Friday, 12 August 2011

Money as the root of all evil...

Jesus had an awful lot to say about the dangers of the love of money. In fact too much of a focus on one's personal wealth seems to be pretty much incompatible with being a christian -although I don't see many of us embracing this message with great enthusiasm. Yet there is so much of it in the gospels, isn't there? Sell everything you have and give it to the poor seems to be the standard advice. Also don't fill your storehouses to capacity and somehow think this gives you security, because your life could be demanded this very night. Oh, and remember that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Seriously think about where your treasures are, for there your heart will be also.One of the key news items pushed out of the spot light by the recent riots is the volatility of global markets, the problems faced by so many economies, the debt and deficits fuelled by greed and the "buy now, pay later" atttitudes fostered by consumerism. Greed, selfishness and irresponsibile attitudes to money have undoubtedly contributed to the economic - and moral- problems in our country; it looks like Jesus was right, money is a moral issue.

We received a letter the other day telling us that an ISA had matured and did we want to "roll it over" at a  low interest rate or did we want to pop down the bank to discuss a range of "more attractive returns"? No brainer really, and so we spent this morning  discussing something which promised to protect the capital while at the same time offering potential returns, with a very nice young man who nevertheless made me rather uneasy by his enthusiastic confidence. This product, he told me, "offers you security and the potential for returns." And there you have it, we like to think that money offers us "security", that it wraps us in a warm, comforting blanket. Yet nothing is very secure, none of us knows what the future holds and we are facing problems on many fronts: our jobs may not be secure, we may worry for the employment prospects of our children, environmental problems may lead to all kinds of repercussions, such as food shortages and economic and political unrest. I felt like we needed someone to proclaim," You fool! This very night your life will be demanded of you."

Gentle reader, you will be glad to hear that  I refrained and so am now writing this from home while enjoying a nice cup of tea and not from a padded cell after a visit from the people in white coats. I shall end by allowing you to benefit from the Archdruidy wisdom of one who has had the moral courage to abjure worldly riches in favour of simplicity , tea lights, raffia and the moon . Here she reflects on the culpability of us all.


  1. Hi Sue,
    I take the point and you are right. But the Beaker folk haven't quite grasped the true nettle.

    They say, "If a window is smashed in Dalston, on this view, we all smashed it." but I think that the real challenge is more like "If a window is smashed in Dalston, we all need to consider how we contributed to its smashing"

    This is a far more realistic and enabling approach to corporate or communal sin. It offers us the possibility of changing our life-choices in a way which mimimise our contribution to the sins of our society, and maximises the possibiltiy of doing something good. It also encourages us not to abandon oursleves to the inevitability of corporate sin.

    I live in hope that all of us can make a difference - even if we do have money to invest.

    God Bless

  2. "Happiness lies more in giving than receiving".
    Please send me your ISA and you will find eternal bliss.

  3. I am sure I didn't smash any windows, Benny:)

    Fr Oder, if I send you my ISA it might disqualify you for state benefits should you find yourself in such a position. I would hate to do that to you!

  4. To cut a very long story short, when I was working in cancer care I was working with an older woman (early 70s) who was dying of breast cancer – she was what one of the palliative care consultants called a ‘Peter special’ which usually meant a person that was hard to reach. I seemed to have a ‘special’ touch with people like this – to be honest it was about being humble and not wading into someone’s life saying ‘you know best’; because we don’t know best, even when we think we do, because ‘we’ (the professional staff) don’t know what it is like to be dying and never will, until we are the ones who are actually dying.

    Anyway, this particular woman was very resistant to any plans to return her home. I twigged that part of the reason was because the house was a mess – as it turned out it was. I also reasoned there was money hidden in the house. The woman began to deteriorate faster than expected, with mets in her liver, lungs, brain and bones marching apace, so it was agreed that the local hospice was the only really suitable place for her to go. This was arranged and it was just a matter of waiting for a bed. In the meantime I arranged for a taxi to take the woman to her own home, with a nurse and the woman’s daughter, to have a last look and to put things in order. She returned to the ward with a dirty carrier bag, which contained £10,000 in cash (how I knew the money hidden in her house, I don’t know, I just have a good sixth sense about things like that).

    The day before she was due to move to the hospice, I went up to say goodbye. She laughed when she saw me and said: ‘Look I’ve turned into a Chinaman.’ She had turned bright yellow – a sign her liver was failing fast, no doubt now riddled with secondary tumours. We sat and chatted for a while and then she said:

    ‘I think my daughter, has taken £500 of the money I brought in.’

    I found this so sad, that despite the fact she had only days to live (indeed she died three days later) that she was concerned about a poxy £500 that may or may not have been taken by her daughter – I certainly wasn’t going initiate an investigation of financial abuse. Why do people become so attached to money? There was so much more she could have been doing with her daughter. And yes, I know there could be deep rifts in their relationship that can’t just be healed in a few days. But I saw it as part of my job, to try and ensure people died with some resolution of long standing problems. Yet here I was helpless. I think I said something along the lines of ‘Does it really matter now?’ to which she looked rather affronted that I hadn’t taken her concern more seriously. So we spent the next half an hour laughing, as I told her some of my more outrageous social work stories. The irony is the daughter inherited all the money anyway, so why was my client so upset about £500 – that I strongly suspect hadn’t been taken?

    The LOVE of money surely is the root of all evil.