Faithful Economics in an Imperfect World

The Anslem House is a Christian study center at the University of Minnesota. This Easter season they curated a series of blog posts on the following theme:

In our current moment, many people are acutely experiencing uncertainty, displacement, and disruption. The challenges we see in the areas of healthcare, economic life, and social cohesion amidst widespread “social distancing” remind us of our limitations and the contingent and unpredictable nature of the human condition. Christians understand this to be a perennial aspect of life “between the times.” Christ is risen, it is true, but we await the final “renewal of all things” (Matt 19:28). The church, therefore, is a pilgrim people, always on the way toward a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells (2 Pet 3:13).

This year, from Good Friday to the Feast Day of St. Anselm (April 10-21), we want to turn our attention to this journey from brokenness to redemption. Taken together, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter are an encapsulation of this story, that is then worked out, in the language of some Christians, in “ordinary time.” We want to ask together, how do Christians strive for “the renewal of all things” in the midst of their daily lives and vocations? Specifically, what does this look like in a university context like UMN?

They graciously asked me to write a reflection on my studies in economics. Here is what I wrote:

In the summer after my freshman year of college, I traveled to South Korea and gazed across the demilitarized zone into North Korea. The stark contrast of the beautiful rolling and green hills in South Korea with the rolling—but barren and brown—hills of North Korea revealed the consequences of political institutions limiting exposure to modern technology. Reflecting on the experience of life for those who just happened to be born in North Korea, I was struck with the realization that this is not the way the world is supposed to be.

The next year I traveled to Panama and visited with a native community whose indigenous language and culture was disappearing. I again was struck with the realization that this is not the way the world is supposed to be. Together with my co-travelers, we worked with a microcredit institution in a rural village that provided funds to build a roadside stand to sell hand-made crafts. Returning a year later we saw the materials that had been purchased with these funds sitting—unused—in a pile on the side of the road. Through this experience, I learned that truly helping others across national borders and cultures takes much more than simple good intentions. I was now struck with the realization that the world is much more complicated than I ever expected.


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