Faith and Theology: Dishonest money: what the financial crisis tells us about ourselves

Faith and Theology: Dishonest money: what the financial crisis tells us about ourselves
A wonderful little essay about the economic situation these days, greed and a Christian response. I appreciate the economy of language with twhich it's written, too :)


  1. I think the assumption that Capitalism causes greed is wrong. I could not disagree more with the article on this point. No matter what kind of economic system we have, greed will still exist is one form or another. Obviously, greed is what got us into this financial mess, that I cannot argue against. But to blame the system for what is an individual responsibility isn't fair. It bothers me that in this financial crisis, it has been popular to blame the greed of wall street when a huge chunk of the responsibility lies with the persons taking the loan. If you can't pay back the loan then you shouldn't be taking it. That is a key part of credit most people for some reason don't quite seem to appreciate fully, you have to pay back what you borrow. I think greed started with the home buyers having "eyes bigger than their wallets". (of course the current way credit is traded exacerbated the problem too) The system has its flaws which needs regulation, and I think it will get more regulation now. People made a big mistake and now its time to learn from it.

    I used to believe that capitalism was an evil creation of "the man" but I think my views have matured and it is more of a gray area with pluses and minuses. There are sub systems (e.g. micro-financing) of capitalism that are doing a lot of good for the poorest of people in the world. The reason why it works is because it places responsibility of a person's welfare on their shoulders and not on an external charitable organization.

    Capitalism isn't the demon that needs to be slain. It is our own human nature that needs to be changed. I agree with the article that the church has its responsibility to give its support in a tangible way in times of crisis, but I just can't let the blame be placed on a system when it is the fault of individual actors.

  2. The author seems to be making a similar point initially: that the financial crisis is the fruit of greed and irresponsibility, of unchecked desire. But in and of itself, "capitalism" does not posses the tools to reform itself or the human heart. I think the author's assertion that ,"What we have witnessed, in other words, is a natural extension of the very logic of money, which has aimed from its very beginning at generating more and more of itself, seemingly out of nothing," is a penetrating one. Capitalism on its own is a force of nature.

    I believe the case he made is that capitalism cannot be a "way of life" allowed to flourish in an unmodified fashion. Greed exists in other systems, for sure, but all of them are fallen and wrong to the degree they foster it, nor can we excuse ourselves from the responsibility of dealing with each. Instead he sees Christ in His Church as something that should shape us more fundamentally: the logic of capitalism cannot be the logic of the Christian- we follow something supernatural, something that has claimed dominion over the powers over us, and church needs to be the kind of formative place where we address the issues of greed and consumption by acting in decidedly non-capitalist ways, i.e., "giving to any as have needs," "sell everything and give to the poor." The NYSE just won't do that for anyone. It is the nature of the beast that we do not realize our cellphone consumption has forced children to work in acid cobalt mines. Are the homeowners to blame or the risky trading of debt? Both. But it is significant the people making the debt decisions were the people who already had the money. The comments (esp. by Kim Fabricius) reflect that the market fits squarely as a power and principality in Pauline thought. In that respect it most definitely is the demon that needs to be slain: Jesus calls it mammon. There is no reasoning in greed/mammon/free market that should lead me to care if my consumption means poor living conditions in the 3rd world if I can get away with it.

    I guess most simply, if the manufacture of desire is the fulfillment of the logic of money, its telos, then I must have faith in Christ not a free market for hope or salvation, transformed into someone who is not enslaved by desire.

    The most difficult question though is how to do this at Epic?
    thanks for sharing, Tim :)


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