Monday, 19 November 2012

God's Economy

We are living in a world that has been dramatically affected by economic decisions over the last four years. Bankers have become the modern day pariah . Justin Welby (newly nominated Archbishop of Canterbury) once wrote a booklet, based on his student dissertation, entitled "Can Companies Sin?" Jesus spent a lot of time talking about money. It was therefore appropriate that this year's Bishop's Lay Congress looked at the issues of finance and big business and was entitled "God's Economy; Christian approaches to the common good."

The conference, attended by several members from St Paul's, had Clifford Longley, the well-known Catholic journalist, broadcaster and writer as the keynote speaker, supported by three other leaders in the economic and business field, who led tutorials and joined with the Bishop in a question and answer session.

The thrust of Clifford Longley's exposition was that the economic problems could not be resolved simply by an increase in regulation. There had been a belief around that the market could be made to function simply by self-interest (greed!). This had failed. What was actually needed was Virtue Ethics (what you are, not what you do, resulting in doing good when no one
is looking). Using a number of scenarios he demonstrated how "doing right" was actually of benefit to the company, its workforce and society – and ultimately to its shareholders.

At the beginning, he raised the question: " Is capitalism redeemable?" His conclusion was "possibly" as he offered suggestions of changes, such as the John Lewis, Cooperative or German model rather than the PLC one. It was a conference which stimulated the grey cells but was of great relevance to life today.

This was the most recent of a series of excellent stimulating "Bishops Lay Congresses." Watch out for next year's!