Freshly back from God and the Global Economy, the mind is abuzz with economics, politics and ways of integral living. A few takeaways:

  • Paul Mills, on capital markets and a breathtaking Biblical critique of modern interest practice

  • Jonathan Wellum, on debt ridden overconsumption and the hypocrisy of academia's moral assault on the modern corporation<

  • Father Raymond DeSouza and lots of JP2, "by virtue of being a person a person is owed a certain something"

  • Steve Long, toward a Christological economics

  • Ray Pennings and Emile VanVelsen on "whereto for international labour?"

  • Iain Provan and Mark Polet, loving all creation and—my favourite question—would you shoot a bear or a human being? (the answer was the bear, btw)

  • Paul Oslington and Gideon Strauss, a trade talk that turned into a "big government" throw down

One of the big questions that emerged at both the Senior Fellows retreat and the conference was about the place and priority of emerging and traditional institutions. Fortuitously, a tag team duo of myself and the indomitable Jonathan Chaplin on loving institutions this month (does it get sexier than that?): Jonathan, at The Other Journal on Loving Faithful Institutions: Building Blocks of a Just Global Society. Jonathan writes,

Because this piece is intended as a polemic, and in order to get something on the radar screens of Christian postmoderns, let me get my central beef off my chest right away: many Christians who have been understandably, and often rightly, drawn to postmodern ways of thinking (there may be one or two among the readership of TOJ—and I'd welcome their responses) need to learn to love institutions again, and they won't get very far in transforming society unless they do. And such Christians also need to see that existing institutions, especially the larger ones, are already "faith-based." Contrary to the ruling secularist mindset, institutions like corporations, universities, government bureaucracies, and professional bodies are not devoid of faith-based influences; they merely deny their presence. The key questions, then, are: which faith (or faiths) drive these institutions? And how can a biblically inspired faith make any impact on them in a secular, plural society?

And I, at the always faithful Comment magazine, on Saving the World Takes More than an English Degree. From my introduction,

Say we're into social justice. Awareness has never been higher. I have never had so many students who are keen on "social justice" and (justly) enraged by poverty, scarcity driven conflict, racial and gender violence, maternal health and affordable education. I love these students; I would never begrudge or denigrate these convictions.

But conviction's not where the policy community is hung up. We're hung up on strategy, and all the awareness campaigns, Capitol Hill marches and rock star concerts in the world aren't going to hammer out actionable strategies. It's not just that people don't care; it's that we're deadlocked about what to do. We're all on the side of doing good in the world, but the trick is moving past the moral imperative to talk strategy. And I've found that when students graduate from university and navigate that critical quarter-life crisis, they're just as deadlocked as the rest of us. What to do?