I’m approaching the end of my series on Bill Bishop’s The Big Sort and I have two books lined up that I’d like to “stroll” through next. My problem is that I can’t decide which one I should do first. What do Kronicle readers think?
The first option is John Stackhouse’s Making the Best of It: Following Christ in the Real World. This is an amazing book. Everyone so often I come across a book that articulates thoughts I’ve been mulling over for years and pulls them together into a coherent package in a compelling way. This is one of those books.
The book really is a two books about Christian social ethics. The first part of the book reviews some mid-twentieth century perspectives on Christian Realism. He begins with Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture typology and then takes a quick glance at C. S. Lewis, Reihold Niebuhr, and Dietrich Bonheoffer. The second part of the book is Stackhouse’s effort to develop an ethic that can genuinely guide the Christian’s relationship to culture.
The book is 355 pages long and contains considerable fodder for discussion. I don’t plan on doing a complete summary but would rather skim across some of the central points. I expect this book will take weeks to discuss.
The second option is John Stapleford’s Bulls, Bears, and Golden Calves: Applying Christian Ethics in Economics. The second edition of this book just came out a couple of months ago. The book is designed to be read either of two ways. It is organized so that it can be read as a supplement to standard college introductory economics textbooks or as a standalone primer on Christian ethics and economics. It has nineteen chapters organized into five parts:
- Laying the Foundation
- Reflections on the Basic Assumptions of Economics
- Macroeconomic Issues
- Microeconomic Issues
- International Issues
I’m probably biased (Stapleford was a professor of mine at Eastern University back in the ‘80s) but I think this is the best comprehensive primer I’ve read on the topic. It is almost 100 pages shorter than Stackhouse’s book but it too is meaty and I expect it will take weeks to cover.
I welcome your feedback, either by comments here or by email. Should there be no clear indication from readers, the choice will be made by Isaac, my seventeen year old tabby. I’ll lay a book on either side of the monitor and whichever one he curls up on will be the choice. :-)