… but in some ways this may be a wrong impression.
It is not often that I go to the Porta di Roma, one of the main shopping centres in Rome. And though many of us don’t like them, we all have to admit at least some kind of fascination.
Not often that I enter that temple, but I had to go there today. It means starting more or less from the Porta Pia. And following the Via Nomentana to the “paradaise of consumerism”.
And in the light of it, it is so easy to think of the good old times. But wait a while. Sophokles already said:
Money! Nothing worse in our lives, so current, rampant, so corrupting. Money – you demolish cities, rot men from their homes, you train and twist good minds and set them on to the most atrocious schemes. No limit, you make them adept at every kind of outrage, every godless crime – money.’
And though Protestant Reformation wanted to break with the rule – 1517 the theses had been published by Luther – the selling of indulgence did not come to an end at the time.
And perhaps the famous “branding” of so many products is similar to the shift from seeling of indugence to absolution through good deeds.
And talking about good deeds is also today a major topic.
That may today then be shifted to what is called Corporate Social Responsibility. Good words coming from the palaces and temples of finance-, trade- and surely also production centres. But it is not new – don’t we know this pattern?
‘Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff,’ Christ had commanded his apostles. He had sternly warned, ‘it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for someone who is rich to enter into the kingdom of God.’ And he had instructed one of the faithful, who had asked what he needed to do to live the most holy sort of life, ‘if you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give your money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.’
(Bailey, Michael D., 2003: Religious Poverty, Mendicancy, and Reform in the Late Middle Ages; in: Church History; Vol 72.3; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 457-483; here: 457; with reference: Mathew 10:9-10, 19:10, 19:24, and 19:21 respectively; quotes taken from the New Revised Standard Version)
Sure, not least we know from a famous colleague of mine that what is needed is not the change of interpretating reality, but the change of the reality itself.