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Reith Discussion 6, 23 April 2021
How can Christian Values contribute to the Economy?

[Transcribed by AB, 5 May 2021. Mostly nearly the exact words spoken, but sometimes summarised. With added emphasis on issues, added comments and some questions for further discussion. Also added headings. ]

How might each of the values make the Economy (and indeed all society) more healthy, robust, shalom-giving, etc.?

# Present: CA, JC, NO, AB (host). Apologies from NB, RG.


----- Introduction

# AB: Last week a request to discuss Christian Values and how they might contribute to a healthy economy, the Christian Values as listed in CA's list.

# AB: Genesis 12: All peoples to be blessed through Abraham - not only all who believe. This justifies asking how Xn values can bless the economy. Through Abraham, through the Jews, through the prophets, the coming of the Messiah, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and two millennia of the church, these have blessed the world. Lord's prayer: the Father's Kingdom will come on earth as in heaven. This gives a theological and inspirational basis for why it might be appropriate to think that Christian Values can bless the economy. [z620]

# TB: Prayed for the meeting, to be quality time.

# AB: How useful are the notes of the meetings.
# JC: Very
# TB: Useful beyond 10 pages, grouping the elements of the discussion.

# AB: Comments on Exposition of Gen 12?
# NO: Can be a very kiminal?=== text on role of Xns in world. Appeals to xn side of the equation.
# CA: made sense.
# NO: Appeals to me because I go back to Aquinas and Luther: "God speaks in realities." So when you said the blessing is a comprehensive thing, this aligns with the sense that when God does things, he does it in the universal sense. [z621]

----- Christian Values [z601]

AB: Going through the Christian Values (from website).

# Grace -- a subversive value! Giving people more than they deserve.
# Hope -- not a guarantee of immunity from harm but a conviction that God is always present
# Faith - the means to real depth in relationships of all kinds
# Love -- means to love the unlovely
# Justice -- for all (not 'just-me'). A concept biased in favour of the disadvantaged.
# Joy -- impossible to legislate for this but an essential social value
# Service -- meaning is found in service rather than self-centredness
# Peace-- not just the absence of fighting but positive well-being

# We also added kindness, but that may be a subset.

See: list and brief summary
See Full blog article (pdf)

----- Christian Value: Grace [z602]

# AB: How might grace, giving more than people deserve, help the economy?

# JC: e.g. Providing someone a loan they might not qualify for it in the first place. They don't have the assets to invest in a business, which may be a great idea. If you give me the grace beyond what I deserve on financial records, or my sage tells me. If it takes off and provides jobs in perpetuity for other people, then it's the act of grace in extending that loan that helps the economy.

# CA: like microfinance. [Yusuf] e.g. I'm poor but I can work. So, what they do is: if people - training etc. e.g. I can sew, so they train me up to sew properly, and the give me loan to get a sewing machine and cloth etc. Then I can sell it and pay back the loan. [z622]
# TB: Reminds me about supporting persecuted Christians: Barnabas have a microfinance system, helping a mother of three buy water melons to sell outside her home.
# TB: Grace - giving her a lease of life. It's a loan - so there's still a kind of action, to not allowing them to have something to sit on, but to build on. The philosophy of a Hand up not hand out. # CA: So they work their way through and don't feel useless. [Dignity] [z623]

# NO: Problem: it runs counter to the concept of justice. Grace: some people would say it's unfair; it's not just to give to these people who don't deserve. I'm in favour of microfinance, hand up not hand out. But some of these things have to go together. [z624] [See also below on Moral Hazard

# CA: but they are paying back the loan, not just taking the money.
# NO: The issue of true grace is charity.

# TB: But if they make mistake in their business,
# or even deliberately not meet their obligation.
# Of course, there's another role of grace there, in giving them a chance, helping them realise what they've done to help them on their way again - that's a deeper grace.

# JC: What would it look like from the inverse side of the financial model, of point of view of investors etc. who put the money into the bank. What would it look like 'up the chaini'? Power dynamic and wealth dynamic going down the chain: Is there an application of grace up the chain?
# JC: Christian values, Christian grace can inform and make the market better?
# TB: I would be say, in terms of where somebody might be liable for prosecution, for example, and people higher up realise their errors and are repentant of their errors, grace could make massive differences to the corporate scale of things.
# If there's an upward grace and downward grace there, in terms of seniors having grace on their juniors [where they fail], and the juniors also having grace on their seniors, where they fail as well.
# It's often down to individuals within those operations; I suppose that grace can't happen corporately, necessarily because you have differing heads within that sphere.
# AB: why not corporately?
# TB: Well, I guess: that would have to be grace of the whole board of directors, or something; could that happen? Potentially.

# NO: It can. The concept of managing so you have allow some measure of failure, the right to fail. In the tech world, they say "fail fast", be agile.
# I know of stories where someone who lost millions of dollars, who thought they were going to be fired, but their supervisor boss said "Now you've got to earn it back, you recognise your mistake, so I'll not let you go."
# There can be in corporations an ability to allow people to grow from failure. And perhaps that's back to the society; something we should have more of. In both corporate world and society, allow people to grow back from failure. I think we try to do that.

# CA: in the economy, it is always at a greater cost, because someone is footing that bill. the ??pesent?? in that bill is always people like us who are with paying that ?? so the taxpayers. [z625]
# so it's important about giving second chances to things like banks e.g. when Baring Bank collapsed,, it's huge.
# Tax payers money, used to revamp the system - the people not happy. [z626]
# NO: good point. I'm in no way a communist, but I do think that people who make excessive money, e.g. financiers who making hundreds of millions on deals - they should be required to put more back in, than [should] a company making teeshirts. That's justice. The people who make more [money, not things] should contribute more. [z627]
# AB: why the difference?
# NO: I have a dim view of financialization. (I'm getting a bit Marxian, but I don't like that? But a bit of Adam Smith [z628]) The people who produce things of value are producing things of value, but people who are trading, trading just on a margin, intermediaries, they are not producing anything of value. [z629]
# CA: But looking at workings of the bank: People like me, if I cannot conjure up money to buy e.g. a hat, who is going to loan that money to do that? So a bank in a way helps people like me.

[AB: That seems conventional economics. I would want to question, not the banks doing this, but the necessity of what I want to buy, for which I seek a loan. - i.e. the issue of non-essentials in the economy, and the idea of the economy as human functioning, in all its aspects, leading to shalom.] [z630]

--- On the Evils Done by Investment Banks [z603]

# CA: So there are two functions of this [banks].
# The problem is the investment banks. Commercial banks [lending to allow me to purchase ahead of time] are fine.
# Two sides to investment banks;

# CA: So why do we need that element? People think we need that element because the cost of living has risen, we can't survive on the existing money we have. It's a viscious circle. You cannot blame them as well, because what they going through. If I'm just going to put my money on a fixed deposit and wait for it for five years and just get 2%, what's the point? [z634]

[AB: Good question. When rethinking economics, we need to address that question: What's the point of such speculative activity? Does it really do any good, especially compared with the harm it does, considering all aspects of human functioning and kinds of good and harm. ]


# CA: The current economic condition has made it happen.
# NO: But that's not what's happening. The speculators, these financial people, are the reason we had the 2008 crisis - was because they created financial documents for higher interest that were based on collateralized material that had no attachment to their homes [housing] any more. They created new documents, and then they sold all those documents. When they sell a $500 million bond set they make $15million in commission. It's outrageous, because it's not producing any value, it's blowing up the money supply. If the risk is less and their gain is larger, they should bear a higher proportion of charitable and investable requirements.
# CA: That was why during the global financial crisis, [of?] one of the banks [they?] said "We are not going to rescue the bank, the bank has to go down." That was just trying to put point across, to say the government is going to stop trying to rescue you when you take more risk.
# But the point is, if you look at studies?, what they are trying to say is that big companies, big banks do take a higher risk. Even though after they have been bailed out, they come out and take the risk all over again. Because the government will foot the bill. [z635]

--- The Moral Hazard: Tension between Grace and Justice? [z604]

# JC: The point of Moral hazard. Where does this moral hazard lie in relation to bibclical virtues [values]?
# If we assume there is a moral hazard in saving any institution that does unjust things, then Grace is the virtue that would say "It's ok to do the unjust things." [z636]
# [AB: No, grace does not say "It's OK", but acts despite it not being OK. ]

[AB: Question: How do we apply grace in situations of injustice? Is it a matter of powerful against the poor, or lack of repentance, or what? Lack of repentance of the banks: after being bailed out, they went and did the same thing again. Power: it was the biggest banks that did this, and wrecked the economy for the poorer.]

# JC: So there is where there might be a cross-sphere application of these virtues ... [z637] ***
# ... where, if you just hold it in the economic sphere of things, the gracious thing is to forgive the banks with taxpayer money, to support them so that the money supply can increase. It could be seen as a Christian thing (don't throw your fruit at me and hate me!) And I don't necessarily agree. But it could be seen in that way.

[AB: Dooyeweerd's thinking can help us address that. He would see it as reductionistic thinking. The moral hazard is not in any economic rationality there, but is in ignoring all other aspects of this diverse, meaningful, good Creation. Is that where the problem lies? ] [z638]

# AB: What do we say to that: All four of us would agree that's not right, so on what basis is that not right.
# JC: Its not just. It might the simple of CA's point, that we are taxpayers. The government isn't the thing unless we elect, appoint and support. It's us. So what they are doing with what we give them is not a just thing. It did not account for our individual attribute of verification of saying "Yes we can do that." it's not just. [z639]

[AB: OK, they are not doing what we have sanctioned them to. Rethink Question: But is that really about justice? Do I hear too much of "us" in there, i.e. justice-to-me rather than justice as such? Or even justice-for-us-taxpayers-in-this-rich-country. I'd like to think beyond that, to a more overall idea of justice - from God's perspective rather than from the perspective of our authority as voters and taxpayers. Moreover, I would wish to question the entire concept of taxpayers' money. ] [z640]

# AB: It's not just, but NO earlier brought up the thing about "It's not just, it's not justice" and so somehow, it's right to let people off who make a mistake or do even something bad once if they are repentant, or something. But in this situation, [we are saying that] it's not right to forgive the banks and so on. So what's the difference [between banks and individuals]?
# CA: [Difference:] We're thinking on people. It's not like whatever you do you suffer the consequences. Everyone is suffering the consequences of your one action. [z641] ***

# NO: [Difference:] When we're talking about forgiving somebody, that's an issue of that particular indicident or situation; What I'm concerned about is a structural problem. [z642]
# So, to me, the people who can earn these humungous compensations for very little risk, to me that's a structural problem. And if we can introduce a larger element of grace, a larger element of where they have to be more responsive because they have that great opportunity, then you're fixing the structural issue. It's not that you couldn't forgive them on an individual basis, if there was a reason to forgive that bank for that individual basis [incident?]. I think these problems are a structural problem. [z643]
# AB: That's interesting, that difference between individuals and structures

[AB: Or is it between incidents and structures that make incidents likely?]

[Note: The next bit was said just before starting to discuss Hope, after all the following about CDOs etc. I have moved it here because it is relevant here rather than down there. AB.]

# AB: OK. We've done something on when we should have grace, and we have resolved [something of] the tensionl between grace and justice.
[AB: Summary of tension:

Question: Might that difference, in both, reflect Dooyeweerd's distinction between fact-side (actuality as it occurs) and law-side (the laws that enable it to occur)? Grace for one, justice required from the other. And societal structures are a kind of law. ]

--- On Financial Products: Stocks and Shares, Futures, CDOs [z605]

# AB: I've been thinking about this for some years. My mother passed away in 2008 and she left some shares.
# But I didn't like the stockmarket, in investing in shares, to get the dividend and waiting for shares to go up in price and selling them. I felt there was something wrong in that. I was starting to think it was part of evil in the world, Satan's counterfeit or whatever it is. [Actually AB did not think that getting a dividend was wrong, so much as waiting for shares to go up in value.]
# And I then asked myself "What good does it do?" and got an answer from somewhere, that the good the stockmarket does is that it makes capital available for investment, kind of like a loan but a bit different than that. [AB: This links with above: where CA said about banks lending money so I can buy a hat.]
# So I ...
# [Someone sent a chat comment; unfortunately, Zoom did not record it] # AB: Thank you for that comment.
# AB: I realised there might be some good in it, and it's not just a thing of Satan. I wouldn't say I was happy with the stockmarket, because of the way people get competitive and self-centred and all these sort of things, but I realised there's not a fundamental wrong in the stockmarket, it's not fundamentally evil it itself.
# And then I came across Futures [trading] and speculating on futures, like the price of coffee going up or down or something. And thought [likewise, after wondering whether that is fundamentally evil] and found it provides a tiny amount of good because it helps the coffee producers or the farmers get some stability or whatever.
# And then I came across these - what are they called? Packeged ...? CA: Mutual funds. JC: CDOs (Collateralized Debt Obligations). AB: I asked what good does it do, and somebody said "It spreads risk". I thought, OK. But then I thought: Risk is not something that could be spread. [z644]
# That helped me to think through.
# It was partly Dooyeweerd's aspects [which helped me], that risk is a juridical thing, not an economic thing. [z645]

[AB: Since then, GK has suggested that risk is formative aspect. From that I realise there might be two kinds of risk: Formative risk is when you are trying to shape or achieve something specific, and the risk is that you are prevented from doing so; that's the formative risk. But this risk is something for which you are responsible to cope with the circumstances; that's the juridical one. However, whichever aspect it is, it is not economic aspect. ]

# I thought through that; that's where I am at the moment. Does it make sense? Two people put up their thumbs.

[AB: Reflective Summary: I try to summarise the above as follows:

End of summary. ]

--- The Multi-aspectual Problems with CDOs [z606]

# AB: CA, does it make sense or is there more to be said?
# CA: This is what everybody is trying to do in finance, trying to figure out where is the risk, where is it lying, and how to minimize, reduce, eliminate [the risk, which has financial repercussions]. This is basically what they are all trying to do. If you look at all the papers, the journal articles, everybody is trying to do the same thing. [z646]
# But the problem is: it's not going to be resolved until people take accountability and responsibility for their actions. [z647] ***

[AB: Why not? CA usefully explains now, at some length. I will add in aspects that make meaningful the various things she said. I record the actual words said as far as possible; sometimes words are used for emphasis, so treat words like "all", "everyone", etc. with some latitude.]

# CA: So, if you go back to the financial crisis, how did the CDO happen?
# If you just think about it now, that whole process of CDO just doesn't make any sense [anl].
# It's a lie to say that nobody in that whole, erm, supply chain [supplying finance] didn't know what would come out of it. That's a lie, because everyone involved knew about the risk they are taking and they went on to take that risk.
# So, when investment banks [z648] came up with the CDO and tried to convince the commercial banks [z649], to say "Go and get more - [e.g.] people who want a home" [fmv][anl: distinguishing people]
# You know! Didn't the commercial bankers know they couldn't find anyone? Of course they knew [anl].
# They knew that they have to find people who could afford to take up loans. And they knew that all the people who can afford to take a loan have got a loan already. So where are they going to find those people? [jur] [z650]
# They knew that it's going to collapse at some point, and they agreed to it, and they came up with - it's all just totally ridiculous to say that "Nobody knew there was a risk involved, Nobody knew what was actually happening." [jur: inappropriate agreement; pis: beliefs]
# So the same way, when you are talking about that whole thing, what goes inside that fund - and this is the one that is the risk that is moving around [qtv], who built this fund? [jur] Right. That person knows what they have put inside there. [fmv: the making up of the CDO]
# So, who is checking on that person, and saying "This is right" or "This is wrong"? Who is checking on the whole process, and saying "I can see a problem over here"? [jur; anl] Are you telling me that nobody checked anything? It's just so ridiculous. [z651]
# CA: I think what is happening now is because everything is so vague [anl; lng]. Finance, economics are all so vague. [z652] ***
# So people are struggling to understand what is going on, to make sense of it [anl]. [z653]
# So these people are using this to do whatever they want. [eth; jur] [z654]

[AB: That seems like dysfuction in the ethical attitude: selfishness (Dooyeweerd).


# AB: That looks a great bit; I need to listen to the recording and transcribe what was said and get it into order. I feel it's answered some of my questions. [The above is my transcript]

[Note: This is where the closing remark about the tension between grace and justice occurred. It has been moved above.]

----- Christian Value: Hope [z607]

Hope: The conviction that God is always present.

# AB: How does that make for a healthier economy?
# TB: That's interesting on the investment side of things. Where sometimes values [e.g. share prices?] are low, financial advisors will often say, "That could be looked at as a fall or depression" but others might say "That could be looked at as an opportunity because it's going to rise." [z655]
# But I suppose that is putting hope in economic growth. [z656]
# Is it different from optimism? [z657]
# JC: This makes me think of the Gram model (Value investing model; the rich guy in Omaha, and Charlie Unger the smart guy) The Value Investing Model looks at stocks not as a voting mechanism, but as an overall scale over time. [z658] ***
# So, if you can look at the dispensation value of the overall stock, the overall number, as a percentage, and all these things, you can actually weigh the economic value over a loooong period.
# And hope can be derived from looking over a loooong period.

# I don't know much about investments [investments presuppose time period], but I've always looked at how Warren Buffet looks at investments. How WB looks at investments isn't wrong.
# JC: AB I had similar thoughts as you did, growing up thinking the stock market was evil, but they I thought "It can do some good" - and Futures I think are just evil, frankly. [Laughter]
# What Warren Buffet does is he can look over decades, and he looks at the fundamentals. Charlie Unger can look at the fundamentals of how businesses are run.
# And that is based on a very charitable but honest look at how the companies are actually run. Very truthful, very honest, very very thorough. Look at the company.
# But capturing the time, as a part of smaller slices of like, this minute, or microfinancing, micro-trading, or super-trading, where you're trying to edge a little bit, he's looking over decades. [z659]

[AB: I don't think that JC meant microfinance in the way CA mentioned it earlier. Microfinance there refers to giving tiny loans to help especially the poor, rather than insisting on larger loans like banks do, and that loan might be looking to a future. Here JC seems to be talking about the short-term attempts to gain financial gain for oneself. Even if he did refer to what CA was referring, there is a major difference, it seems to me, meaningful in the ethical aspect. In CA's microfinance for the poor, there is ethical self-giving, and willingness to be taken advantage of, but in this short-term seeking of financial benefit, it is the negative of that, it is selfish, self-centred: dysfunction in the ethical aspect. ]

# NO: Think you are right. I have great trouble with hope and joy, in terms of how you figure out how you put that into the economy.

# NO: I think JC right: it has to be something that's derived from looking down the road as opposed to just looking behind you. [z660]

--- On the Media and Its Role in The Economy [z608]

# But I think, where that really has to come into play is in our media, in our reporting. *** [z661]
# There was an article in the New York Ttmes, where this guy had looked at reporting on Covid in the USA, and he said "It seems like it's always negative". When deaths were rampant, these were reported, but when the vaccines came out, they didn't report on the positive about this; they reported "Gosh, this is still going to cause more problems." So he concluded that the news was always negative,
# and there is a bias in the economic model of Facebook etc. that bad news creates more interest.
# AB: That's not just an economic model, it's a;so a social thing or a pistic thing. I've got a quote from Simone Weil, whicn says something like, "In fiction, and I suppose in media etc., evil is interesting and good is boring, but in real life it's the other way round."

[AB: See Real Life versus Fiction:

"Nothing is so beautiful and wonderful, nothing is so continually fresh and surprising, so full of sweet and perpetual ecstacy, as the good. No desert is so dreary, monotonous, and boring as evil. ... With fictional good and evil it is the other way round. Fictional good is boring and flat, while fictional evil is varied and intriguing, attractive, profound, and full of charm." Simone Weil.

# NO: But the ecomomics is that bad news sells. Esp facebook, Twitter. I can send an artile. MIT looked at this stuff. Mark Zuckerberg admitted it himself, that they tend to hype the bad news, and people who are more vociferous are the ones retweeting all this stuff. I feel it's a serious problem. [z662] ***

# AB: It's a serious problem, but I wonder also if there's something not so evil in it. I wonder if it indicates human beings' concern about sin. That, deep down in us, almost the Image of God, is concern about sin and dislikes sin - even though we're tempted and at one level we love it, and so on.
# I realise that contradicts what I said just now [quoting Weil]!

# JC: Concern about sin, and your quote earlier: [linking those together]
# Where is fiction and reality? Where's the line of fiction, and where is reality?
# Is fiction an introduction of where speculation goes, and reality is where these charitable activities and these actual virtues go? [z663] *** [AB: interesting]
# In fiction, or in engagement models on platforms, we spurn [spawn?] out negativity, and that's what the company desires, so that you have more engagement, more ad[vertisement] revenue and more things. [z664]
# But in our lives as humans, that reflect the Image of God, we are actually prone to engage in real life in virtuous ways to promote what is interesting and good. [z665]
# Where do you build the fiction? Maybe the application of these virtues in the economy is, to break down the walls of where the fiction is. [z666]
# [Example:] Like, CA's point about building a CDO, someone knew it was a lie. Someone knew they were getting away with something; they knew it. The lawyers obfuscated it and the people building it knew they were spreading direct risk on ??poor ?? to make more money. That is literally a fiction. They created a fiction, and then they lied about it. [z667]

# So, the application of the virtues is: how do you eliminate those fictions? [z668]
# JC: That's what I'm trying to bounce arounde that quote you sent over, in the context of this conversation.

--- How to get Hope into the Economy and World? [z609]

# NO: The problem is hope. how do we get hope into the world. it's a dangerous thing.
# If you remember, the other side of hope is hate. Goebels hate against the Jews, and people believed it after a while. Same thing about hope, people believe things are hopeless.
# AB: I wondered about - you posed the question, NO, how to get hope into the world and how hope helps the economy. TB said right at the beginning, "the investment side of things" and so on. [Hope and investment] [z669]

--- Foundations of Hope [z610]

[AB: The question here is: What gives us hope? What is the foundation of hope?]

# Not sure how to think about this. But real hope, to me, is that, [as someone once said] in the end, "Jesus wins". Or something of that nature. In the ultimate end, things turn out well. Because of God, because Jesus is the victor, Jesus wins, and so on, and that, to me, is Hope.

[AB: Comment: That could be expanded: Almost by definition, God 'wins'. But what kind of God is God? The Bible, and especially Jesus, reveals God is love, God is just, etc. In fact, we are designed, aspectually, such that we flourish and most deeply enjoy shalom, the well-functioning in all aspects, and these aspects reflect the character of God, their Creator. And if God wins, then this shalom will come in the end. That, to me, is Hope. Hope depends on the character of what we conceive of as Divine.] [z670]

# AB: So, in the economy, if people think it is going to go somewhere good, there is a good ultimate destiny, that might help the economy, not so much in economic growth, but an economy that develops the Shalom and prosperity that we're aiming for. What was the phrase we had before, that was equivalent to Shalom? [It was "Healthy Living Environment"; see What Contributes to a Healthy Living Environment?.]
# If we have hope, that inspires us to work towards it; if we lack hope, then we tend to give up. And inspiring to work towards helps the economy, or helps the good economy.
# Note: i'm not equating the economy with GDP growth or anything like that. Could be that, but I'm thinking in more general terms.
# AB: Does anyone make sense of what I've just said?
[bit of a pause]

--- Effect of Hope on the Economy [z611]

# JC: You're basically saying, hope provides the opportunity for further investment withinin the economy, but honest hope.
# Maybe the Christian virtue of honesty is even more important than hope itself. If you don't have honesty about what's going into the investment vehicle, what's going on in the economy, you have lies and you don't actually have a clear picture of what's going on. # CA: Transparency. [z671]
# AB: I wonder why honesty is not one of the Christian Values. I remember a story of how a Muslim in Pakistan came to the Lord. Her father said to her about Western people, "It's a pity they're going straight to Hell, because they are good people; you can trust them." This person in Pakistan respected Western people and trusted them, because they were honest. [AB: I think it was in I Dared to Call Him Father by Bilqis Sheikh.]
# and that honesty seems to have come with the Gospel into the world. It has been there right from the beginning as a virtue but the establishing of honesty into society seems to have come with the Gospel. Does that make sense? [z672]

# NO: That's an interesting question: why isn't honesty on the list? Or is it just part, or a combination of these other values? [z673]
# AB: So, we could suggest honesty as something to add to the list. *** TO DO.

# NO: Sometimes honesty goes with the idea that "I got all I need". I have a friend from India, and we were talking about the differences in culture. In India, everybody's attitude, is "I must what I need now, because it I don't, then somebody else is going to get it". He said in the USA, "We'll get what we need; We don't have to get everything right now; It will come to us'. When we were talking about this, I did sense a difference there. I don't know if that's honesty, but it was something like you were imagining about like what that Pakistani said.

# AB: I don't know whether it links with honesty, but it certainly reminds me of Matthew 6, where we're promised, "Your Heavenly Father knows you need them." [v.32, after "Don't run after these things like the pagans do"] And Philippians, "My God shall supply all your need according to his glory in Christ Jesus". If we realised that, then we don't have to be chained to the attitude, "I must get what I need now in case I don't get it" [Trust] [z675] ***

[AB: We usually assume this applies only on an individual level; does it also apply to the economy? In terms of lifestyle etc.? And that confidence that God is involved is a Hope that helps the economy to flourish. ]

# NO: By the way, for a long time, the Jews and even the Christians into the Middle Ages, there was a law against usury, you couldn't charge interest. Usury was considered excessive profiting, profiting off somebody else.
# JC: Usury forbidden in Islamic countries.
# CA: Islamic Banking.

--- Again, Foundations of Hope [z612]

# JC: AB, you brought up the idea that in the end Jesus wins; what if there's a perception within Christianity - and it's your countryman NT Wright that's driving this, and I appreciate, and I'm slowly coming round to - but what if it's already done?
# What if you operate from the idea that the Ascension created the Dispensation of the Spirit [z674] and then it made all things being new at that point. Where the flow of the Spirit is what enables all of us to even have this conversation, to have these thoughts, to have this desire - to provide hope and other virtues into the world. Because it's already / because we already have all we need.
# NO: That's really interesting. I like that.
# AB: Is this called "life in the overlap", the overlap between the Now and the Not Yet. When Jesus came and the Holy Spirit came, it introduced another Kingdom - there's the Now and here's the Not Yet, and at the Second Coming, the Now will be finished and we'll have the Not Yet - as it were.

[AB laid his hands horizontal with a gap between them; the tip of the top one indicated where, on a timeline, Jesus came, and the tip of the lower hand indicated when Jesus comes back again and this earth and heavens stop and the New Earth and Heavens continue.]

# And at the moment we're in the Overlap.
# JC: We're in the Overlap because of the Ascension, and the Dispensation of the Spirit. So the ability to have that thing that is Other truly from us, God, be in Present, permanently. And being able to walk in that Presence, and having yourself met in all those needs, allows you to deploy these virtues wisely.
# NO: That's just awesome, J. That is exactly part of what Christianity brings.
# JC: We hope it is. We hope we can do it individually. Can we do it all together.
# NO: Amen!

[AB: That seems an important point about Christian Values: The Holy Spirit enables them to occur and flourish here and now, and not just at the end of time in the New Earth. We taste something of the New Creation here and now. And not just in individual life but also in whole lifestyles and in 'secular' things like the economy. And if the economy, why not in technology, politics, climate and environmental responsibility too? The effective impact of the Gospel, including the work of the Spirit, here and now pervading all structures of society, all lifestyles and human lives. Whether directly or indirectly. This links with Dimension 3 of Three-Dimensional Salvation. ] [z676] ***

# AB: [Example:] It reminds me to George Muller, of Bristol, who set up, in the 1600s, the 1700s was it? to set up an orphanage - he felt called by God to set up an orphanage, or at least to help orphans, and he decided that if the Bible was true then it is true, and that he could rely on it. And he decided he would never ask anyone for money; he would depend solely on God to provide the money needed for this mission. And throughout the whole of his life, God never let him down. And he provided for orphans. It was sometimes very difficult, like once when there was no food on the table, he 'said grace' anyway ["said grace" is a short prayer of thanks for food before starting to eat] and the food arrived just after he'd said grace. Things like that. And he kept full accounts of all the money and all the goods that came through, he wrote them all down, and in his life 3million went through his hands and 3million was a huge amount in those days.
# JC: In his life, in 1600s, actually $3million? # AB: Well, 3million, - in those days. I believe. That's what I've heard. Whether it was 3million at the time when the person was writing, I don't know, but I think it was in his [Muller's] lifetime. Because he set up huge - at one stage the orphanage had 2300 orphans in it, and that expanded and so on. But he was honest, and he just trusted God. He didn't have this financial reasoning of "Well, I must do this xxx in order to get money in order to do good." He just trusted God, with God's work, and that God would supply. It wasn't easy - and there were plenty of times when he was biting his nails about where the necessaries were going to come from.

# AB: And I wish there were people today who were like that.
# CA: [said something, but cannot decipher it]
# JC: That's a good witness to share.

--- Other Christian Values: Meekness, Humility? [z613]

# JC: The other virtue that I feel is missing in this conversation is Meekness. [z677] ***
# NO: Humility?
# JC: Maybe different. I mean the effectiveness of a person to speak into a situation, truth, but lovingly and honestly; Meekness: non arrogance, basically how you all speak.
# If you speak into a space, if you speak with meekness, you can speak truth in any situation, no matter how hostile or wrong or good or whatever.
# And it's that truth that needs to be carried, where Christians can break down some of the strongholds of evil. Meekly speaking.
# JC: Meekness is somewhat obviously antithesis of what America is today.

[AB: Did not Jesus promise: Blessed are the meek; they shall inherit the earth."? ]

[Baby noises]
# JC: I gotta go. God bless you all. I'll talk to you soon.
[JC left.]

----- Christian Value: Love [z614]

# AB: We've done quite a bit on hope. We've got quarter of an hour. We won't get through all the rest in that time. Shall we do one more? Would anyone like to suggest which one?
# CA: Love.
# AB: Love. "Loving the unlovely". How does that help the economy?
# CA: There is love for the environment, love for humans, and love for the animals.

# CA: In Love for environment, we have to make sure the economy is a circular economy: Everything which produces, it sorts of uses it, repairs it, and then uses it again. So it goes through like a circle. [z678]
# Example: What's going on is in clothes that's in a charity. Some of them are sent to the developing economies and to charity shops over there. Some are sent to places like in Italy, where they take it, then strip the colours and fibres out of it and then make new sets of clothes with new colours. That's the circular [economy]. It means you don't / You use everything until you can't use it any more.
# When you circulate,you repair it - use it use it use it - like clothes, they before a few threads! Even the threads, you can use them. [AB: Exactly what I do!! :-) ]
# AB: CA said love for environment, people and animals. Would you like to take love for animals.
# CA: Not finished with environment yet. # AB: OK. # CA: the eco products, e.g. eco washing, are expensive. So is it possible to bring the prices down.
# AB: That's love: bringing the prices down?
# CA: yes, because if you bring the prices down then more people can afford to buy the eco products. and nobody is going to be interested in using those products that take the ozone layer off, right, because the eco products will be cheaper and people can afford them. [z679]

# CA: And then love for humans:
# The Handslow (Hounslow? Maslow?) Model, where they go back to the basic needs of people. They used to think it's food, water, shelter, safety, and ???, but it's also rest. If you realise that most of us /
# CA: I was watching [video] about animals from CreatureKind. Animals put in cages, and they have to produce eggs, milk for people. Like a factory production. One thing it reminded me: I am also a contributor. Because I am constantly working, Monday to Sunday. Always having something to do. So people are just tired, working all the time, holding down three or four jobs just to live. So it's difficult.

# AB: Sounds to me like the law of Sabbath. God rested on the sabbath day not because he was tired but because he valued rest. "Six days you shall do all you have to do and the seventh day is a rest or sabbath to the Lord your God." And then in Leviticus [AB: Actually Exodus] it also says your animals must rest on the Sabbath as well.

# CA: But if you want to help other people, e.g. you have work that you do a little bit more to help other people. Example: someone comes and needs advice or help or mentoring - all of this is time. So, if you're going to give them that time, you don't have time to finish your work and call it a day. If all of this involves helping other people doing all these things - helping, mentorship, etc. - then you don't have time to finish your [own] work on time, and you end up working every day all day. [z680]

[AB: Seems like CA is saying: Balancing between love and Sabbath, resting. Question: How do we square this? ]

# AB: Yes, especially if you want to help people.

# AB: However, is this something that we could trust God for, like George Muller.
# [Question:] Maybe some of these people we are trying to help, we ought not to help?
# NO: Let me think about thatl But time is a generational thing. I want to give back more, because I'm not working like my son does now. Some people don't bother to give anything back. That would help some. [AB asked for clarification] Generationally, some of the love is to not be selfish, so we should give back. [z681]
# I want to try to give back some of my time; I'm retired now. Maybe if more people would think like that that would help some of the people who need more time. e.g. Grandparents used to take care of the kids so that mothers could get other stuff done. [z682]

-- Workload in a Loving Economy

# CA: Example: Mentor systems. [z683] (which happened to me.)
# Everyone is located a mentor; the mentor is not given hours [on the work planning system] to mentor you, but they were told "You are supposed to mentor that person." So when you go to see your mentor, they say "You have 5 minutes to say what you want to say; then I'll try to think of something to come back to you." When you tell them "This is my problem, this is what I'm facing," they say "you have to be more resourceful and this and that." - In other words, go and find your own solution. At the end of the day, what is the point!
# I can see how something good can turn out to be something bad. [z684]
# Because the person is already stretched to the limit, and then they were asked to be a mentor, on top of that. When you are stretched in your workplace, and you are asked to do these [voluntary] things and if you don't do it, you'll become a "bad" person - e.g. my mentor is a 'bad' person because they didn't mentor me - but the problem is my mentor is already stretched to the max. [z685]

# AB: Does TB have mentor systems? [at different university]
# TB: Mentor system: They are done with senior colleagues during probationary periods. # AB: Not an ongoing thing like at Durham? # TB: No, not really. # CA: When you say senior colleagues, what do you mean? # TB: I've been asked to be a senior colleague mentor to new person. I will come to their first probation meeting, during the first six months, and probably meet them for coffee once in between. Then a concluding meeting, re. how things have got on. It's really to be somebody who knows the system giving a bit of help.
# NO: We don't have that in business either. Mentoring was done outside the business, when someone would go and find an experienced person. It wasn't institutionalized. What we would institutionalize occasionally is "shepherding": an experienced person would shepherd someone for 3 months, but it's nothing formal.
# CA: are they given hours for doing what they do?
# TB: Not really. You cannot really quantify academic workload.

# NO: CA saying what seems a good idea turns out to be a very bad thing.
# CA: I was thinking: I should be waking up in morning, happy to go to work, do work, and feel content that I've done my work, done it well, used the time properly, and the time given to me was used for good, is correct. [z686] [Life fulfilment? Shalom]
# But not have to rush things quickly, so that when you talk to me I can move you on. It shouldn't be like this. Something is wrong. If I don't have time to spend time with my family (today is a sunny day, I should be out there) something is very wrong. Same thing in the economy. People are holding three or four jobs. So children are at home on their own. The whole thing is going wrong, because people have to have to work to earn a living. What about that money issue, that is making things all wrong. Why cannot we fix that?

# Why cannot employers have grace on their employees! [z687]
# Why don't fire-fighters, nurses, teachers, etc. get paid properly! This question were asked in the Reith Lecture, but Mark [Carney] did not answer it. He was saying "If it's not in the agenda of the government, then the government is not going to fix it." Do they have to get into the [government] agenda; people are rishing their lives!
# NO: we don't necessarily have that problem in the USA, becuase we don't have the government controlling all these prices [z688] etc. We have nurses in some places who are earning a lot. Sim. fire-fighters who work [fewer days] and have plenty of time for their family. We have teachers who are very underpaid (e.g. North Carolina) but there are other states where they receive a good pay.
# So, it depends on the economic system [z689].

[AB: Economic? Or is it the belief and value system? Pistic aspect, rather than economic? Or is it 'systemness' that is pistic?]

# CA: I've heard that some people in USA work in office only 3 days.
# NO: With Covid, many are not working in offices any more. [Gave an example]
# CA: But, before covid, people had time to spend at home. E.g. in Finland, they allow people soemtimes to work at home, sometimes at office, not just during Covid. They are not obliged to come to the office.
# NO: It depends on the company [z690]. Some companies have flexible work arrangements, some companies don't.

# AB: It's gone our formal closing time.

# AB: We haven't really discussed how the Christian value of Love helps a healthy economy. That is, "love for the unlovely" [z691]
# I did a bit of thinking before we started: There are unlovely parts of the economy. And there are unlovely parts from a financial point of view, that maybe don't make a very good return - and yet, if we invest in those, if we support the unlovely parts of the economy, or parts of society, then actually, things might go better. There's an old Yorkshire saying, that "Where there's muck, there's brass." Where there's stuff that's horrible, if you invest in that, then you actually make some money. # So, I wondered if that is an example of love, agape love, loving the unlovely, helping the economy. [z692]

[AB: But is that motivated by desire to make money for self, which is the opposite of agape? However, it might still work, because it is giving love to the unlovely. ]

----- Ending

# AB: It's been a very interesting discussion. We have covered three of the Christian values, and how they help the economy. I think we've made some progress; what do you think?
# CA and NO nodded.
# AB: Is it worth continuing this?
@ TB: Yes; we'd get through them in another session.

# Next time:
# AB: I fould it a bit of a squeeze to get it done in two weeks, but if we delay it too long ... Shall we meet again in two weeks?
# TB, NO: OK.

# AB closed in prayer.

# AB: I suggest that next time we get through the others, and then discuss "Where should we go from here?" Could discuss Dasgupta Report (Economics of Biodiversity) and another thing that came out since. But we don't want to meet for the sake of meeting.
# NO said he would pray for CA to have some more space.

--- Initial Thoughts On Other Christian Values

[Compiled by AB before this discussion

# Grace -- Giving people more than they deserve

# Hope -- a conviction that God is always present

# Faith - depth in relationships of all kinds - ??

# Love -- loving the unlovely

# Justice -- for all, biased in favour of the disadvantaged. - Redistributive whether via taxes or via generosity. c.f. the firms that lasted 100 years because they provided for the poor, e.g. Lever, Boots, Cadbury; Quaker Capitalism. What about animals?

# Joy -- [the feeling one is of real value in eternal terms, relating to God] - each person seen as a valuable part of the economy and society, rather than some ignored. c.f. War Graves Commission finding that African and Asian WW1 soldiers had not been properly commemorated, because seen as of lesser value. The feeling of joy enhances productivity and innovation and generosity?

# Service -- meaning is found in service rather than self-centredness - Because service enhances the economic and other health of the other. c.f. Servant Leadership in management (another discipline qualified by the economic aspect)

# Peace -- not just the absence of fighting but positive well-being - (a) War leads to huge sovereign debts that then dictate, constrain and stifle future economic activity into debt-repayment rather than productive things leading to genuine responsible prosperity. (b) when people or firms expend much of their financial and economic resources on competing and fighting rivals, much opportunity for prosperity is lost. (c) Peace in the heart: the confidence one is in harmony with the rest of Creation.

What is missing?

??: How about responsibility? Esp. for the rest of Creation? Biodiversity? And, above, Meekness, Humility were suggested. ]

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Last updated: 21 June 2021 a few corrections and minor changes as I went through picking out points.