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)