“What do you make of the hallowed saying (1 Timothy 6:10): Money is the root of all evil?” I ask Y, a neurosurgeon and a church elder at a Seoul National University class (1960) reunion. At our age, retired with no ass to kiss in particular and resigned to meet the Reaper, we can afford to be candid, especially among ourselves who have lived through WW II, Korean War, and immigration to the US.
“Hogwash! Counterintuitive, contrafactual…” he explodes.
“Actually, it’s love of money, not just money,” I amend.
“Same difference,” he huffs. “Money is life, the magical little moment of sentience in the vast universe of apparent insentience, which we love and cling to. Money is the root of all that’s good and treasured, Pyramid of Giza, Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal, Apollo moon landing of 1969, human genome project 1990-2003, all taking billions, trillions in today’s dollars or, on a more modest scale, new house, car, furniture, or a birthday party at a good restaurant with family and friends.”
“Maybe greed is implied rather than harmless love or liking.”
“No. It’s not a matter of degree but a total blackout to make us the proverbial blind fool touching only the trunk, tooth, leg, or tail of an elephant.”
“But you are not alleging deliberate deception on the part of Paul, the Apostle, are you?”
“He is an unwitting victim like everybody else, a dupe of the human ingenuity that invents money, a medium of exchange convenient to carry around instead of the life-sustaining goods themselves like a field of corn or a three-ton mammoth. To refine and expand the scope of trade, the engine of civilization, money gets unitized down to the cent. Then follows the idiocy of the blind fool with the elephant. He picks up a coin or a bill, which is easy enough, spits at it, tramples it, or tosses it off, screaming it’s the root of all evil, because it can be misused to buy poison or a pistol to kill.”
“Why would he focus on such misuse?”
“Because he was a communist, compassionate to the poor, as was Jesus, as was Marx or Lenin, Bernie Sanders or AOC. Communism is coterminous with the beginning of humanity who finds collaboration the best means of survival as a species but somehow ends up at the end of the day with distribution of the benefits grossly uneven, especially as the scale of collaboration expands, village wide, city wide, nationwide, worldwide. No matter what you do, a handful gets a lot more than the vast masses, who, when unable to bear it any longer, rise up and burn down the mansions and castles.”
“Is Paul urging such a revolution?”
“On the contrary, he tells them, the slaves, to bear their yoke, respecting their masters. He wants to defuse discontent and prevent the mess, communist revolution, bloodshed and disorder, by belittling money, that is, the good things of life, because you can’t take them with you when you croak.”
“Should we then take the pastor of a church at his word who launches the Stewardship Campaign declaring, Your heart is where your money is, by emptying our savings account?”
“He doesn’t expect you to be such a fool. If you are and end up homeless and turn up at his door, he won’t welcome you in as a saint with your heart in heaven. On the contrary, he’ll chew you out and chase you off as an unworthy steward of the money God has put in your trust. Still, out of his Christian charity, he may tell you where to go to apply for Supplemental Security Income or Food Stamps, shaking his head at the ballooning national debt to take care of such human trash.”