On vampires and usury
Today's Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is a good day to link to Fred Clark's brilliant explanation of why vampires can't abide crosses:
Most vampires don't believe in the cross, but that hardly matters. It's the idea of the thing that gives them fits. The cross confronts vampires with their opposite -- with the rejection of power and its single-minded pursuit. It suggests that no one is to be treated as prey -- not even an enemy. The idea of the cross, in other words, suggests that vampires have it wrong, that they have it backwards, in fact, and that those others they regard as prey are actually, somehow, winning.
This notion is incomprehensible for vampires. The one thing they're certain of, the thing that drives them and tells them who they are and how the world works and that they've got it all figured out is that the key to immortality is in choosing to be the predator rather than the prey. The idea that this might be wrong is so befuddling, so contradictory to everything they have chosen to be that it forces them to recoil. They can't get past it.
He's not sure why vampires can't stand garlic. Here's a suggestion. Being the essential ingredient of Mediterranean cooking, garlic stands for community and family which the vampire in his egotistic aloneness cannot endure. (Garlic is also, obviously, Catholic -- but leave that aside.)
For a good example of contemporary vampirism, Clark notes the way the poor have to pay out for cashing checks at supermarkets, and how this year US banks will collect $38.5 billion in overdraft fees -- a massive transference from the poor to the rich. Can anything be better designed to suck the lifeblood out of struggling communities and disadvantaged families?
I love Clark's prophetic indignation and call to action:
$38.5 billion. Seriously. The executives and shareholders of those banks ought to be flipped off, constantly, by everyone they encounter, all day long, from the moment they leave the house in the morning until the moment they return home. Even in church. Especially in church. From the pulpit, in fact. Nonviolent social change doesn't need to be genteel.
Here's another call to action against vampirism that's already underway: community-based non-profit organisations - faith congregations, unions, and so on -- affiliated to the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) have launched a campaign to resurrect anti-usury laws. "10 per cent is enough" is calling for a legal cap on interest rates -- 10 per cent being the traditional cap until it was abolished in the nineteenth century. One of the IAF's affiliates on this side of the Atlantic, London Citizens, features in the video.
Time to take the blood back.