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Good Intentions: Nine Hot-Button Issues Viewed Through the Eyes of Faith [Paperback]

By Charles M. North (Author) & Bob Smietana (Author)
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Item description for Good Intentions: Nine Hot-Button Issues Viewed Through the Eyes of Faith by Charles M. North & Bob Smietana...

By combining a biblical framework with standard economic tools and principles, "Good Intentions" assesses the morality and rightness of choices made every day. Rather than suggesting what readers should think, the authors provide sound economic reasoning coupled with scriptural directives.

Publishers Description

We often struggle to answer the question: What is the right thing to do here?

"Good Intentions" suggests that it is possible to do good in economic matters if we begin with the right assumptions (and begins to ask the right questions):

  • Is greed ever good?
  • How can we give poor kids a million bucks?
  • How did Ben and Jerry get so rich?
  • Is capitalism ruining the environment?
  • Do immigrants take American jobs?

Our actions can produce outcomes that reflect what we value.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Moody Publishers
Pages   214
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.56" Width: 5.56" Height: 0.57"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 2008
Publisher   MOODY PRESS BOOKS #13
ISBN  0802434622  
ISBN13  9780802434623  

Availability  0 units.

More About Charles M. North & Bob Smietana

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! CHARLES M. NORTH" is an associate professor of economics at Baylor University. He previously practiced as an attorney at firms in both Austin and Dallas. An expert in the fields of economics and law, Dr. North is author of "Good Intentions: Nine Hot Button Issues Viewed Through the Eyes of Faith," and has published numerous journal articles, in recent years focusing his research on economics, law, and religion. Dr. North lives with his family in Waco, Texas.
BOB SMIETANA is the religion editor for "The Tennessean" and a correspondent for "Religion News Service." His stories have appeared in national and regional US newspapers, including the "Washington Post, the LA Times," and the "Chicago Tribune," as well as national religious magazines such as "Christianity Today, Christian Century, Sojourners," and "US Catholic." He was one of the first American journalists to interview Graham Taylor and has written about Taylor for "RNS" and "Christianity Today." Bob is the author of "Life: Defining Personhood Under God," and co-author of "Good Intentions." He lives outside of Chicago with his wife, Kathy, and their three children.

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Practical Life > Contemporary Issues
Books > Christian Living > Practical Life > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Good Intentions?

Good Overview with Misleading Subtitle  Apr 16, 2008
Good Intentions is a fine introduction to "nine hot-button issues". It did leave me wanting more substantial arguments and notes of some kind for further exploration. It excelled as the springboard for a recent book club discussion. This may be the book's greatest strength: its surface presentation easily leads to conversation about the finer points of these issues.

My first complaint with the subtitle is that the nine issues are not clearly associated with the chapters. The issues appearing on the cover - gas prices, immigration, family values, environment, minimum wage, education, capitalism, CEO compensation, poverty - do not appear elsewhere! I expect them to be linked to chapters in the table of contents and/or the first page of each chapter.

The book's 10 chapters (after the introductory two) do not correspond neatly to the 9 issues. Not only do the numbers differ; there is also substantial overlap of the issues themselves (poverty relates to minimum wage and capitalism) as well as overlap in the more situation specific chapter titles (ch. 9 Are Immigrants Taking All of Our Jobs? involves capitalism and family values in addition to the obvious issue of immigration).

My chief complaint, however, deals with the final part of the subtitle referring to the nine hot-button issues "viewed through the eyes of faith". Most of the text was filled with introductory material and anecdotal evidence. It made for an easy and fast read while it left me wanting to know more about the complexities in every chapter. Points and counterpoints were presented both about the issues themselves as well as when viewed through a Christian lens. Unfortunately, the text does not make good on the subtitle's claim when it repeatedly leaves only the final few pages of a chapter to the perspective from the eyes of faith.
Thoughtful Engaging Book of Faith and Economic Issues  Feb 29, 2008
Is greed ever good? Is Bono right? Is Wal-Mart evil? Does globalization exploit the poor? Are immigrants taking our jobs? Is capitalism ruining the environment? Charles North and Bob Smietana take on these and other questions in this book. North is an associate professor of economics at Baylor University and Smietana is a correspondent for Religion News Service.

The book opens with stories about the corporate histories of Krispy Kreme Donuts and VeggieTales, highlighting how people with great ideas and good intentions failed to adequately anticipate the economic consequences of their actions. The authors write:

Why aren't good intentions enough? Because we live in a world of scarcity, a world where we can't get everything we want for free. (16)

North and Smietana believe all material goods, including food, are God's provision for all humankind. The goal of Christian economics is to figure out how to get goods into the hands of as many people as possible. That isn't easy but they see this as a guiding biblical principle that is joined by other principles.

* Everyone deserves a fair shake.
* Everyone works.
* God wants people to prosper - to able to make a living.
* Some people, for a number of reasons, will fall behind and lose the means to make a living.
* God wants those people to be restored so they have access to the means to make a living. (20-21)

With that said, the opening chapter highlights how European employment protection laws, enacted by well intentioned people, have had significant negative consequences for society. I particularly loved this passage:

"Good intentions do not assure good results, and they can at times lead to policies with perverse unintended consequences. As in the rest of life, the road to economic hell is often paved with good intentions."

"In his book, 'The Screwtape Letters', C. S. Lewis's imaginary senior devil gives his nephew advice on how to confuse human beings and lead them to making poor choices."

"'The Enemy loves platitudes,' Screwtape writes. 'Of a proposed course of action He wants men, so far as I can see to ask very simple questions; is it righteous? is it prudent? is it possible? Now if we can keep men asking `Is it in accordance with the general movement of our time? Is it progressive or reactionary? Is this the way that History is going?' they will neglect the relevant questions.'" (24)

With that introduction, North and Smietana launch into the questions I listed at the beginning.

One of the themes that pervades the book is the centrality of human capital. Human capital is not only about having the physical wherewithal to function on a daily basis but having the intangible skills, abilities, and spiritual resources that allow a person to be a creative and productive member of society. For many years I've believed the nurturance of human capital should be the focal point of societal transformation and the authors do I fine job illustrating the importance of this throughout the book.

This book is a real gem. It gives a balanced and nuanced exploration of some hot-button issues written in non-polemic easily accessible style. I think this book would work very well for a discussion group and there are resources for just such a thing at the Good Intentions website. I highly recommend this book.
Great Book  Feb 18, 2008
I think this is a 5 start book. The authors do an excellent job with the issues. I would highly recomend this book.

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