God’s Economics

Since the beginning of the current economic crisis, no one has done a better job explaining exactly what has gone on than This American life.  If you’re still lost, I highly recommend the following two shows

The Giant Pool of Money

Another Extremely Frightening Show About the Economy

They lay out in comprehendible ways exactly what has happened in the economic world.

Here’s what it seems to boil down to: People want to make money.  More than any stock, they are invested in economic growth.  Growth is the biggest commodity in the market.  Any stock that grows sells.  Some very bright people found a way to create a product that grew like crazy.  By creating an industry of selling mortgages and then bundling stakes in those mortgages as stock options, investors could ride the wave in appreciating home value.  Money grew like crazy.  BUT because growth was more important than anything else no one hesitated to wonder whether home prices were being inflated, whether it was a good idea to lend money to people who had no income and no assets, whether this all would come crashing down like a house of cards.

Our economic system values growth above all else.

In the story of the Exodus, as the Hebrew people come out of Egypt, God consistently provides for their needs.  Each morning the Israelites collect bread from heaven.  There is plenty for everyone.  Jesus teaches us to pray for our daily bread and feeds thousands from five loaves and two fish.  The underlying economics of the Bible is abundance.

If we operated from an economics of abundance rather than an economics of growth how different could our behavior be?  Rather than worrying about how to tap into the fastest growing vein in the economy and suck as much out as we can so that we are taken care of, we could trust that their will be enough and look for those who are not doing so well.  We could spread out wealth, resources, technology.  We could look for quality of product rather than quantity.

As we look at economic plans that seek to patch the hole in our economic growth machine, we have to wonder if it isn’t time to reassess the ways in which do business.  Whether through regulation, or a change in spending habits can we prioritize and invest in companies that look to a bigger picture than growth, that look toward quality?  Maybe even looking toward the health and well being of our planet and fellow human beings?

Can this economic crisis be a turning point in the way we treat one another and this planet?

Published by Mike Angell

The Rev. Mike Angell is rector of The Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion in St. Louis.

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