Thursday, March 05, 2009


David Rockett left a comment on the last post which begins:
Well, here we go again -- people presuming to critique something they've not bothered to read, much less study carefully, or charitable.
Criticism is sometimes hard to take, but is very often quite helpful. David's comment shows I've not been clear, so I want to try to be so.

My intention is not to critique so much as to inquire. I was not reviewing E. F. Schumacher's book, "Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered."

David Rockett goes on to offer constructive comments. He avers that the essay on Buddhist economics in the book was "a foil, tongue-in-cheek baiting you to read what's essentially a Christian view." That might be. After the death of his first wife Schumacher became a Roman Catholic. As for further evidence for David's point, the quote from the video I linked to in the last post where he says "I might have called it Christian economics, but then nobody would have read it" seems tongue in cheek. My own opinion is that the essay is something more than "tongue in cheek." Schumacher in his work with the Coal Board in India was quite interested in Gandhian economics. According to the article in Wikipedia he first coined the term Buddhist economics while in Burma working for the UN in 1955. The plain reading of the essay shows a genuine concern for a Buddhist perspective.

Here's something I want to be clear about: E. F. Schumacher is not the be all and end all of Buddhist economics. Buddhist economics is a school of economics with adherents all over. There are many experts on the subject; I am not one. I want to know more about Buddhist economics. The E.F. Schumacher essay Buddhist Economics provides a quick and enjoyable general introduction to the subject. But there are plenty more resources to search for. Joel Magnuson's recent book Mindful Economics has been positively reviewed at a number of sites. I haven't read the book, but know that Magnuson is an American academic whose views are in the Buddhist economics camp. There are several post on Buddhist economics at 10 out of 10 blog. That link is to "Buddhist Economy in Practice" and if you like that one use the search box to discover more.

The E. F. Schumacher Society also has many interesting pages about Schumacher, including the biography of Schumacher written by his daughter Barbara Wood. There's a veritable cornucopia of interesting links there.

Anyhow, I did not mean to be uncharitable about E. F. Schumacher and don't see how I was. Nor did I mean to suggest I'm an expert on Buddhist economics. I'm no expert on economics, Buddhism, heck I'm no expert.

I have a friend who is expert on Buddhist economics. Quite likely she'll attend the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions in Melbourne Australia later this year where she'll talk about Buddhist economics. I'm really jazzed about that prospect.

Daisy's Dead Air is one of my favorite reads. I consider her a friend, even if all that consists of is back and forth on her blog. She is an outspoken Christian. Most of my good friends are religious people. I don't take religion lightly, nor am I hostile to it. I have stated on this blog that I don't believe in God, and I have little interest in converting people to my outlook. I certainly don't want to offend people I have great affection for. Part of why I love Daisy's Dead Air so much is because Daisy likes ideas, even ones that don't comport well with her own.

It's a great pleasure that on the Internet we can be introduced to important knowledge and engage in conversations. These conversations often involve expert and non-experts and across various points of view. I'm quite imperfect and putting stuff up online makes that abundantly clear. I'm also sincere. For a variety of reasons I've been thinking about economics and religion lately. Both are subjects people have strong feelings about. All-caps shouting in comments probably goes with the territory with such subjects. I'm of two minds about that. On one hand commenting with sincere passion seems a good thing to me. But on the other hand toleration around religious and irreligious views is important to me.

I may have over reacted by telling David Rockett that if he's going to be ugly in the comments I'll delete the posts. Like I say, this blog doesn't get many hits and there's not a lively discussion forum here anyway. But if there is to be discussion, especially around religion, I would like the comments not to discourage people from expressing their views. The comments at Religious Dispatches seem to hit it about right.

I don't have a clear rule about comments, but broadly speaking those I'd consider deleting are ones which seem to me intended to silence me or others.

Update: I neglected to attribute the photographer. The picture is me and the photograph was taken by David Pohl. David reserves all rights to use of the photo. Photo copyright David Pohl.

1 comment:

DaisyDeadhead said...

You are so sweet... and that hat is just SO YOU!