Manifesto for the Economy of Life

Below is an excerpt from the São Paulo Statement on International Financial Transformation for the Economy of Life (World Council of Churches, 2012). We would love to hear your thoughts on this manifesto. Is there anything you would add to the creed? Does it speak from (and to) the intersection of faith, economics and justice?  The 2008 global financial and economic crash increased poverty and unemployment among millions in the global North and worsened and deepened poverty, hunger and malnutrition among even larger numbers in the global South, already experiencing decades of poverty and deprivation caused by injustices in international financial and economic relations. A system of speculation, competition and inadequate regulation has failed to serve the people and instead has denied a decent standard of life to the majority of the world’s population. The situation is urgent. Critical theological reflection on the material and collective bases of life has been intrinsic to the call to be faithful disciples of Christ and has expressed itself through theological contemplative praxis that has sought transformative liberation from unjust socio-political, cultural and economic structures, thereby promoting the fullness of life for all creation. Modernity has, however, brought with it an economic model based on profit and self-interest disconnected from faith and ethics. This has led to the ideological justification of colonialism, the despair of...

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São Paulo Statement on the Economy of Life

In late September, 2012, economists, church leaders, activists, politicians and theologians gathered in  São Paulo, Brazil, to respond to and continue work around issues of economic, social and ecological justice. Together, these ecumenical leaders envisioned an alternative global financial and economic architecture, building on several seminal confessions, statements and call’s to action from the last decade. The São Paulo Statement: International Financial Transformation for the Economy of Life is well-worth a read. In particular, I was inspired by the introductory creed on pages 3 and 4. The manifesto follows a format of rejection and affirmation, thus: We reject the explosion of monetisation and the commodification of all of life, an economy that is driven by debt and financialisation, the ideology of consumerism, increasing individualistic consumerism, an economy of over-consumption and greed, neoliberal capitalism which conditions us psychologically to desire more and more, and the economic abstraction of Homo Oeconomicus which constructs the human person as being essentially insatiable and selfish. We affirm a theology of grace, an economy of forgiveness, caring and justice, an economy of Manna which provides sufficiently for all and negates the idea of greed, the diversity and interconnectedness of life and interdependent relationships with the created order, an economy of sufficiency that promotes restraint, and that we are called to think not only of our own interests but also of the interests of others. This...

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Did the Occupy Movement Miss the Mark?

by Dana Fisher   Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said “In the gospels the very first step a man must take is an act which radically affects his whole existence.” What I saw from the Occupy Wall Street movement wasn’t a radical change in our existence but a desperate grab to make us all equally rich, an equality which Jesus called us out of. When they finally cleared Dewey Square of all the tents and sleeping bags and all that was left were scraps of paper and empty footprints in the mud I couldn’t help but feel we had missed the mark. The Occupy movement felt like a hollow thud in the threads of time. It lacked direction and left me with the sense of selfishness and greed. The mud of American capitalism was hard to wash off my boots. We didn’t want equality, what we wanted is what others had. It’s hard to disagree with many of the principles put forth by the occupy movement, the need for equality is there and it is real. But the way it was gone about was a misstep to real social change. It lacked selflessness and leadership of which both are needed to motivate and bring out the best in each of us, pushing us to love and strive for others like we...

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Stealing: Legalized By The Silence of Contemporary Christianity?

“Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed – but hate these things in yourself, not in another.”  Thomas Merton “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world” Albert Einstein “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation and I care not who writes its laws” Maier Amschel Rothschild I’m looking to have a conversation. In my article “Stealing: Legalized By The Silence of Contemporary Christianity?” I haven’t prescribed (at least not at this point) how we should understand usury and greed, but instead created a space for conversation. I encourage you to read the full article by downloading it, but if you prefer, here are few thoughts to consider. I have borrowed money, I have lent, and I have seen the beauty and the pain that can be associated with both. Canaries were once regularly used in coal mining as an early warning system.  Toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, methane, or carbon dioxide in the mine would kill the bird before affecting the miners. Because canaries tend to sing much of the time, they would stop singing prior to succumbing to the gas; therefore, their sudden silence would alert the miners to danger. If you have watched any of the...

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