You can copy and paste this URL.
This URL will permanently link back to this page.
“Human self-awareness is heavily affected by the knowledge that humanity is outgrowing its present condition and entering a new era, a world ‘to the second power,’ fashioned by human hands. We live on the verge of human epiphany, ‘anthropophany.’”
- Gustavo Gutiérrez
“there are speculative thinkers who merely write, and write that which, if it is to be read with the aid of action, if I may put it that way, proves to be nonsense, unless it is perhaps intended only for fantastical beings”
- Søren Kierkegaard
“We often fought…shoulder-to-shoulder with Marxists that shared in the same dream,” explains Venezuelan sociologist of religion Otto Maduro about the early days of liberation theology. “And that led us all too often to be very naïve, very acritical toward the actual experiments of socialism going on in the world.”
Decades after its emergence in the 1960s and 70s, liberation theology remains a controversial approach to understanding Christianity. Moving beyond a mere re-interpretation of the Gospel, the movement’s supporters seek broad changes in the political and economic structure of society in an effort to improve the living conditions of the poor and oppressed.
The academic spearhead of this movement was Gustavo Gutiérrez’s 1971 treatise, A Theology of Liberation. This paper will attempt to analyze this seminal work from the perspective of economics, history and human sin and salvation to determine whether the theology articulated by Gutiérrez stands up to scrutiny and whether other routes to liberation may be possible.
II. Gutiérrez’s Theology of Liberation
The first English edition of A Theology of Liberation came out in 1973, and in 1988 a 15th anniversary edition appeared that included updates and revisions based on Gutiérrez’s experiences since the initial publication of the work. In his new introduction, he defines liberation theology as “a process leading from less human to more human conditions” that arises out of “an expression of the right of the poor to think out their own faith.”
For Gutiérrez, this expression is a recent phenomenon that shifts the nature of the discussion and puts the historical process of liberation into motion. “Liberation theology,” he explains, “is closely bound up with this new presence of those who in the past were always absent from our history.” Indeed,
What we have often called the ‘major fact’ in the life of the Latin American church – the participation of Christians in the process of liberation – is simply an expression of a far-reaching historical event: the irruption of the poor. Our time bears the imprint of the new presence of those who in fact used to be ‘absent’ from our society and from the church. By ‘absent’ I mean: of little or no importance, and without the opportunity to give expression themselves to their sufferings, their comraderies, their plans, their hopes.
It is this intersection of social reality and religious understanding that forms the unique basis for liberation theology. As he states the matter, “Liberation theology had its origin in the contrast between the urgent task of proclaiming the life of the risen Jesus and the conditions of death in which the poor of Latin America were living.”
For Gutiérrez, this contrast presents a fundamental problem. “The Bible presents liberation – salvation – in Christ as the total gift,” he notes, “which, by taking on the levels I indicate, gives the whole process of liberation its deepest meaning and its complete and unforeseeable fulfillment.” Therefore, “we cannot separate our discourse about God from the historical process of liberation.”
Liberation is a single process that encompasses multiple aspects. The levels Gutiérrez identifies in connection to liberation in Christ include: 1) liberation from social oppression; 2) personal transformation that yields inner freedom; and 3) liberation from sin.“The first corresponds to the level of scientific rationality which supports real and effective transforming political action; the second stands at the level of utopia, of historical projections…; the third is on the level of faith. These different levels are profoundly linked; one does not occur without the others.”
Liberation theology thus views politics as not only a proper, but an absolutely essential sphere of action for Christians. Indeed, political reason “is the universal determinant and the collective arena for human fulfillment.” While Gutiérrez states that he does not identify what he defines as “the preferential option for the poor with any ideology or specific political program,” he does indicate the desire for a radical overhaul of the existing economic and political order.
“Faith and political action,” he therefore argues, “will not enter into a correct and fruitful relationship except through the effort to create a new type of person in a different society.” As he explains, humanity is to implement something altogether new, albeit something in keeping with where historical progress is leading us:
The historical plan, the utopia of liberation as the creation of a new social consciousness and as a social appropriation not only of the means of production, but also of the political process, and, definitively, of freedom, is the proper arena for the cultural revolution. That is to say, it is the arena of the permanent creation of a new humanity in a different society characterized by solidarity. Therefore, that creation is the place of encounter between political liberation and the communion of all persons with God. This communion implies liberation from sin, the ultimate root of all injustice, all exploitation, all dissidence among persons.
III. Gutiérrez’s understanding of economics
As mentioned above, Gutiérrez states that he does not seek to align liberation theology with any particular political program. Nonetheless, certain influences clearly inform his understanding of what is necessary to arrive at a new humanity in a different society. His view of economics, for instance, is built upon a foundation of Marxist and socialist thought, and his prescriptions flow out from that perspective.
“Contemporary persons have begun to lose their naiveté as they confront economic and socio-cultural determinants,” he states; “the deep causes of the situation in which they find themselves are becoming clearer.” What are the deep causes? Social and economic oppression by wealthier nations.
“The underdevelopment of the poor countries…[is] the historical by-product of the development of other countries,” he argues. “The dynamics of the capitalist economy lead to the establishment of a center and a periphery, simultaneously generating progress and growing wealth for the few and social imbalances, political tensions, and poverty for the many.”
We owe revelation of these deep causes to Marxist historical and economic analysis. As he explains, “contemporary theology does in fact find itself in direct and fruitful confrontation with Marxism, and it is to a large extent due to Marxism’s influence that theological thought, searching for its own sources, has begun to reflect on the meaning of the transformation of this world and human action in history.” This transformation, therefore, “ought to be directed toward a radical change in the foundation of society, that is, the private ownership of the means of production.”
Gutiérrez is thus critical of efforts such as developmentalism that seek to improve standards of living through the tools of capitalism. “[T]he so-called changes” implemented by advocates of such development “were often nothing more than new and underhanded ways of increasing the power of strong economic groups.” While poor countries do desire improvement in standards of living, they seek different tools “in order to achieve a more human society.”
Such a society requires more than mere tweaks to the system. Indeed, “Only a radical break from the status quo, that is, a profound transformation of the private property system, access to power of the exploited class, and a social revolution that would break this dependence would allow for the change to a new society, a socialist society – or at least allow that such a society might be possible.”
Socialism, then, “represents the most fruitful and far-reaching approach” to bringing about this revolution for Gutiérrez. It is that which is worth striving for, that which will bring about the freedom and liberation for which poor countries long. Further, it is a program inseparable from Christian faith. “The class struggle is a fact that Christians cannot dodge,” he argues, “and in the face of which the demands of the gospel must be clearly stated.” Therefore, “In Latin America the world in which the Christian community must live and celebrate its eschatological hope is the world of social revolution.”
IV. Gutiérrez’s understanding of history
Gutiérrez’s understanding of history similarly employs Marxist tools of analysis, which are in turn built upon Hegelian concepts of historical progress. While admittedly simplified, the view can be summarized as such: a spirit exterior to humanity guides humankind through history toward an ultimate utopian goal and if humans reflect upon and analyze historical trends they may recognize key developments that signal opportunities to assist in the advancement toward this goal.
Explaining Hegel, Gutiérrez states that “Through the dialectical process [of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis] humankind constructs itself and attains a real awareness of its own being; it liberates itself in the acquisition of genuine freedom which through work transforms the world and educates the human species.” He then sees Marx as adding to this the tools necessary to perform such a feat. “Pointing the way towards an era in history when humankind can live humanly,” he explains, “Marx created categories which allowed for the elaboration of a science of history.”
Gutiérrez thus ties his understanding of history back to economics: To conceive of history as a process of human liberation is to consider freedom as a historical conquest; it is to understand that the step from an abstract to a real freedom is not taken without a struggle against all the forces that oppress humankind, a struggle full of pitfalls, detours, and temptations to run away. The goal is not only better living conditions, a radical change of structures, a social revolution; it is much more: the continuous creation, never ending, of a new way to be human, a permanent cultural revolution (emphasis original).
Reviewing history, one can see evidence of this process taking place. Gutiérrez, for example, cites the French and Russian revolutions as wresting, or beginning to wrest, “political decisions from the hands of an elite who were ‘destined’ to rule.” What began then is now reaching maturity. “[H]umankind,” he states, is “ever more conscious of being an active subject of history, ever more articulate in the face of social injustice and of all repressive forces which stand in the way of its fulfillment; it is ever more determined to participate both in the transformation of social structures and in effective political action.” This is particularly true in Latin America, where Gutiérrez says that “we are in a kairos, a propitious and demanding time, in which the Lord challenges us and we are called upon to bear a very specific witness.”
This timing is linked, for Gutiérrez, to the divine, for the historical process is where we encounter God. He replaces the vaguely religious “Spirit” of Hegel with the Christian Holy Spirit and what he terms “the Promise.”“[T]he Spirit…leads the universe and history towards its fullness in Christ,” he says, and to “announce the Gospel is to proclaim that the love of God is present in the historical becoming of humankind.” He declares the Bible “the book of the Promise” and defines this Promise as “the efficacious revelation of God’s love and self-communication.”
The Promise dominates human history, which thus becomes “in truth nothing but the history of the slow, uncertain, and surprising fulfillment of the Promise.” Human recognition of this process and action in response to it is vital, for “the area of the possibilities of potential being…allows us to plan history in revolutionary terms,” and “[w]ithout liberating historical events there would be no growth of the Kingdom.”
V. Gutiérrez’s understanding of human sin and salvation
As Gutiérrez’s understanding of history is built upon his understanding of economics, so are both of these built upon his understanding of sin and salvation. Indeed, he links these areas when he says that, “Liberation from sin is at the very root of political liberation.” He defines sin as “a breach of friendship with God and others,” and says that “To sin is to refuse to love.” Salvation, in contrast, is “the communion of human beings with God and among themselves.”
Sin and political liberation are linked for Gutiérrez because sin “is according to the Bible the ultimate cause of poverty, injustice, and the oppression in which persons live.” Indeed, “Theological analysis…leads to the position that only liberation from sin gets to the very source of social injustice and other forms of human oppression and reconciles us with God and our fellow human beings.”
It is thus in this specifically Christian aspect that Gutiérrez, though still rooted in their thought, goes beyond Hegel and Marx. “The liberation of our continent means more than overcoming economic, social, and political dependence,” he asserts. “It means, in a deeper sense, to see the becoming of a humankind as a process of human emancipation in history…It is to seek the building up of a new humanity” (emphasis original).
The instrument of this liberation is Christ. “Sin demands a radical liberation, which in turn necessarily implies a political liberation….This radical liberation is the gift which Christ offers us,” he explains.“Christ makes humankind truly free, that is to say, he enables us to live in communion with him; and this is the basis for all human fellowship.”
According to Gutiérrez, therefore, this freedom implies a salvation that “is a cure for sin in this life; and this cure is in virtue of a salvation to be attained beyond this life.” Further, salvation “orients, transforms, and guides history to its fulfillment.” Not surprisingly, such an outlook has implications for how Christians are to engage the world: “It seems clear today that the purpose of the Church is not to save in the sense of ‘guaranteeing heaven.’ The work of salvation is a reality which occurs in history. This work gives to the historical becoming of humankind its profound unity and deepest meaning.”
With an overview of Gutiérrez’s Theology of Liberation complete, the paper will now switch gears to engage these ideas with those of other thinkers. This engagement will proceed in the same order as that in the overview – addressing economics, history and sin and salvation.
VI. De Soto and economics
Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto includes an intriguing question from French historian Fernand Braudel in his book The Mystery of Capital. The question centers on why “at the inception of Western capitalism, it served only a privileged few, just as it does elsewhere in the world today.” Braudel says it was as if a sector of the economy “lived as if in a bell jar, cut off from the rest,” and asks, “why was it not able to expand and conquer the whole of society?”
De Soto, after having seen the disparity in wealth and standards of living between Europe and the U.S and his home country of Peru, set out to get to the bottom of this question in this book. He takes the position that it is not capitalism that is standing in the way of progress in Latin America and other impoverished nations, but rather the failure of true capitalism to take hold. Rejecting the concept that some peoples simply lack “entrepreneurial spirit or market orientation,” he instead suggests that “the major stumbling block that keeps the rest of the world from benefiting from capitalism is its inability to produce capital.”
The poor in many nations are often unable to build economic power because they lack the institutional framework that fosters such efforts. “They have houses but not titles; crops but not deeds; businesses but not statutes of incorporation,” de Soto states. “It is the unavailability of these essential representations that explains why people who have adapted every other Western invention, from the paper clip to the nuclear reactor, have not been able to produce sufficient capital to make their domestic capitalism work.”
In fact, he argues that vast wealth already exists in many developing nations – it just exists off the books. He estimates that 78 percent of the population of Mexico lives “outside the law,” for instance, holding over $300 billion in extralegal assets. In Egypt, these assets amount to roughly fifty-five times the total historical direct foreign investment. In Haiti, the number is over 150 times the foreign investment recorded there since 1804.
But they hold these resources in defective forms: houses built on land whose ownership rights are not adequately recorded, unincorporated businesses with undefined liability, industries located where financiers and investors cannot see them. Because the rights to these possessions are not adequately documented, these assets cannot readily be turned into capital, cannot be traded outside of narrow local circles where people know and trust each other, cannot be used as collateral for a loan, and cannot be used as a share against an investment.
The absence of these tools is no “Western monopolistic conspiracy,” but it is a serious problem. Worse, undocumented assertions about capitalism as a zero sum game where wealth can only be generated for one party through the loss of another party’s wealth distort economic realities and present obstacles to addressing the true root causes of poverty.
Because foreign aid and investment pales in comparison to the untapped wealth of these nations, it cannot be expected to alleviate their plight. “Developed countries tend to put emphasis on concrete things that make them morally happy—I am transferring hospitals, I am transferring medicine—all of which is very well,” states de De Soto, “but it is nothing compared to the size of the problem developing countries face, and nothing compared to the resources within developing countries themselves.”
Instead, developing countries must educate themselves in the nature of stable legal institutions and “summon the political will necessary to build a property system that is easily accessible to the poor.” As things stand now, “The bell jar makes capitalism a private club, open only to a privileged few, and enrages the billions standing outside looking in.” It is time, de Soto argues, “to lift the bell jar.”
VII. Kierkegaard and history
Søren Kierkegaard, the nineteenth century Danish philosopher and theologian, was one of the most outspoken critics of Hegelian philosophy. In particular, he took issue with Hegel’s notion of historical progress, arguing that such a depiction seems far removed from perceived reality.
As biographer Joakim Garff comments, “Kierkegaard pointedly emphasized his understanding of history as the history of decline: History takes its energy from nonsense and ends in nothing.” Indeed, far from seeing human history as “the history of the slow, uncertain, and surprising fulfillment of the Promise,” Kierkegaard viewed history as the speedy, certain, and expected corruption of the Promise. Right from the departure of Christ, things began to go downhill.
Part of Kierkegaard’s concern with the Hegelian approach had to do with the ease with which it seemed to dispatch with the mysteries of life and God. “When an age in systematic, rote fashion has finished with the understanding of Christianity and all the attendant difficulties and jubilantly proclaims how easy it is to understand the difficulty, then, of course, one must harbor a suspicion.” In fact, according to Kierkegaard, “The divine and simple truth is that no one, absolutely no one, can understand Him, that the wisest person must cling humbly to the same thing to which the simplest person clings.”
Kierkegaard therefore also worried that relying on world-historical analysis was an attempt to displace this simple truth and instead grant too much authority into the hands of a select few to determine a course of action. “[T]o let the ethical become something whose discovery requires a prophet with a world-historical eye on world-history – that is a rare, ingeniously comic invention. If no such prophet arises,” he suggests, “we can all call it a day, for then no one knows what the ethical is.”
Further, a danger exists within analysis of world history that the individual loses value in the face of sweeping movements. “World-historically, the individual subject certainly is a trifle,” he says.“In a world-historical dialectic, individuals fade away into humankind.” In contrast, he asks, “Did Socrates talk about what the times demanded, did he understand the ethical as something that a prophet with a world-historical gaze was supposed to discover or had discovered, or as something to be decided by voting? No, he was occupied solely with himself.”
VIII. Niebuhr and human sin and salvation
Reinhold Niebuhr was a twentieth century theologian most recognized for developing a theology of “Christian realism” that finds its hope “in neither natural law nor human love, but in the grace of God amid man’s sin.” According to Niebuhr, “Christianity is a religion which measures the total dimension of human existence not only in terms of the final norm of human conduct, which is expressed in the law of love, but also in terms of the fact of sin.”
This combination of sin and grace is, for Niebuhr, fundamental to understanding human nature and salvation. “Christianity,” he argues, “measures the full seriousness of sin as a permanent factor in human history.” This leads him to conclude, in turn, that “The good news of the gospel is not the law that we ought to love one another. The good news of the gospel is that there is a resource of divine mercy which is able to overcome a contradiction within our souls, which we cannot ourselves overcome.”
Both our past and our future have and will continue to be affected by sin. This impacts our political endeavors, for “it is not possible to eliminate the sinful element in the political expedients. They are, in the words of St. Augustine, both the consequence of, and the remedy for, sin.” As well, all sides of any political conflict are mired in sin, and this recognition “ought to mitigate the self-righteousness” of the proponents of any one position.
To ignore these realities is to engage in a dangerous fantasy. “It is important to recognize [a] lack of conformity to the facts of experience as a criterion of heresy,” he states, arguing instead that “In the profounder versions of the Christian faith the very utopian illusions, which are currently equated with Christianity, have been rigorously disavowed.”
Far from interpreting history as a progression toward an ideal, then, Niebuhr states that humanity will face “the contradictions of sin to the end.” Indeed,
We have interpreted world history as a gradual ascent to the Kingdom of God which waits for final triumph only upon the willingness of Christians to ‘take Christ seriously.’ There is nothing in Christ’s own teachings…to justify this interpretation of world history. In the whole of the New Testament, Gospels and Epistles alike, there is only one interpretation of world history. That pictures history as moving toward a climax in which both Christ and anti-Christ are revealed.
IX. Conclusion - Toward a New Theology of Liberation
The goals of striving to reduce needless human misery and poverty and offering humanity hope in salvation from sin through Christ that Gustavo Gutiérrez outlines in A Theology of Liberation should be central to any theology that claims a connection to Christianity. Nonetheless, the means he chooses to advocate to achieve those ends raise significant concerns.
De Soto’s empirical analysis of the economic and political situation in Latin America and other impoverished nations stands as a challenge to Gutiérrez’s theoretical allegiance to socialism. If he intends humans to overhaul society according to a particular program, then he needs to not only provide evidence that such an effort will indeed improve the lot of those who may come in harm’s way to do so, but also acknowledge and wrestle with the human suffering that has taken place under socialist governments. If he is genuinely not committed to a particular program, then he needs to show a greater openness to alternative approaches.
Kierkegaard’s critique of Hegel raises two important questions for Gutiérrez. First, there is a question of the validity of Hegel’s construction of progressive history. Does human history present sufficient evidence to warrant a view of dialectical struggle, tension and resolution that cycles and leads to ever more freedom – specifically freedom from sin? Second, if God is working in history in such a manner, do humans flirt with exceeding our limitations by not only attempting to track such movements in history but taking the further step of implementing radical social change based on extrapolations from that effort?
Finally, Niebuhr’s explication of the nature of sin and salvation call into question some of Gutiérrez’s less deliberative rhetoric. Statements that characterize poor nations generally as trying to craft a “more human society” in contrast to the society of developed nations, for instance, tread awfully close to the self-righteousness Niebuhr warned against when all humans suffer from the stain of sin. Similarly, pitting socialism against capitalism can easily result in an all-too-simple dichotomy of good v. evil. By highlighting the excesses of capitalism while ignoring those of socialism, Gutiérrez fails Niebuhr’s test of conformity to the facts of experience.
A true theology of liberation, then, needs to take full account of economic data, historical evidence and sinful human nature. Each of these factors should provide ample reason for caution when it comes to the political course outlined by Gutiérrez. Skepticism regarding human nature when exposed to power informs free markets and democratic states, both of which receive short shrift in Gutiérrez’s work.
“A preferential option for the poor, which is an essential part of the Church’s mission, need not imply a preferential option for the state,” cautions Rev. Robert Sirico. “The nature of any state is coercive. For the Church to avoid repeating past mistakes She will have to resist the age-old temptation of becoming closely identified with the means of coercion.”
If it is the case that businesses, governments and the church can be corrupted by access to excessive power, then the remedy ought to lie in decentralization of human power over other humans. Gutiérrez is right to question church power that leads to complacency. De Soto, though, is equally right to question state power that stands in the way of widespread economic growth, as is Kierkegaard right to question academic power that erodes individual ethical responsibility, and Niebuhr to question the power of self-righteousness that blinds us to the effects of sin.
Given the stakes, there is no excuse for continued naïveté of the sort Otto Maduro laments. Liberation theology may yet prove a viable foundation upon which to build a Christian approach to peace and justice, but it must learn from and adjust to the lessons available from outside its narrow confines in order to accomplish that goal.
 Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics and Salvation, translated and edited by Sister Caridad Inda and John Eagleson (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1988), 121.
 Søren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments, Volume I, edited and translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992), 191.
“Did It Liberate? Liberation Theology: Post Mortem,”Religion and Liberty, The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, January and February 1992, Vol. 2, No. 1. The text of this article is an unedited transcript of a portion of “The Morning Edition,” broadcast over National Public Radio on October 11, 1991. The article is available at: http://www.acton.org/publicat/randl/article.php?id=29.
 Gutiérrez, xxxvii and xxi, respectively.
Ibid., 147 and 152, respectively.
Ibid., 123 and 104, respectively.
Ibid., 24 and 113, respectively.
 Hernando de Soto, “The Mystery of Capital,”Finance and Development, The International Monetary Fund, March 2001, Vol. 38, No. 1. The text of this article is derived from Chapter 3 of the author’s book, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else. The Braudel passage is from his 1982 book, The Wheels of Commerce. The article is available at: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2001/03/desoto.htm.
 De Soto, The Mystery of Capital, excerpt from chapter 1 available online at: http://www.ild.org.pe/eng/mystery_english.htm.
 De Soto, “The Mystery of Capital,” 21st Annual Morgenthau Memorial Lecture, The Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, 8 May 2002. Available at: http://www.cceia.org/resources/publications/morgenthau/99.html.
 De Soto, The Mystery of Capital, excerpt from chapter 1.
 Christian Barry, “The Mystery of Capital: Interview with Hernando de Soto,” The Carnegie Council, 8 May 2002. Available at: http://www.cceia.org/resources/transcripts/100.html.
 Hernando de Soto, “The Mystery of Capital,”Finance and Development.
 Joakim Garff, Søren Kierkegaard: A Biography, translated by Bruce H. Kirmmse (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 28 December 2004), 764.
 Kierkegaard, Postscript, as quoted in Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, “Historical Introduction,”Philosophical Fragments and Johannes Climacus, edited and translated by Hong and Hong (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987), xxi-xxii.
 Garff, 470.
 Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript, 144.
 Arthur F. Holmes, “Reinhold Niehbur,” in Holmes, ed., War and Christian Ethics: Classic and Contemporary Readings on the Morality of War, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 301.
 Reinhold Niebuhr, “Why the Christian Church is not Pacifist,” in Holmes, ed., War and Christian Ethics, 302.
Ibid., 304 and 303, respectively.
 Rev. Robert A. Sirico, “Faith and the Free Market in the Third World: Death Knell for Socialism and Liberation Theology?,”Religion and Liberty, The Acton Institute, January and February 1991, Vol. 1, No. 1. Available at: http://www.acton.org/publicat/randl/article.php?id=1.
This new Article is not yet ready for syndication. Please check back in a few minutes.
This Article is not available for syndication. Contact BestThinking for details.
Enjoy high quality content through BestThinking's syndication program. Learn more and register as a publisher today!
Enhance your publication, blog or journal with high quality content from BestThinking. Whether you are looking for a single feature article, a stream of dynamic content or just a few pieces each month, BestThinking's unique, customizable syndication feeds provide rights-verified material from identity verified Thinkers.
To syndicate a Blog or Article, you’ll need to start by setting up a feed. Creating a feed is a 3-step process:
About the Author
Matthew Hisrich received his MDiv in teaching and theology from the Earlham School of Religion, where he now serves as Director of Recruitme
Each election cycle brings with it an opportunity to study the way in which classic ethical positions play out in public discourse. Of particular interest is the persuasive power of consequentialist ethics as a voting nears. Consequentialist ethics - such as utilitarianism - suggest that...
Recently in reading through Murray Rothbard’s Man, Economy, and State , I came across an interesting concept with possible relevance for religious practice. In critiquing the economic thought of some others, he explains that a common fallacy is to engage in “conceptual realism.” This he defines...
John Caputo’s writing has had a profound impact on my understanding of theology. His articulation of the nature and action of God in the world and how we are to understand our own roles, agency, and salvation have provided me with beautiful ways to refresh and enliven my faith. That being said,...
How applying the logic of the 1862 Homestead Act to local economic development might improve the chances of success for such efforts.
A discussion of the economic research surrounding tax abatements and incentives as local economic development tools.
Proponents of "going local" claim that eating locally produced food will be “better your families’ eating habits, protect the environment, and improve the local rural economy.” Does the evidence back them up?