A Song for Lent – Day 12 – Does Money Really Make the World go Around?

To Read: Click on song title to watch a video

Money

from Cabaret

 

Money makes the world go around (x3)

Money makes the world go around It makes the world go ’round

A Mark, a Yen, a Buck or a Pound

Is all that makes the world go around

That clinking, clanking sound…

Can make the world go ’round

Money money money money…

If you happen to rich and you feel like a night’s entertainment

You can pay for a gay escapade

If you happen to be rich and alone and you need a companion

You can ring (ting-a-ling) for the maid

If you happen to be rich and you find you are left by your lover

And you moan and you groan quite a lot you can take it on the chin

Call a cab and begin to recover on your 14-karat yacht! WHAT!?

Money makes the world go around…

Of that we both are sure… *raspberry sound* on being poor!

Money money money money…

When you haven’t any coal in the stove and you freeze in the winter

And you curse to the wind at your fate

When you haven’t any shoes on your feet

Your coat’s thin as paper and you look 30 pounds underweight

When you go to get a word of advice from the fat little pastor

He will tell you to love evermore but when hunger comes to rap

Rat-a-tat rat-a-tat at the window *knock knock* (at the window)

Who’s there? (hunger) oh, hunger!! See how love flies out the door…

Money makes the world go around…

 

From the Scriptures:

Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Listen! The wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts on a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you.

James 5.1-6

  

To Reflect: (Avarice)

The reflections this week are about some of the classic ‘deadly sins’ of the faith. How we can fall into them and ways to avoid them.

 

For me Cabaret is one of the saddest pieces of musical theatre. It is all glitz and glamour on the stage yet filled with pain, persecution and a hunger for love behind the scenes. This is all controlled by the insistent voice of the EmCee who, ringmaster-like, keeps the façade running despite the lives of the characters and the world itself collapsing around their ears.

The song ‘Money’ is sung following on from the arrangement of a Cabaretcurrency smuggling deal between Cliff Bradshaw and his new ‘friend’ Ernst Ludwig who, unknown to Cliff, is a member of the Nazi party.

‘Money’ does not in fact ‘make the world go around’. All money does is make ideas and ideologies go around the world faster. Get rid of hard cash and human lives and labour will still be traded for some sort of money, be it by Bank Transfer or Bitcoin.

Of itself money is neutral. It has no morals and its only ‘desire’ is to go where it can grow. Money only changes things for good or ill when human will acts.

20171115_PyramidFor this reason money has become a metaphor for human avarice as it piles up in individuals offshore bank accounts while the world goes hungry. So today avarice rules as we see that less than 1% of the world’s population own 50% of the world’s wealth.

It is not, as preachers point out frequently, money that is the root of all manner of evil, but the ‘love’ of money (1 Timothy 6.10). Its not having money that brings out the worst in us but how we use it. There has not yet been, to my knowledge a song called ‘Charity makes the world go around!’

It is proving more and more difficult for Developed Nations to stick to their promised United Nations goal of giving away just 0.7% of their GDP which will solve all manner of evil across the globe. Thank heavens for the philanthropy of people like Bill and Melinda Gates and the firebrand Warren Buffet, the only person I know who has complained that he received a tax cut.

The love of money and other things, Imelda Marcos’ shoes spring to mind, is more than simple greed. It becomes avarice when we pile up possessions that we never stand a chance of even beginning to use. The condemnation of the wealthy in the Letter of James was not that they had silver and gold, but that their un-tarnishable treasure had rusted from lack of use.

All people, not only the mega-wealthy can fall into avarice. This happens when we presume that we can somehow have absolute ownership of anything at all. The One Who Loves Us Best made all of creation to be of one family – which is why Franciscans speak of Brother Sun, Sister Moon and Mother Earth – everyone is our sister and brother, our father and mother. Do we really believe we can ‘own’ a member of our family and trade them for silver and gold and so distance and anaesthetise ourselves from the pain we have caused them?

One of the most moving bereavement visits I have ever made was to the home of a gentle caring man who was a close friend. Sitting in the family kitchen with his wife and daughter over a mug of coffee we talked of his care for others, his kind nature, and his inability to raise his voice. On one of the kitchen cabinets was a wooden plaque that he had bought. It bore these words, ’The most important things in life aren’t things’.not things

To learn those words by heart and to act them out in our lives mat be the best antidote there is for avarice…

To Pray:  

O Lord, open my eyes
that I may see the need of others,
open my ears that I may hear their cries,
open my heart so that they need not be without succour.
Let me not be afraid to defend the weak
because of the anger of the strong,
nor afraid to defend the poor
because of the anger of the rich.
Show me where love and hope and faith are needed,

and use me to bring them to these places.
Open my eyes and ears that I may, this coming day,
be able to do some work of peace for you.

Alan Paton, South Africa

  

To Do:  

  • Beside your regular giving to the work of your church aim to do what Developed Nations have failed to do and give 0.7% of your gross income to a charity from which you will receive no direct benefit?
  • In the Northern Hemisphere it’s almost spring, time for a spring clean. Have a look in your wardrobe and your garage or loft and give away all those things that you will never use and so keep avarice at bay.

Encore: Click on song title to watch a video

Cabaret is the final song of this sad theatre piece and ‘reprises’ the whole story in one song. Sally Bowles stands defiant, if in tears. Her lover, beaten by Nazi bodyguards, has returned to the USA, she has had an abortion, the Kit Kat club has lost some of its glitz and the clouds of war gather over Europe. Sally has become a victim to the avarice of the Cabaret and seems to be unable to escape destined to be ‘the happiest corpse you’ve ever seen’. A songbird in a gilded cage or a canary condemned to be carried as a sacrifice into the darkness of a coal mine?

  

Acknowledgements:

Prayers are from ‘Prayers Encircling the World’ and are copyright © SPCK: 1998.
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘A Song for Lent – 40 Days in the West End’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2018