Is Mammon having a “secularism” crisis?

[ by Charles Cameron — Robb’s analysis, capitalism as religion metaphor, irony, warning ]



image source — btw, contact jonesharris [at] if interested


Okay. The Church of England‘s own website, whose banner reads A Christian presence in every community, now hosts a list of, well,


which seems a rather unfortunate way to phrase things — but the point is, something called “secularism” is gnawing away at belief and church attendance, and I’m wondering if it may not be gnawing away at belief and bank attendance, too…

And since Mammon is the theological term for riches or material wealth personified, I’m asking, metaphorically speaking, whether Mammon is now facing its own “secularism” crisis…

Well, to be honest, I’m not the one doing the wondering, really — I’m borrowing the whole idea from the imperturbable John Robb, fighter pilot, entrepreneur and author of Brave New War, and spicing it up a bit with nice pictures of a church conversion to drive the irony of the whole thing home.

From two of Robb’s recent posts on his Global Guerrillas blog:


Oct 5 JOURNAL: The Pope of the Church of Capitalism

The Chairman of the Federal Reserve is part:

Religious figure. The Pope of the Church of Capitalism. The leader of the Church. Final arbiter on the meaning of scripture (arcane economic indicators and economic papers). Is trained in ancient mysteries (economics). Has a council of Cardinals (the Fed board). He also issues indulgences (bailouts and free loans) to banks that he likes.


Oct 7 OCCUPY (Insert Your City Here): Protesting Capitalism’s Crisis

What Occupy is Really About The real reason we are seeing this movement right now is because

Capitalism, the last great ideological system, is in crisis.

This isn’t merely a crisis of outcomes (economic depression, financial panic, etc.), it’s a crisis of BELIEF. While people generally believe in the idea of capitalism, a critical mass of people now think that the global capitalist system we currently have is so badly run, so corrupt, so terrible at delivering results that it needs either a) a complete overhaul or b) we need to build something new.

In short, in its tiny way, this protest may be the start of a reformation of the church of capitalism.

A splintering that may change everything…. For better or worse depending on how well you did in the old, corrupt system.


So, anyway — is it time for capitalism to rid itself of the sale of indulgences?

The religious metaphor is, of course, what fascinates me.

But there’s a warning here, too, about the dangers of radically polarized populations and mobs and their heated passions, as Robb quietly implies with his “for better or worse” — are we ready to go through another (networked, and no doubt accelerated) Thirty Years War?

That is something I devoutly hope we can avoid.

2 comments on this post.
  1. J.ScottShipman:

    "That is something I devoutly hope we can avoid." As we say in the American South, my friend, "Amen, and amen."

  2. morgan:

    I also share Scott’s "prayer" but, being one who views the glass as being half-full, I wouldn’t bet the farm that it wouldn’t happen. [Not even sure I would even bet this year’s crop.]