Blogger Michael Kruse has a few things in common with me. We both live in the Kansas City area. We are both members of mainline denominations and we are both sometimes critical of the mainline. But the thing about Kruse is that he knows a lot about economics.
Pope Francis has been in the news for talking about economics. So I was interested in what Kruse would have to say. His beef, I think, is not with the theology or ethics behind the Pope’s statements, but with his empirical take on economic conditions in the world. He titles his post “How Pope Francis Misunderstands the World“. Here is his main complaint:
The part that does trouble me some, as it does with an overwhelming number of religious figures who speak to economic issues, is a distorted picture of what is happening in the world. It isn’t what is said. It’s what’s missing. For the past century or two we have been living through the most astonishing surge in human flourishing in history. That reality needs to be brought into discussion every bit as much as the challenges and the injustices.
David Ropeik in How Risky Is It Really: Why Our Fears Don’t Always Match the Facts shows that we are innately inclined to fixate on threats and negative developments. People who do so aren’t stupid or ideological … they are human. All of us do it. The inclination to focus on threats is instinctive and has served human beings well over millennia. But in the face of very complex issues we need to bring our concerns into perspective with more objective analysis. Otherwise we run the risk of doing more harm than good. We need to approach problems with warm hearts and cool heads.