Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live faithfully...in the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Monday, September 29, 2008

No surpise. But WWJT


Here's the quote of the day: "We're all worried about losing our jobs," Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican, declared in an impassioned speech in support of the bill before the vote. "Most of us say, 'I want this thing to pass, but I want you to vote for it — not me.' "

What else could you expect from an economic system predicated on the notion that everyone acting in their own self-interests will always lead to a win/win situation. Somehow, I wonder: WWJT. What would Jesus think?

He'd think that we should put the interests of others before our own. He'd think we should put the interests of the kingdom before our own. He'd think we should live generously. He'd think we should open our homes, share our food, and care for those who can't care for themselves, and that these kinds of things should be our priorities.

We've been trying to reconcile Adam Smith and unregulated economics with the gospel for a long time. Can we please stop? What's needed is a new model where the government rewards, not self-interest, but service and sacrifice. This might be an opportunity to build a new energy and technology infrastructure. Maybe America can begins producing goods again, rather than trying to live off fabricated wealth. Maybe, but I'm not sure. If Christians, who have the very words of Christ about money refuse to altar their view of self-interest economics, how will the rest of world do?

8 Comments:

At 29/9/08 13:30, Blogger UltraNurd said...

Thanks for the link to the Friedman opinion piece - he makes a very good point about using the current market instability as an opportunity to set us up for a greener future.

My congregation's stewardship committee has been making some effort in the green area during the spring, to try and integrate "caring for creation" into the usual time/talents/treasures converation, which is something that excites me... and as a side benefit can save the congregation money, particularly in the area of building operations.

 
At 29/9/08 14:11, OpenID natekey said...

I think Jesus would be quick to ask us to look out for the people around us and instead of waiting for the government to bail out our friends and neighbors with money they don't have...

No matter what opinion you have on the market or government regulation/deregulation, this is obviously an area for us to grow in generosity.

But on a different note- the article you posted from Friedman has this quote: "This is a credit crisis, and credit crises involve a breakdown in confidence that leads to no one lending to anyone. You don’t fool around with a credit crisis. You have to overwhelm it with capital."

This is fine and good if we had capital to overwhelm it with- but we don't. We have a few trillion dollars of debt. And when you prop up debt with more debt aren't you only making things worse in the long run?

Hayek won the Nobel Prize for proving that the Great Depression had more to do with government manipulation of credit and interest rates than capitalism- and the same Federal Reserve System is still manipulating the money supply today. Forget Adam Smith- he doesn't apply to a system like ours where central banks, authorized by the powers that be, are the ones who really make the rules...

 
At 29/9/08 17:58, Anonymous Tyler said...

good challenge richard. not sure i have a great answer, but i do think it involves re thinking how we acquire our wealth.

 
At 29/9/08 18:26, Anonymous David said...

I would be careful comparing the current situation with the free market economics of Adam Smith. The two government backed banks that contributed heavily to this mess did so, ostensibly, in the interest of providing loans to the poor and others who would otherwise have been unable to own their own home. There is much still to be written about this current crisis. There are many pieces that will only be understood with time. But, I personally doubt that any of it will include references to Adam Smith.

 
At 29/9/08 18:33, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Richard for saying exactly what I'm feeling. At the same time, I must offer that this present crisis is certainly not happening in a vacuum where God does not see or for which He has not already prepared those of us who hear His Spirit.
I actually am beginning to relish the opportunity to share His Spirit with the many people in my world who will now have a new perspective on what is most important in this life.
May you see His face always brother.
Wayne Bays.

 
At 29/9/08 18:38, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an awesome opportunity to display the peace of Christ in our lives. While everyone else is freaking out because their god is dead, we'll be breaking bread to share.

 
At 29/9/08 20:00, Blogger Richard Dahlstrom said...

yes... I need to agree w/ David regarding the reality that Fannie and Freddie were government orchestrated efforts to equalize the housing market. I also think we need to be careful when positing solutions that are one dimensional. Things are complex. Simply saying we need pure de-regulation on the one end, or government ownership of banking both seem 'chain saw' solutions.

 
At 7/10/08 14:05, Blogger Brandon said...

Thanks for your post Nate.

If anyone is interested in a further conversation on this point:
http://www.conversantlife.com/ucontent/self-interest

 

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