God’s First Economy Lesson

Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. – Exodus 16:18-20 Exodus 16 contains the story of God sending manna from heaven. You have likely heard this story as an example of God’s grace or a demonstration of Israel’s childlike obstinance. What if I told you it is actually a divine lesson on economics? Manna was a kind of “training wheels” for Israel to set a foundation for a strong economy and society later. If we listen, we can find the problems of our own economy today, the real meaning of gluttony, and much of our own self-inflicted suffering. Take Only What You Need for Today Israel was trained as it wandered the desert to learn to look at resources as a daily provision. Not to try and horde more than it needed. Gluttony is not about eating too much food, it is about taking more of anything than you really need for today. This isn’t just a Christian principle, it is a solid economic foundation. If a whole nation of people live in fear for what tomorrow will bring,...

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Pope slams capitalism as ‘new tyranny’

I’m not going to lie – I really enjoy Pope Francis. So much so that it is strange to me that no-one has started calling him the anti-Christ or the beast yet cos that is what usually happens, right? And to set the record straight, I have not traditionally been “a pope person”. So why do I like this guy? Because in what he says and how he lives his life, he so frequently seems to resemble Jesus. Is he perfect? Absolutely not. Is there going to be some story that surfaces at some time in his time as pope to let us know exactly how that is so?  Very possibly. But in the meantime, in the words he speaks, and the prophetic actions he takes and the tweets that get tweeted on his behalf, there continues to be a very strong Jesus flavour. And so this article where he describes ‘not sharing wealth’ as ‘stealing’ is yet one more example of the character of Jesus that is to be found in this man. Read the whole article – it is a gem. And sits so well alongside another article I read recently that spoke about how the pope was caught sneaking out at night to spend time with the homeless people. Imagine if our pastors started ditching church sermons...

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Pope Francis on the idolization of money

Recently, in a visit with workers in the Italian city of Cagliari, Pope Francis shared some strong words on the topic of unemployment and the global economy. The pope acknowledged the suffering that accompanies prolonged unemployment, and denounced an economy that has placed the pursuit of money above the well-being of men and women. For those interested, the full text of the Pope’s statements can be found here (warning: they are in Italian, but google translate can provide you with a pretty decent English translation). While the Pope is not saying anything essentially new here (in fact, some of this all sounds very familiar… Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13 familiar), his words do give new voice to an age old sentiment that has taken on a peculiarly modern manifestation. How can we make sure that our economy does was it is intended to do – serve the interests of humanity, and provide for our well being? How can we keep people at the center of our...

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Measuring Well-Being, beyond GDP

For decades the Gross Domestic Product has been the gold-standard for measuring economic health, wealth and progress. GDP has become entrenched in our discourse, but it is a remarkably narrow measure of a nation’s overall well-being. It defines progress through the narrow lens that more is better – more consumption, more production, more exports. GDP entirely neglects indicators such as income inequality, the cost of underemployment and pollution, environmental impact and resource depletion or a broad range of social indicators including the cost of crime, the value of volunteerism and leisure time, education and community. As a measure of “progress” and national “health”, it is sorely lacking. Which is why many are looking toward alternative measures of well-being, that take into consideration economic, environmental and social indicators. Here are two short video clips which explain why and how GDP fails to paint a complete picture of growth, progress and well-being in the new economy, and how alternative measures such as Gross National Happiness or the Human Development Index can help us. Check out these videos and we would love to hear your thoughts: Well-Being in the New Economy What is Gross National...

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The Amish and Economic Innovation

Recently, NPR’s Planet Money did an episode on the economic life of the Amish. They examined how, in attempting to stay true to their principles, the Amish community has responded to the world of business with a combination of technological innovation – adapting technology to serve their specific needs – and by working in niche markets in which they excel. It’s a fascinating case study of how a community can adapt to the modern world while staying true to the convictions that define them; it’s well worth a listen. What can we learn from this case study about finding imaginative and innovative ways to stay true to our own principles in the modern...

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