Monthly Archives: June 2008

Faith & Economics – Spring 2008

Faith & Economics
NUMBER 51, Spring 2008


Economics and the Marriage Wars
Gordon Menzies and Donald Hay 

Abstract: We critique the economic analysis of marriage and divorce descending from Becker (1981): we call this the “economic” approach. Marriage is based on the “productive” gains available from specialization in market production and household production, and on the production of children. In the more recent development of the theory, the husband and wife bargain over the gains. This analysis contrasts with the “covenant” view of marriage which is based on the Judeo-Christian tradition. The ethical focus of the covenant view is self-giving love, which is not dependent on economic efficiency. We suggest that the changing attitudes to marriage and divorce in the West may reflect “motivation crowding out,” as the economic approach erodes the values underpinning the covenant view. Marriage, like the monarchy over the last three centuries, remains popular in many quarters. But the mere existence of an institution can mask its wholesale transformation.

Is “Political Economy” Really a Christian Heresy?
Anthony M.C. Waterman

Abstract: John Milbank, a contemporary theologian influential in the United States and Britain, has argued that “political economy” is, or was, a Christian heresy. This essay shows that his argument is defective. It is based upon a very limited and sometimes simply mistaken understanding of “political economy.” And—disappointing in a professional theologian— its account of “heresy” is so vague as to be vacuous. Nevertheless, Milbank’s argument contains several correct insights. In the concluding part of this essay these insights are combined with recent scholarship to afford a more complete and a more nuanced account of the relation between “political economy” and Christian theology in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Exploring the Role of Spiritual Capital in Poverty Traps and Microfinance
Travis J. Lybbert 

Abstract: Religious participation involves important social relationships and thereby builds social capital, but it can also bring spiritual benefits that shape behavior and outcomes. These spiritual and social connections often represent distinct personal endowments. Recognizing the difficulty of observing and defining spiritual endowments, this paper explores the meaning and merit of spiritual capital in the context of a specific microfinance program. To build intuition, I present a poverty trap model and discuss how social and spiritual capital might affect poverty differently in this model. This intuition then provides a point of departure for exploring spirituality and sociality as capital assets in a current Christian initiative—the Perpetual Education Fund of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Book Reviews

God & Money: The Moral Challenge of Capitalism
by Charles McDaniel
Reviewed by John Lunn 

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It
by Paul Collier
Reviewed by Ruth Uwaifo Oyelere 

The Fear of Beggars: Stewardship & Poverty in Christian Ethics
by Kelly S. Johnson
Reviewed by John D. Mason 

The Vocation of Business: Social Justice in the Marketplace
by John C. Medaille
Reviewed by Jim Wishloff 

The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics
by Raine Eisler
Reviewed by Tom Head 

Economic Compulsion and Christian Ethics
by Albino Barrera
Reviewed by Francis Woerhling