Has wealth become our rival god?

The lectionary reading for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity in Year C is the Parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12.13-21. It is one of several parables that is unique to Luke, and includes features that connect it with other Lukan parables.

Since last week’s reading of Jesus’ teaching about prayer, things have moved on considerably. Since then, Jesus has been involved in a number of controversies and the sense of conflict has sharpened. Following the ‘Beelzebub’ controversy in Luke 11.14f, Jesus engages in some teaching about the sign of Jonah and the lamp of the body, but then (in a long chapter of 54 verses) falls into sharp dispute with some Pharisees and ‘teachers of the law’, pronouncing severe ‘woes’ against them. ‘Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too’ (Luke 11.45). ‘Too right I do!’ her responds. Gentle Jesus, meek and mild—I think not!

In the first part of chapter 12, he continues to warn the jostling crowd against the influence of the Pharisees, and calls those following him to loyalty under pressure. All this material emphasises the idea that there are powerful forces, within us and without, which seek to draw us away from the path of discipleship, and that part of following Jesus is about making hard and determined choices to stay loyal.


This parable is introduced by an interjection from someone in the crowd (Luke 12.13). There is no particular need to think of this as a Lukan narrative artifice; he has already mentioned the crowds in Luke 12.1, and there is a clear sense that, whilst at times Jesus is teaching the crowd, and at others directing his words to his disciples, even then the crowd appear to be able to overhear what he is saying.

The question of inheritance was a pertinent one in Jesus’ culture; our knowledge of the socio-economic realities of the time indicate that inheritance was the primary source of wealth, since income generation in an agrarian economy was difficult and unreliable. (There is no little irony in the fact that, in the UK in the last 30 years, we have seen a similar shift to the importance of inheritance, primarily because of the soaring costs of housing.)

The question of inheritance was addressed in the OT, particularly in Deut 21.15–17 and Num 27.1–11 (interestingly, in the latter, ensuring that daughters were provided for from their father’s estate were there no sons)—and the assumption was that the elder son received a double portion. It is likely that this voice from the crowd was a younger son with no-one to speak for him, and as was common in Graeco-Roman culture, he appeals to an authority figure to plead his case. He knows the outcome he wants; now he needs Jesus to give it his imprimatur.

Jesus is addressed a ‘Teacher’, a term of status and respect, as he has been by the ‘teachers of the law’ whom he criticised in Luke 11.45; Luke portrays Jesus as someone with standing amongst friends and foes alike. But his response (‘Man…!’) functions as a rebuke, in which Jesus distances himself from the question and the questioner. To some extent, this seems to be part of Jesus refusing to be distracted from the business of preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom; entanglement with mundane issues too easily pulls us from the priorities that God has for us. But the following teaching shows Jesus’ rejection of the underlying concerns of personal gain.


Having been teaching his disciples in Luke 12.1, he now appears to address the crowd (‘he said to them…’ Luke 12.14). He uses similar language of ‘be on your guard’ that he used to the disciples about the ‘yeast of the Pharisees’, though the language is not identical (despite some English translations). Here are two dangers to discovering true life. Jesus’s response is characterised as a chreia, a maxim or saying set in the context of conversation, but it is expanded by the story of the ‘rich fool’. In much of Jesus’ teaching, the illustrations come first, and the maxim comes as a summary at the end (as in the following passage, Luke 12.31), but here the maxim comes first: ‘[a person’s] life does not consist in an abundance of possessions’.

The introduction to the parable, ‘..a certain rich man…’, also occurs in the introduction to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16.19 and the parable of the unjust steward in Luke 16.1. In some ways, he appears to be portrayed as a shrewd agribusinessman; if he sells he excess grain now, then the price will fall with the availability of surplus, and he will make less money. But if he stores up his grain, and waits till a time of shortage, then the price will be higher and he will make more money. And yet he has not anticipated the surplus, and so is involved in the extra expense of demolishing his current buildings; he is not, it seems, as cunning as we first thought.

The rich man engages in a soliloquy, and such inner conversations, by an individual or amongst a group, are consistently portrayed negatively by Luke. Perhaps the other most telling example is in Luke 18.11, where the Pharisee ‘stands and prays to himself’. The focus of the man’s concerns turn only on his own needs; Luther described sin as cor curvum se, the heart turned in on itself. It is notable that the man considers neither God’s claims on his life and wealth, nor the needs of those around him, ignoring the consistent demand in the Scriptures that those blessed with wealth should be concerned for the needs of the poor. This is particularly striking given the nature of the village economy in the first century; the needs of those around would be perfectly evident day by day, in contrast to our detached ‘factory farming’ approach.

The man’s conclusion to himself ‘Eat, drink and be merry!’ uses the language of two OT verses, Eccl 8.15 and Isa 22.13—both verses which articulate the futility of life or the disregard for the perspective of God. It is worth noting that Jesus’ focus here is not primarily ethical, but it is theocentric. The issue is not merely that the man has acted selfishly and unjustly, but that he has left God out of all his careful calculations. This reality is captured beautifully in Rembrandt’s depiction at the head of this piece; the man’s candle illuminates only his own face and his own needs, whilst every other concern disappears into the darkness.

This provides the link with the teaching that follows (which is paralleled in Matt 6.25f), along with verbal connections in the mention of barns, life, goods/possessions and treasure, which make it a natural follow-on. Attention to God, both in his provision for us and his holding us to account, rescues us from both greed and anxiety.


Concerns about the corrosive and destructive impact of greed is a feature of many cultures. It was a subject of discussion in Graeco-Roman discourse as well as in the biblical material. Plutarch, the first-century Platonist essayist, also criticised those who lived in luxury:

For his ailment is not poverty, but insatiability and avarice, arising from the presence in him of a false and unreflecting judgement; and unless someone removes this, like a tapeworm, from his mind, he will never cease to ‘need’ superfluities—that is, to want what he does not need. (Cupid. Divit. 524D).

It would be quite hard to find a more apt criticism of contemporary consumer culture—and yet Christians find it hard both to discern the damage that consumer culture does, and to live distinctly from it.

A generation ago, there was a serious movement amongst Christians to stand apart from consumerism and live simpler lives, influenced by writers and teachers like Ronald Sider and Richard Foster, who commented that ‘Possessions are called possessions because they possess you’. The anecdotes were to live more simply, to enjoy things without owning them, and to give things away. Where are these voices today?

John D Rockefeller was anecdotally said to have been asked ‘Mr Rockefeller, how much money does it take to make a person happy?’ to which he was supposed to have replied ‘Just a little bit more.’

In the latest episode of The Life Scientific, virologist Jonathan Ball recalls his childhood in the mining villages of Nottinghamshire in the 1970s, where each village was a community and everyone looked out for one another. The communitarian outlook was ripped apart by the disputes between Government and miners in the 1980s, provoked in the name of free-market economics, and it destroyed a way of life that has never been recovered. As a culture we are wealthier than ever before, and more lonely than we have ever been.

We seek more income and more things, whilst we squander our money on things we just do not need, which we end up hoard, wasting or throwing away—as testified weekly in TV programmes like ‘Eat Well for Less’ and ‘Shop Well for Less’, which show how people can live just as well on, in some cases, half the expense of what they are currently spending. We work harder than ever, with mostly UK family households now needing both parents to work to sustain our desired lifestyle, chasing in vain the promise of happiness through acquiring more possessions.


As an antidote to this, it is perhaps no surprise the Luke depicts the economic, as well as the spiritual, distinctiveness of the renewed people of God in the followers of Jesus.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,  praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2.42–47)

One way of modelling this faithfully is to live in actual shared community, as with the Bruderhof community—a BBC documentary about them is planned to be screened later this month.

ANOTHER LIFE IS POSSIBLE

Love your neighbor. Share everything. (OK, maybe not your toothbrush.) But at the Bruderhof, we believe that another way of life is possible. We’re not perfect people, but we’re willing to venture everything to build a life where there are no rich or poor. Where everyone is cared for, everyone belongs, and everyone can contribute.

We’re pooling all our income, talents, and energy to take care of one another and to reach out to others. We believe that God wants to transform our world, here and now. This requires a life of discipleship and sacrificial commitment; however, when you truly love your neighbor as yourself, peace and justice become a reality. Isn’t that what Jesus came to bring for everyone?

Their rationale for shared living is rooted in the teaching of Jesus:

Yet Jesus’ economic teachings are just as integral to the life he taught as any of his other basic commands: love to neighbors and enemies, hatred of hypocrisy, truthfulness, sexual purity, or the works of mercy. These teachings are not free-floating maxims but are all intimately interrelated; the way of life outlined in the Sermon on the Mount is a single whole that at once enables and requires freedom from private possessions. “You cannot serve God and mammon” is a truth that cuts through all spheres of life. The apostles and early church fathers reiterate the same bracing axiom.

In the light of Jesus’ teaching in this week’s reading, showing how easily possessions can become our god, how might we make this approach more real in our own congregations today?


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25 thoughts on “Has wealth become our rival god?”

  1. I think most Christians, at least in the West but probably throughout the world, tend to lead rather independent lives. Dont really share possessions or money, except in giving to some charities. As someone who has lived on their own for quite a few years, Im not sure I could stick ‘community’ life. Im something of an introvert and Im not convinced that is how we are supposed to live life anyway. Personally Id find it too tiring.

      • No doubt but I was speaking personally. But it’s not a coincidence that very, very few Christians in the world live in such communities. The New Testament church members didnt operate that way either. If individuals or families wish to live that way that’s fine, but it shouldnt be promoted as THE way to live as a Christian. It’s not.

  2. In some ways, he appears to be portrayed as a shrewd agribusinessman; if he sells he excess grain now, then the price will fall with the availability of surplus, and he will make less money. But if he stores up his grain, and waits till a time of shortage, then the price will be higher and he will make more money.

    Which will be good for him — more profit — and also good for his customers, who will have bread during the time of shortage when otherwise they would have gone hungry, having eaten it all during the bumper crop.

    I only mention this because of the unfortunate tendency some have to imply that there is something shifty about the whole idea of making a profit. Which there isn’t: profits are merely the information feedback signals which let producers know what they ought to be doing to respond to the needs and wants of consumers.

    If you want a very readable illustration of what happens if you ever you try to run an economy without profits, try Red Plenty by Francis Spufford (who I think is even an Anglican?). Spoiler: everybody starves, except the politburo living it large at the top.

    • “— and also good for his customers, who will have bread during the time of shortage when otherwise they would have gone hungry, having eaten it all during the bumper crop.”

      Well, that’s casting the rich man’s rationale in a very favourable light: as some might portray Google and Starbucks as wise stewards of trickle-down economic policy.

      And the rich man’s boast might have been excusable if he had only proclaimed faith in the providence of his asset management strategy.

      Instead, the basis of his sense of entitlement to worldly self-indulgence (“Eat, drink and be merry, soul) was the groundless presumption that he would be the principal long-term beneficiary of his business strategy: “Thou hast much goods laid up for many years.”

      God didn’t declare his business strategy per se to be entirely ill-considered and worthless.

      He simply exposed the folly of presuming a future in which such a vast store of wealth might be lavished upon himself.

      • Well, that’s casting the rich man’s rationale in a very favourable light: as some might portray Google and Starbucks as wise stewards of trickle-down economic policy.

        The whole point of markets is that it doesn’t matter what people’s rationale is. As long as producers react to the feedback of price signals, people get fed.

        Adam Smith: ‘It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.’

        Any system which depends on people being benevolent, or having the right motivations, will, in a corrupt world where we are all essentially sinful, fail catastrophically.

        The parable is about the subject’s short-sightedness in storing up ephemeral treasure on Earth, rather than lasting treasure in Heaven. My point is that it shouldn’t be misused to say that seeking profit is evil. People seeking profit, which is just another way of saying ‘responding to the feedback signals which say what people have enough of and what they need more of’ is, in a fallen world, the only way to not have famines.

        • “Any system which depends on people being benevolent, or having the right motivations, will, in a corrupt world, where we are all essentially sinful, fail catastrophically.”

          Surely, as a response to my comment, this is a straw man, since I’ve been clear that the parable is not a critique of business strategy: “God didn’t declare his business strategy to be ill-considered and worthless.”

          Indeed, there was considerable divine providence in Joseph’s economic recommendation to Pharoah: “And let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.” (Gen. 41:35,36)

          However, while I’d agree that seeking profit is not evil, seeking profit is not merely “responding to feedback signals which say what people have enough of and what people need more of”; unless by ‘people’, you primarily mean institutional investors.

          It’s the latter who, in their drive for greater profits, have fixed prices by throttling down the supply of “what people need more of” (think cartels like OPEC) and have successfully lobbied Western governments to adopt protectionist import tariffs on processed commodities, and which leave developing countries impoverished, and are the antithesis of anything that Adam Smith might have called ‘free trade’:
          “To give the monopoly of the home-market to the produce of domestic industry, in any particular art or manufacture, is in some measure to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, and must, in almost all cases, be either a useless or a hurtful regulation. If the produce of domestic can be brought there as cheap as that of foreign industry, the regulation is evidently useless. If it cannot, it must generally be hurtful. It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy.” https://www.econlib.org/library/Smith/smWN.html?chapter_num=27

          • However, while I’d agree that seeking profit is not evil, seeking profit is not merely “responding to feedback signals which say what people have enough of and what people need more of”; unless by ‘people’, you primarily mean institutional investors.

            You’re wrong there. That’s exactly what seeking profit is. If profits for your product go down, it means that supply is exceeding demand — people already have enough of that stuff and don’t need any more — and so you should produce less (or, in the case in point, store what you have already produced, if it’s not perishable) and put your resources into something else. If on the other hand you see a market niche where profits are high it means that demand is outstripping supply — there isn’t enough of whatever it is — and so you should put your resources into that market area and compete.

            This continues (in the abstract, perfect case) until supplies and demands for everything are in equilibrium which means that resources are being used as effectively as they can be.

            Of course in the real world there are tariffs and other such barriers which prevent things working properly, and of course there are demands which are themselves immoral (eg demand for drugs, prostitution) and so seeking profit by providing those services is aiding immorality. But I just wanted to head off any idea that profit is inherently suspect.

          • Oil producers who seek profit through, for instance, price fixing are not simply forming a cartel on the basis of people, for instance, “having enough of that stuff and don’t need any more”.

            Cartels are inimical to free trade.

          • Cartels are inimical to free trade.

            True, but also they don’t work because any producer seeking maximum profits has a big incentive to break the cartel, undercut the others, and increase their profits by stealing all the market share.

            Profit-seeking is what busts cartels.

          • If cartels didn’t work, then governments wouldn’t need to resort to anti-trust legislation.

            Apart from OPEC, there are numerous otter cartels which combine to monopolise supply and fix prices.

            While members seek profits, they see value in preventing a price war between producers, which (before achieving any equilibrium) can be just as damaging to their respective economic future.

            Thanks for engaging. In terms of your previous comments here, we appear to have (mostly 🙂 ) similar theological positions!

          • I meant to write: “numerous other cartels”.

            That said, the number of cartels that continue to control the trade in otter skins is equally regrettable!

          • If cartels didn’t work, then governments wouldn’t need to resort to anti-trust legislation.

            Anti-trust legislation is mostly about preventing a single organisation establishing a monopoly, which is not the same thing as a cartel (which is where a number of competitors agree not to compete). Obviously the factors which prevent cartels from being stable (competition between members) don’t apply to a single entity, which is why government intervention may be required in that case.

            Apart from OPEC, there are numerous otter cartels which combine to monopolise supply and fix prices.

            Found your correction very disappointing, thought that somehow a cabal of river-mammals had discovered a way to flout the laws of economics (perhaps to get one over on the beavers).

            Are there really ‘numerous’ examples of successful, long lasting (like, decades) cartels? OPEC is the one example everyone reaches for, and I suspect that’s because it is the only example which has really worked (and even it has had its shaky moments).

          • ”Anti-trust legislation is mostly about preventing a single organisation from establishing a monopoly”

            Well, perhaps, mostly, but not exclusively. The Sherman Act, as probably the most notable example of anti-trust law, states: “Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal.”

            So, for instance, import cartels have fallen foul of this legislation. The industries have included automotive parts, high-voltage cables, vitamins, air-cargo carriers, tobacco, construction and financial services.

          • Admittedly, such cartels have not survived over decades. However, that’s, at least, partly due to government intervention.

          • Well, perhaps, mostly, but not exclusively. The Sherman Act,[…]

            Oh, it includes those clauses, but they are hardly ever used compared to the monopoly ones.

            On the other hand the monopoly ones aren’t actually used that much either, just the threat of them is usually enough to induce compliance.

            So it’s difficult to tell what effect the legislation has. Certainly it was preceived to be a problem or it wouldn’t be in the legislation, but that doesn’t mean that that perception was necessarily accurate.

            So, for instance, import cartels have fallen foul of this legislation. The industries have included automotive parts, high-voltage cables, vitamins, air-cargo carriers, tobacco, construction and financial services.

            True but note that in at least one of those cases (the air-freight catel) the deal was brought down by cartel members defecting, just as predicted (Lufthansa and Swiss International Airlines went to the authorities in exchange for immunity). I don’t have time to go through all the others but that’s at least some evidence for the position that cartels are inherently unstable because members have great incentive to defect (in this case there was the added incentive of being able to get the others into legal trouble, but even without that there is profit motive enough).

  3. The man in the parable is rich, and his response is dismay: “What shall I do?” It’s a lovely comic touch, I think.Then Jesus continues with one of his most terrifying parables, used to great effect incidentally by the vicar in Agatha Christie’s “Murder at the Vicarage”. I couldn’t agree more about needing more Richard Foster and Ronald Sider!

    • Also, that comic touch is repeated in the Parable of the Shrewd Manager: “”The manager said to himself, “What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg” (Luke 16:3)

      Such self-preserving machinations stand in stark contrast to the self-surrendering pleas expressed in Luke 3:10-14, Acts 2:37; Acts 16:30.

  4. Over 40 years ago I was at a small conference where John Eddison was the speaker. Some reading here may remember him. He was very proper and very definitely not from a radical background. So that he said the following struck more forceably: Jesus had much more to say about the dangers of money than the dangers of sex. The force of this was made greater as the majority of the audience were student age, and therefore having likely greater access to sex than money at their stage of life!

    One might propose both Money and Sex as leading Idols of our Modern world. The latter seems to command much discussion on these pages, often fractious. Is it a good sign or a bad sign that this post has, so far, attracted significantly less comments?

    • ‘Jesus had much more to say about the dangers of money than the dangers of sex.’ Hmm, yes and no.

      Statistically, he mentions sexual morality more often…

      ‘So can we say that sexual morality was not a major focus of Jesus’ teaching and that there is, therefore, nothing in the Gospels that should be taken as critical of homosexual sexual practice? Can we say, therefore, that concern with sexual conduct does not align one with Jesus and that in particular Christian criticism of same-sex sexual practice has no basis in the Gospels? No we cannot.

      Sexual ethics are given a place of considerable importance by the Gospel Jesus; and in his context, not to speak directly of homosexual sexual practice is implicitly to affirm the negative view of such practice that was prevalent in his context and mandated by the Scriptures of that context. This is the attitude that becomes clear as we move from the Gospel Jesus to the Apostle Paul, who needed to develop ways of speaking about sexual matters that would encourage his hearers to carry forward, into the Christian context being forged in the wider Greco-Roman world, the in-this-respect Jewish values that had come to them in connection with Jesus.’

      https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/anvil/26-1_021.pdf

      • “Statistically, he mentions sexual morality more often…”

        Although, as Nolland says, frequency is not a good guide to importance, a quick scan of the Gospels suggests to me that it is pretty even. The main references to sexual ethics are to adultery (in the heart, Matthew 5:27-30 – the latter part gives a radical solution) and in relation to divorce and remarriage (Matthew 5:31-32, Luke 16:18; Matthew 19:1-12, Mark 10:1-12). These issues are also mentioned in lists of sinful thoughts and behaviours (e.g. Mark 7:20-23, Matthew 15:19, with Mark also including greed in the list, which relates to money, wealth etc.) John 4 and John 8 are less teaching about ethics.

        So, I have no doubt that Jesus was strong on sexual ethics, and was more strict than his Jewish contemporaries.

        On the side of his teaching on wealth, I found:
        – ‘Cannot serve God and Mammon’ (Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13-15)
        – ‘the deceitfulness of wealth; choked by riches and pleasures’ from the ‘parable of the sower’ (Matthew 13:22, Mark 4:19, Luke 8:14)
        – the problem faced by the rich/young ruler, and the issue of camels and needles (Matthew 19:16-26, Mark 10:17-27, Luke 18:18-27)
        – ‘woe to you who are rich’ (Luke 6:24-25)
        – the rich fool, who is not rich towards God, life not about possessions (Luke 12:13-21)
        – sell your possessions – seek treasure in heaven (Luke 12:32-34, Matthew 6:19-21)

        In terms of general attitude to wealth, I might add not worrying about food and clothing (Matthew 6:25-34, Luke 12:22-31).

        There seems to be quite a bit here!

        Perhaps part of it is that although Jesus was stricter than his contemporaries in regard to sexual ethics, they were basically on the same page. However, in regards to wealth, those who were rich were often regarded as being the recipients of God’s blessing. The inversion of this is most explicit in the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). It has just struck me how this follows the curious and difficult story of the ‘shrewd manager’ (Luke 16:1-12) from which the teaching point is to use wealth in this world so that ‘when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.’ The rich man was not so welcomed.

        Our surrounding culture has become decidedly at variance with Jesus’ sexual ethics, but there has not been any compensating greater alignment with his views on wealth.

  5. I wonder whether this comment needs a broader interpretation:
    “ the disputes between Government and miners in the 1980s, provoked in the name of free-market economics”?
    As a young adult at the time of the 3-day week, it seemed clear that miners’ industrial action in the 80s had the political aim of destabilising the Government as it had done in the 70s; so it was about more than free-market economics. Furthermore, it was inevitable that mining communities would have to change with national awareness of the need for green energy.

    I have an enquiry for the Bruderhof: are they implementing full safeguarding procedures for their community? I would assume that no one is allowed to live with the community without first having a DBS check and on top of that the recommended procedures when interacting with children!
    The community my family were once in has to all intents and purposes had its welcoming ministry curtailed by the implementation of safeguarding regulations.

    • There is a certain truth that the 1980’s dispute with the miners was provoked by the government, and in particular Thatcher. The reason was precisely the dispute in the 1970’s, and the government wanted to remove the power of the unions. It was, partly, retaliation.

      This is a very interesting article on Thatcher and her legacy (from Australia):

      https://www.abc.net.au/religion/thatchers-perverse-victory-and-the-prospect-of-an-ethical-econom/10099906

      I note this quotation:

      “As Raphael Samuel rightly insisted, it was not Mrs Thatcher that upheld Victorian values – it was rather the striking miners whom she defeated only thanks to the folly of their leadership.”

      Leadership was an issue at the time (and the problem remains). The issues with British industry, however, were probably more an issue with senior management rather than the unions. I have been related an incident which occurred when Sir Keith Joseph, as Minister of Education, welcomed a Japanese delegation. The Minister commented that he was wanting to being management practices from British industry into the universities. When this was translated to the Japanese guest, he laughed. Sir Keith asked about the response. The reply came, “British universities very good. British industry, not so good.”

  6. Laissez-faire capitalism can be an open invitation to greed.

    The gap between haves and have nots has widened during our lifetimes.

    And looking worldwide, there is terrible deprivation in so many places, and it is pitiful and quite often exploitative. Economic domination attends as a first imperative to ‘the few’, whereas our imperatives should be to prioritise our lives take into account the desperate needs of people, and subordinate other privileges until those imperatives are addressed.

    The resources of the world belong to ALL the people of the world, and not just the few.

    Here in the UK, the absolute imperatives include: decent healthcare for each person, including mental healthcare; dignified and attentive care of the elderly when they are in need; dignity of decent housing for each person; good childcare and education; willingness to help the stranger and the marginalised; respect and integration in society, and promotion of community; affordable utilities; safety and protection from crime; accessible justice for all.

    There is no magic wand, I’d agree, but I believe that these imperatives could be made absolute priorities, before we countenance the privileges of people to amass great wealth.

    We should not regard the UK as a political island if we are Christians. Who, indeed, is our neighbour? We cannot simply disregard the desperate plight of so many people elsewhere in the world.

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