Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What Jesus was/is on about

 John Courtneidge

Easter 2014

Somewhere recently, I posted my view on Facebook that Jesus was/is teaching that we should (and can) replace the 'economics' of ownership(theft)/exploitation (And thus poverty/inequality) with 'The Kingdom of Heaven' - by Tuesday!

Our friend, Steven asked for my response to his following additions.

Belated I do so (with >>j in his questions:

hi John Courteneige, why use the controversial 'gospel of Thomas'?

>> Because it seems closest to the actual words of jesus - ie prior to the pejoration by the pro-capitalist 'Churches' after Constantine

Stephen Booth hi John, if you understand the parable of talents solely as cash, then would it not be promoting of the accumulation of wealth by the institutional Church? consider these. - - -

>>J Not sure why . . . it's a clear rejection of people who act like the King/mafia boss described in these two versions of the same teaching.

8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’

>>j She was obviously a low-income woman - note that she shared her joy - doubtless with hospitality (paid for by that same coin?)

10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”(from luke 15)

>>j Ie those who now get what Jesus was/is saying about the need for economic change . . .

- - - After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”

25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.

When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”

26 “From others,” Peter answered.

“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”(from Matthew 17)

>>j Note ''to not cause offence' - Jesus illustrating. the pacifist response to injustice

Stephen Booth hi John, it would seem what you lifted up relates to this parable, which is not about money and i find it odd to suggest that 'merchants' will not enter, or 'buyers', consider this: 22 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”(from Matthew 22)

>>j I don't remember the  "man there who was not wearing wedding clothes" bit in the Thomasine version.

Again, this Parable is an aide-memoire to the five TRIP-Up mechanisms that capitalism uses to impoverish everyone - the 'rich' 2% and their enforcer 10% especially.

See how Jesus repeatedly en-courages ('in-our-heart') us to give up power, pride and possessions - the anti-thesis to capitalism/imperialism/etc same forms of immiseration.

Stephen Booth “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.

38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”(from Matthew 21)

>>J Hmmm . . .

Stephen Booth John Courteneige, do you believe Jesus is the Messiah,
>>J a key messenger, yes

the Son of God,

>>J A son of God - just like you, me everyone

who was crucified

>>J Illegally killed - murdered b the 2and 10%

in relation to atonement of sins,

>>j No - but to point out/because he pointed out what was/is sinful, yes

who rose bodily from the tomb?

>>J Immaterial (no pun intended) - it is his teaching that matters - the life-event matters are a distraction (apart from his willingness to suffer- even unto death: a death he freely accepted - because of our sinfullness - in allowing capitalism to continue

- - 44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

>>j Hence my pointer to the question of usury in Psalm 15

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

>>j Woo-hoo! for that!!

46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.(from Luke 24)

>>j But see above - the hierarchical-and-so-authortarian 'Churches' deceive - deliberately - when they substitute these life-matter-mysteries instead of Jesus' teaching on economics ('The ways in which we live (together) in the Household'

Stephen Booth 41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

“The son of David,” they replied.

43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,

44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.”’[e]
45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?”(from Matthew j>>j Like
Stephen Booth 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”(from John 1)--33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved.(from John 5)--- ttyl John Courtneidge

>>j Hmmmm . . .  I'll read John and get back 2u

I prefer Matthew, Mark, Luke and Thomas - I must find Mary's Gospel, etc at some point, too!

Best - equally! - for all!

Just as Jesus said!


ps - see the papers' section at for more

Saturday, April 19, 2014

No more profit before anything, eh!?

(yes, yes, I know - but see the BTW below)

Fleming Crescent co-op, Sele Farm Hertford, Herts: which was opened after Simon Butler and I took a site-finding tour in about 1999 when he was on the CWS main board.  I does a roaring trade (as does that in Bengeo where we saved its in-store sub Post Office: that for Sele Farm was also saved - and moved - see above).

Both these shops (in co-op speak) 'make good contributions' to the financial surplus of our co-op (was Enfield and St Albans Co-op, the South Midlands area of the CWS and now part of The Co-operative Group).
Again, in co-op speak  the financial surplus (which capitalism appropriates as rent/interest/profit and Higher-than-average-pay for its bullies/bribers and brainwashers) is named just as that.

And,  if the co-op is in conformity with the Statement from The International Co-operative Alliance (the ICA) on Co-operative Values and Principles*, then that financial surplus will be sent back to its originating communities as a 'patronage dividend', as expenditure on member, worker and community eduction ( ' . . . especially young people and opinion-formers' and 'for the sustainable well-being of communities' (the latter from Principle 7.

*For the full ICA statement see - and I've logged a copy of it in the papers' section at

BTW - back in 1999, The Co-operative Party adopted the motion that I/we drafted in the Welwyn/Hatfield Co-op Party branch and which was approved for submission by the Enfield and St Albans Co-operative Party Council, 'inviting all co-operatives to carry out and publicise Annual Co-operative Audits to demonstrate their fidelity to the Statement on the Co-operative Identity as periodically updated by The International Co-operative Alliance, the ICA'.

Notably, the ICA co-op values include equality and equity.

In the light of recent events, I hope that all co-ops will not accept that invitation:

                            'to carry out and publicise Annual Co-operative Audits to demonstrate their fidelity to the Statement on the Co-operative Identity'

Best - equally! - for all!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An Income and Equality Game 

Helping any group work out its preferred Income Max/min multiplier

And the level of a LIFE (a Living Income for Everybody) that the group thinks should apply where it lives

Wholosopher, Independent Writing and Editing Professional, Research chemist

An Income and Equality Game

Updated April 2014 - first played in about 2011 (see )

Contact: John Courtneidge                                            

Over the past two or so weeks, the following game has emerged – it helps, in my experience, to move matters on for people who already 'get' the message of 'The spirit level' book (see the Equality Trust web-site for more on that book).

So, have the participants sit in a circle and, then, pass out small slips of coloured paper, clockwise (one for each participant) and, counter-clockwise, small slips of white paper. (The circle indicates equality and the two direction sharing helps get everyone involved.)

Once the surplus paper has completed the circle, ask the participants to write on the coloured slips their view of what the income ratio (minimum to maximum) should be in the society/country/whatever where they live. Now, this usually starts discussion, but stick to the should be phrase – not 'what is achievable' etc, etc. - and, gently give examples of 'should be' ratios – 1:1, 1:3, 1:5, 1:50, 1:100, 1:1000, etc.

Now, pass around a cup - for people to place the responses in - and, once that's returned, ask people to write on the white slips what they think is the income – after tax – that a single person, living in this city/community/country/whatever geographical dimensionality you choose needs to have – monthly – to live a decent life. Again, bundles of questions emerge, but stick to that opening question.

While the participants are doing that, note down the results of the income ratio question (from the coloured slips of paper) and estimate both the range of answers and an average (yes, I know that the statisticians will go for medians, means, etc – I don't know about that . . . !).

Again, scoop up the responses to the second question and then ask someone to volunteer (to roughly collate the answers to the monthly income question) while you report back on the income ratio question – again there will be questions, responses, etc, all of which offer two possibilities (at least!): firstly this gives the volunteer collator time to 'do the math' on the monthly decent income question. Secondly, if the discussion gets 'hot', then this is an opportunity to introduce the 'talking stick' method – including the option to 'pass', 'go-round in circle', etc, techniques.

The final phases of the game (perhaps!) involve two possibilities.

First, try to marry-up the responses to both questions with something like, 'OK, suppose that I'm the King of Bromley, or whatever and I'm going to get the highest income that we have socially-determined, here. That would amount to, for example, with the socially-determined 1:3 ratio and an averaged 'Liveable Income' of £2000 per month, I, the King of Bromley would get £6000 per month, and you, on the lowest income, £2000 per month. How does that feel? And what effects would that have?' (pointing back to the Spirit Level book might be included here and, in the UK, a group called 'One Society' has data on income ratios in the UK). Again, inclusive discussion time.

Secondly, you could discuss 'what to do' with these findings. One possibility would be to publicise them – by letter (to? MP?, church?, web, what-ever ) – and to log the results in some sort of public place to compare the results from other groups playing this game.

Then, after some tea, wiggle and refreshment, the participants might enjoy playing 'The Teaspoon Game' – which is all to do with the way that wealth and income is created –. . . and how it is shared out . . . Have fun! Please let me know how it goes!

Home | The Equality Trust


John C.
Wholosopher, Independent Writing and Editing Professional, Research chemist
ps My F/friend Gianne Broughton used a nice development of this experience, by asking as the final question, 'So who of you think that your work is only worth a third of that of any-one else?' (The group being Ottawa Quakers and they had essentially agreed a 1:3 income rtio as fair.

Nice work Gianne!

Friday, April 11, 2014

 As we remember the murder of Jesus

11 April 2014

My friend Stephen asked:

    " How about you share with me teachings of Jesus in relation to capitalism you would like to lift up."


So, first, Stephen, thanks! for asking!

The following is logged at

Jesus On Money, Markets and Capitalism
Here are Verses 64 and 95 from Richard Valantasis' 'The Gospel of Thomas'
(Published by Routledge, London and New York, 1997):

Saying 64
Jesus said, "Someone was receiving guests. When he had prepared the dinner, he sent his slave to invite the guests. The slave went to the first and said, 'My master invites you.' The first replied, 'Some merchants owe me money; they are coming to me tonight. I have to go and give them instructions. Please excuse me from dinner.' The slave went to another and said, 'My master has invited you.' The second said to the slave, 'I have bought a house, and I have been called away for a day. I shall have no time.' The slave went to another and said, 'My master invites you.' The third said to the slave, 'My friend is to be married, and I am to arrange the banquet. I shall not be able to come. Please excuse me from dinner.' The slave went to another and said, 'My master invites you.' The fourth said to the slave, 'I have bought an estate, and I am going to collect the rent. I shall not be able to come, Please excuse me.' The slave returned and said to his master, 'Those whom you invited to dinner have asked to be excused.' The master said to his slave, 'Go out on the streets and bring back whomever you find to have dinner.' Buyers and merchants [will] not enter the places of my Father."

Saying 95
[Jesus said], "If you have money, don't lend it at interest. Rather, give [it] to someone from whom you won't get it back."

You might find it useful to compare these with: Luke 14: 16-24 (from The Authorised Version (AD1611): compare with Thomas Saying 64)

Then he said unto them, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So the servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Luke 6: 30-35 (from The Authorised Version (AD1611): compare with Thomas Saying 95)

Give to every man that asketh of thee; and to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of
whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.These quite clearly show what Jesus thought of those who own (land, money and productive resources) and exploit people (from city, highway and hedge) and the planet for profit.


So, if you read these, then the five mechanisms that capitalism uses (TRIP-Up: Theft, Rent, Interest, Profit and Unequal-pay for work) are listed: all take us away from the grace of companionship with God - and increase the income gap - for which, from the secular evidence (see 'The Spirit Level' book and, are the base of all our troubles.

Finally, Jesus was incandescent about the behaviour of the 'rich' and powerful in his own society

    - I find it very useful to read three Parables as part of a group: with a discussion in-between each one:

       - The Parable of the Talents in Matthew,
       - The parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke and
       - The parable of the Minas in Luke

(there is a good listing of Parables at Wikipedia). 

If the group don't recognise that the first and last of these three is an excoriation of usury (which is a central message of  Jesus' ministry), then reading Psalm 15, as well, helps.

I hope this helps, too.  Thanks again!

Best - equally! - for all!