By Derek Stoffels Over the last few weeks I have been reading a book called “Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults and Swallow Citizens Whole.” It has been a difficult read but it raises some worthwhile points. The basic thesis of the book is stated provocatively in the title. The author Benjamin Barber asserts that capitalism (read business) has been so consumed with greed that it is destroying democracy. In contrast to that Barber claims that one hundred years ago capitalism and democracy worked well together. At that time capitalism served democracy by reinforcing the values and conduct that are needed for a wise citizenry. In Barber’s words capitalism was “…a needs-serving economic machine,…” Today it is a wants-stimulating economic machine out to profit itself at any cost.
By Derek Stoffels [This article was originally published in a school newsletter but it applies just as much to our political action] In a recent article in Clarion (vol 56 # 10) I read the report of a Canadian Reformed Teachers Association-West conference which reported that the speaker Mike Goheen said that as Christian parents/educators we educate our children to form a “contrast community”. This was defined as “aim to instill a sense of hope over against despair and consumer satiation, a sense of justice over against economic and ecological injustice, awareness of truth over against pluralism and relativism, and of selfless giving over against a culture or selfishness.” As I read this I thought, “Yes, Mike Goheen is correct about the need to be a contrast community, but wrong to suggest we make that aim our goal”. Setting the contrast community as the goal or aim will, I think, lead to other than the intended results. As I thought more about this statement I recalled two other articles I read recently, one which was apparently from GQ Magazine, the other from the most recent Covenant Canadian Reformed Teacher’s College(CCRTC) Newsletter. These three articles, along with a chapter from Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship, all came together. Hopefully in what follows I show the intersection clearly.
by Mark Penninga (printed in Reformed Perspective, Nov 2007) In the past few years Christians have had good reason to be disappointed with our governments and the courts - Canada has condoned everything from swinger’s clubs, to homosexual marriage, to having three legal parents for one child. Our disappointments are causing many Christians to become cynical about the whole realm of politics and that is unfortunate. We aren’t allowed to just give up; the Bible tells us to be a salt and a light in this world, regardless of how dark it is.