German Reform: vested interests

The previous post pointed to the broad resentment of German society to the eternal taxation be it from the Church or from the Imperial Courts of the Emperor. There were other economic factors also in view: land, wealth and revenue. But consider the latter category. Perhaps revenue is from the sale of land, animals, crops, or other items; but perhaps revenue is the very stream of taxes causing the resentment – and your class thinks it belong to them. One person’s vested interest may very well be another’s burden. Continue reading

German Reform: princes, patricians, and peasants

In a previous post we introduced the dynamic of taxation as one element of the German Reformation. But who was specifically the target of Imperial and Papal fund raisers? To answer that one needs to consider the social strata of all who would be caught in the taxing nets of the “outsiders” – the Pope and his ostensibly all-Italian Curial mafia, or, the gapping maw of the Holy Roman imperial court. Continue reading

Paying attention

FISHERS-OF-MENWould that acquiring our funds for paying taxes were simply a matter of taking an afternoon off and going fishing. Wouldn’t that be nice! I think today’s gospel is one of those accounts which people hear, give the holy nod (Jesus did it, I believe, I don’t exactly get it, but God’s ways are above mine…) and move on. My experience is that people most often recall the “coin in the mouth of the fish” but are less clear about the discussion that preceded Jesus’ instructions to Peter. One should note that the Gospel never records the catch or the payment. Don’t get me wrong, if God can create the universe I have no doubt that placing a coin in a fish’s mouth is possible….but…  Just a few verses before Jesus tells the disciples that their faith can move mountains. Was that hyperbole or was there an expectation that mountains could be moved? Is the expectation that the coin would be found in the mouth of the fish? Continue reading

Taxes and Faith

DenarriIn today’s gospel we are witness to Jesus’ encounter with the authorities and their question about the payment of taxes. Certainly the question of taxes is as much about authority as any topic. And there is perhaps no thorny or inflammatory topic of conversation than taxes. One may easily assume it is with malice that Jesus is asked about the census tax payable to Rome. The empire exacted three types of taxes: a ground tax, which required that ten per cent of all grain and twenty per cent of all oil and wine production be given to Rome; an income tax, equivalent to one per cent of a person’s income; and a poll/census tax, which amounted to a denarius or a full day’s wage. To add insult to injury, the tax could be paid only in Roman coin, most of which contained an image and inscription considered blasphemous by many Jews: Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti Filius Augustus Pontifex Maximus (“Tiberius Caesar, august son of the divine Augustus, high priest”). Continue reading

Will you read the whole post?

WARNING: this post is excessively long and potentially soporific.

Recently I received a private email from someone who follows my musings. They expressed concern that I was “becoming political.” Their motivation was a recent posting on Calumny. In their view it seemed as though I was choosing a “side” in the on-going “political dialogue” (which is hardly much of a dialogue). And I was choosing a side – hopefully the side of truth and the teaching of the Catholic Church on the sin of calumny. That the backdrop is the unending, crafted message about voter and election fraud, is just the case writ large that serves to help faithful people understand the moral question about what they choose to repeat or assert.

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