Ten years ago this month, the Berlin Wall was breached. Within months the once monolithic world of the Soviet bloc was dismantled and the claims of Karl Marx decisively discredited. Seldom have historical events provided such a concrete repudiation of a political vision and, in this case, of a quasi-religious faith.
Members from more than 500 congregations marched in Charlotte, North Carolina, last October as part of the “10 Percent Is Enough” campaign. While conceding that careless spending is the chief cause of consumer debt and needs to be addressed, march organizers object to credit companies' enticing offers of easy credit, their increased interest rates and their profitable penalties. The "10 percent" campaign proposes a cap on interest rates.
Our guide assured us that it wasn’t very far, only about 15 minutes or so up the road. Maybe 20. We were on our way to Bassin-Bleu, one of Haiti’s most magnificent waterfalls. The sight of it, said our guide, would take our breath away. It was early in the morning.
When Jim Douglass graduated from college, his father sent him a life insurance policy. Jim thanked his father but returned the policy. He could not accept the gift, he said, because he wanted to understand the truth of an “economics of providence” that he had read about in Matthew 6. Rather than pay premiums on a life insurance policy, Jim said he would store up treasure in heaven by sending a monthly payment to provide basic care for a little girl in France. I’m convinced that Jim is right.
Julie Clawson needed a new bra. Most of the time she would have just gone to the store, plunked down some cash and come home with a bra. But she had been reading about globalization, sweatshops and child labor, and her conscience made her wonder where her money was going and what was being done with it. So she decided to try an experiment. She decided to find a “justice bra”—to make a purchase that could do no wrong. Did such a bra exist?
Christians can be quite good at feeling guilty. We feel guilty if we commute to work by car, but we also feel guilty if we don’t earn enough money to buy a house in the suburbs with a yard for our kids to play in.
In 2002, Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph Stiglitz published a controversial but influential book titled Globalization and Its Discontents. Stiglitz had just resigned his position as chief economist at the World Bank, in part because of controversy over his criticism of his own institution and others.
The Christian faith is never lived, taught or preached in a vacuum. There is always an alternative to it: another philosophy, another religion, another ideal. “I see that you have many gods,” Paul noted when he looked around first-century Athens, and indeed the Greeks had a god for everything: for wealth, beauty, fertility, immortality, warfare and more.