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Going deeper in the Economics of Compassion

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Following a series of sessions designed to awaken public interest in an alternative economic model, different from the current metanarrative which is obviously a failure, the Economics of Compassion Initiative has been launched in Cincinnati and is now taking steps to delve deeper into action.

The initial interest in the initiative was borne of a 2010 Trinity Institute series at Cincinnati’s Christ Church Cathedral. This was followed by another event at Saint John’s United Church of Christ in Newport, Kentucky the following year and three more events in 2013 at Christ Church Cathedral and Xavier University. Each of these sessions was attended by over 200 people which underscores the public interest in finding an alternative to the nightmare we live in.

In the latest session at Christ Church Cathedral on Thursday, May 22, 2013, Dr. Walter Brueggermann summarized the anomaly of the current economic metanarrative – or the totalizing narrative – which parallels Pharaoh’s model in the Hebrew Bible. Our economy is driven by profit maximization, production of commodities and consumption. Competition, not cooperation, is a standard and the prevailing mentality is that of scarcity, not sufficiency or abundance.

This is what Pharaoh’s economy reveals:

In Genesis 41 Pharaoh had a dream in which “seven sleek and fat cows came up out of the Nile and grazed in the reed grass. Then seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows. The ugly and thin cows ate up the sleek and fat cows”. As Brueggermann pointed out, this is typical nightmare of those who have the most. They are also the most anxious.

Pharaoh’s nightmare was followed by a second one as the narrative in Genesis continues: “Then he fell asleep and dreamed a second time; seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. Then seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind, sprouted after them. The thin ears swallowed up the seven plump and full ears”.

It turned out the two nightmares were the same message to Pharaoh. As Joseph interpreted them, “the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will bring it about”. The metanarrative of our economy borders on sacred. We have come to accept that it is divinely ordained and suggestions to change things meet fierce opposition.

The discussion continues next.

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