Guest / Limited Access /
Thoreau once remarked that the ancients—with their gorgons, unicorns, and sphinxes—imagined more than existed, whereas moderns cannot even imagine so much as exists. I confess that as a child of a reductionist age, I used to explain away biblical talk about supernatural "powers." I would read accounts of demon possession in the Gospels and instead see signs of mental illness or epilepsy. I could not stomach the notion of a world ruled by invisible spirits. I have changed, however, for the simple reason that my reductionist instincts failed to explain the world around me.

I saw one powerful force at work in downtown Chicago, where I attended a church full of diversity. Homeless people would sit on the pews next to M.B.A.s from Northwestern and the University of Chicago. Some of the M.B.A.s attended a class I taught, and I knew them as reserved, sophisticated seekers after truth. Yet during the week, from a visitors' balcony above the Chicago Board of Trade, I could watch these mild-mannered friends run around the floor, waving their arms in the air and screaming at the top of their lungs. They would later explain to me that the price of futures in pork bellies had been fluctuating wildly, and they were acting like madmen in order to lock in speculative shares of the price of hog innards for their clients. Money exerts a most potent force on human behavior.

When Jesus encountered this same force, which drove people to build beautiful palaces on the shores of the Sea of Galilee while some in Palestine lived as slaves, he recognized it as a spiritual power and gave it the name of the god Mammon.

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
April 2
More from this IssueApril 2 2001
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedPhilip Yancey: Be Pioneers of Grace in a Post-Christian America
Subscriber Access Only Philip Yancey: Be Pioneers of Grace in a Post-Christian America
The author lays out a way to witness after churches have lost their cultural privilege.
TrendingPope Francis Learns What Rick Warren, Russell Moore, N. T. Wright Think about Marriage
Pope Francis Learns What Rick Warren, Russell Moore, N. T. Wright Think about Marriage
(UPDATED) Warren turns Vatican conference into 'revivalist meeting,' while Moore explains why marriage crosses theological boundaries.
Editor's PickOur Bodies Were Made for You, O Lord
Our Bodies Were Made for You, O Lord
We've been designed, right down to the DNA, to love and serve our maker.
Comments
Christianity Today
The Back Page | Philip Yancey: Beyond Flesh and Blood
hide thisApril 2 April 2

In the Magazine

April 2, 2001

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.