For the past year I've been thinking about the concept of serving Mammon. This a phenomenon that is prevalent throughout Western culture right now. This idea is most available to us from Matthew 6:24. The King James version reads,
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.The church is losing its congregation every year. What are the people who leave their faith turning to? Mostly, I think they are turning to nothing. They can't deal with the hypocrisy or the politics of the very human church and feel they are better off going it alone, without the olitikos. This also means many are going through life without the container of context. Tradition, family, the certainty of culture all weaken.
So many find themselves going through the motions; uninspired, unguided, and without a higher ideal or sense of purpose. You can serve beauty, a cause, your family, God, but standing for nothing means you'll stand for something unconsciously by fiat. Going with the flow or the majority, or whatever is easiest isn't good enough.
Reaching for status or riches or hedonism is serving Mammon. The glamor of Hollywood, the glitz of Las Vegas, fortune and fame--Mammon. Seeing all forms of earthly pleasures, these will not bring lasting satisfaction but a momentary, illusionary wash of endorphins.
Every man for himself isn't good enough. We desperately need each other. Each other's support, love, varying perspectives, histories, and values.
The other side of not standing for something and living a life that has been deeply examined is becoming a slave to your complexes. A couple of months ago I read The Great Divorce, by CS Lewis. It's a fabulous book. Today I'll mention one passage about being possessed by your complexes:
In The Great Divorce MacDonald says of the peevish woman in Hell: "Ye misunderstand me. The question is whether she is a grumbler, or only a grumble. If there is a real woman--even the least trace of one still there inside the grumbling, it can be brought to life again. If there's one wee spark under all those ashes, we'll blow it till the whole pile is red and clear. But if there's nothing but ashes we'll not go on blowing them in our own eyes forever. They must be swept up."--- I found the above passage here: http://www.discovery.org/a/507
"But how can there be a grumble without a grumbler?" the Narrator (Lewis) asks. MacDonald continues: "The whole difficulty of understanding Hell is that the thing to be understood is so nearly Nothing. But ye'll have had experiences ... it begins with a grumbling mood, and yourself still distinct from it: perhaps criticizing it. And yourself, in a dark hour, may will that mood, embrace it. Ye can repent and come out of it again. But there may come a day when you can do that no longer. Then there will be no 'you' left to criticize the mood, nor even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself going on forever like a machine."
Is Hell, then just a state of mind that persists after death? Lewis asks MacDonald: "Then those people are right who say that Heaven and Hell are only states of mind'?" "Hush," said he (MacDonald) sternly."Do not blaspheme. Hell is a state of mind--ye never said a truer word. And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own mind--is, in the end, Hell. But Heaven is not a state of mind. Heaven is reality itself. All that is fully real is Heavenly."
The more we repeat a phrase, a witacism, a tagline, the more we become the grumble. It takes over until it no longer has any meaning. You become the tagline, the phrase. Unthinking, and identifying with the philosophy, you become the grumble and can no longer see enough perspective to see your way out to a new way of thinking. You become the same stories, emotional scars, and grumblings your parents had and their parents before them.
This is a prison of the mind.