Krista Tippett has a conversation with Harvey Cox, the Harvard theologian who wrote The Secular City in the mid 1960s and more recently, When Jesus Came to Harvard: Making Moral Choices Today. They discuss many topics, but two comments by Cox struck out to me particularly.
On small-scale activism
Mr Cox: Now, as far as trying to help make the world somewhat better, we have more students involved now in soup kitchens and shelters and in tutoring kids down in the ghetto than we've ever had. They're just out there all over the place and also in various places in the world doing these things on their vacations. But it's kind of small scale. I mean, they want to do things on a small scale where they can see some real difference and have — are pretty skeptical about big scale changes the way, say, the kids in the '60s were when they thought they were really going to change the world.
Ms. Tippett: Right. They were going to change the world. Yeah. These kids are pragmatic aren't they? They…
Mr. Cox: Yes, yes. That's right. And probably smarter and wiser for it.
Ms. Tippett: Yeah.
Mr. Cox: But they're very admirable in many instances. And there is some me-too-ism. There's no doubt about that. But I don't think it's the commanding sentiment of these students at all.
On the illusions of free market capitalism
Ms. Tippett: [...] You talked about these qualities we associate with the market with, of omniscient, omnipresence, and omnipotent.
Mr. Cox: Yeah. Even with its own rituals and its priests and its ceremonies. It's all there.[...] So it suggested to me that people need some kind of a transcended framework of values and meanings or they just can't get on with it. And we've made the market, to my mind, alas, we've made the market really kind of the great adjudicator of all these things. And it's dehumanizing. It's producing, in many people, a kind of anxiety that a consumer society produces. And it can't go on forever. The kind of economy we have is based on infinite expansion. That's what it's about. It's going to expand every year. And we live on a finite planet. So somewhere or another, there's going to be a collision or taking a little costs accounting that has to go on here.
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