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Key Idea: See Ownership As Your Calling

Michael Novak says that Christians and Jews believe it is their duty to improve the human condition.  This is Albert Black, owner of On Target Supplies and Logistics.  He told us that creating jobs is, "God's work." A devout Christian, Albert feels called by God to be a business owner.  He feels God has given him the ability to help people develop themselves so he has built a business where employees are learning and therefore earning.     Homepage

Key Question:

A: 

Many business owners depend upon their faith.

Has the US become so politically correct that even the theologians won't speak about what Michael Novak is saying here? Is this view of God -- being separate from this earth -- specific to Jews and Christians; and, if it is, does it change the way they behave in the world? Does it change their thinking?
Perhaps the best way to answer the question is to look at those among us who are not religious. There are statistical measurements here. In the USA those people who are generally considered the elites are less religious in thinking and in practice than are small business owners. Novak says that only members of the military and professional athletes are more religious than business owners. Those of us who have started a business and run one today may think everyone in the country thinks like we do, but it just isn't so. While our children are in college listening to professors who are often not people of faith, we are running our businesses every day and praying that God will bless us.

Elites -- most often among the academics, the celebrities, and the journalists -- don't seem to need God. They've met with some success. They have money. They have a good paycheck. They are educated and can use reason to make decisions. Many of us who started something from nothing are emboldened by the belief that God will direct and provide during the struggle.

If you grow up reading the Bible and trying to follow its teachings, you are obligated to try to make things better. There is a scripture that says, "To those of us who have been given much, much is required." Within the community of faith, this means if you have talent, ideas and energy, you are supposed to do something with it to help others. In that effort, new products have been invented, buildings and bridges were built and the "West Was Won."

Also, going back to the discussion of very nature of God, Jews and Christians do not think that blasting a hole through a mountain to build a road is an act that defames God. There are religions which take the view that God resides in all of nature. Jews and Christians believe as Novak said, that we are called to be "co-creators with God" and that God gives us the ability to think of new ways to solve problems. If people need to get from one side of the mountain to the other, we think, let's build a road. We don't think, well, we'll just have to do without going to the other side of the mountain.

An agnostic himself, Stephen Ambrose wrote in his book, Nothing Like It in the World, about the strong faith held by the entrepreneurs who saw in their mind's eye a railroad crossing this country. These men put their hard-earned money and their lives on the line to make it happen. Ambrose quoted an American engineer as saying, "Where a mule can go, I can make a locomotive go." Ambrose concluded that the project was too hard and too scary to do without the leaders' belief that God was with them.

Think about it

 What  would you do if you felt God had called you to do it?  What would you do if you felt that the universal source of power was on your side?

Clip from: Capitalism: Path to Prosperity

Washington, DC:   What are the essential foundations of life, liberty, freedom, and human rights?   The USA as a working experiment is a good model to study.  Here we can study the earliest documents and concepts and see how these also became the foundations for American capitalism.  Within this structure, we can see how just about any family can get on a path to economic independence.

Meet Michael Novak, a man whose life study is of the foundations of government systems that work. And here he discovered small business has the heart and spirit that sustains and nurtures democratic capitalism.   Michael Novak strikes deep into the heart of public debate about what works and what doesn't work within economic systems, and he says that small business owners are demonstrators. They're on the front lines, risking and fighting the good fight every day. Small business owners take lofty principles and reduce them to nitty-gritty practice.

As a people, the debate about capitalism should no longer be the domain of economists. We all need to grapple with the first principles of ethics, economics, and government. Virtually overnight globalization is a reality and belief systems are butting against one another, often shredding civility and undermining any inherent ethics and morality.

Each of us needs to engage in the historic debate about economic models. What works? What is good for people? Is this singular focus on "Return to Shareholders" a truncation of capitalism? Do we need to be looking at a more balanced model that includes more than the growth of the bottom line?

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American Enterprise Institute

Michael Novak, Author

1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W.
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See Ownership As Your Calling

HATTIE:  You said, "Jews and Christians are central to capitalism." It is one of my questions because you said that, "...it's the religious task of Jews and Christians to change the world as well as to purify their own hearts."

MICHAEL: Correct. Correct, and I've been reinforced on this even the last couple of years. The end of '90's a wonderful book was produced by Professor David Landes who's an economic historian (Editor's note: Landes had been Harvard's Coolidge Professor of History and Professor of Economics, now Emeritus, and he is the author of The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor).

Look, I'm just a poor theologian, I'm not a historian or an economist. But he (Landes) wants to find out why economic development went so far in Europe and America when in some ways it started earlier in China and China developed up to a point and then stopped. And so with other countries. He compares cultures. Why, and he discovers it's -- he's not a religious person he says -- but he discovered it's religious as much as anything. That the biblical messages, that God is not part of the earth, that God is separate from the earth is important because then you don't treat the earth as sort of God's body. But you realize that God wants you to do things.

And secondly there's a notion of Judaism and Christianity that there's progress and decline and it's the vocation of Jews and Christians to build up the Kingdom of God. To be ready for the coming of the Messiah, for Jews. And for Christians, believing that the Messiah has come to make ready for the second coming and to make a world of greater justice and love and truth to the best of our ability.

HATTIE: Which requires action and doing --

MICHAEL: Exactly.

HATTIE: -- and getting up every day and trying.

MICHAEL: And millions of people doing that. Millions of people getting up every day and trying to change the world, at least a little bit in their little part. That's not universal among religions, but you do find it wherever there are Jews and Christians.

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