Dear friends in Christ, greetings in Jesus’ lovely name. I recently received a revelatory message from Nigeria, directly to my inbox, unfiltered and unhampered by the array of anti-spam measures that usually insulate me from friends in Crap like “Pastor” John Izejoko of Benin. He does not want money, oh no; he wants Bibles.
“Dear friend in Christ,
Greetings in Jesus lovely name. I read about you online in your web and thank God for meeting you and knowing about you. I pray my message finds you doing well in Christ. I also want you to note that all I’m asking for from you is neither silver nor gold but God’s holy book. Meeting one through the internet especially now that all evil abounds in it can be very distrusting but mine is all about God and outside of it nothing.”
Jesus’ name is lovely, isn’t it? I think the loveliness of his name is probably the main reason that people who like Jesus like Jesus as much as they do. If John really read about me “in my web”, I don’t think he’d be talking about Bibles to me. Hello, John, I’m an atheist and I recently did a video for a black metal band. So I’m not really doing well in Christ, whatever that means. Sounds a bit unpleasant, to be honest. He’s right, though, that all evil abounds in the internet. Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Those are proper evil, aren’t they? Continue Reading
Reading an art history book recently, I was so intrigued and inspired by single, uncontextualised sentence in a timeline graphic that I had to do some more research. The sentence was:
“AD 1324: Mansa Musa, the emperor of Mali, spends so much gold in Cairo on the way to pilgrimage in Mecca that he ruins the value of money.”
He ruined the value of money? How? In some ways this seems like a brilliant idea, especially nowadays when most of the money in the world is essentially conjured out of nothing and totally imaginary anyway. Money’s a problem, why not trash the whole idea of it and try something else? He didn’t do it deliberately, though.
Musa (Mansa is a title, roughly equivalent to Emperor) was a Muslim who embarked on probably the most extravagant and blatantly blinging pilgrimage to Mecca of all time. The contemporary historian Chihab al-Umari recorded that Musa’s hajj involved travelling with 60,000 men and 12,000 slaves carrying 4lb gold bars, plus eighty camels bearing between 50lbs and 300lbs of gold dust each. Needless to say, even with adjustments for inflation and differing trade conditions, Musa was one of the richest people in Earth’s history. He’s also the only recorded individual to directly and single-handedly dictate the price of gold throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East. But first he inadvertently left a trail of economic devastation in his wake. He spent or gave away so much gold that everywhere he went– from Mali, through Cairo, Medina and all the way to Mecca– he depressed the value of gold for a decade. This in turn caused massive inflation as local economies attempted to cope with the unprecedented wealth that had landed on them.
To his credit, Musa did attempt to fix things by borrowing some of the gold back at high interest rates from moneylenders in Cairo. Rather than just flinging it off the back of his camel at random strangers he also spent a lot of his money in places like Timbuktu, building mosques, madrasas and universities.
So there it is. You need to be super rich and not very sensible to ruin the value of money and fuck up the economy. I think we all knew that already.