Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy €mas

No, not a post about the euro - more of that next year. Rather a short post about Christmas. We have Christianity to thank for Christmas... obviously. Though more accurately we have the demise of the Christian Church's influence over commerce to thank for Christmas as we have come to know it (shopping, gift giving... shopping). Jared Rubin explains:
Detailed historical analysis of the history of interest (usury) restrictions in Christianity... show that the factors which undermined Church authority in the late mediaeval period were in part made possible by widespread merchant transgression of the Church’s dictates. As more profitable commercial opportunities became available, merchants further evaded the Church’s anti-usury dictates and sought protection from secular authorities, which provided greater incentive for rulers to provide security and legalise interest, which encouraged merchants to even further evade Church dictates, and so forth. Hence, the Church’s loss of power vis-à-vis secular rulers was both a cause and a consequence of the initial rise of commerce and the resulting interactions between merchants, the Church, and political authorities.
We owe much to Christianity, including its eventual acceptance of the separation of powers between church and state. The alternative - as Rubin explains - was the path taken by Islam: the closure, in the tenth century, of "the gate of independent reasoning (ijtihād)". If the Christian Church had followed the same path then I suspect we would now experience a very different type of Christmas.

And I suspect you wouldn't be reading this on a PC, smartphone or iPad. Nor would I be blogging, come to think of it...

Happy Christmas.


  1. A happy Christmas to all at Turbulence Ahead.

  2. Merry Christmas, Gerard, and a happy new year.


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