The end of money
Your house, your meal, your school, your church – it all seems to come down to money. But is there another world waiting to be discovered? Kevin Snyman ventures down the rabbit hole
Morpheus: You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad… You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
“Neo: What truth?
“Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage, into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch, a prison for your mind.”
In the Wachowski brothers’ classic 1999 film, The Matrix, Morpheus offers Neo a choice: Take a blue pill and return to ignorance, or, take the red pill, stay in “Wonderland” and see just how “deep the rabbit hole goes”. The exact origins of money are not certain, but the kingdom it has created is all consuming. Invite any church to consider its mission and building without money and the depth of the rabbit hole soon becomes apparent. This is in spite of Jesus’ incessant warnings about the dangers of money. Jesus, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Augustine, Basil, Clement of Alexandria and Francis are all ignored when it comes to keeping the ministers’ pension fund healthy. The Church has for 2000 years swallowed blue pills by the bucketload – acquiring property, amassing wealth, and, in so doing, allying itself with imperial power.
Money seems to have arisen, among other things, as a means of sustaining empire. Oppressed indigenous communities were forced to accept money as payment for food and sex. This solved two problems in one stroke: Sustaining armies without resorting to rape and pillage, and collecting taxes from far-flung lands efficiently. So, money facilitates the upward shift of wealth; this is its primary function. You can try regulating its use – apply progressive taxation, encourage inflation, protect the bankrupt, battle vulture funds, introduce periodic debt cancellation – been there done that. But money does what money does – shifts wealth to the wealthy. It’s in its DNA, like spots on a leopard…
Kevin Snyman is the minister of Tabernacle United Reformed Church in Llanvaches, Newport, and was chaplain to the Occupy Faith UK campaign
This is an extract from the September 2014 edition of Reform.