That In Which You Trust
words and art by Travis Wagner
[click images to enlarge]
The official national debt is 16 trillion dollars and steadily climbing. This places about 50,000 dollars of debt on each person living in America. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Laurence J. Kotlikoff, a nationally recognized economist, talks about future debts that are America’s “unofficial” debts; debts like Medicare benefits and Social Security. His math, alarmingly enough, places America’s unofficial debt at a staggering and astronomical 211 trillion dollars. The number is so high that the human brain does not comprehend it. The numbers become abstract thoughts that are dismissed by their overwhelming volume.
America and Americans have been living beyond their means for decades. This kind of greed has to have a deeper root.
While most Americans may claim to have some sort of Judaic Christian outlook on a higher power, the one thing that is worshiped above that god is money. Americans go to work, get paid, pay the bills, accumulate things, and then repeat the cycle at whatever cost. This repetitive, ritualistic cycle is readily identifiable as the worship of Mammon.
Mammon is an ancient Sumerian deity that represents the accumulation of wealth and property. Within the ancient Hebrew texts, the root word for Mammon is ‘mamona’, which can translate to “that in which you trust.”
The illusion that Americans are seeing as the national debt is only the tip of the iceberg. Seated in the root of this greed is the worship of this deity Mammon. Just below Mammon, seated on his throne in the root of the iceberg, is his statement:
I am Mammon. I am that in which you trust. You are welcome to believe whatever you see fit, and you are welcome to tithe to whomever makes you feel safest. But, at the end of every work day, at the end of every work week, at the end of every pay period, and at your bank with every deposit you make, I am the ONE who receives your worship.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
* * * * *
Jacob Ryan Feld
Looking back, looking forward,
but truly doing neither—
like an eye, affixed
at the peak of a pyramid,
paying homage to Egypt,
bent in enslavement still
like the fold of a bill:
Chronically crooked spines,
to admire heaven’s pavement
and not its King
(its extravagantly squandered Payment).
“What a waste of three hundred denarii;
sell the bottle;
give the proceeds to charity!”
the thought clinks like thirty pieces
in the pocket—
paying off college loans,
medical bills, or
feeding your family.
“If only we’d died
in Egypt, where at least our bellies
we all, in the wilderness, cried;
and Yahweh did and does provide
enough. But what is it: enough?
Bread from heaven
like mercies each morning;
gather what you can of
—man, oh man—
how much is enough?
And at the end of God’s plan,
in what can you trust?
So some must feast while
the rest of us famine;
hoarding of provision,
worshipping what’s given:
manna becomes mammon
on the second day.
We serve our own stomachs and
seek our own good from our own selves—
stuffing spiritual leather satchels distended in/security,
for a wallet is only another stomach
When manna is no end unto itself, and
when that in which we trust is only leftover crust,
when mammon is a hollowed and stuffed weight,
a suitcase, shackled to our wrist with no key,
what is it in which we can hope? what is it on which we can feed?
am I still in want if I don’t want what I need?
Bread from heaven: Bread of Life;
feed on Me: put your trust.
Every word from My mouth, place in yours;
eat My flesh: I am enough.
Bread from heaven/Bread of Life—
feed on Me/put your trust;
every word from My mouth/place in yours—
eat My flesh/I am enough.
…bread from heaven…
…Bread of Life…
…feed on Me…
…put your trust…
…every word from…
…My mouth, place in yours…
…eat My flesh…