Tuesday 31 May 2005

Investment and faith

Back after a long hiatus. I heard an interesting paper at UNSW recently arguing that the rise of the Christian Right in America is based on two notions. The first is premillennial eschatology, whereby certain things need to take place in the world (especially in the Middle East) before Christ will return. The second is the strengthened connection between capitalism and Christianity. The speaker summarised this nicely as a shift from the Protestant work ethic to the evangelical investment ethic. Put briefly, debt becomes the tool by which a group can advance its cause in the world. This comes largely from the work of a Catholic economist, Michael Novak (for Novak here...against Novak here...general articles on Christianity and capitalism here and here).
On 15 August, former World Bank economist, Dr Michael Schluter, will give a CASE seminar on "Why the Bible bans interest, and what we can do about it" (more details soon). It should add something to the discussion!

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1 comment:

Drew said...

I liked (mostly) Bell's (the article against Novak) argument for not being capitalist, and it stikes a balance between individual confession and corporate work - although I really don't have the economical where-with-all to make too much of a comment.

Both articles do make a point of Christians not having any sophisticated response to market economy.

But then again, there aren't any other strong critiques (non-Christian ones) going either... Clive Hamilton is a critic (the Australia Institute), and, interestingly, his alternative would seem to rest on a version of "confession" (like Bell's article) to "downshift" one's life, as well. He has developed a downshifting manifesto, which has been launched with his new book. He seems to have a very positive view of humanity...

I'm not sure if this comment is much good... but the seminar on interest certainly sounds like it could add some good thoughts to the debate.