The Once & Future Economy Making New Connections

All the ships of the sea and their sailors
came to you to barter for your goods.
10 Men of Persia, Lud, and Put
were in your army, serving as your warriors.
They hung shields and helmets in you;
they gave you splendor.
11 Men of Arvad and Helech
were stationed on your walls all around,
and Gammadites were in your towers.
They hung their shields all around your walls;
they perfected your beauty.

12 “Tarshish was your trading partner because of your great wealth of every kind. They exchanged silver, iron, tin, and lead for your merchandise. 13 Javan, Tubal, and Meshech were your merchants. They exchanged slaves and bronze utensils for your goods. 14 Those from Beth-togarmah exchanged horses, war horses, and mules for your merchandise. 15 Men of Dedan were also your merchants; many coasts and islands were your regular markets. They brought back ivory tusks and ebony as your payment. 16 Aram was your trading partner because of your numerous products. They exchanged turquoise, purple and embroidered cloth, fine linen, coral, and rubies for your merchandise. 17 Judah and the land of Israel were your merchants. They exchanged wheat from Minnith, meal, honey, oil, and balm, for your goods. 18 Damascus was also your trading partner because of your numerous products and your great wealth of every kind, trading in wine from Helbon and white wool. 19 Vedan and Javan from Uzal dealt in your merchandise; wrought iron, cassia, and aromatic cane were exchanged for your goods. 20 Dedan was your merchant in saddlecloths for riding. 21 Arabia and all the princes of Kedar were your business partners, trading with you in lambs, rams, and goats. 22 The merchants of Sheba and Raamah traded with you. They exchanged gold, the best of all spices, and all kinds of precious stones for your merchandise. 23 Haran, Canneh, Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Asshur, and Chilmad traded with you. 24 They were your merchants in choice garments, cloaks of blue and embroidered materials, and multicolored carpets, which were bound and secured with cords in your marketplace. 25 Ships of Tarshish were the carriers for your goods.

So you became full and heavily loaded
in the heart of the sea. (Ezekiel 27:9-25, Holman Christian Standard Bible)

“So Preacher, you sayin’ we’re going back to the barter system because of this bug that’s floatin’ around?”

Well, yes and no, but I am glad you asked. First of all, barter has never completely gone away. I remember when I was a kid in the Boy Scouts going to some Jamboree type events (I never went to a jamboree) and doing patch trading while I was there. I never did much trading because I really never knew the value of a lot of the patches. I feel pretty certain I over-paid for some because I would only trade for patches I liked, not to increase the value of my collection.

Not long ago I made a trade, guitar for guitar. I had an electric I didn’t play anymore. It wasn’t a favorite and I have other electrics and I would prefer playing acoustics. A fellow guitar player/collector played my electric and asked if I would consider a trade. When we made the trade it immediately was the oldest guitar in my collection. I don’t know its exact value but, unlike the patch, I don’t think I overpaid in that deal.

Cindy, Wayne, Christopher, and me spent my first two years of seminary living in Canton, TX where I served as associate pastor. Canton (where the statue in the picture above came from) is famous for its “Trade Days” or “First Monday.” The official name is “Canton First Monday Trade Days.” They claim it is the world’s oldest and largest flea market. It is a big deal. Many of the vendors work all month and “First Monday Weekend” is when they get paid.

First Monday is such a big deal to Canton, there is no city property tax. None. Zero. There are still school and county property taxes but First Monday takes care of the rest.

It really isn’t on the First Monday of the month. The market opens on the Thursday and runs through Sunday of the weekend before the first Monday of the month. The tradition dates back to the 1850s when the circuit court judge came to town on the first Monday of the month. People in the area came into town to stock up on supplies, catch up on the news, watch some of the court proceedings and often see a “hanging” or two. Naturally, those coming from outside of town would bring their wares along to sell or trade. Originally, First Monday only happened on the First Monday of the month. Over the years it expanded and today the only parts of “First Monday” that are related to the weekend now are the name and a horse auction. Barter still often happens on the weekend.

A fairly new telephone app is available called “Next Door.” Since the Covit-19 virus locked us all in our houses, some people, and I can see why, have sought out ways of completely avoiding some of the stores, particularly grocery stores. Besides, stores don’t have things like hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies and until just recently distilled water and toilet paper (we actually found those over the weekend). So, if I have hand sanitizer and you have Lysol Spray (we’ve been looking for three weeks) we might be able to make a trade. Baking supplies are also getting harder to find so if I have extra flour and you have extra sugar, a swap might help us both.

I sincerely doubt that we will ever move fully back to the barter system. How else would we buy cars or houses?

I have a friend, though I can’t remember which friend said it but during a discussion of neighbor and the disconnection between people in our society blamed air conditioning. Where it was too hot to stay in the house before we all had AC, people went outside and talked to their neighbors. Now, because its cooler inside than out, the conversations ended.

Because of barter, neighbors are talking and reconnecting again. Perhaps a positive of all this is, the virus may be bringing people together, building connections and relationships among neighbors.

I don’t believe God put this virus on us. I don’t believe this is punishment for watching too much football or attending the theater on Sunday instead of going to worship, of or much more I have heard over the last several weeks. People who have nothing to do with any of that. So, it is either that God ha a problem with all of us, I doubt that, and if God is miffed over some of us but not all of us, God’s aim would be better than that.

No, this isn’t God. That being said, God may not have done it, but God can certainly use it, maybe God will use it and the barter it has generated to bring us back together again.

Have a great evening,

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission given for the non-commercial use of this post.

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