“Faith and Business on the Razor’s Edge”: Some Post-Op Notes

During the past year I’ve had a distinct pleasure hanging out in Kenya working with Churches that work with businesspeople. Lately, the concept of integrating religious faith into business has been somewhat of a headline topic.

Yesterday, I had a piece run in the CRCNA’s Do Justice Blog, a publishing site (presumably) for members of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. The site is maintained by sub organizations the Center for Public Dialogue and the Office of Social Justice. Here are a few notes to supplement the reading:

The piece kind-of dances around the always-entertaining experience of driving in Kenya. I’ve written about this in more detail previously on this blog.

One of the important paragraphs talks about the complexity imbedded in simply warming a piece of bread to a crisp:

There are over 400 components that make up a toaster. These components are all made out of a number of different materials: copper, iron, nickel, plastic, and a few others. Of course none of these materials are used in the toaster as they are found in nature. Iron, copper, and nickel all need to be smelted and plastic (usually) is made from oil. Keep in mind that a toaster, which remarkably costs only the equivalent of roughly an hour of work, is just one product. Most estimates claim that at any given time there are upwards of 10 billion products available in our economy.

Here is the full video of the embedded link. Watch for the full story of the toaster along with much much more:

The whole point of sharing the story about the complexity inherent in a simple toaster is to show how incredibly complex we have made our modern world. The seemingly odd and sort-of funny thing about this is that my piece was tagged in the category “simple living”. I think simple living is something we should all strive for, but we must recognize how extraordinarily complex even the simplest life is in our modern reality.

Admittedly the piece comes off as a little vague, but that’s entirely the point. The world is so complex that if you’re certain what is best to do, then you’re probably not in a position to make any sort of decision with significant impact. I’m reminded again of one of my favorite movie quotes, “Certainty, as it turns out, is a luxury for those on the sidelines…” I’ve written about the call of a Christian being specifically vague before, this oxymoronic phrase somehow is the best descriptor I’ve come across.

Finally, I’m a little surprised none of my economist (or soon to be economist) friends have recognized the reference in the title to the Harrod-Domar growth model. The analogy is a bit nerdy, so I’m really not overly surprised. I really expected at least one shout out.

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