No need for Pharaoh? by Jono Child

Perhaps Post-Modernism’s greatest critique of modernism is that truth rested with the powerful. It questioned the means by which humanity comes to know what it knows and it called into question ‘unquestionable ideas’. At its heart it disrupted the way in which many had interpreted and seen the world and seemingly gave value to all voices. The merits of this can be discussed another time, but the effects are witnessed and felt deeply within our world. I believe a similar movement is occurring in the world of economics. The rise of the Occupy movement & the protests in London, Vancouver, Egypt, Syria, Brazil, Marikana & Turkey provide ample evidence that a shift is happening. Communities and collectives across the world are calling the undeniable truths of trickle down growth capitalism, ‘free market’ equality and increased production into question. Both the descriptions above outline the shifting of worldviews. A worldview is the means or system by which we interpret the world. The worldview is the foundation from which one lives out life, and when this begins to become undone, the word ‘crisis’ is never far from the lips. Suddenly life does not make sense the way it used to. Ever witnessed a ridiculous argument that goes around and around in circles? Most likely clashing worldviews, the individuals cannot interpret the...

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Feel Good Giving

Here’ s a bit of a lighter article asking how our giving makes us most happy. Although the experiments cited in the article are somewhat less than rigorously scientific, the article suggests that it really is more “blessed” to give than to receive. The authors go on to list three conditions under which prosocial spending (in other words, giving toward other’s benefit) thrives; namely, when it feels like a choice, when it connects us with others, and when it makes a clear impact. There are certainly many different avenues through which we can share our resources, from large multi-national development organizations to mid-sized local non-profits, through churches or directly to individuals. Our giving may be done in isolation or through collaboration. We may never know the end-recipient or we may be in close relationship with them. How do the three conditions suggested in the article – choice, relationality, and clear impact – affect how and why you...

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On the intersection between faith and economics – by Waldo Malan

A good friend of mine recently wanted to know if I had any peculiar thoughts on the intersection between faith and economics. At first I thought… what rubbish… and then I thought-ed some more. Not rubbish at all but a Godly principle. Yes, I discovered (while pondering) that I actually do believe there is an intersection between the two, and in fact, an intersection that was put in place by God himself. Allow me to explain through a connect-the-dots picture, since these I really love. Firstly I think that it is important for us to distinguish between two different economies at work in our world today. There are economics that is the result of a relationship with God, and then there are economics as a financial system invented by man. The interesting thing about this, and the reason we often flounder in ambiguities, is that both these systems are at work all the time, no matter which one we subscribe to! God’s economy is simple: 1) everything belongs to God 2) everything that belongs to God he has given to man 3) God requires man to believe (intrinsically and inherently) that He is good, and all He created is good 4) God smiles broadly and is pleased when we believe Him and operate according to the guidelines that He...

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Religion and its effect on Economic Growth

I remember as an undergraduate reading Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, and debating the issue: is religion good or bad for the economy? In many instances, people are wary of the role that religion, or a certain type of religion at least, can play on the economy and on public life in general – the idea, which I’ve often heard in discussion, is that by highlighting concern for the next life or on transcendental aims you thereby devalue this life and vilify attempts toward bettering life in the here and now. However, there is also reason to believe, as discussed in Weber’s book, that far from slowing or stalling economic growth, certain religious imperatives can be important drivers in the economy. More recently, the sociologist Peter Berger has explored these themes, pointing out that a religious culture which encourages hard work coupled with a religious culture of worldly asceticism can lead to a build up of capital, essential to driving economic growth by even the most conventional standards. In this article, Jerry Bower summarizes a recent interview with Peter Berger in which they explore these topics- and a podcast of the full interview is also available for those interested in hearing about these ideas in even greater...

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The Sacredness of Space

The two spheres in which I spend most of my time–the church and the seminary–have each been grappling with financial questions and their implications for quite some time now. Each has, for a long time, had a legacy of service, commitment, and care, and yet each, in their own ways, has also taken upon themselves obligations, financial and otherwise, that may impact their future viability. I came across this post today:  Right-sizing as a Faithful Act of Stewardship Wrestling with financial issues and their implications for the future of ministry will be one of the key issues facing the future of both local churches and seminaries for many years to come. As we continue to discern the shape of ministry in our current contexts, what might it look like to separate it from a physical, geographic location? What does it look like to make every space...

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