Saturday, July 16, 2011

The love of money: an observation from prison

This is the 400th anniversary of the King James translation of the Bible. One of its notable sentences is Paul’s observation to Timothy. “The love of money is the root of all evil.” Its lack of preciseness is more than made up for by the way those Elizabethans had with words. At any rate, Paul was writing from a prison in the capitol of an empire. He had as good a seat for observing what it means to be passionate about money as any of us could hope to avoid.

Paul’s use of the word, “love,” in that first letter to the Corinthians is, of course, 180 degrees away from how he was using it in that last letter to Timothy. In that passage about of love in the 13th chapter, Paul was writing about a feeling that is interrelational; to Timothy, his use of the phrase, “love of money,” is excludingly self referring.

You can see such self absorption in regard to infatuation, truly eyes that do not see. Have you ever been so adolescent – fellows – that when you looked deeply into her eyes that...oh.  I suppose it is not too different if you get out of graduate school and get a money offer beyond your wildest dreams. It couldn’t be any worse, though, than a romantic wild fling with a credit card.

Perhaps, in a not too dissimilar way, is the married person who finds himself or herself swept away into a passionate embrace. It is much like a person in a position of trust looking down at a well filled envelope slipped furtively into his pocket. Most of us have observed such affairs…not pretty. But what of the outright love of money?

Now that is even curiousier. We got into this “deep recession” in part because bankers made liars loans that couldn’t be repaid and yet they thought it could be turned into money. In England this week, we are observing well rewarded and well rewarding journalists working for a scandalizing newspaper; they must have at least suspected it was like lap dancing in a girlies’ strip joint. 

Well, I don’t know how you feel about it, but the better translation of Paul's observation seems to enter a qualifier, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil…” Maybe it is not a qualifier, just a starter to confessing our illustrations.

So: praise to thee, ye King James folk; blessings on thy labours.

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