One of the pastimes that goes on in my feeble brain, almost without me noticing, is coming up with titles for books I would like to read, or would like to know how to write. I’ll toss this one out in the hopes that somewhere in the ether-tubes will be a person with the right expertise to actually put it together. Ready?
God and Mammon: The Big Business of Evangelical Religion In America
Or, for a slightly different emphasis:
God and Mammon: Christianity and Capitalism in America
This book would review the history and current state of churches, denominations, individual religious superstars, and mega churches, and would provide analysis of how much money is involved in these various organizations, where it comes from and especially how it is spent. Under the second title it might actually go broader, dropping the rubric “evangelical” from the subtitle, so as to also look at mainline churches, the Catholic Church and its various organizations, questionable cults, non-Christian religious movements, and so on, but that would be a much broader project.
One focus of such a project might be to try to understand how it is that somehow in the United States Christianity has become wedded to capitalism, whether that has always been the case, exceptions to this rule, and how such an emphasis has developed over time. I would definitely buy and read such a book. It could also,of course, do some analysis of the extent to which funds are actually spent on human development, healthcare, housing, education, nutrition; how much on political activism, left and right; how much on real estate, salaries, and other measures of institutional maintenance. Then, of course, the question would have to be asked, to what extent these things map to the priorities actually laid out in the New Testament by Jesus of Nazareth, who said: “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”