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Justin Welby’s first book, Dethroning Mammon, is a delightful consideration of the spirituality associated with wealth. Designed as a Lent book, it is split into six chapters that develop his ideas about the relationship between God, money and sin. Drawing on lots of examples from his own experiences and of people he knows, he has created a very readable book about a very personal and difficult topic. Personally, I do not see this as a Lent book, but rather as a book that all Christians should read to help raise awareness and create discussions about finance. The book is gentle and guiding, which makes it feel more usable with a group, where embarrassment about discussing personal finances would naturally occur.

Each of the six chapters focusses on a different New Testament passage and it struck me how the chapters follow the same pattern as Clare’s guidance for prayer (gaze, consider, contemplate, imitate) with one notable difference towards the end. Welby begins by helping us to see that Mammon exists, not as money, but as the love of money. He then considers it, how is it measured, in chapter 2. Chapters 3 and 4 contemplate the links between Mammon and power, looking at the structures of possession and greed. The twist then begins in Chapter 5 where we are looking at how we are already imitating Mammon but then utilise the knowledge we have gained to dethrone it and raise Christ through generosity and joy.

I have often moaned to the brothers that books about the vow of poverty tend to consider spiritual poverty, but are reluctant to get into the murky world of material poverty and how it relates to the vow. This book is brilliant at addressing this concern, focussing on the spiritual aspects of material poverty in order to make concrete suggestions.


Christopher Martin SSF