“No man can serve two masters… ye cannot serve God and
mammon,” the Good Book says. The Fin Review took St Matthew’s words as its text for
reflections on business and religion in its magazine on Friday – and proved it
should stick with mammon.

One of its poster boys was Devine board member Peter
Ferris, member of The Knights of Malta. Ferris talked about the order’s good
deeds, but the Fin skated on the fact that membership of The Knights of
Malta, just like indulgences – remission from purgatory – in the bad old days
of the church, is essentially bought. “There is a joining fee too, often referred to as passage
money to the Holy Land,” it said. “Ferris won’t comment on the cost. ‘It’s not
like a business or a social club,’ he says.”

“When thou doest alms, let no thy left hand know what thy
right hand doeth,” Matthew says. “Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon
earth… but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven.” Or follow the Fin and sign up for God’s hedge fund? The rich and successful person occupies a very difficult
spot in Christianity. Some of the prophets, like Amos, had hard things to say
about the rich who lounged on their couches and feasted while the poor went
hungry. One of the most uncomfortable stories Christ told is
the one about Lazarus, the poor man covered in sores. He sat at the rich man’s
gate and longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table.
If you don’t know the story there are no prizes for guessing who went to
heaven and who went to hell.

Jesus Christ told the wealthy young man who wanted to be
perfect to go and sell all he had and give it to the poor – and then follow
him. Christianity isn’t just about being good as an individual,
or finding a calm and peaceful spot in a busy life. It isn’t just concerned
about individual evil or individual good. It’s also concerned about social evil
– injustice – and the well-being of all. To be among Australia’s richest people – and to be a
Christian who takes Christianity seriously – must need quite a bit of
theological, perhaps Jesuitical, juggling before you can sleep at night.

Rupert Murdoch may be a Papal Knight, but it seems as if his
oldest son Lachlan has got a better grip on the God business, going by his
weekend announcement. According to Pascal’s wager,
in order to achieve happiness, you have to decide whether there is a God and an
afterlife. If you choose to believe in God, then “if you gain, you gain all, if
you lose, you lose nothing.” This argument obviously does not impress Murdoch senior. But
Rupert loses both ways. If there is no God, why does a 74-year-old multi-billionaire
with a young wife go to work? Why doesn’t he put his feet up?

It looks as if Lachlan and Sarah are much smarter than Dad.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey