St Gregory of Nyssa asserts that Mammon is a demon, a devil, an evil spirit, whose other name is Beelzebub. This is actually a strangely brilliant insight. The Hebrew Beelzebub is from the Canaanite, possibly Phoenician, Ba’al. Now it gets interesting and much more complicated. Gregory of Nyssa is telling us Mammon is linked to the figure of Ba’al whom the Jewish prophets repeatedly blasted in the cause of Yahweh. Who is this Ba’al? He is the son and consort of the Great Mother Goddess Astarte [or Asherah, or Ashteroth]. Ba’al is Hebrew for ‘lord’, and was used in the plural as Baalim. In effect, Mammon is the false god, the idol, in a cult of the Great Mother. Herein lies a tale..
The identification of ‘paganism’ with Shamanism is a huge error. Attaching the label ‘pagan’ to Shamanic peoples, especially the indigenous natives of the Americas, was a ploy in justifying their wholesale slaughter in the biggest genocide of human history. There is a hideous irony in this. Since the invaders into native lands were the real servants of Mammon, so they were the true ‘pagans’, for Mammon is just another name for Ba’al, and Ba’al is part of the old Middle Eastern religion of the Great Mother. It is this religion that was referred to as ‘paganism.’
It is this pagan, and idolatrous, Great Mother cult which fought what scholars call ‘the Yahweh cult’ for Israel’s loyalty over almost the entire sweep of the Old Testament. Mammon as Ba’al is the original Oedipus who eliminates his father and marries his mother. Freud’s work on the Oedipus Complex is probably more on this mytho-poetic level than anyone has yet realised, including Freud himself. But Jung’s break from Freud, oddly enough, blew up over a book Jung wrote which Freud could not accept. ‘The Psychology of the Unconscious’ gets to grips with the mytho-poetic back-drop to the story of Oedipus, and tries to put it into its proper cultural context as part of the ancient Great Mother religion. Jung makes two advances over Freud. [a] Jung sees the Oedipal triangle between Father, Mother, and Son, not just as outside us, socially in the family, but as inside us, psychologically: the child’s libido is drawn back to mother earth, in ‘regression’, and must fight its way forward towards father sun, in ‘progression.’ [b] But this individual drama of conflict in our energy between unconsciousness [embeddedness] and consciousness [differentiation] reflects an older and ‘immemorial’ cultural drama of conflict between matriarchy and patriarchy. Oedipus is the figure on the cusp, with one foot in matriarchy, and the other foot in patriarchy. He is trying to measure up to patriarchy, but secretly he is cavorting with matriarchy; hence his guilt toward the father about his non given up lust for the mother.
It is just here some basic clarification is needed.
Shamanic religion honours both ‘father’ and ‘mother’, both sky and earth, both sun and moon, both the air we breathe in and out and the water that flows through everything. There is a holiness of father and a sacredness of mother. This is the primordial balance, and many Shamanic peoples kept it.
However, there is also the false father of patriarchy, and the false mother of matriarchy. Each of the primal opposites has a fallen version: religious patriarchy is a betrayal of the true father, and religious matriarchy is a betrayal of the true mother. Father and mother remain true when they remain together, and are simultaneously co-active; when you have a religion of ‘father alone’ it tends to drift into the negativity of patriarchy, when you have a religion of ‘mother alone’ it tends to drift into the negativity of matriarchy. The angry old man in the sky versus the cosmic pudding: both are equally deceptions, but in inverse manner. One perverts the sky, the other perverts the earth. Yet people caught up in the one delusive system tend to sneer at and condemn the different people caught up in the other delusive system. The ‘dualistic’ opposites are always at war, as well as being secretly attracted to each other. Each has something the other has left out; so each is trying to get that missing element away from the other; patriarchals love to crush women, matriarchals love to seduce men. The one has aggression without sex, the other has sex without aggression. So, each uses what they have to get what they lack from the other. Each is on a power trip glorying in their own thing, out to destroy the thing of the other. A plague on both these houses!
To understand the battle between the Yahweh cult and the Great Mother cult [in Judges 2, 13; 3, 7; 10, 6, and 1 Samuel 7, 4; 12, 10; the Jews are accused of abandoning Yahweh and “serving Ba’al and Asherah”], the battle between the Jews and Paganism, we have to understand a subtle point, which is that there was both something necessary and true in this contention and something that became distorted and false. Most current discussions about this confuse the latter for the former.
It is vital to realise that the Jews were originally a part of the Great Mother religion of the Middle East, and many Jews openly practiced it long after Yahweh became established. Not only to the north, among the Canaanites, but in Israel itself, the Oedipal religion of the Great Mother Astarte and her son and lover Ba’al continued unabated. This means that the Jews were in a peculiar dilemma when Yahweh, the Daemonic God, called them out of this Oedipal Mother–Son conjunction. Whilst the Daemonic Father is not anti-mother, he does break this incestual symbiosis; for a time the mother so nearby has to be put on hold, so that the more distant father, who is hidden and even absent, can be sought. But the Jews found this wound inflicted by the Daemonic hard to bear; constantly they were tempted to rush back to the Great Mother religion for solace. It is just at this point that Freud’s Oedipus Theory is so useful. The more tempted we are to rush back to matriarchy when we are trying to be loyal to the true father, so the more we are likely to depart from true fatherliness and develop a stricter patriarchy as a defense against the matriarchy that is exerting such a pull on us. As a result, the most patriarchal people on top are, beneath, in hidden alliance with the matriarchal; the super-ego would not be so harsh and punitive if it wasn’t trying to keep a lid on, and defeat, an id going in the converse soft and indulgent direction.
In short, the Jews were called by the Daemonic to search for the true father, but out of their own difficulty in detaching from the previous maternal set-up in which they were immersed, they not only constantly experienced the regressive pull of the Great Mother religion, but also developed a mother-hating patriarchy to defend themselves from it. In the end, they developed that anti-feminine stance that is typical of all patriarchy everywhere. Women are blamed because they stir up men’s hidden longings. Puritanism, moralism, authoritarianism, and its final fruit, fundamentalism, are ways in which patriarchy defends itself from the pull exerted by matriarchy; it openly hates what it secretly is drawn toward.
By contrast, once the Daemonic is established, it brings the mother back, and the feminine, the womanly, becomes its marriage ‘help-mate.’ Indeed, in late Judaism, under Greek influence, the God of Israel acquires a female consort, a wife, in the mysterious process of creation: the Shekinah or Sophia, who existed before the world was made, and danced before the throne of God, is revealed as God’s partner in the entire process of creation.
None the less Ba’al remains a problem both for the Jewish anticipation of the Messiah and his actual arrival, because Ba’al is an Oedipal boy, in love with his mother, and lacking a father. It seems evident that the Great Mother religion, as originally constituted, was simply biased toward the motherly, as Judaism was for a time biased toward the fatherly. The Great Mother religion is a particular religious development of the crop growing peoples of the Middle East; ‘pagan’ just means ‘countryside’, and the countryside in question is that given up to farming. Not all farming communities in the world are part of the Great Mother religion; some retain a degree of relationship with father sky however much they emphasise mother earth. But in the Middle East there developed an exclusively mother oriented kind of religion which was focused on fertility, and therefore on sexuality. The Serpent was arguably the central symbol of this religion, and is often represented not so much as the male phallus as the female dance of sexual undulation that draws the male to the female. The Serpent is more likely to be draped over the Mother Goddess than displayed on her son–lover. Nor is this Serpent any simple reptile, or snake, but something mythical: the power of female sexuality as the governing power of the cycles of life and death. Thus the Serpent also represented health, vitality, and the eternal round of Nature, being born, dying, regenerating. The Serpent is the earth’s strange power of self-renewal, and its wisdom in regard to this: how to shed your skin, and reappear, and keep on going. In Hinduism, the Serpent is Kundalini, the life-force that is basically feminine in nature, and which should be raised to a higher plane of masculine consciousness.
The problem, however, is that the Great Mother religion even in its benign form is closed to the dynamism of the Daemonic; the earth’s little round of coming and going and return, is a small circle. It is too parochial. It is too gentle. It is too undramatic. God’s relation with the creation, through the Daemonic, is far more risky and passionate. Something is at stake, which could be lost, and must be regained; all this is simply outside the repeating cycles of the Great Mother. Her fertility, her sexuality, her snake-like energy, are not in any fair sense inherently evil, but they are static rather than dynamic, closed rather than open, safely tucked up rather than on the line. The everyday has its own sacredness, but there is a holiness at work through the Daemonic that is far more upsetting, unsettling, and undeniable. Its movement changes the repeating cycles; it turns everything upside down and inside out.
Thus the problem posed by the Great Mother religion is that in it, the son is Oedipally glued to the mother and under her power; he has no power of his own. He fertilises her, but this is a small and unequal role, because she is fertility itself, and he merely facilitates that fertility. He serves her and is overshadowed by her; thus he ‘services’ her. However grandiose this makes him feel, he remains a boy to an adult woman. To the Canaanites, Ba’al appeared as a man and a bull, and though the bull has sexual virility, the Great Mother is his keeper; she puts a small chain through his nose, threads the chain, and thereafter can easily pull him along and do with him just what pleases her. The bull is garlanded, well fed, but essentially just led by the nose and used by women as a sperm bank, a phallus they can exploit in achieving their own purely feminine ends. This is the meaning behind the Old Testament’s seeming targeting of women as the ‘bad guy.’ Saul had his heart turned away from Yahweh, and thus away from his calling as Yahweh’s instrument of righteousness in the world, by women [1 Kings, 11, 3], and he worships Asherah of the Sidonians: Sidon was the center of the Great Mother religion [1 Kings, 11, 5]. Similarly, Jezebel [really Jeze-baal] caused her husband king Ahab to worship Ba’al and Asherah [1 Kings, 16, 31–33]. The Female Sophia, later on, is very different: she becomes the wise advisor of the king, and even is likened to his throne. So it is not ‘woman condemnation’ per se at work here, as feminists have claimed, but the Oedipal domination of the mother over the boy that is really at stake; if he gives into this, then however bullish in his phallus he may feel, he never becomes a real man.
The Daemonic Father wants men to stand up and shoulder their destiny as the defender of the truth of the world against the lie that destroys it. Ba’al may be charming to women, because of being charmed by them, but he will never grow into a man of moral integrity. His phallus is erect but his backbone is fatally weakened. He has no passion.
Not only will the mother-devoured son never stand upright, as a father fighting for the world’s future, but also he will never be capable of loving and remaining faithful to any woman as a wife, friend, soul-mate. Though women are all too ‘familiar’ to him, and he knows very well how to relax and please them, he is not capable of having any personal and particular attraction to any personal and particular woman. For him, every woman he encounters sexually is assimilated to an endlessly repeating ‘archetypal situation of mother-son incest.’ Thus he ‘loves and leaves them’, the bee who flits from flower to flower, always after the nectar that intoxicates and enslaves him.
Thus the Great Mother drags the male bull, her son–lover, along by the nose where she wants to go. But where does she want to go? To the bed chamber: provided sex takes place, provided children are born, she is content. The goal of life is more life. But this is energy without meaning. It ticks over, it goes on, it even mysteriously renews itself, but so what? The women of old Israel prayed, in a hidden way, to Astarte, because she promised them that they would be safe in child birth; and her Serpent power promised them a kind of ‘eternal life’, however an eternity confined to the everyday round, an eternity without Daemonic movement through time, and even without the loving relationship of Eros. The Serpent Goddess is not the Greek Psyche in love with and loved by the Eros of God; the Great Mother religion is impersonal, taken up with natural recurrence, and lacks the ecstatic ‘going out of self’ both of Joy and of Suffering.
Ba’al, as a mother’s boy, may seem very non toxic and accomodatory to women of the Great Mother religion, but they don’t want him to be a man. They are out to castrate his masculine phallus under the guise of adoring it. This is how the mother seduces the son: she admires him, she builds him up as the great lover, but she also softens him for her ends, turning his whole being into a slave to her fructification. Many foolish men, glad to enjoy ‘easy sex’ without responsibility, play this game. In actuality they are too stupid to realise they are being castrated even in the act of ‘having their way’ with women. At this point, the darker side of the Great Mother religion, of Paganism, becomes more clear. The true phallus brought by the Daemonic awakens the true womb ostensibly being honoured in the Great Mother religion but actually being left vacant.
Ba’al became Israel’s enemy not simply because Israel had turned from his mother Astarte to the fatherly Yahweh, but because the Jews were tempted to go back to the motherly to escape the fatherly. Ba’al is their own internal Oedipal boy, undermining the more manly adult trying to emerge.
Was Mammon always disguised as Ba’al, then?
Probably not, for the Great Mother religion had its point, in its time and in its place. But something odd occurred over the changing of time and the changing of place, which both Freud and Jung were trying to get at in their different but complementary wrestlings with the Oedipus Complex. It is impossible really to reconstruct the ancient world, especially only for the sake of our modern axe-grinding sex wars, but it seems clear that Mammon did creep into the figure of Ba’al, where he remains to this day. That means Mammon has insinuated himself into and become a part of humanity’s collective Oedipus Complex.
For, the Oedipus Complex is really a culture myth that speaks of secret realities at work collectively and unconsciously. Isn’t it obvious that the ‘bourgeois world’ is an Oedipal world? Berdyaev= “The worship of Ba’al marked the beginning and was a figure of all bourgeois civilizations, which invariably destroy [an older] sacred culture.”
E. Graham Howe, rather than Freud, understood what the Oedipus Complex of all humanity really is.
“We are inclined to take things too literally, and ..say that the Oedipus Complex is an attachment of the boy to his Mother without sufficient regard for the [necessary role] of the Father ..in this Freudian situation [there occurs] an exaggeration of the [protective] role of the mother, who [is in] collusion with the Son, and a forgetting of the authority.. of the Father.
Now I want you to take that as poetry, not prose, and to ask yourself, [symbolically]: Who is this Mother? Who is this Son? Who is this Father?”
Killing the father and marrying the mother= a symbol for the repudiating of the claims of heaven, and by virtue of that, getting into a false and mutually destructive entanglement with the earth.
Humanity has banished our heavenly father, and in his departure lusted after our earthly mother whom we have deprived of the sacred meaning of her earthiness, to render her into a mechanical cow whom we milk ‘for all we can get.’
This is what drives Capitalism.
The sacred earth of the true mother is ‘taboo’ to exploitation. Bonds of respect and love link her to her children.
Once this taboo is gone, the desacralized earth becomes like a permissive, morally lax mother, and the human ego becomes the Oedipal boy feeding off her. In the absence of any restraining father, the Oedipal ego makes use of mother earth’s ‘goods’ for his own, selfish benefit. This Oedipal ego is amorally ambitious. But since his ambition is rooted in milking the merely materialistic, desacralized earth, it has no meaning, it serves nothing, it is fuelled not just by sexual lust, but by the lusting in the selfish greed for possessions and wealth, by the lusting in the narcissistic demand for station and pomp, by the lusting in the proud aspiration for power and might. The Oedipal ego is amorally ambitious for fortune and fame, and all the empty materialistic pleasures they can buy. Material success equals social success. The Oedipal ego is very pleased with himself when he has got to the top of the greasy pole. He struts and brags, arrogant and superior, because he is the ‘lord of the earth.’
The Oedipal ego thinks he is all powerful. He has defeated the father, and taken his ‘leading’ position, even narcissistically believing he can replace the father’s spiritual power by giving birth to his own creative phallus. Yet in reality he has no true creative power. All his phallic towers raised so high into the sky bear witness only to his egomania. They will not stand the test of time. Like the Tower of Babel which they repeat, they will fall to the earth. The only real question is= how much damage will be done to the earth and her children as the glittering edifice built on nothing and for nothing comes crashing down.
It is obvious why Capitalism manifests the universal Oedipus Complex of humanity once we realise who the Mother, the Son, the Father, really are: the actors in its drama.
E.G. Howe [‘Who will our physician be?’, lecture at the Open Way, 23 July 1969] puts it like this.
“Who is Mother? Mother is a pot. She is a container, and [the] seed of life, ..who is to become an individual, is put into this warm container and is generated in it, and the container is a protective principle to enable life to grow. The Mother is very important as a pot. But pots are more important ‘empty’ than full, and mothers as protectors endanger the life of this child the moment they become possessive, ..the moment they seek to seal the aperture to freedom. So.. the problem of ‘Mother as pot’ is that it should be open and do its job, rhythmically holding and releasing.. ..the child comes in at one end and goes out at the other, and this is all a rhythmic breathing process which is part of the rhythm of life.
..the relationship of the contained with the container is the important problem; ..there should not be collusion between the individual and the container the individual occupies..
What we are talking of is the ‘material principle’ — mater, matter — and ..the danger of using and misusing [its motherly meaning]. Let us define misuse.
Misuse is to adopt a relation between the Son and the Mother in which these two collude in a partnership of reciprocal benefit and improvement and security, without relation to authority who represents the needs of the [communal] Whole.”
The Father signifies the claim of the entire society, the entire creation, upon the individual. From this claim arises the need for justice that does not allow the interests of the individual to harm the needs of the many. The claim of the community on the individual is rejected in any political, economic, cultural, situation when ‘Mother and Son’ collude against the Father [the situation in Freud’s own family, as it was in the family of Jacob in the Jewish Bible].
Mammon, the love of money, is always Oedipal in nature when the desire for money is the desire for individual gain, and individual advantage, at any cost to the Communal Whole.
The Mother ‘flatters’ as well as ‘indulges’ the Son, encouraging him in feeling his claim to glory matters more than the basic needs of everyone and everything else.
Thus does this Son become a rival to other mother’s Sons, each seeking the garland of top dog against all the other ‘also-rans.’
Such a Son cannot be a brother to anyone or anything.
This selfish individual cares nothing for the needs of all in an inter-dependent net-work of relationships. Margaret Thatcher= “There is no such thing as society.” If fairness towards the needs of all cannot be achieved, then society itself breaks down.
The irony= when the Whole is plundered and ravaged, then the individual dies with it.
The individual who claims the lion’s share because Mother told him ‘the spoils go to the winner’ is in reality consuming the Whole, draining it of lifeblood like a vampire, contributing nothing to it.
‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’
A final irony haunts the Oedipal ego getting materialistically fat on a materialistically fat mother. By destroying the father and feasting off the mother, the Oedipal ego finally awakes to the fact that he is trapped. He is in the end conquered by what he thought he was conquering, controlled by what he thought he was controlling. The degraded ‘maternal and materialistic’ system of money and power that he invented to ‘master’ the earth has finally imprisoned him.
His god is money, the priests are the banks, and he is caught in a spider’s web of idolatrous delusion from which he cannot escape. With this god there is no redemption from financial sin. This god is ruthless and merciless.
This is where Mammon really ends: the wrong sort of over-involvement in matter, our maternal matrix, finally engenders the exact reverse, a hatred of everything material, of everything in our maternal matrix. This is what Mammon really does: by using and abusing the material world our mother, it generates fear of her, hatred of her, and a desire to destroy her in order, finally, to be free.
The spiritual presents itself, in the end, as the welcome destroyer of and longed for liberator from, the material. This is where science and technology are going. Obsession with the mother ends in loathing of the mother.
This is not what the True Father wants.
Humanity’s Culturally Universal Oedipus Complex began after the Neolithic Revolution, when the nomadic life of hunting and gathering was given up for the settled life of crop growing. For a while, the crop growers remembered the life on the road, and still honoured the father sky and the mother earth of Shamanism, even if they emphasised the latter, and played down the former. They lived in villages, and shared the toils and fruits of their life of ‘subsistence agriculture.’ Probably these villages were formed of kinship groups, and thus remained very democratic..
The change that sowed the seeds for Capitalism came with the transition from the settled life of crop growing to a further ‘vicissitude’ when such crop growing was organised in a ‘more efficient’ and ‘less egalitarian’ manner in order to fuel the rise of city life. The first city in human history is probably Eridu in southern Mesopotamia, the area that became known as Sumeria. It was founded in 4000 BC. Between 4000 BC and 3000 BC Uruk, the first city with unmistakably ‘modern’ features, flourished further to the south, near the Persian Gulf.
The Great Mother religion that mediates this second ‘Urban Revolution’ in human history changes the very meaning of ‘fertility’, from the ripening of Nature, to the exploitation of Nature to fuel the ripening of human life in the city.
No heavenly father, the mother earth dominated and industrially organised so that none of her ancient sacredness can survive in the crops.
A new Great Mother, Astarte, and her son-lover Ba’al, as they were known in Canaan, the land the Jews invaded in 1300-1200 BC.
Look where the religion of the corrupted and corrupting Great Mother Astarte and her devoured and devouring son-lover Ba’al, the religion of empty and vain ‘progress’, the naively meaningless belief that the future will always be ‘bigger and better’, has brought us= to the brink of destroying the very earth, the real mother, and all her fatherless children.
What was Abraham called out of?
Out of the town of Ur in southern Mesopotamia, near Eridu and Uruk.
Out of the crop growing newly revamped to fuel the city, and its ‘forward thrusting.’
Out of the Great Mother religion.
Out of the ‘values’ and ‘skills’ it promoted in a cultural scene given over to richness, as an end in itself, as the only end. Thus a trading and industry supporting the rise and rise of a higher class of wealthy and gifted people, lording it over the new, urbanly created poor. The city and civilisation promoted by the Great Mother religion has all the features we know today= the division into hierarchic social classes, the vast divide between rich and poor; the start of slave owning; the indifference to the most vulnerable [the Biblical ‘widow and orphan’]. Amorality rules! Provided you are a winner, not a loser; provided you are a success, not a failure; then anything goes! The sky is the limit!
Capitalism ‘liberally tolerates’ any and all of the injustices that seem necessary for the few to shine while the many remain in the doldrums. A dream long ago= America as a Tower built over a Pit.
People misunderstand Yahweh’s burden on the Jews to be ‘a holy nation’, a nation of justice and righteousness. This is not a collection of discrete individuals, each of whom is ethical. It is far more radical than that.
Yahweh gave the Jews a fundamentally different model of city life, and the building of civilization, from that which occurred in Eridu [4000 BC] and Uruk [4000–3000 BC], and thereafter in the West, and currently, spreading like a virus all over the world.. The task of the Jews is to make the city holy.
Thus the Jewish prophets — Amos and Hosea in the north [Israel], and Isaiah in the south [Judea] — voice Yahweh’s hot anger at his own chosen people because they have betrayed precisely what they were chosen to do. Thus their religion is outer, not inner, just a matter of gestures without struggle for truth; they think that cultic ceremonies in the Temple without ethical relationships among people in the World is enough to ‘pacify’ their deity= they do not even know who their God is, as they think his requirements are for ritual purity, rather than moral uprightness in the treatment of other people in worldly affairs no less than in social and family inter-actions [Isaiah, 1-5, 10-11].
Yahweh is the enemy of Capitalism. It is not just that Yahweh forbids usury= charging interest on loans of money. Yahweh insists upon a fundamentally different way of ‘doing’ the city, civilization, culture. As Gorbachev once said, ‘there has always been trade.’ Yahweh asks the Jews to adopt a moral attitude towards trading. If practiced, this would stop Capitalism in its tracks.
The Great Whore of Babylon in the Jewish prophets, and in St John’s Revelation, is Israel sold out to the attractive lure, and secret toxicity, of the ‘material paradise’ that has rejected any link to the heavenly father. He will help us not use our mother earth for whatever we can get to fuel our limitless increase, but respect and care for her, respect and care for each other.
This is what the True Father wants.
But as it was in ancient Mesopotamia 6000 years ago, so it is today, after humanity’s third great watershed, the Industrial Revolution. The links, the almost exact similarity, between Then and Now is chilling.. Babylon is everywhere..
Jeremiah= “Babylon has been a golden cup.. that made all the earth drunken; the nations have drunk of her wine, therefore the nations are crazed.”
Ezekiel= “Babylon’s princes.. are like jackals ravening the prey, to shed blood and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain. ..the people of the land have used oppression and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.. Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves [yet] ..the diseased you have not strengthened, neither have you healed the sick, neither have you bound up the broken, neither have you brought again that which was driven away, neither have you sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have you ruled them.”
‘You have not sought the lost and you have abandoned the broken’; this is virtually the same criterion of what makes for sheep or goats in the Last Judgement described by Yeshua. ‘When you did it to the least, you did it to me.’
It is as John Gibbens says, in regard to one of Bob Dylan’s themes, ‘every mother’s son has lost his heart and sold his soul to Babylon.’
The real men are missing.
Yahweh calls out real men, and this alone makes possible the emergence of real women.
Yahweh calls for justice and righteousness, which is the only thing that can free the earth from the dead hand of egoic domination.
We will all rejoice when Great Babylon the Whore is fallen.
Sayings of the Desert Tradition= “When someone asked Abba Isaiah what avarice is, he replied, ‘Not to believe that God cares for you, to despair of the promises of God, and to hate one’s neighbour’.”