The Religious Nature of Economics; It’s Not Secular
The Jubilee Forum on December 3, focused on the religious nature of economics. We moved past the assumption that economics is a secular matter, separate from spiritual matters. Here are a few examples of how the religion of economics is manifest:
- Economics has a view of human nature. We are consumers making decisions based on cost, prestige, and some greed.
- Economics views nature as subordinate to profits. So are people for that matter.
- Economics gives attributes of deity to “The Market.” Wrestling with this deity earns one respect and wealth. The Market functions as long as people believe in it.
These examples are functions of religion. So, treating economics as secular misunderstands its power and mystery. (For a fuller treatment of the religion of economics see Blinded by Progress: Breaking Out of the Illusion That Holds Us, a book authored by Lee Van Ham, 2013.)
To change to a different economy requires a change in belief. In 1989, economist Herman Daly (advocate for Steady State economics) and process theologian John Cobb joined in writing the book, For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future. They understood that changing to such an economy would take a change of beliefs, a religious conversion as it were.
The changes that are now needed in society are at a level that stirs religious passions. The debate will be a religious one whether that is made explicitly or not. The whole understanding of reality and the orientation to it are at stake. We think that, to treat the issues as if they could be settled by abstract reason, is misleading. The victory will go to those who can draw forth these deepest energies of the centered self and give them shape and direction. Getting there, if it happens at all, will be a religious event, just as getting to where we are now was a religious event. Idolatry in the guise of misplaced concreteness and disciplinolatry have brought us to the present crisis. Overcoming these is a religious task. Page 381
[Their word “disciplinolatry” refers to the effort among many economists to turn economics into a hard science in order to elevate its authority. Daly and Cobb see this as idolatry.]
We had such a stirring time of sharing and insight in the Forum! If you missed out, ask for a recording. We’ll continue holding forums in 2023 on the first Saturday of the month, 9 am Pacific Time. Registration is free. Simply send your interest to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. That’s all you need to do to join in these conversations. Go with us to where many discussions dare not go. Register and John will send you a Zoom link a couple of days before the next forum on January 7, 9 am PST.
Dates for Mexico Trip Moved to April 14-23;
Excellent Itinerary Emerging
Previously, we gave March 14-25, 2023 as dates for the OneEarth Jubilee trip to Mexico. But at a recent meeting of all the Jubilee Circles, we discovered that some essential people in the San Mateo Circle would be on vacation during that time. Their absence would prevent the kind of trip experience we want. So HEADS UP! The dates have been changed to APRIL14-23.
And we have an emerging itinerary. Ideally, you’ll be able to come to San Diego on April 13 for a good evening meet-up time with fellow travelers. The San Diego Jubilee Circle will provide all you need for the evening, overnight., and transportation.
You need translation on this trip? No worries. It will be provided. Know that the Jubilee Circles in Mexico receive huge encouragement when people travel from the U.S. to learn about their work. You will be welcomed personally and joyfully.
April 14th—Day 1 – Air and bus travel from Tijuana to San Cristobal, Chiapas
Days with the OneEarth Jubilee Circle in San Cristobal, a tourist city
- 15th—Day 2 – Ecological Challenges—trip to Ecological: Ecoparks (Arcotete), Lagos de Montebello in Tzicao, Chiapas (border with Guatemala). Presentations on the local shape of ecological challenges and immigration across the Guatemalan border.
- 16th—Day 3 – Meet Organizations who Jubilee San Cristobal collaborates with—Stimulating visits to various justice groups in San Cristobal with whom the Jubilee Circle collaborates on various issues: Moxviquil, Otros Mundos AC, FRAYBA AC, SIPAZ. Don’t know what these do? You will.
- 17th—Day 4 – Jubilee Ministries in Chiapas with partners—Yobel School with Pedro Robledo; Alter-Nativas with Isai Robledo and Lindsey Mercer-Robledo; Xa-Najobal with Talita Cumi (Gloria Esquivel); Jubilee ministry near Tapachula with Edman Orel Lopez.
- 18th—Day 5 – Choices are being weighed for various interesting options.
- 19th—Day 6 – Travel by air and bus to San Mateo, Puebla
Days with the OneEarth Jubilee Circle in the village of San Mateo, Puebla
- 20th—Day 7 – Meeting the Jubilee Team, experiencing their ministries, and those who benefit.
- 21st—Day 8 – Responses to Water Scarcity—Delve into the acute dryness in this region of Mexico and how it is being responded to by the Jubilee team and others. This day includes a trip to the innovative Agua de Museo (Water Museum).
- 22nd—Day 9 – Breakfast—participate in the Saturday morning program for children. Other possibilities for the day include meeting women empowered by OneEarth Jubilee ministries despite the intensely patriarchal society. Meet the Artesanes Shalom women’s art and crafts group, and maybe a workshop with Mariana Velez, attorney, teacher, and creator of fine jewelry.
- 23rd—Day 10 – Travel by bus to Mexico City and by air to the U.S.
Cost of trip: $1400/person maximum includes all travel and lodging expenses from San Diego PLUS most meals. This is modest for the rich, rich benefits. Even so, we’ll be looking for cost-cutting if it becomes possible.
Small Grant Translated into Big Impact in San Cristobal
As grants go, $1500 is small. But it’s still a “Wow!” in OneEarth Jubilee Ministries. That’s what Lindsey Mercer-Robledo exclaimed when the San Cristobal Circle received $1500 from Gemmer Family Foundation.
“Wow! What a thrill! Yes, the $1500 is going to serve as a blessing to us. Thank you very much! Many thanks to David [Funkhouser, board president who assisted on applying for this grant] and JEM for this great opportunity!”
The project will begin with workshops given to two groups. The workshops will advance education in areas impacting daily life: Food Security and Sovereignty; Comprehensive Health and Alternative Medicine; Gender Equality; Environmental Crisis.
The presentations and activities on these topics will acknowledge the deep violation of people happening through the current economic system. Following the cycles of workshops, meetings on economic justice will uncover community actions that generate fairer economic opportunities.
Can You Help Out on This?
Those of us in the Jubilee Circles and Board believe so deeply in the mission of OneEarth Jubilee that we give hours of time (lots of it is volunteer, unpaid) to assure the impact of our projects. That said, financing this ministry needs new donors. Can you help find 10 new donors in 2023? We anticipate working together on this.
Wise Use of IRA Distributions
A couple of donors to JEM are using the required distributions from the IRAs to make donations. If you are age 72 and have an IRA, you likely know that you must withdraw a percentage of the amount in the IRA. If you arrange to have part or all of the amount sent to a nonprofit like JEM instead of to you personally, then you avoid paying tax on it and are able to deduct the amount donated as a charitable contribution.
Give the Gift of Trees
JEM just received a $60 donation that is a birthday gift to the donor’s family member. Would you like to give such a gift? $10-$15 plants a tree when it’s in the hands of the Jubilee Circle in San Mateo, Puebla, MX. Tree planting is part of their work to address severe water scarcity in the region, limiting access to water to certain times of the week. Trees can help reduce run-off when it does rain and contribute to retaining water in the soil — along with many other benefits. Thanks for considering tree planting in San Mateo as part of your gift-giving.