I'm assuming that those who've read this blog for a while are familiar with the concept of (Chinese) ceremonial money. If not, take a look here. 這裡的外籍讀者們應該知道金紙是什麼. 如果還不知道的話, 可參考這邊.
So I've been reading a lot of books about Economics. I recently finished Paul Mason's "Postcapitalism," and before that Paul Rickard's "The Death of Money" and Harry S. Dent Jr.'s "The Demographic Cliff." I think economics is very interesting, though I realize that it bores most people to death. 我最近看了很多關於經濟學的書. 我剛剛看完Paul Mason寫的"Postcapitalism." 以前也讀過Paul Rickard寫的"The Death of Money," 還有Harry S. Dent Jr.寫的"The Demographic Cliff." 我覺得經濟學很有趣, 可是我也知道很多人覺得很無聊.
I've also been reading a lot of books about Chinese gods. Selections from "The Origin of Taiwanese Customs," "Taiwanese Culture," and "This is How You Worship! A Comprehensive Guide to the Dos and Don'ts of Worship" are to be found here. I must say that my attitude toward traditional Chinese religion was a bit antagonistic at first, but I'm finding it a lot more interesting now. 我也看介紹中國神明的書. 台灣民俗由來, 台灣文化, 還有就要這樣拜! 拜拜宜忌一本通的的文章都在這裡. 我承認自己以前對中國傳統宗教抱持著不認同的態度, 可是我現在認為它很有趣
Which got me thinking - what about the economics of heaven and hell? In temple religion all of this ceremonial money "goes somewhere," right? Where does it go? What do the gods, ancestors, and wandering spirits do with it? And how does their economy affect ours? 這些書讓我想到一個問題: 天上跟地獄的經濟學如何發展? 廟宇用的金紙都會去到"某個地方" 對不對? 這個 "某個地方" 到底是什麼地方? 然後神明, 祖先, 跟好兄弟們怎麼用這些錢? 他們的經濟怎麼影響到我們的經濟?
I suppose that what I'm talking about here is the study of "Celestial Economics," or supply and demand on a supernatural scale. And I'm wondering, has any (Chinese) person written a book about this? Has anyone bothered? Would anyone dare? 我現在講的應該是 "天上經濟學" 也可以用 "超自然的供給跟需求" 這個造詞形容它. 我也很好奇: 有沒有中國人寫過這樣的書? 有人想寫嗎? 有人敢寫嗎?
I can think of some reasons why someone wouldn't write a book like this. If you were a Professor of Economics at some prestigious university, such a book might get you labeled a "crank," and might even harm your career. If you were a believer in these deities, you might worry about offending them, and bringing bad luck down on your head. There's also the question of getting certain records, which temple associations might not want you to see. 我可以想到一些不寫這種書的理由. 如果是名大學的經濟學教授的話, 可能寫這種書會讓同事笑你, 也可能會影響到你的事業. 如果你是虔誠的信徒的話, 你可能覺得寫這種書是不尊重他們, 也會帶來不好的運氣. 另外還有找到相關廟會記錄的問題. 有可能廟方不要讓你看.
Even so, if you wrote a book like that, and promoted it just right, it could make you famous. You could even use "Celestial Economics" to teach people about economic concepts in the "real" world. That might be more entertaining that what economists usually try to do. 即使會碰上種種的困難, 當你寫完這本書並且也銷售成功, 你可能會因此而出名. 你也可以利用 "天上經濟學" 教天下的經濟學. 這樣子會比大多數經濟學家寫的書有趣.
Anyway, it's just a thought. And the more I think about it, the more I wish I could see a book like that. For example, what would the "cost" of a blessing be? What would the "market" for godly protection look like? How would "credit" work in the afterlife? Is the world jin (gold) present in the Chinese term for ceremonial money because the gods employ a Gold Standard? Or is ceremonial money pegged to a floating exchange rate? Would "confidence" in a type of ceremonial money equal belief in its efficacy? Or belief in a certain god's power? 這只是我的想法. 我越想就越希望讀這樣的書. 比方說受神明幫助的 "成本" 到底是什麼? 受到神明保佑的 "市場" 怎樣? 過世之後怎麼利用 "信用額度?" 金紙有 "金" 這個字因為神明在用 "金本位" 嗎? 還是金紙有 "浮動匯率?" "相信" 金紙的效果跟相信某尊神明的能力一樣嗎?
I could go on, but I'll spare you the rest. I'm only hoping that some economist in Taiwan, China, Singapore, or Hong Kong is somehow reading this, and perhaps getting an idea... 我可以繼續說其他相關的問題, 可是我覺得這些已經夠多了. 我只是希望台灣, 中國大陸, 新加坡, 或是香港的經濟學家讀這篇文章後也有某些不同的看法...
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