The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville

The first line of a popular song of yesteryear starts: “Money is the root of all evil….” and goes on ironically - “take it away, take it away….” Of course this is a gross misinterpretation of the concept of money. It is morally neutral, a most useful concept to replace inconvenient barter. It is also a store of value, provided that the users maintain confidence in its tokens (including gold), and a means of exchange - vital to a modern society which uses market forces to establish worth.

The exact quotation is derived from Timothy, Ch 6 v 10 where St Paul provides this admonition:

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs”

There are many sensible reasons for holding money (wealth) or anticipated income. These include:

In our society much encouragement is given to the acquisition of money, to the detriment of fellow citizens who are often seen as rivals for wealth. Indeed, wealth is seen as synonymous with power, and is used for the possible route to happiness. The allegorical story of king Midas of Phrygia is a case in point. The King was well known for his beautiful rose gardens and his hedonistic pursuit of pleasure. The god Dionysus invited him to make a wish. Midas requested that whatever he touched would turn to gold - for that would make him happy. When his roses did just that, and his daughter turned to gold as well, the monarch saw his error. The roses and the daughter died. In grief, Midas got the wish rescinded and washed away his touch in the river.

From the River Patroclus, said to be overflowing with gold, there is another story about a King called Croesus, of Lydia in Asia Minor (now in modern Turkey). He was so rich that he could buy whatever he wanted. Much of the gold he possessed was to be found in the River Patroclus (the setting for King Midas). Croesus consulted a wise man who counselled him against reliance on gold as a means of making him happy. Nevertheless, King Croesus, the fabulously rich monarch, found that it could not bring him happiness.

The curious and fabricated word ‘glisters’ is used by Shakespeare to mean ‘precious to us’ or ‘that which we hold dear’. It will be recalled that in the Merchant of Venice, Act 2, in scene vii, the Prince of Morocco chooses the golden casket and is faced with Death  instead. All that glisters (is precious) is not gold.

Rod Dawson

Festival 2015

All that glisters