Tuesday, January 02, 2018
The Love of Bitcoin
[Jesus said] Bring me a denarius and let me see it.” And they brought one. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” 1Jesus said to them, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him. Mark12:15-17
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21
The first time I gave much thought to the crypto-currency Bitcoin was while watching an episode of the law drama The Good Wife. Alicia defends a lawyer who will not reveal the identity of his client who purportedly invented Bitcoin. The Treasury Department wants to know who he is and the lawyer ain't tellin'. The synopsis for the Bitcoin for Dummies episode describes the digital currency this way:
Bitcoin is a decentralized electronic monetary and payments system utilizing peer-to-peer networking, electronic signatures and encrypted proof which enables supposedly irreversible payments between parties without requiring trust.
Got it? I didn't think so! I say this not contemptuously but as someone who has listened to articulate and informed experts describe the concept of Bitcoin and still didn't really comprehend how this works. I know that Bitcoin was valued at around $1,000 a year ago and $3,000-plus last September. Today it is trading at over $17,000 Canadian, which has made some people wealthy while the rest of us stumble around in the dark.
This is all a reminder that currency --money-- has value because we collectively agree that it does. Most of us don't barter any more and we don't pay our bills with goods we produce. We are already engaged in lots of transactions which don't even involve the exchange of cash. When I pay for gas I insert a card in a slot and money leaves my bank account to complete the transaction. I don't sign for my purchase, or even talk to anyone about my it. When we visited Iceland in 2016 we spent eight days there and never used Icelandic currency once. Every transaction was virtual.
Jesus lived in a time when lots of people went about their daily lives in a subsistence economy without much money, for the most part. Yet there were "coins of the realm," which at that time was the Roman Empire. Jesus spoke abut money, nonetheless, and warned about idolizing it far more often than he spoke about subjects such as sex. According to Jesus, when we love money, in whatever form we can or can't imagine, we become impoverished rather than enriched.
I listened to a program about Bitcoin today on CBC's The Current which was largely about the environmental impact of "mining" the currency. I still don't get it, so I'm sticking with Jesus.
Have you become a savvy Bitcoin millionaire? Do you understand much about this crypto-currency? Do you have enough money in any form to allow you to be content?