Reading Chapter 4 (Part 2)

how to buy disulfiram The neo-classic economic worldview and the consumer society


appassionato We are consumers:  Our economics inherited its worldview from religion and political theory.  Religion contributed the idea of the sacredness of the individual; political theory contributed the idea of the ‘rights of man,’ or individual rights. Economics combined these ideas to create a new creature: homo oeconomicus – the human being who has the freedom to pursue his or her own personal economic interests. 


But in the 18th century, when neo-classical economic theory first arose, people lived within communities.  In the 21st century, most of us see ourselves as individuals.  Our assumptions about human life no longer begin with a strong sense of connection with others; we see personal financial and personal fulfillment as our primary right. 


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Discussion questions for ch 4

CONNECT: How do you feel?

1.  Remember a recent shopping trip, and describe the stores you shopped in (what the store looked like, what you selected, where you paid, etc.). Wherever you shop, are you aware of the shopping environment?

2.  Think of a person you know well and love.  If that person is viewed primarily as a consumer, what important qualities are ignored?

3.  Do persons without money to buy things show up on the radar of this market view of humanity?


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Reading Chapter 5

Ecological Economics

LA 5-1 oikos_logo
OIKOS, Greek for ‘household,’
is the root of ECO-logy…

The goal of ecological economics is to manage the Earth’s household for all members over the long run.  The key words here are the Earth’s householdall members, and the long run.  Our household – and all its members (human and non-human) – must be able to survive. 

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Discussion questions for ch 5

CONNECT: How do you feel?

1.  Sallie McFague writes, “That happiness is to be attained through limitless material acquisition is denied by every religion and philosophy known to humankind, but is preached incessantly by every American television.” (see p. 120)   Have you ever thought of TV ads as ‘preaching?


2.  McFague says, “We have become consumers — not citizens, or children of God, or lovers of the world, but consumers.(p. 96).   If consumerism is our religion, what are we really ‘worshiping’?  What are our ‘spiritual practices’?   What’s your favorite ‘holy day’?   Valentine hearts, roses and candy?  Easter lilies, bunnies and spring fashions?  Fourth-of-July flags, fireworks and patriotic shirts?  Halloween ghosts and costumes galore?  Thanksgiving turkey, football and midnight shopping?  Or….


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Reading Chapter 6

God and the World



Who is God?
God is not a being or an object, but the reality that is always with us and for us. 

The classical view of God in the Hebrew and Christian traditions is that God is both transcendent to all reality and totally immanent in all reality.  At times our Biblical tradition stresses God’s transcendence – beyond the world we live in – and then God seems very distant from ordinary life.  At other times our Biblical tradition tells us that God is also immanent – dwelling beyond us but also within our world.

In the neo-classical economic model, God is mostly absent from the world – God is an otherworldly being who designed and set the world in motion, but who acts only occasionally in it. In this model, people are discrete individuals, seeking their own happiness.  In the ecological economic model,  God is present in the world. In this model, people are individuals-in-community; every creature’s breath depends on others.  Which of these models of God best fits reality as we experience it?

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Some notes on process theology

Notes from a talk given by John Horsley in our discussion on August 15. 

Process theology derives from process philosophy.

Process theology derives in particular from the philosophy of Harvard professor Alfred North Whitehead. 

Whitehead asked “What is reality made up of?”    The standard answer is things – chairs, tables, books, living things – plants animals people .  What are these things made up of –  substances (stuff).  This stuff can change into other kinds of stuff but endures through time. 

Whitehead says, in contrast to this picture, that everything is made of experience – in fact single moments of experience (drops of experience) that succeed one another.

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