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Let God’s creation flourish

26 September 2007

But globalisation is not the way to do it, says John Madeley

Justice in a Global Economy: Strategies for home, community, and world Pamela K. Brubaker, Rebecca Todd Peters, Laura A. Stivers, editors

Westminster John Knox Press £10.99 (978-0-664-22955-9)
Church Times Bookshop £9.90

reviewed with

Grace and Global Justice: The socio-political mission of the Church in an age of globalization
Richard Gibb

Paternoster Press £19.99 (978-1-84227-459-0)
Church Times Bookshop £18

THE EDITORS of Justice in a Global Economy seek to challenge precon-ceived ideas about the inevitability and beneficence of economic globalisation. There is mounting evidence that economic globalisation has led to greater inequality between rich and poor, is causing hardship for the latter, and is detrimental to the environment.

The book considers what people can do to make our economic systems more socially and environmentally just. It offers alternative strategies to the one-size-fits-all approach; to the emphasis on free trade; reduced regulation; privatisation; and cuts in social spending.

The diverse contributors discuss a wide range of alternative strategies — we could use our power as consumers and as citizens of a democracy; could examine where products come from; could support local farms; hold transnational corporations accountable; develop an ethic of solidarity with those who struggle; we could become instruments of God in striving for a more humane world. The goal of any economic and political system, the editors say, should be the flourishing of God’s creation. There is much to be done; and the book is a challenging and encouraging guide.

Grace and what it means for global justice is the core of Richard Gibb’s book, a scholarly work that examines two key theological issues: first, what it means for the Christian community “to conceive of itself as a community defined by the covenant of grace”; second, the implications of this distinctiveness for the Church’s socio-political mission in an age of globalisation.

The political theologies of Moltmann, Hauerwas, and O’Donovan are examined, and Gibb draws on a wide range of other sources. Globalisation must be reshaped, he says. Christians can influence the decision-making process to achieve greater global justice.

The question is how globalisation can be reshaped to work for the poor. For that to happen, the transnational corporations that drive it need to be a great deal more accountable. In an era of scarce energy supplies, and given the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions, it is doubtful whether economic globalisation — flying goods and people around the world on today’s scale — is sustainable.

John Madeley writes about economic and social-development issues.

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