Notes and Queries 1

Dethroning Mammon (by Justin Welby) Chapter 1
Bible Focus: John 11

Here are just a few observations and questions arising from the first chapter of our Lent study book. Rather than identifying particular moral or ethical issues, Archbishop Justin attempts to encourage us to adjust our vision of the world in which we live. This is extremely difficult to do and to communicate.

NOTES

  • We may see and react to some of the issues of injustice and greed in our society but still be unaware of the creeping tide of materialism that is continually washing around us whatever our surroundings and personal lifestyle.
  • Materialism is made even more pervasive by the fact that the economic system that tries to claim our lives is global and not simply local. An example of this that occurs to me is the impact of commercially developed infrastructure and patterns of employment on nomadic people. In the case of the Inuit people of North America and Greenland this change has taken place within my own lifetime. It has inevitably made paid employment a necessity for many and has brought about sudden urbanisation, bringing in its wake problems such as alcohol and drugs. Within a few decades Mammon has dramatically increased in power.
  • We allow our lives to be circumscribed by money so that even people of faith view it as a fact of life which limits hope (as was death in John 11).
  • Many people in society would be prepared to admit that their lives are spent mainly in the service of Mammon, accepting this as a fact, whether enthusiastically or reluctantly. Those who worship Christ as Lord, however, cannot “serve two masters” and must therefore distinguish their attitude to money from that of a society committed to serving it.

QUERIES

  • Why is it that when we feel compassion or the need for urgent action, the first instinct is to give money? Is this the only way problems can be tackled?
  • What would a truly Christian “alternative society” look like?
  • What might God want us to see that we’ve never truly seen before? (Justin Welby). Will we know when God is directing our attention to something new?
  • Consider the groups, communities and institutions of which you are a member. How do they see the world? In what way has their vision been affected by Mammon? (Justin Welby). It seems fairly safe to assume that these bodies have all been affected by Mammon. Should we challenge them and attempt to correct their view of the world? How might we do so?

 

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