Having: Property and Possession in Religious and Social Life

Having: Property and Possession in Religious and Social Life

Having: Property and Possession in Religious and Social Life

Having: Property and Possession in Religious and Social Life

Synopsis

The last few decades have witnessed the expansion of market economies into a complex global system. From shantytowns in Africa and rural villages around the Black Sea to the high-tech worlds of Tokyo, Berlin, and New York City, no place on the planet has escaped this development. While the present conditions of economic life are unique to our time, the human impulses that stand behind them are not. People have always negotiated life in economic terms, constituting much of their personal and social identity in relation to the things they possess.

What, if anything, might religious studies and theological reflection contribute to thinking about and responding to the basic human reality of bhavingb? The engaging inquiries found in this volume provide some answers. Distinct from books taking purely economic, political, or social-scientific approaches to the subject, this book uses resources from the biblical traditions to throw fresh light on the role of property and possessions in cultural processes. Well-known scholars from a variety of fields (theology, ethics, economics, and biblical studies) explore in new and penetrating ways how people find value in having things, and how having things, in turn, gives value to social life. Their work will interest anyone grappling with issues of ownership and consumerism in todaybs global age.

Contributors: Claudia V. Camp
Jean Bethke Elshtain
Jonathan R. Gangle
David M. Gunn
Christine Firer Hinze
Arjo Klamer
David E. Klemm
Charles Mathewes
Deirdre McCloskey
Patrick D. Miller
Margaret M. Mitchell
Andreas Schuele
William Schweiker
Kathryn Tanner
Gunter Thomas
Michael Welker

Excerpt

William Schweiker and Charles Mathewes

The last few decades have seen the explosion and expansion of market economies into a complex global system. No one on this planet is untouched by these developments. From shantytowns in Africa and rural villages around the Black Sea to the high-tech worlds of Tokyo, Berlin, and New York, the people of this planet are living through massive changes in the concrete ordering of life. These changes take many forms, of course, including the fantastic spread of a consumerist mentality in the wealthy nations of the West, a mind-set especially found in the United States, that brings with it a host of related but unintended social consequences like rampant obesity, the commercialization of violence, and a society where spectacle and entertainment have replaced civil discourse. Yet in other places on the planet the present ordering of life is marked not by flagrant consumerism but by disease, grinding poverty, social breakdown, and the flourishing of manifold forms of fanaticism.

The global dynamics that currently structure much of life are novel in many respects, and, not surprisingly, these worldwide economic developments evoke intense and sometime violent response, as, for example, in demonstrations at various meeting of the global economic powers such as the World Bank, the imf, the un, and the G7. From the perspective of the demonstrators, “globalization” is an oppressive machine aimed at leveling all cultural differences in and through the systematic exploitation of poorer nations and the earth’s resources. But for others, the global economic flow is the harbinger of increased prosperity and with it the possibility that more and more people will take control of their own political and social destinies. To say that we live in ambiguous times is no doubt an old truism. But it is, for all that, true.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.