Other than being the street on which Mr. Burns lives in the Simpsons, I've been intrigued today in exploring what "mammon" means for us.
As in "serving God or serving Mammon."
This Sunday is "open minds" Sunday, which I take to mean I can follow all sorts of nerdy searches into finding out what this might mean.
Wikipedia had all sorts of interesting things to say.
I'm struggling with this distinction James makes--between "earthly" things and things that are "from above."
I think James reminds us of an important reality: this life of faithfulness requires constant, vigilant attention to the "reality" we're living in. Do we get caught up in seeing things the way that is MERELY earthly--that is, that ignores the divine presence in creation? Are we able to connect all that we see and know to our knowledge of God?
My problem is that it's far too easy to think that earth=bad and spiritual=good. I treasure the earth, and delight in many earthly things. (Just yesterday, the way the daisies I had so rudely transplated, and in so doing subjected them to searing heat, bounced back to life amazed and delighted me.)
I see God's presence in those daisies. And in many other places. I'm trying to see God's presence even in difficult/ugly places.
If earth=bad and spiritual=good, how does that all work?
One way we've avoided this dilemma is by personifying "earthiness" as "mammon." Sometimes become a devil-like character, mammon is a force of temptation to all sorts of greediness and worldliness.
(Turns out that underdog geeks used this image/word to describe Microsoft's empire... But that must have been before the Gateses got named Time Magazing People of the Year. With Bono.)
Unhappy with easy answers, I don't like this simplification, either.
It's not a case of choosing, once, between the two. I think we have to make this choice everyday.
The big question, I think, is:
Will I see the world only as a limited resource, to be owned or used for my personal gain? Or will I see the world as God's creation, to be enjoyed and shared?
The difficult questions are how I'm going to live differently to show that I've chosen the second answer.
I was talking the other day with a friend who had a profound encounter, in which she felt confirmed in her commitment to care about people who are poor and in need. She really wants to change her life and the world. But then, when she was shopping with another friend, she still wanted to buy all those fun things...
(And I'm still letting my mind spin as I imagine commentary can be made from the fact that MTV--producers of the "real" world--is now making an online virtual reality, "set" in Orange County.)