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Closing the Gap: A Social Imaginary for the Common Good

Scott Bader-Saye

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Wealth inequality is increasingly recognized as a culprit for stagnant economic demand, political marginalization, civic division, and a lack of social well-being. Solutions, however, have been hard to come by, because the current economic order maintains a veneer of inevitability. The modern social imaginary legitimizes the free market and justifies its inequitable consequences as an unavoidable but temporary byproduct of economic development. This essay seeks to provide a theological response in four parts: first, a challenge to the fairy tale of the self-regulating economy; second, a critique of the anthropological assumptions beneath current economic practice; third, an examination of the nature of ownership and the sin of excess; and fourth, an analysis of value and the good. It concludes with a proposal for alternative policies and practices to strengthen the church’s witness and nurture the common good.

 
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