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Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: Living in a Material World

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: Living in a Material World

Welcome to the fifth installment of act three of author Ted Scofield’s series on everybody else’s biggest problem but your own. If you missed one or more of the previous installments, the entire series can be found here.

Nearing the end of our year-long quest to define greed, today we’re going to explore materialism, a logical result of the phenomena we’ve discussed and debated in Act III: the prominence of narcissistic individualism, the increase in religious “nones,” the build-a-god mentality of personal spirituality, and the rise in moral subjectivity, even among Christians.

To start, let’s all get on the same page: What exactly is…

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“I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”…and That’s a Good Thing

“I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”…and That’s a Good Thing

This one comes to us from SM White.

I can’t get no satisfaction…I try and I try and I try and I try…When I’m watchin’ my TV and a man comes on and tells me how white my shirts can be. But he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes as me – The Rolling Stones, 1965

I can’t get no satisfaction. That song was written over 40 years ago, and yet Mick Jagger’s anger at the demands of consumerism still rings true today. “Your life can be improved; it needs to be improved–in fact, you aren’t complete, you haven’t…

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Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: Recap of Act Two

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: Recap of Act Two

Welcome to the seventh and final installment of act two of author Ted Scofield’s series on everybody else’s biggest problem but your own. If you missed one or more of the previous installments, the entire series can be found here.

After establishing in Act One that we as a society cannot agree on a collectively applicable definition of greed, we moved on to examine a half dozen answers to the question Why. Why are we unable to define greed as a way that might include ourselves? Why is it always Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem?

Happiness. We cleared the lowest and most obvious hurdle first….

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The Agony of Getting Everything You Want

The Agony of Getting Everything You Want

Newly minted billionaire Markus Persson of Minecraft fame (if you don’t know what Minecraft is, ask any boy aged 8-12) is not happy. A series of tweets from early Saturday morning went as follows:

4:48am: The problem with getting everything is you run out of reasons to keep trying, and human interaction becomes impossible due to imbalance.

4:50am: Hanging out in ibiza with a bunch of friends and partying with famous people, able to do whatever I want, and I’ve never felt more isolated.

4:51am: In sweden, I will sit around and wait for my friends with jobs and families to have time to do shit,…

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Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem, Pt. 3: How Much Is Too Much?

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem, Pt. 3: How Much Is Too Much?

This is the third installment of author Ted Scofield’s series on everybody else’s biggest problem. To start from the beginning, go here. To read the second installment go here. 

When the people feared that Moses had abandoned them to die in the desert, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make for us gods!” and from their jewelry Aaron forged a golden calf, and they worshipped it.

Wayne Rauh and his wife D’Ann own eighty Dodge Vipers, including one that is painted gold, “the only gold Viper in the world.”

It’s likely the Rauhs have spent well over $7 million for their Vipers and…

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Forgiveness Is Greece’s (and Germany’s) Only Hope

Forgiveness Is Greece’s (and Germany’s) Only Hope

Central to Christianity is the notion that, at the end of the day, forgiveness is humanity’s only hope. Not performance, or improvement, or willpower, or wishful thinking, but absolution – “nothing but the blood of Jesus,” as the old hymn goes. Apparently, this idea holds in financial markets as well, or so a piece in yesterday’s New York Times claims.

“Germans Forget Postwar History Lesson on Debt Relief in Greece Crisis” is the title, and here are some of the money quotes:

As negotiations between Greece and its creditors stumbled toward breakdown, culminating in a sound rejection on Sunday by Greek voters…

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Grace Is Play: Our Magazine Interview with Nimi Wariboko

Grace Is Play: Our Magazine Interview with Nimi Wariboko

Another free look at our Work and Play Issue. Take our word for it, though…it’s better in print! 

One of the great theological books we discovered last year was Nimi Wariboko’s The Pentecostal Principle, a book which unpacks how the Holy Spirit creates the capacity for new beginnings in human life and communities. He views true religion as play, because it goes beyond the instrumentalism (do this to achieve that) of the Law to make room for spontaneity. According to Wariboko, our ordinary world is constantly open to the Spirit’s disruption with new initiatives, feelings, experiences, communities, and patterns of thought….

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Demanding Answers: The Rise of the Economist

Demanding Answers: The Rise of the Economist

The New York Times dropped a fairly juicy opinion a while back from economist Justin Wolfers about the rise of economists in culture analysis and policy making. It does seem like economists are increasing in social prominence, and as Wolfers mentions, they’re ascending at a quicker pace than the rest of the social sciences. At least, that’s what the anecdotal evidence indicates (that evidence being a study of word counts in archived New York Times past editions). It’s more than just conversations about money, suggests Wolfers–it’s a trend that’s been growing as national economies have become global and more intertwined:

It wasn’t always this way. Historians…

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True Colors: Car Choices, Food Sources, and the Fauxthenticity of Our Times

True Colors: Car Choices, Food Sources, and the Fauxthenticity of Our Times

Now a month out from its release to your doorsteps, it’s now time to leak just a few samplings of what’s in our summer issue of The Mockingbird. If you feel you missed your chance, fear not! Click here and we’ll set you up.

This essay comes James Gilmore, business school professor and co-author of Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want and The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre & Every Business a Stage, both published by Harvard Business School Press. In this essay, Gilmore examines the pervasive and nuanced Economy of Authenticity, where the myth of what is “real” is what…

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Another Week Ends: Capitalist Christians, Parents Teaching Achievement (Not Empathy), Post-Penitent Pantene, Sedaris’s Journey to the Ends of the Law (and Back), Antinomian Aucklanders,  and Crooked-Timber Anthropology

Another Week Ends: Capitalist Christians, Parents Teaching Achievement (Not Empathy), Post-Penitent Pantene, Sedaris’s Journey to the Ends of the Law (and Back), Antinomian Aucklanders, and Crooked-Timber Anthropology

1. The New York Times hosted a debate asking the question of whether capitalism has become incompatible with Christianity. It’s a pretty interesting forum, and some highlights with commentary are below:

[Gary Dorrien, Union:] The field I teach, social ethics, was founded in the late 19th century as a protest against capitalist ideology. American social gospel theologian Walter Rauschenbusch put it poignantly: “Capitalism has overdeveloped the selfish instincts in all of us and left the capacity of devotion to larger ends shrunken and atrophied.” Pope Leo XIII described capitalism as a system defined by the callousness of employers and the greed of unrestrained competition, including its…

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When A Measure Becomes a Target

When A Measure Becomes a Target

We are now just a couple weeks out from the release of Issue Two of The Mockingbird. It is the Identity Issue, and you won’t believe what all it has to say about, well, you. If you’re not subscribed yet, subscribe here.

In anticipation for the release, we’ll continue posting a selection of pieces from the first issue, including this essay from Will McDavid on the “Economics of Repentance.” To read the essay in full, go to the magazine’s webpage, here.

“The first messenger that gave notice of Lucullus’s coming was so far from pleasing Tigranes that he had his head cut off for…

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Another Week Ends: Hoffman and Addiction, Parenting Confessionals, Harris v Haidt, Trite Apologies, Super Bowl Commercials and Transform(ers)ational Ministry

Another Week Ends: Hoffman and Addiction, Parenting Confessionals, Harris v Haidt, Trite Apologies, Super Bowl Commercials and Transform(ers)ational Ministry

1. Philip Seymour Hoffman, of Magnolia and, more recently, The Master fame, passed away this week in what the press generally called a “heroin overdose”. On the subject of addiction, it was painful and touching recalling his role in Owning Mahowny, and a moving reflection on Hoffman’s death comes from fellow Hollywood icon and recovering addict Aaron Sorkin at Time, ht BJ:

I told him I felt lucky because I’m squeamish and can’t handle needles. He told me to stay squeamish. And he said this: “If one of us dies of an overdose, probably 10 people who were about to won’t.” He meant…

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