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Earthly stories

Our Sunday School class has been studying the parables found in Luke’s gospel using Eugene Peterson’s Tell it Slant. I find myself musing on the challenges these parables present from a variety of different angles. I’ll come back to the question of “Who is our neighbor?” another time. Right now, I’m pondering on the basic definition of the parable and their use as a teaching device by Jesus. The standard definition is “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.” Presumably they were told to get us thinking about earthly stuff. Many of them have an economic twist to them, which suggests that Jesus wanted his listeners to ponder on how faith impacts economics. And that got me to my great disappointment in life namely the lack of conversation between theologians and economists. I’m not suggesting that theologians have answers, but I do think that they might ask some good questions — and I suspect that economists good put some good questions to the theologians in turn. Put it another way, economics — for me at least — involves more than mathematical equation; it involves people and social arrangements between people. Those social arrangements involve ethical questions, questions of what’s right and what’s wrong. And, in my book, those sorts of questions flow out of my faith. Why should we care for the poor is not a technical question. It is a moral question. It is a faith question. I think.

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