Responding Religiously to the Great Recession

Darren Grem

Jim Wallis has a new book coming out soon on what he sees as the religious underpinnings and implications of the recent--and continuing--recession. As what I suppose is a boilerplate for that book, Wallis recently wrote this column for the Washington Post, offering a "religious response to the financial crisis." A selection:

Clearly, the financial crisis is a structural meltdown that calls for increased government regulation of banks and other financial players. Members of faith communities, such as those who joined me in front of the Treasury building, are helping to push for this sort of reform. But at its core, this is also a spiritual crisis. More and more people are coming to understand that underlying the economic crisis is a values crisis, and that any economic recovery must be accompanied by a moral recovery. We have been asking the wrong question: When will the financial crisis end? The right question is: How will it change us? This could be a moment to reexamine the ways we measure success, do business and live our lives; a time to renew spiritual values and practices such as simplicity, patience, modesty, family, friendship, rest and Sabbath.

It seems that any time Wallis writes a column, the volleys begin almost immediately. The American Enterprise Institute did not disappoint:

After reading his opinion piece in the Washington Post, however, I’m a bit baffled. What exactly does Wallis mean by a “religious response”? To be substantive, it should offer some added theological value not available elsewhere. And to be useful, any response must first understand the crisis itself. It shouldn’t just add biblical stories, phrases, or paraphernalia to common myths and misunderstandings of the crisis.

There's some more back-and-forth's on this matter available at your local Google.


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