Mother Pelican
A Journal of Solidarity and Sustainability

Vol. 9, No. 5, May 2013
Luis T. Gutiérrez, Editor
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Merciful Money


Page 1. Merciful Money - Editorial Essay by Ina Praetorius
Page 2. The Lurking Inconsistency, by Herman Daly
Page 3. Four Lessons on Environmental Sustainability that Every Corporation Should Learn, by Alex Perera
Page 4. Why the Most Powerful Thing in the World is a Seed, byAbby Quillen
Page 5. Global Food Prices Continue to Rise, by Sophie Wenzlau
Page 6. Binding Market and Mission: Pharmaceuticals for the World’s Poor, by Daniele Botti
Page 7. Conflict and Change in the Era of Economic Decline: Part 3 - Scenarios for simplification: the options for managerial elites, by Richard Heinberg
Page 8. The Neuropsychology of Climate Change, by Paul Chefurka
Page 9. Correction of Misperceptions about Women in the Bible, by Jennifer J. McKenzie

The following supplements have been updated:

Supplement 1: Advances in Sustainable Development (prayer, study, action, news, pubs, tools, data, models)
Supplement 2: Directory of Sustainable Development Resources (library of 1000+ links to online resources)
Supplement 3: Principles & Strategies for Sustainable Energy (clean energy, mitigation and adaptation strategies)
Supplement 4: Policies & Best Practices for Sustainable Energy (education, taxes, basic income, ISO standards)
Supplement 5: Gender Equality for Integral Human Development (social dimension, entire gender continuum)
Supplement 6: Gender Equality for Integral Human Development (religious dimension, original unity of humanity)


Merciful Money

Ina Praetorius

There are people who assert that MONEY has become our God: Some really seem to worship IT, often unconsciously, judging and shaping their entire lives according to questions of income and profit as if MONEY’S absolute power was self-evident. In fact, in modern societies, nobody can really prevent MONEY from moving into the center of his or her life: bank buildings in our cities tower over the churches, cashmachines seem to have become the regularly frequented confessional boxes or altars of our daily lives, and soon nobody will be able to manage life without a credit card. Indeed, many signs indicate that MONEY has taken over the top position of transcendental values that once was held by the concept of “God” as it is, for example, conceived in the bible. While God may have created the world, MONEY, at least in modern times, seems to make it go round.

People that are still rooted in one of the traditional religions usually react to this trend with disgust, quoting, for example, Mt 6, 24: 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.“ (Mt 6, 24) They think of the biblical GOD as representing, in many or all respects, the opposite of money: Money seems to be based on the principle of equal exchange, GOD is said to love his creatures unconditionally; while GOD tells us to turn towards poor and marginalized fellow humans, the mechanisms of money often first of all cause poverty and marginalization; while GOD stands for eternal values and an orientation towards spiritual rewards in the otherworld, the position of money seems to be strictly temporal, as the New Testament parable of the rich fool suggests: God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Lk 12, 20)
However, at a closer look, the contrast between MONEY and the biblical GOD cannot be so sharply drawn: Indeed in the past only GOD was invisible and infinite whereas money always appeared as something concrete and tangible, today MONEY has taken on these godly attributes becoming largely invisible and abstract, too. Neither is the biblical GOD an unambiguously all-forgiving being that is averse to any bartering nor is MONEY confined to the practice of cold and calculating exchange. IT can also be freely donated, IT can, for example as tax income of a state, foster the redistribution of wealth; or IT could be used to grant an unconditional basic income for all. Moreover, it is not true that the biblical GOD is always on the side of the poor. Abraham, for example, was a very rich man, and his wealth was seen as a sign for his closeness to GOD. MONEY, on the other side, is not fatally determined to increase the wealth of the rich, IT can also be used to create and secure compensation.

Last but not least the bible is far from being a book that is exclusively oriented towards the otherworld. On the contrary, most of its texts deal with questions of a good, just and peaceful life on earth. So, instead of juxtaposing the biblical GOD and GOD MONEY in opposition, we could choose another approach: If it is true that MONEY has become the worshipped ABOVE AND IN-BETWEEN of modernity IT has to prove worthy of this new role. In other words: we humans, creators of GOD MONEY, have to shape it in a dignified way that responds to our moral intuitions and respects the legacy of our religious ancestors: justice, peace,the right for each and every person to live, regardless of her ethnicity, age, gender, efficiency etc. in a sustainable ecosystem. So, if we really want to worship MONEY, it should first become worthy of being the center of our lives, and that means: MONEY must become a just, sustainable, peaceful and merciful, loving IN-BETWEEN.

Is this blasphemy? Or is it a promising project? How could a merciful MONEY GOD become a reality? And what about Matthew’s message then, that we cannot serve God and Money?


Ina Praetorius is a Swiss theologian and social justice activist. She is a freelance author with several books and many articles published, and her website carries the following subtitle: "It has not yet been disclosed what we are to be" (1 John 3:2). The central focus of her theological research is to seek a better understanding of human beings, and human life, in accordance with God's plan. In parallel with theological research, she is active in the European Initiative for Guaranteed Basic Income. Her previous articles in Mother Pelican include Acting Out of Abundance and Unconditional Basic Income as a Postpatriarchal Project. For more information on guaranteed basic income and how it is linked to solidarity and sustainability issues, click here.

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