God save the king

by Richard on October 19, 2005

There was once a time when theology was considered “queen of the sciences”. Sadly, the old queen is now locked away in a high tower. She is little trouble to anyone, though her wailings might still disturb a sensitive soul passing by the foot of her prison. Theology no longer has any place of honour in contemporary conversation. She is irrelevant to all but a furtive few.

A new ruler sits on the throne. Once merely a palace servant, he has grown in strength and power until all others have been forced to bend their knee to him. Like many rulers before him, the ambitions that drove his ascendency were modest, even benevolent, but like the Roman Emperors of yesteryear he now knows what it is to rise to the heights of deity. Unlike them, he can perform miracles. He is, in today’s world, the “name above all names”. There is no escape from his rule, for he has put his Chief Ministers in charge of every sphere of human activity. Commerce may have been the first to come under his thrall, but she was long ago joined by Government and Church as his loyal subjects.

He is Economics.

Any act of barbarism may be excused if it is according to his will and purpose. Children may starve, farmers may be driven from their land, nations may turn from the provision of the most basic health and education services — all because his commands are irresistible. In his kingdom, the old virtues are replaced with one over-arching duty: “Be ye efficient.”

It was not always so. The elevation of Economics to absolute power has been relatively recent and has no precedent in our history. But it is doubtful that any despot of old ever had such an iron grip or stern face. His favoured subjects are contented and glad. They know that if they serve their master well they will be rewarded. He does not hold out the vague hope of an after-life — the fullness of his bounty is here and now. And though he is cruel to those who turn away from his rule, in truth he demands little of his subjects. His yoke is easy, his burden light because he commands only that they put their own desires before the needs of others. Only a fool would defy him.

And so we rejoice! Bless the name of the one who brought us this golden age of prosperity, where even the poor can seek solace in the pages of a mail order catalogue.

In the high tower, the old queen still shrieks in her madness but we have forgotten the meaning of the word that we barely hear above the throbbing bass that pours out from the pop factory.

“Repent.”

* I admit it. This is a reblog

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Joel 10.20.05 at 12:36 am

At one time “King Economics” spouted that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Then in the U.S.A. at least it was pointed out that during the Reagan years, wages actually fell for the lowest 10th percentile of workers. At that, “King Economics” took a drunken ‘nother swig and headed for the door marked “all things are according to God’s will” and pronounced any economic outcome, no matter how adverse, to be part of God’s greater plan and purposes. That gospel hasn’t been canonized, yet, but there must be a Council for it just around the corner.

This is a re-comment in part but added footage has been spliced in.

2

Wood 10.20.05 at 12:33 pm

Not. Worthy.

3

Eugene 10.20.05 at 1:59 pm

Wait until King Economics has to deal with her husband. All hail Jesus, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace.

Eugene

4

Malc 10.20.05 at 2:36 pm

I look at it this way, a BSc (econ) looks like you’ve got the Tesco Value degree…. could be worse though…. wait till Sport “Science” takes over……

5

John 10.20.05 at 4:08 pm

Does the field of economics really hold that much sway? My brother is a top-flight Ph.D economist and he’s struggling to get tenure at Texas A&M of all places. And he’s one of the lucky ones who’s employed!

6

Mike 10.20.05 at 6:53 pm

Malc, don’t be such a damn elitist, even if you are being tongue-in-cheek!

Im prone to agree with you in principle Richard, but don’t forget that economics is a benign creature; it’s the ECONOMIST you want to worry about. I think I’ve said the same before on this topic. Economics is also responsible for the absolute wealth that has given us health, education and free speech. It’s the misuse and ignorance of economic theory that still leaves us with huge social problems where there is potential to be none.

Whilst their is still great deprivation now, there was even more when theology was queen; let’s be careful there.

7

Andy 10.21.05 at 1:21 am

Is it economics or is it human greed (long the culprit of much misery through all the ages)? When we give our other coat to the one shivering in the cold wind - then we have repented (Luke 3:11) and Economics and Human Greed might not have so much sway.

8

Greg Wiley 10.24.05 at 4:38 pm

Human greed or consumerism leads to corporate greed and establishes a vicious circle as corporate greed feeds “shareholder value” which feeds consumer greed. Add in to this mix some protectionism across the wealthy nations and you create some real problems in the world, that if we could break the cycle could be easily fixed.

We do need to be careful because economics can be a force for good as well as evil. Note that today is the anniversary of the birth of Richard Cadbury, one of the founders of the Cadbury chocolate business. He made a radically positive impact on the lives of the people in his community who worked at his factories in Birmingham, UK. I’m sure he couldn’t have done so without sound economics.

9

Rev. Bob Williams 10.25.05 at 4:25 pm

Interesting discussion. Economics is a field of study. It is not a science but is more, as John Kenneth Galraith asserts, a system of belief. As such, we act on our beliefs. In economics there are several competing paradigms or “systematic” constructs about what the economy is and includes definitions including definitions of what economics is.
The paradigm we assert as being most valid usually guides our decisions about how to act. It also has attendant issues. Our present “market” definition of economics accepts the vast accumulations of wealth and abismal poverty resulting from the interplay of our thinking with the activity of the economy. To change the results we need to change paradigms.
On another topic…Amicus has unionized clergy in G.B. and I was wondering if there are any unionized clergy who would like to share some of your experiences with me… both pro and con. Thanks in advance.

10

Rev. Bob Williams 10.25.05 at 4:30 pm

My email is:
vic93@sympatico.ca

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