.

The Old Testament emphasized that if the children of God obeyed, they would be the head and lend to many nations and borrow from none. The New Testament focuses on us lending to even our enemies without looking for repayment, and certainly not interest, because God is kind to even the ungrateful and the wicked, according to Luke 6:35. That is a tall order that strikes me as opening oneself up to being taken advantage of. The only way for that to work is if more of us can raise our level of financial stability to the point where we can do that without the outcome mattering to our own financial stability. I doubt bankers want us to get to the point where we’re capable of lifting each other out of poverty and into financial sovereignty. You know, like the Russians did, granting the people the ability to govern themselves at the community level, including banking and commerce. Throw in some military style protection, a la the Romanov-loyal Moslem Cossack Wild Division, and voila true personal independence and societal sovereignty.

Hint: They always take out the best warriors first: like the Savage Division, or, say Special Forces.

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