Joyful Innovators: Liberty and Dignity in the Christian Lens


welder, welding, fabricating, steel, creativity, ingenuityIn my most recent post at Common Sense Concept, I take a look at Bill Easterly’s recent interview with economist Deirdre McCloskey, author of the new book, Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World.

McCloskey seeks to topple our conventional views of what leads to economic growth, arguing that much of it comes down to maintaining proper attitudes about liberty and dignity.

Her thesis, as explained in the interview, is as follows:

Modern economic growth — that stunning increase from $3 a day in 1800 worldwide to now upwards of $130 a day in the richest countries, and anyway $30 as a worldwide average — can’t be accounted for in the usual and materialist ways. It wasn’t trade, investment, exploitation, imperialism, education, legal changes, genes, science. It was innovation, such as cheap steel and the modern university, supported by an entirely new attitude towards the middle class, emerging from Holland around 1600. (It has parallels in classical music and mathematics and politics, in all of which the Europeans burst out, 1600-1800.)

As usual, I turn McCloskey’s theory toward Christianity, and more specifically, evangelicalism, examining how evangelicals tend to view such elements (nowadays) and whether those views are attributable to some recent sociological trend or the belief system itself.

Here’s an excerpt:

To use the evangelical sphere as an example, there seems to be an increasingly common sociological disdain for innovation and markets, which seems to imply that the “tenets” of evangelicalism conflict with the outlook that McCloskey recommends. I would argue, however, that the common applications among modern-day evangelicals are simply ill-suited to the fundamental beliefs they claim to derive from.

How, then, does the Christian/evangelical “disposition” alter our attitudes regarding liberty and dignity, and more importantly, how should it?

Here’s a taste of where I see the overlap:

What, then, is the attitude of modern-day evangelicalism toward “economic novelty” and “creative destruction”? Do McCloskey’s views illuminate a larger problem in our common construction of our roles in this world (and the God who put us here)?

Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World by Deirdre McCloskeyAre we serving a God who admires lax and passive lemming-ism, or one who inspires creativity, innovation and productive activity? Are we serving a God who calls us to cower in the face of destruction and disappointment (seeking artificial protection along the way), or one who calls us to reach the world despite inevitable struggles and challenges? Upon stunning earthly defeat, are we to run and hide, or unite in One Accord, being led by the Spirit with explosive creative energy and power?

To read the full post, click here.

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