Mammon

Mammon  is a term from the New Testament which implies wealth, or the love of money, greed, avarice, cupidity.

Considering the current global financial crisis is thought by some to have been caused by sheer greed, it is appropriate to consider a Christian response to mammon. 

A friend sent me a quote from N.T. Wright’s WHAT PAUL REALLY SAID, which I thought worth sharing in part: 

“The great prophets of late modernity were, of course, Marx, Freud and Nietzsche.  What does the Pauline gospel say about their great themes: money, sex and power?

            First, if Jesus is the Lord of all the world, the great god Mammon is not.  Preaching the Pauline gospel will mean finding ways of challenging the power of Mammon in our society, and of reminding those who function as his high priests, and those who urge us all to worship at his shrine, that there is another king, namely Jesus.  T.S. Eliot asked, fifty-five years ago, whether our modern Western society was founded in fact on anything other than the principle of compound interest; it is a question that looks to me even more urgent today.  We live in a society where debt, which used to be regarded as somewhat sordid and shameful, is glitzy and glamorous, with advertisements telling us that when you own a Mastercard ‘You’ve got the whole world in your hands’, or alternatively that Visa ‘makes the world go round’.  Both of them make claims for Mammon which, at the theoretical level, conflict directly with the claims of Jesus, and which, in practice, are very obviously lies; and yet millions believe them, and live by them.  At the global level, the problem of debt is notorious and acute, creating misery for millions while it generates millions for a tiny minority.  … I fail to see why the churches as a whole could not, as a matter of preaching the gospel of the crucified and risen Jesus, join together in naming the idol Mammon for what he is, and celebrating the love of God in Christ in his place.”              (pp 155-156)

 There is a spoof ad which was made by Adbusters years ago proclaiming mammon as a religion.  Though the ad is funny, it is also sadly the true religion of many.  I couldn’t find the ad in its original form, but did find a blog which features the ad you can see it at Mammon.

“It is a moral and spiritual imperative for Orthodox Christians to consecrate to God all their wealth and possessions-together with their very life-for His purpose and to His glory…As Orthodox Christians living in an excessively competitive society, in which Mammon is the god of choice, we need to recover this sacramental aspect of tithing as a symbolic offering of ‘all our life to Christ, our God.’ Tithing is less an economic issue than a spiritual one. It is not just a means to support programs and ministries of the institutional Church.  Its true purpose is to acknowledge, in the most concrete and   visible way possible, that God is absolute Sovereign over our life, and that our faith in Him-and in His faithfulness-signifies absolute trust in His promises (Mt 6:19-34).”   (Breck, Longing for God)

Comments on the Joint HS/MC Meeting of 5 Sept 2008

I have a few comments to offer to portions of the Holy Synod / Metropolitan Council Joint Session Minutes  Wednesday, September 3, Friday, September 5, 2008 which I offer below. 

The SIC report noted that 3 bishops did nothing when they were informed of the malfeasance going on in the OCA by Archimandrite Zacchaeus.   Bishop Nikon took exception to this claim feeling unfairly singled out by the SIC.  

“The report says that the hierarchs did nothing in response; however, Bishop Nikon stated action was taken by informing the Metropolitan who was Fr. Zacchaeus’ immediate superior. … In response to a question regarding whether or not any other action was taken, Archbishop Seraphim replied that it is standard to allow time for further developments before taking other action.”

 It is interesting that the bishops took exception to a claim that they had done nothing – they all remained silent and without voice when they knew the scandal was in progress and when Archbishop Job spoke out about the scandal.   But when they become the accused then they find their voice and squawk about how unfair the situation is.   They took exceptionto the claim that they had done nothing, but when nothing happened as a result of what they claimed to have done, well, they did nothing again.  And then throughout the years when Archbishop Job asked publicly about the truth of the allegations, not one of the other bishops was willing to stand by Archbishop Job or to support him in the synod meetings.  Their actions speak quite loudly that they did nothing and then actively supported nothing being done.  The bishops themselves as the scandal first went publicly in fact said they had thoroughly investigated the matter and found nothing to the allegations.  They actively participated in preventing the truth from being told.  They all should have been publicly reprimanded for that. 

“In reference to the report’s conclusion that Metropolitan Herman and Frs. Kucynda, Oselinsky, were treasurers “in name only,” it was reported that Metropolitan Herman did not receive a salary for his work as treasurer. He also did not sign any checks. Frs. Kucynda and Oselinsky both did receive compensation for their work.”

Interesting that when they were actually serving as Treasurers none of them ever denied being Treasurer, nor did they ever offer a disclaimer that they were Treasurers “in name only.”  At the Metropolitan Council and All American Council meetings they stood as Treasurer making full claim that they knew what they were talking about.  They carried themselves as if they were officers of the church.   And if they now claim to be treasurers in name only, I think it is fair for the OCA to ask them to return to the OCA all of the salaries they received for they obviously should not have been paid for a job they weren’t really doing.

“Bishop Benjamin …  noted that the mismanagement at the OCA Chancery had two different kinds of perpetrators: those who misused money, and those who knew about the misuse and did nothing about it-in particular those in positions of oversight.”

But those who knew about the misuse of money and did nothing about it, if they accepted pay for their positions of oversight is it not fair to ask them now to return the monies which they took form the OCA for a job that they didn’t do?  By claiming they were treasurers in name only they are in fact admitting to accepting pay without having done any work.  Integrity would say they should return all of their salaries back to the OCA.

“SIC members noted that in response to the question of why Metropolitan Herman kept the former Chancellor on for so long, His Beatitude said that he felt that Kondratick was a very gifted man and that under His Beatitude’s direction his talents could be focused and kept in check. It was also noted that Metropolitan Herman said that Robert S. Kondratick had such a complete control of the office that removing him would have broken down the entire operation.”

 Met. Herman therefore accepts responsibility for letting Kondratick run amuck.  He thought he could control him, but then admits only Kondratick knew what was going on.  The incompetence of the Metropolitan is glaring and appalling.  The metropolitan continued to blame Kondratick for all the problems, but part of the problem was that the Met. Herman thought he could contain Kondratick.  Met. Herman should be held accountable for this most egregious error in judgment.  It was the metropolitan’s failure that allowed Kondratick to keep control over everything.  And even though Met. Herman knew the nature of the scandal he kept Kondratick in place so that the entire operation would not break down –  in other words the metropolitan kept Kondratick in place so the scandal could continue.

“Bishop Nikon asked Mr. Wojcik if he had seen the Proskauer Rose documentation that is kept at the Chancery. He said that the Chancery administration had made it available to him.”

It seems to me that there was a denial by Met. Herman that any such documentation exists.   There have been many requests from various faithful to have the PR reports released since they belong to the OCA not to the metropolitan.   Release of those reports now that they are acknowledged to exist should be sought.   The report indicated that it is known that there are other PR reports which were kept away from the OCA by order of the former metropolitan.  These reports too should be retrieved and then as soon as is possible released to the entire OCA which paid for them.