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Hallo again to all.

This week we've been thinking about money. For ourselves and in general. Like many of you, we've been hit rather hard by the global economic downturn (oh, call it a recession). Like most of you, our families, parishes, towns, and charities are short of money.

Numerous phrases from the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer have become part of the English lexicon, used even by people who aren't entirely sure what they mean. One of those phrases is 'God and mammon'; it's in book titles, essays, news stories, and in tired rhetoric everywhere. The source? The Sermon on the Mount, preached to what was likely the largest crowd ever addressed directly by Jesus. Our Lord is quoted in Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13, and uses a word translated variously as 'money' or 'wealth'—or left alone and untranslated as 'mammon'.

Religious folk seem to spend much time and energy arguing about 'What would Jesus do?' or 'What would Jesus drive?'. We'll likely never know just what Jesus would have done or said about parliamentary government, socialised health care, fluoridated water, nickel-cadmium batteries, depletion of the ozone layer, sexual orientation, spam emails, airline food, or Microsoft. But we know exactly what He thought about money and God, because he said it, and his words were recorded by two of the four Evangelists: 'You cannot serve God and mammon.'

So here we are at Anglicans Online, doing our best to serve God without running out of mammon. Our ever-so-discreet fundraising campaign is so discreet that it is only bringing in about 15 percent of our operating costs. Our initial experiments at placing adverts on our pages (here and here) have rather a distasteful appearance, we think. It is so very un-Anglican to be ugly, isn't it? So we're jettisoning that.

None of this would have prompted us to write about money while everyone else is talking about sex, had we not seen a news report that those opposed to homosexuality have threatened to withhold money from the Church of England if Dr Jeffrey John (a gay man) is made Bishop of Reading. We're not sure whether or not this threat is actually serving anything, but it is an interaction of God and mammon, with sex thrown in. It reminds us that, apart from homeless people and pillar saints, God and mammon are permanently intertwined in modern life, more so than we might wish.

Money as a tool to argue about sex. How sad. The thought of years of people, parishes, or dioceses not paying assessments, years of threats to withhold pounds, dollars, and euros unless X happens—all this makes us cranky and short-tempered. It tempts us (wrongly) to say, 'Well, then, there we are.' If we really must have this schism, why don't we just stop talking about it and do it. But, wait: we'd then need to find something else to talk about. Can we? Stephen Bates argues (see our Worth Noting section) that obsession with sexuality is so much a part of the identity of the Anglican church that we can't stop talking about it. What a frightening thought.

Ready to change the subject?

See you next week.

Brian Reidís signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 22 June 2003

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