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Duron Davis on National Economic Sins According to the Bible: A Book Review

In a new twist on the message of Goethe's famous play Faust, Duron Davis in 2012 has released a non-political book entitled Obama's Prophet. Here is Amazon purchase link. This fictional tale is laced with good natured humor which surrounds the premise that Obama has sought out the old prophet Hosea living now in Israel for advice. In the spirit of Goethe's message in Faust, Hosea will warn us of the deal we have made with the devil by debasing our currency with paper money, and other economic ills. Yes, that means Hosea is a Methusala, and then some. But we are asked to suspend disbelief.

You are gripped from the beginning by the story-telling, long before you know where this story leads. The good humor and common sense of the author invites you ever onward.

This book is so well written in simple English, and so informative, it would be ideal for parents to give their children to read. It will entertain and inform. And I learned dozens of things I never knew before, and the meaning of scripture I never deeply contemplated. Duron does it for us, all in 182 easy-to-read pages. 

It starts with Obama asking Israel to send their top economic expert to give a Biblical perspective on the nation's ills. This was an effort at 'hearing both sides.' Hosea is chosen, and arrives in Washington by an El Al flight rather than a cloud.

After our media sensationalizes that this prophet had married a prostitute, Hosea gives a speech to congress that diffused that issue. It was all in God's plan to exemplify the sin of Israel -- to have a wife who takes lovers regularly but whom God takes back if the wife says 'I am sorry' and recommits her love. The media was disappointed that this story had no legs.

Then Duron reminds the nation of its moral rot, its relativism, its belief now that the wealth it obtained was by its own hands rather than God's blessings, etc. But Duron, whose bio on the back cover says he has advocated a nationalization of the Federal Reserve and a return to a constitutional currency, has a novel message -- that national economics is something God cares about.

So now I had two reasons to continue reading -- the humor and my lack of familiarity with how the Bible might speak about national economics. In the end, I learned alot about Bible passages that I did not even realize dealt with economic sin issues.

Thankfully, Duron takes it slow. He does not overwhelm. He mentions Hosea wrote about the nation of Israel being scolded for having cheated the poor by "false weights and measures." (Hos. 12:7, discussed on page 21.) I began to wonder -- did that have anything to do with debasing precious-metal currency -- reducing its weight -- by using a scale that did not reveal the weight-change? If so, that would be an ancient form of inflation that I did not see before in holy scripture.

The intrigue mounts.

Duron then says Micah scolded his nation as a whole for "there was no end of getting rich by cheating the poor." (Micah 6:20). Duron comments: "How? By lying scales or false money." (Davis, Obama's Prophet (2012) at 25.) Hosea tells congress bluntly that likewise our nation is guilty of "deceptive money, confiscatory taxation," and that by "inflation, you have taken the people's money and enslaved them with debt." (Id., at page 15.)

Duron adds that Jesus taught "you cannot serve God and Mammon." Can that be a reference to such a sin as debasing a currency? Another intriguing thought. For the one who steals from the poor by inflating the little money they can save is putting Mammon before Godly principles. Duron leaves a very clear impression that inflation is the silent thief.

I will throw in my two cents here. Inflation is due to the amount of paper currency added into a debt-based monetary system. Then consider our currency has not increased of late merely by 20-30%. Rather, as explained in a  recent article Inflation: The Silent Thief, we read: "According to the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, the United States’ money supply has increased by almost 300% since late 2008!" Significant inflation is inevitable. Only deflationary pressures like high unemployment and a slow economy mask the impact of such an expansion of the money supply. When we truly have an economic recovery, then much higher inflation will set in. Wait for it! (My view. Not necessarily Duron's.)

And thus Hosea in Duron's Obama's Prophet is giving a warning, not unlike Goethe's work Faust. This play of Faust similarly fictionalized about an emperor whose treasurer reports their "coffers still are empty." The emperor makes a deal with the devil Mephistopheles to issue paper money out of nothing. The ease of making money beguiles the king, but in return the system eventually enslaves the masses to the devil. This is poetically explained in part II of the story where the devil Mephistopheles asks the emperor to sign a piece of paper to authorize paper money. Then the devil instructs the attendees of a masked ball that they can use the Crown's paper-money to “Drown their desires with love and wine.” Goethe by the end points out that the devil’s paper money breeds inflation, destroying the property and souls of the nation. (See "The Devil & Jens Weidman," Bloomberg's Business Week (Sept. 19, 2012).

But I digress.

It is interesting that Duron defines Mammon as money, and then claims "it is a system of economics providing Satan a way to control this planet and its occupants." (Page 26.)

Is it all money or a system of money that has this weakness? Duron sends out intriguing hints of more yet to come.

But there is a lot of poignant human moments and humor along the way to keep you reading, to see what next Duron can do to make this story exciting.

Oh, and then Duron himself enters the story as someone recommended to Hosea to bring along to his meetings. Now we can hear information from Duron himself. In a moment of auto-biography, Duron tells us that he studied under "Gold Standard professor Lawrence Lautenbach." (Page 30.)

Incidentally, this led me to pull up an old article quoting Professor Lautenbach from 1968. I will excerpt the article at the end so you can see Lautenbach's points-of-view about war, raising taxes, etc. It appears Lautenbach was also a prophet (with a small 'p'). Duron has taken his Christian professor's themes, and woven them into a compelling story in the mouth of Hosea calling for a national economic righteousness toward money itself. It is great to see Duron's loyalty to his old professor by using Obama's Prophet to draw attention to virtually prophetic insights taught by Lautenbach almost 40 years ago.

Next, Duron makes us wonder 'will we end up like Israel, taken into bondage by Babylon?' In fact, Duron makes us wonder if it already has happened. Has the USA itself already become Babylon? Duron suggests the answers, as his prophet Hosea connects the dots that the USA, like Mystery Babylon in Revelation, has become a "purveyor of immorality and war."  (Page 23.)

Once Duron inserts himself as an advisor into the story, he can now recount his briefings to Hosea on secular history that bears on the prophet's message. Duron gives his view of the famine and Joseph's dealings as having implications on God's principles. Interestingly, Duron in novel fashion sees that some kind of inflation is identified in the Bible.  I must confess that I never saw it before. It is in Genesis 47:13-15. The "money failed" for the Egyptians, so they had to turn to Joseph for help. See Obama's Prophet at page 35. For money, the Pharoahs used scarabs -- round pieces of stone or clay with the image of a little Scarab beetle useful in agriculture. The Bible implies other nations lost interest in trading wheat for a rock merely because it had an image of an admired beetle. Perhaps Jesus alluded to this when he said 'who among you would give a stone to your son when he asks you for bread?' In Joseph's day, who would take a Scarab rock in exchange for a piece of bread they owned? Umm.

Amenophis Commemorative Scarabs, Cultural Entomology Digest 2 Scarabs from Amenophis III


Moving on. So when the money failed -- when people in and out of Egypt refused to accept these round stones with the beetle image on it, no one could buy food from other food suppliers. The value of the money fell like a stone, figuratively and in reality. I never knew this before. 

Then Duron notes why the family of Joseph living in Goshen survived. They were under Yahweh's authority which was in their son Joseph, even though the brothers thought they had killed him. But the story illustrates the outcome of those who rely upon godly principles -- Joseph as a master who saved in time of plenty - versus everyone else who was enslaved to the inherently worthless monetary system of the Pharoah. I love Duron's depiction of Obama's reaction to learning about this:

Just then President Obama spoke up: "I've never head this mentioned before. I mean in all the years I listened to Rev. Wright. It's a spectacular comparison. Same famine, same place, two masters, two strikingly different outcomes." (Page 38.)

Duron is witty, fun and educational -- all at the same time!

Then Duron tells us in Nehemiah chapters 4 and 5, about God's displeasure of a nation becoming a debtor to another nation, causing them to be mocked. Etc. There's a lot more detail on page 40. Duron relates that in Nehemiah 9:34 exist more parallels to the USA system today. 

Duron then talks about Bible passages that urge a nation not to go into debt. For my similar discussion on these passages, see "A Bible Study on Debt." 

Duron then gives an example of the paper money system of Kublah Kahn which Marco Polo saw first hand. When it collapsed, it led to a depression in China that lasted 100 years. (Page 44).

I will stop there...every page is filled with so much interesting information that you have never heard before. And it is presented in an educational and humorous way. The book ends in an exultation of anticipation of our coming Lord on clouds of heaven. So it ends great too.

I think this would be a great book for young and old either for evening reading or to examine in a Bible study group. 


Faust's Answer On How The Devil Seduces Us To Abandon Gold for Paper

Goethe identified in dramatic fashion precisely the devil's words to tempt us to abandon gold. In his  famous play entitled Faust, Goethe identified the Devil's argument for paper money. He exploited the very fact of how scarce was gold. Rather than a good thing, which prevents intractable debt beyond one's mean that only paper money permits, the Devil emphasizes that the emperor's kingdom is barren of it. What to do? Work to trade goods of value to other nations, and collect gold back that way? Then learn to save for a rainy day by putting aside some gold for when trade is slow? No. Mephistopheles instead emphasizes the scarcity of gold as the problem:

In this world, what isn't lacking, somewhere, though?
Sometimes it's this, or that: here what's missing is gold.(Faust, Part 2. Trans. Kline.)

And thus in the end, Mephistopheles urges paper money rather than savings and prudence as the cure. The devil's words are:

What you can’t weigh won’t weigh, of old,

What you don’t coin: that can’t be gold. (Id at line 4920).


The king at first wisely responds that instead the realm will fetch gold, presumably by trade or mining, to which the devil responds:   

I’ll fetch what you wish, and I’ll fetch more: 

Easy it’s true, but then easy things weigh more: 

It’s there already, yet how we might achieve it, 

That’s the tricky thing, knowing how to seize it.    


Later Goethe introduces the character Avarice. He competes with Mephistopheles by claiming the clay he forms into balls is made of gold. But the Herald of the King sees the deception, and says he "kneeds the gold just like dough," and tells the "Fools" not to trust it. (Lines 1580-85.) This ruse won't work, Goethe implies. Debased coinage is easily detectable. What better solution will the devil find? Paper money - a promise. An oath. But it only is worth the value of the paper it is written on, which is nothing. Yet, it appears to be exactly what it is: paper. And thus for some reason people trust it more!

Duron Davis has given us a warning to turn away from such temptation, as a national sin which has only one ending possible: national ruin and disgrace for our sin. 

Again, Obama's Prophet can be purchased through its Author's website http://obamasprophet.homestead.com




Study Notes

Biography of Professor Lautenbach

Duron Davis in his own bio mentions he studied under German economist Laurence Lautenbach. So I thought I would check on him for his views on economics.

A short biography can be pieced together. Lautenbach "assumed his position of Dean of the School of Business Administration" at Bob Jones University in 1959. And he was to retire in 1969. (Sword of the Lord (July 4, 1968) at 6.)

Views of Gold Standard Professor Lautenbach About War & Inflation & Spending

A speech by Lautenbach is discussed in "Bring Boys Home, Cut Government Spending." Herald Journal April 11, 1968 at 16. The unintended irony of this is that the piece relates Professor Lautenbach warns about inflation which is unquestionably prophetic because all around the article are the following ads from 1968: for 47 cents you could buy a 4 oz jar of Noxcema skin creme, and for 43 cents you could buy hair spray. Astonishingly, another ad offered to finance the purchase of a Frigidaire refigerator for $2.75 weekly until you paid $70 for it. My my! How times have changed in less than 40 years. Here is the article in its entirety:

 "Spartanburg Sertoma Club was told Wednesday that an austerity program in America is the only solution to the gold crisis. 

Dr. Laurence Lautenbach, Dean of the School of Business Administration at Bob Jones University, declared: 'We must bring home our boys from Vietnam,' and cut government spending generally.

Noting the dangers of inflation, Lautenbach questioned the wisdom of raising taxes: 'If we raise taxes on corporations, will they raise prices on goods?'

A large increase in discount rates is almost certain to slow down homebuilding and production in other areas, the speaker said. 

Lautenbach's views are similar to those of President Lyndon B. Johnson who also has called for an austerity program as a long-term solution to the monetary crisis

Lautenbach said our dollars, plus gold, have been our medium of exchange, 'but your dollar today is backed by your faith in our government.' He added that when the dollar was backed entirely by gold, you could not get the gold anyway."