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I think this is a time when people might start to realize the relevance of the overlooked teachings of a whole bunch of different religions.

One of the main causes of this crisis -- and one of the main causes of the Great Depression in the 1930s -- is borrowing money on credit. Right before the Great Depression, people were buying stocks on margin: They would pay a fraction of the actual price of a stock, with the promise that the remainder would be paid by the change in stock's value. It was a promise to pay with money that might or might not materialize sometime in the future. The same is true of bond issues, mortgage-backed securities, and other instruments: they represent a promise to pay back loaned money, with interest that has to come from somewhere, sometime in the future, but the money might or might not be there. The value of these instruments is entirely in people's imaginations. People are paying money for promises of varied and sometimes questionable veracity. And the fulfillment of these promises is rarely within the control of the promise-maker!

Do you remember the story about Jesus kicking the money-changers out of the temple? Suddenly these religious teachings against money-lending are starting to make sense....

I have found the teachings of Asatru (reconstructions of the Norse pre-Christian religion), to be valuable also. It teaches that a person's value stems from their honor. And a person's honor comes from fulfilling promises and doing great deeds. So it's a really bad idea to make promises, when your ability to fulfill those promises is out of your control. By doing that, you're putting your honor -- your life -- into someone else's hands. You had better have a lot of trust in that other person! It teaches that "a gift demands a gift," and that this exchange of gifts is the foundation of friendships and other valuable relationships (gifts need not be physical!). One must contribute in order to benefit, if the community is to remain stable. It teaches that a person is nothing without a community to live within, and that no man is an island. A person should strive toward self-reliance, but in the end, complete self-reliance is impossible -- everyone needs a community to help them live. In short, it teaches how to live a sustainable life in the face of constant hardship.

I have found much inspiration in the writings of John Michael Greer, the leader of the Ancient Order of Druids in America. His blog is about some of the false premises our society is based on, and their frightening logical consequences: