Monthly Archives: December 2020

End of the Year Book Recommendations with Jamin Hübner

In this final episode of 2020, we decided to do a retrospective episode about the best recently published books we had read this year. For this conversation I am joined by Jamin Hübner, a friend, scholar, and voracious reader who has regularly writes book reviews for Faith & Economics. Over the course of our conversation we take turns recommending books and talking about the big ideas in them. We cover over a dozen books in the hour, and all the titles are available here in the show notes.

I wanted to have this conversation with Jamin for a number of reasons, one of which is that he is an accomplished book reviewer. Despite his young age, he has written over 70 published book reviews. Perhaps more importantly, he comes from a different ideological position than I do, and reads different books. You will see in our conversation, sometimes he sounds like a libertarian and sometimes he sounds like a socialist, and his book choices reflect his decision to research socialism and historic social democratic movements.

Jamin’s background is interesting too. He has graduate degrees in Religion, Theology and applied economics, he has written multiple books, and has been, among other things, a professor of Christian studies, business, and economics, and the founding editor of the Christian Libertarian Review. Today he is a Research Fellow at the Center for Faith and Human Flourishing at LCC international university, and is teaching at the University of the People and at Western Dakota Technical Institute.

McMullen Picks:

Mary Hirschfeld, Aquinas and the Market: Toward a Humane Economy

Ezra Klein, Why We’re Polarized

T.M. Scanlon, Why Does Inequality Matter?

Michael Tanner, The Inclusive Economy: How to Bring Wealth to America’s Poor

Heather Boushey, Unbound: How Inequality Constricts our Economy and What we Can Do about It

Jonathan Rothwell, Republic of Equals: A Manifesto for a Just Society

David Smith, Kara Sevensma, Marjorie Terpstra and Steven McMullen, Digital Life Together: The Challenge of Technology for Christian Schools

Brandon Sanderson, The Stormlight Archives

Hübner Picks:

Jamin’s writing about the episode and some of his book choices for a newspaper column.

Nomi Prins, Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World

Yanis Varoufakis, Talking to My Daughter About the Economy, or, How Capitalism Works and How it Fails

Jeremy Courtney, Love Anyway: An Invitation Beyond a World that’s Scary as Hell

Marjorie Kelly and Ted Howard, The Making of a Democratic Economy

Gary Dorrien, Social Democracy in the Making: Political and Religious Roots of European Socialism

Richard Wolff, Understanding Socialism

Joseph Blasi et. al., The Citizen’s Share: Reducing Inequality in the 21st Century

Kristin Kobes Du Mez, Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation

John Restakis, Humanizing the Economy: Co-operatives in the Age of Capital

ACE Event: Edd Noell on Smith and the Scholastics on the Morality of Markets

This episode features a lecture given by economist and historian Edd Noell titled “Smith and the Scholastic Tradition on Markets and Their Moral Rationale.” This lecture was part of a session on new thinking about Adam Smith jointly sponsored by the Association of Christian Economists and the History of Economics Society at the ASSA meetings almost a year ago in San Diego. 

Economists are not often great at studying our own history, and when we are, we too often give Every thinker before the 1700’s only a brief mention before jumping straight to the classical economists. When we think this way, it is easy to imagine that everything Adam Smith wrote was totally original, or that we should read him only in the context of those that came after. In this lecture, Noell walks through a number of different ways in which Adam Smith’s writing fit into the moral philosophy of his time, building on the conversations that had been ongoing among the scholastics for many years. If you are interested in the connections between Christian moral philosophy and the work of Adam Smith, this is a great lecture to listen in to.

Edd Noell is a professor of economics at Westmont College who specializes in the history of economic thought, labor market regulation, and Christian thought about economics. He is also the current president of ACE.

Here is an older paper by Noell, published in the History of Political Economy on a related topic.

Reckoning with Markets: Moral Reflection in Economics by Edd Noell and James Halteman

Remember to check out the ACE sessions at the upcoming online ASSA meetings.

ACE Event: Paul Oslington on Adam Smith’s Economics of Religion

This week we have a recording of a lecture delivered at the 2020 ASSA meetings in San Diego. At that conference, the association of Christian economists sponsored two sessions, and the one I will highlight here was a series of talks on Adam Smith and religion. In this episode, Paul Oslington gives a short talk about Adam Smith’s writing on the economics of religion. 

Oslington argues that while Smith did not formulate a comprehensive theory of the economics of religion, that if you gather his writing about the state church, religious competition, clergy pay, and related topics, a surprisingly sophisticated account emerges. For those of you who are interested in Adam Smith’s thinking, or in the economics of religion, this short talk will be intriguing.

Paul Oslington is a longtime member of the Association of Christian Economics, is a member of the editorial board for Faith & Economics, and is an important name for those working at the intersection of economics and theology. He is currently Dean of business and professor of economics at Alphacrucis College in Sydney, Australia. 

This lecture comes out of a chapter that was written for the Routledge Handbook of Economic Theology.

An early draft of this chapter can be found here.

Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations provides an economic analysis of the provision of religious education and aspects of the church, picking up on his friend David Hume’s discussion of church establishment in his History of England.  Smith and Hume of course are not alone, for economic arguments about church establishment, toleration of other religious groups, financial support of clergy, and related issues, were deployed by Richard Hooker, William Warburton, William Paley, Josiah Tucker, Jeremy Bentham, Edmund Burke, Richard Whately, Thomas Chalmers, and others.  Their philosophical framework and arguments, however are quite different to those employed in the contemporary rational choice economics of religion.  Smith argues, against Hume, for the virtues of religious competition, for voluntary contributions alongside state support of religion, and limited democracy in relation to church appointments.  A properly constituted religious market Smith suggests will generate benefits for society.  Smith’s arguments about religious competition are connected to his larger philosophical framework, in particular his understanding of the fall and divine providence.