If you are at all concerned about the economy or questions of how consumption relates to happiness, or how Christians should think about economic issues, this is the book for you. In four clearly-written, profoundly insightful chapters William Cavanaugh analyzes some of the most important issues facing economic thinkers today, including free markets, consumerism, pluralism and scarce resources, from a deeply faithful Christian perspective (although the author is Catholic and draws mainly on Catholic thinkers, his theology is strongly ecumenical) and provides sound, practical advice for how Christians can live in a world of scarce resources, rampant consumerism and meaningless relativism.
Modern economics is based on the assumption that human wants are infinite whereas resources to satisfy them are limited. The scarcity of resources creates an over-riding imperative to use resources efficiently (including human beings) and leads to conflict, whether military or monetary,...
Do not be fooled by the small size of this book, it packs a hefty punch. Cavanaugh presents his arguments here in four chapters:
Chapter One introduces the working concept of "freedom," contained in the Free Market, utilizing Milton Friedman's (in)famous definition that a transaction is free if 1.)it is informed and 2.)it is voluntary, indicating that a truly "free market," is free from the "restrictions," of any common telos, and that any desire is equally valid and free should it meet these two conditions. Cavanaugh argues that this freedom is too "negative," that is to say it is void of any discernable content, and more importantly in practice it can justify almost any of the multifarious and horrendous conditions of e.g. miniscule wages, outsourcing, and a whole plethora of other economic and dehumanizing maladies. Rather, using Augustine as a dialogue partner Cavanaugh argues that our economic transactions need to be viewed from our humanizing telos in God, and that...
This book by Bill Cavanaugh, professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas, is short -- weighing in at a mere 5 ounces and 103 pages -- but packed with well-reasoned thoughts regarding the crossroads of economics and theology. The book is actually a collection of four related essays, where the author investigates four different pairs of perceptions of economics: "Freedom and Unfreedom", "Detachment and Attachment", "The Global and the Local", and "Scarcity and Abundance".
Cavanaugh does not seek to answer the question of whether or not "the free market" is right and proper. Instead, he asks, "what kinds of economic practices can make the market truly free?" This can only be answered, from a theological viewpoint, when we have defined freedom by God's Word. That is, we are only truly free through our inclusion and participation in the Body of Christ. On the surface, he is absolutely right. Because of our different understandings (Cavanaugh is Roman Catholic) of what...
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