International businesses cast as a force of spiritual evil

Published June 1, 1999

A favourite cartoon of mine shows a crowd of anonymous people, each looking concerned. Above every head a thought balloon reads, “But what can one person do?” The question is pressing in today’s economy. This collection of essays offers informative answers about what one person, in concert with others, can do. The essays paint a wide spectrum of community-based economic development in diverse industrial and social contexts. Taken as anything more than a series of examples, however, the book disappointing. It sets up to critique the ethical basis of modern economics, but in place of neo-classical theory offers only well-worn emotional reactions to life in a corporate world. From Corporate Greed to Common GoodCanadian Churches and Economic Development a collection of essaysed. Murray MacAdam, with John Bird and Kevin Arsenault$19.95 (paper)Novalis2-8908-8844-4Babylon Revisited, for example, begins by assuming that transnational corporations are a force of spiritual evil. This kind of claim requires, to say the least, a little defending. The authors are also quite selective in their use of biblical teaching about living in a secular society. Texts that counsel us to subvert the system must be balanced against texts that suggest working wisely within it. The economy is not an impersonal or demonic force. To suggest that it is compounds the sense of powerlessness evident throughout the book. For people oppressed by economic circumstances, the gospel offers the freedom to take responsibility for their own actions both inside and outside present structures. Read this book to see how some groups of Christians have used that freedom – but not for serious theological reflection. Rev. Iain Luke has a PhD in economics from Cambridge University. He joins the faculty of theology at St. John’s College, Winnipeg, this July.


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