"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, May 25, 2015

Orthodox Christian Social Thought

I have often heard it said that Eastern Christian thought has a great deal of catching up to do compared to the developments in Catholic social teaching since Leo XIII's landmark Rerum Novarum. Though many Eastern Fathers--some of them noted on here--have of course written treatises about poverty, hunger, and treating the downcast, not a lot has been written in the modern period taking account of very different socioeconomic contexts. But that is changing, and a new book from the Orthodox priest-scholar Gregory Jensen aims to help: The Cure for Consumerism (Acton Institute, 2015), 154pp.

Volume 2 in Acton's series on Orthodox social thought, this latest installment, according to the publisher, has the following focus:
Despite the rapid increase in human flourishing since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, critics of the market economy insist that it leads inevitably to consumerism and other excesses of materialism. Those who make this indictment—including sociologists, political pundits, and religious leaders—also ignore how economic liberty has brought about one of the most remarkable achievements in human history: an 80 percent reduction in world poverty since 1970. The Cure for Consumerism examines popular prescriptions for addressing consumerism that range from simply consuming less to completely overhauling our economic system. In this lively and accessible book, Rev. Gregory Jensen synthesizes insights from the spiritual tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church with modern social science to craft a clear understanding of consumerism, to offer real solutions to the problems, and to put faith and economic freedom to work for both the common good and the kingdom of God.
I've been in touch with the author about an interview, and hope to have that up here over the summer.

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