Original Research

Spirituality for democracy and social cohesion versus the spirituality of money

Ulrich Duchrow
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 35, No 3 | a1332 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v35i3.1332 | © 2014 Ulrich Duchrow | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 February 2014 | Published: 03 October 2014

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Ulrich Duchrow, Department of Theology, University of Heidelberg, Germany

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We live in a life-killing global system, and thus, we are called by our own biblical basis – re-read in the spirit of other than Western traditions – to search for life-giving alternatives and to develop democracy accordingly. However, this is not a geographical exercise. We cannot count on South Africa as a place where Ubuntu is practiced or on South Korea living in communities according to Sangsaeng. The reason is that Western civilisation, with its own spirituality, has permeated all corners of the earth. My thesis is that this is the spirituality of money; biblically speaking, of Mammon. Before we can talk about a spirituality for democracy and social cohesion, we need to address the spirituality of the status quo in order to understand what the alternative could be. The issue gets complicated by the new insight that Western civilisation has deep roots in history; in fact a history of almost 3000 years. Only by looking at this history can we really understand how money did not only change socio-economic and political structures but also hearts, minds and the spirituality of people.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article challenges the normal Western assumption that democracy is but a political issue of voting every 4 or 5 years. Instead it shows that real democracy is linked to economic and social justice, as well as to deep cultural and spiritual roots. Authors should carefully identify the contextual perspective they challenge, identifying the potential results of the proposed research and whether it calls for a change in traditional discourse as well as whether such a change is possible. Key insights into the research results and its future function should be revealed.

Today we are faced with life-killing civilization, manifested in economic injustice, ecological destruction, the threat of Empire, and the escalation of religious conflicts. This compels us to urgently explore the possibility of life-giving civilization which affirms relationships, co-existence, harmony with creation, and solidarity with those who struggle for justice. This quest finds meaning in Ubuntu and Sangsaeng. (Transforming Theology 2007)


Spirituality, Capitalism, Money, World religions, Christianity


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