“Dethroning Mammon: Making Money Serve Grace”
John Nightingale sends a review of “Dethroning Mammon: Making Money Serve Grace”
Justin Welby is concerned that in the last few years money has become the measure of all things and has distorted values in the process. He contrasts the selfishness, calculation and illusion of control, when financial procedures become dominant, with the generosity shown by God in the hope that we will accept it and share with others.
The titles of his chapters aptly set out what he is going to cover: what we see we value; what we measure controls us; what we have we hold; what we receive we treat as ours; what we give we gain; what we master brings us joy. These themes are illustrated by Bible passages, particularly from the life of Jesus, by questions to the reader and by contemporary examples, for example the inability of GDP to measure the value of voluntary work or the needs of future generations.
Here his experience is invaluable. Though he disclaims expertise in theology and economics he has been active in business and church circles and has experienced the tensions between them. At times he gives us personal examples, for instance being frustrated when otherwise good decisions at his workplace were often challenged by the tax department because they reduced the efficiency of, in his opinion unproductive, tax planning.
Readers are called on to examine their individual priorities and their common life as church members. They are also invited to be concerned for the common good; he briefly discusses a number of contemporary issues: the banking crisis, the need for credit unions, the reform of the tax system and the value of international aid and relief. Here he gives excellent introductions which can readily be followed up elsewhere.
What I appreciate is his evident sincerity and the simplicity and vividness of his language. One feels invited to go on a pilgrimage, joining up with a fellow pilgrim who knows he is still learning but is more experienced than oneself.
“Dethroning Mammon: Making Money Serve Grace” by Justin Welby, Bloomsbury, 2016, £9.99
John Nightingale: Jubilee Debt Campaign, Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility, West Midlands New Economics group.