The latest edition of Econ Journal Watch has a symposium, co-sponsored by the Acton Institute, on the question, “Does Economics Need an Infusion of Religious or Quasi-Religious Formulations?”
In his essay “Joyful Economics“, Victor V. Claar reflects upon his life as a Christian and how it has connected to his work as an academic economist. Claar offers a few suggestions about the distinct contributions Christian economists can make in this field of study:
First, Christian economists simply must communicate to the caring public the usefulness of the economic way of thinking. They also must convey the existing evidence regarding what works—and what does not—in addressing the world’s deepest hurts and needs. Far too few Christians understand much economics, and consequently their policy activism on behalf of the Christian church is badly misguided. Jordan Ballor (2010) gives a concise contemporary overview of this phenomenon.
I have spent the last few years communicating the best available economic wisdom to caring Christians. Economics in Christian Perspective is a prime example. Another example is Fair Trade? Its Prospects as a Poverty Solution (Claar 2010), a short book commissioned by the Acton Institute. In the book I unpack—for well intended believers—the story of fair trade as related to coffee. In preparing the manuscript I read literally everything I could find in EconLit about fair trade, and then wove all of the available research into a narrative that could be read by anyone curious about it.
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This is one of the reasons that the work of the Acton Institute has become so significant. The Acton Institute has always worked very diligently to, in their words, “connect good intentions with sound economics.” Historically the Acton Institute has also been highly ecumenical, working to connect with believers and nonbelievers alike. They understand that both the message and the tone of an argument matter, because without serious engagement there will be few victories in winning others to the miraculous usefulness of the price system and the market order.