“Dethroning Mammon” by Justin Welby

Every day the media and advertisers parade before our eyes and ears ‘must have’ gadgets, expensive fashions and accessories, luxurious holidays, new models of cars, offers of loans and credit . . . Do you feel that modern life is a maelstrom of information and news related to money, finance, economics, giving the impression that this is the most important, perhaps the only, area of life worthy of our attention? Do you ever stop to ask yourself, “How does all this relate to my Christian faith?”

In this book, his first full-length one, the Archbishop of Canterbury looks at several incidents as Jesus travels to Jerusalem towards the crucifixion. He argues against a tendency to judge success and worth purely on the basis of what can be measured financially. He feels strongly this has distorted and corrupted society and has led to a fundamentally unchristian view that a healthy bank balance or even a strong economy is “the goal”, an end in itself, rather than to be used as a means to do good. The Archbishop believes that the more interconnected the world becomes, the greater the tendency for power to be held over individuals and nations by economics, by money, by flows of finance; these are forces which he defines collectively as “Mammon” a word, derived from Aramaic, and used in the New Testament to mean the power of wealth or riches.

The book is intended mainly for individual devotional use during Lent and is a challenge to Christians—and non-Christians—about their attitude to and use of wealth. But the Archbishop also makes comments applicable to the UK in the light of Brexit, when he says: “It is essential that the new United Kingdom outside Europe is not built to a design drawn by Mammon . . . materialism is not the answer to the challenges we face. Rather we need a deep sense of the priority of the human person, whoever they are and wherever they come from. We need to remind ourselves that Mammon always deceives his followers. A campaign fought on his agenda will lead to division and despair.”

He finishes the book with a challenge to each of us: “Who is on the throne of your life: Mammon or Christ? What might God be calling you to do next?”

Definitely worth reading—hurry to the Mustard Seed and buy your copy!

Review by Keith Thrower.

Dethroning Mammon; ISBN 978-1-4729-2977-8 (Pub: Bloomsbury Continuum)

Faith For All Seasons: Jeff Lucas

This new book by Jeff Lucas, published this year, is a commentary on the life of Elijah. One of the most important men of the Old Testament: some said that Jesus was Elijah returned from the dead, Elijah was there at the Transfiguration of Jesus, but he was no super hero, always triumphant. He had a period when he hid in a cave, fearful of death from his enemies and wishing he could die. But God was there, always calling him forward, saying, I am here with you, take courage, follow me.

This book is an encouragement to those of us who have periods when we feel disheartened or that God is far from us. The motto of the school in Uganda where I taught for a few years, was “Never give up”. That too was true of Elijah, who learned that, whatever he felt like, God never left him.

Joan Plumptre