DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Macro, I have not missed you!

Written by: on January 24, 2019

To summarize the text, Polanyi writes this alleged classic about the industrialization of Europe leading to the collapse of civilization in the 19th century. The balance of powers failed to prevent a war between the great powers, the gold standard failed to maintain the world economies, the markets failed to self-regulate, and liberal states became internally conflicted. Polanyi shows that when economies are controlled objectively, without due concern for the welfare of all, they end up favoring the wealthy and ignoring the poor.[1]

In my limited view of macroeconomics, this is a global view of both historic and burgeoning economic and political undercurrents in the view of the writer. My one mandatory macroeconomics course in my MBA program (1979-1982) only taught me that I seem to have little interest in macroeconomic theory and alleged practices. I find this topic, in general, to be highly subjective and difficult to comprehend much less understand. Perhaps most poignantly, I see little practical application or more importantly, resolution of real problems for real people. So obviously, our assigned source for this week would not be a part of my research relative to adaptive leadership development in the local church.

The only item I remember from my one macroeconomics course was when the professor startled us in our first class by illustrating the amount of money spent on US welfare programs annually divided indiscriminately on a per capita basis across the US population. While I forgot his original quote, I looked up the numbers for 1980. While the US population was 226.5 million, some $226.6 billion were spent on the social welfare programs. If the US government gave this to each in the form of income, this computes to a per capita annual income of $1,013, or some $4,100 for a family of four when at that time the family of four poverty threshold was $7,450.[2] I have no idea why this startled me or why I still remember this illustration, but this is my only memory of my one exposure to a masters level macroeconomics course. Again, curious but not particularly helpful in answering rampant questions of methodology or resolving issues of systemic poverty.

Confessing my lack of macroeconomic or political curiosity, I must say I am troubled by the writer’ statement, “Robert Owen was the first to recognize that the Gospels ignored the reality of society. Owen recognized that the freedom we gained through the teachings of Jesus was inapplicable to a complex society.”[3] I have no idea what Polanyi was trying to accomplish by referring to Owen’s alleged realizations. For some reason this quote made me reflect upon our visit to Linklater’s law firm in Hong Kong. I recall how our presenter remarked how his Christian faith compelled him to leave Hong Kong in a better place through his exemplary legal work. I believe Tim Keller and others who are far more articulate than I would refute Polanyi calmly yet vigorously and declare that the teachings of Jesus have and will always apply to every human complex society.

[1] Amazon Prime Customer Review of Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, by Jerry Woolpy February 13, 2015

[2] Social Security Bulletin, August 1983/Vol. 46, No. 8, 9.

[3] Polanyi, Karl, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2001) 268.

About the Author

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Harry Fritzenschaft

Harry is the Coordinator of Coaching for Multiply Vineyard (the church planting resource arm for Vineyard USA) and part-time pastor of business administration for the Vineyard Church of Houston. He is a certified coach with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and is pursuing a DMin in Leadership and Global Perspective with a focus on internal coaching networks. Harry has been married to Gloria for almost forty-two years and has two grown children; Michelle, who is married to Brandon and has two sons (Caleb and Judah), and Mark, who is engaged to Cannus. He loves making new friends (living and dead) from different perspectives, watching college football with Mark, and helping global ministry leaders (especially church planters and pastors) accomplish their goals in fulfilling their call. He especially loves learning about and nurturing internal coaching networks.