This Lent in Wantage Downs, we are going to be exploring The Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2017 Lent book. In his first published book, “Dethroning Mammon – Making Money Serve Grace”, published by Bloomsbury, The Most Revd Justin Welby challenges the way that we value things (and people) and argues that one of the most crucial dilemmas we face in the 21st C is where we place our allegiance – in Christ, or in secular materialism, what Jesus referred to as “Mammon”.
The Archbishop’s thesis is not that “all money is bad” but that divine economics are not always the same as secular ones and it’s worth examining whether we live our lives based more on the latter than the former.
We are hoping to hold a series of group discussions around the book’s themes over the course of Lent. If you’re interested in participating in one, or more, of these, please pick up one of the flyers in church and complete the booking form slip attached. Booking is essential as there are, obviously, limits on the numbers that can be accommodated in each group.
Whether or not you are able, or wish, to join a discussion group, you may wish to read the Archbishop’s book as part of your own Lenten observance. It’s written in a style which may not be to everyone’s taste but I would recommend it particularly because of the questions throughout the book, the Archbishop invites us to ask. Questions which are fresh-thinking and profound. In fact, I’d say, it’s worth getting the book for the questions alone, which are interspersed clearly in the text, in separate italicised sections, for ease of reference.
In addition, while one shouldn’t, as a general rule, judge a book by its cover, the cover of this one, depicting a painting by Daniel Bonnell, is rather special and I will be writing more about that here, shortly.
The book’s foreword is written by Jean Vanier the founder of L’Arche Community, a community in which men and women, with and without intellectual disability, live alongside one another and cooperate jointly in what has sometimes been called a “school of the heart”. Few are as well placed to witness to the joys of a life based on divine economics rather than Mammon.
M Vanier writes that “Lent is a time of compassion, but it is especially a time of preparation and liberation. Some people give up sweets or coffee, a symbol of giving up what appears essential in our lives so that Jesus can once again become central. This book is also about liberation. It is about freeing ourselves from the principles and spirit that amount to Mammon, freeing ourselves to be true disciples of Jesus. Let us prepare together for that ultimate liberation which is Easter, Jesus resurrected and alive today.”
A good invitation, I think.