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PLNU News

30
Mar

 

 

Contribution for a guest commentary series entitled “Radical Economics.”

by Lynn Reaser

Chief Economist of Fermanian Business and Economic Institute

 

Americans over the past 25 years have accumulated large amounts of debt, with many taking on burdens they could not sustain. The developments surrounding the recent financial crisis have a number of important lessons and implications, especially for Christians.

During the 1960s, 1970s, and first half of the 1980s, the total debt of American households (including credit cards, auto loans, student loans, mortgages, and other debt obligations) held steady at around 60% of gross disposable (after-tax) income. Debt-income ratios then started to rise and in fact doubled over the next two decades. In 2007, at the peak of the home-buying boom, household debt was equal to 126% of income.

Christian principles demand that households only take on debt they can manage. Many blame unscrupulous lenders in driving individuals to take out larger mortgages than they could afford. No doubt there were large abuses and lenders should have realized their ethical responsibilities demanded as a core of Christian principles. Adherence to Christian values also requires, however, that individuals take responsibility for their own actions. It is critical that we only take on obligations that we can honor. This also means that we must make allowance for the misfortunes that may befall us, including job loss, illness, or family emergencies. These are tests that God will give us all and we must be able to respond.

Christian values include self reliance. The recent financial crisis has pushed the government to the forefront with various programs to help homebuyers keep their homes. Lenders have been encouraged to write down the value of mortgages or make other concessions. This process has raised serious equity issues. Homebuyers who had saved to make larger down-payments and continue to make their mortgage payments on a timely basis have received no such support.

Christian standards imply that individuals honor their obligations. One of the most egregious practices recently seen involves the "strategic default". Many people bought homes with the expectation of rapid increases in prices and "easy" gains in their wealth. Now, with home prices in many cases below the value of their mortgages, they are choosing to walk away from their loans. This is clearly an abrogation of the responsible behavior demanded of all Christians.

In summary, Christianity certainly means that we can invest in our education, our homes, and in ways to improve the lives of our families and communities, but it also means that we assume only debt that we can manage in a responsible way.

 

 

To provide the PLNU community a wide variety of perspectives and experiences on economics, the CJR and the FBEI have coordinated a series of students, alums, and professors to share their ideas on a variety of topics, most of which can be found in the PLNU Weekly, the school newspaper. PLNU, the Center for Justice and Reconciliation (CJR) and the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute (FBEI) value different viewpoints on important topics, and therefore we have also posted the articles here in the News Section (to the right). The opinions expressed in these articles, as well as those of Ched Myer, are those of their individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of PLNU, the CJR or the FBEI.

 

 

Fermanian Business & Economic Institute
29
Mar

by Randy Ataide

Executive Director of Fermanian Business and Economic Institute


All of us have seen the humorous Capitol One commercials with the burly Vikings asking the catchy question “What’s in your wallet?” In the next few months, PLNU’s community will have multiple opportunities to enter into not only the “what” of our wallets, but also the why, how, where and when of them.

In April, PLNU’s Center for Justice and Reconciliation will be hosting Ched Meyers, a biblical scholar and popular educator. Meyers is a noted author, organizer and advocate who for 30 years has challenged and encouraged Christians to engage in peace and justice work and radical discipleship. At chapel and at Brewed Awakening, Meyers will interact with the PLNU community about his vision of compassion, equity and justice. Meyers’s writing and language are freely sprinkled with terms such as radical economics, ecojustice, jubilee and other phrases, all of which are concepts and recommendations that are uncommon to most conversations on economics.

But are Meyers’s views on economics correct? While I am not presently drawing any personal conclusions on his views, I must admit that I often wince when I hear church leaders, pastors and theologians speak on business and economic issues. While they may properly identify an unjust situation, I think that they frequently show little understanding of practical economic realities, especially when it comes to the operations of businesses and the decision-making processes that we use. All too often, sharp lines are drawn as if Christians engaged in business are not “fully” Christians, and that such efforts and endeavors are far apart from “God’s work.”

In the book “Church on Sunday, Work on Monday,” Laura Nash of Harvard Business School and Scotty McLennan, dean of religious life at Stanford University, suggest that business and economics are not as simple as religious leaders tend to think they are. Capitalism is frequently reduced to a monolithic concept labeled as “the market,” which inevitably exploits all participants except the most powerful. In my own experience, misconceptions about the marketplace create hurtful and inaccurate stereotypes that portray even Christian businesspeople as uncaring, unthinking, exploitative and unengaged. Events of the past few years that led to a global economic crisis certainly do need examination and critique, but we should work toward a richer and more accurate view of business and economics than is often portrayed – one comprising numerous relationships and actions, full of nuances and complexities.

Spurred on by this opportunity for the PLNU community to engage with Meyers, other PLNU voices will attempt to expand upon Meyers’s message. This encompasses a desire to have a deeper dialogue on the important issues of personal and communal economic decisions. Jamie Gates and I will appear in a follow-up chapel to discuss radical and jubilee economics, and faculty members of the department of sociology and the Fermanian School of Business will engage in a series of articles to appear preceding Meyers’s time at PLNU in April. There will likely be diverse opinions expressed on these issues, providing for interesting reading, but more importantly providing time for personal and communal time of study, reflection, prayer and action.

Many of us are looking forward to participating in a vigorous yet temperate and gracious dialogue with Meyers, and sincerely believe that this is an important topic for all of us at PLNU.

 

To provide the PLNU community a wide variety of perspectives and experiences on economics, the CJR and the FBEI have coordinated a series of students, alums, and professors to share their ideas on a variety of topics, most of which can be found in the PLNU Weekly, the school newspaper. PLNU, the Center for Justice and Reconciliation (CJR) and the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute (FBEI) value different viewpoints on important topics, and therefore we have also posted the articles here in the News Section (to the right). The opinions expressed in these articles, as well as those of Ched Myer, are those of their individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of PLNU, the CJR or the FBEI.

 

Fermanian Business & Economic Institute
29
Mar

Contribution for a guest commentary series entitled “Radical Economics.”

by Craig Van Hulzen

President PLNU Foundation Board, PLNU Alum (1994)

An appropriate interest rate on a loan is more complex question than often supposed. The immediate reaction to this question might conjure up negative thoughts of usury (exorbitant) or positive thoughts on brotherly love and kindness, both suggesting a Christian might be willing to accept a lower rate of interest than a “typical” lender.

Risk analysis has two critical components: identified known risk plus an allowance for the collective unknown, and both have to be considered. Known risk could include the specific reason the money is being lent (a house, location, the borrower’s capacity to pay, etc.) while the unknown is obviously more speculative (economic downturn, a house fire, illness, etc.) But the rate should also factor in opportunity cost.  For a PLNU student, choosing to go to college is an opportunity cost when you could be working full time. The economic benefit difference should be factored into the final decision.

Adding in the “Christian” qualifier further complicates the question.  Stewardship would demand that an investment seek to earn a rate commensurate with the risk of loss, yet do so in a dignified and fair method. But the Christian has even a further dilemma.  Is there a further “kingdom” opportunity cost? 

For those who urge lending between Christians at a rate below “market” (to another Christian) the risk exists (and often manifests itself) by the creation of “sour grapes” within the church. What should be said or not said among the parties and community when a Christian defaults on a loan to another Christian? Is forgiveness of debts always the solution? What of the issue of personal responsibility? Is it possible that an unintended negative “church” factor is born from lending at “below market” rates to other Christians? Nor are these decisions free to be made apart from outside forces,  for there have been more than a few problems in the Christian community when beneficiaries (churches, pastors, denominations, etc) commingle  investment responsibilities (endowment, fund, gift pool, etc) with well-intended actions benefitting fellow believers. Prevailing laws provide clear standards of fiduciary duty in these cases, regardless of Christian intent.

Likewise, lending to a non-believer might suggest an eternal opportunity cost for a believer for the funds could have been given to the church or to a Christian instead. But should we view loans from Christians to non-Christians as a potential means to open doors for conversations of talking with them about Jesus? As to the source of money, should it be lent if it is “leveraged” or borrowed money from another source? Each door in this analysis seems to open another door for consideration.

It seems to me that there is no “one size fits all” answer to what are appropriate terms for Christians to loan money, both to other Christians and to non-Christians. It may well be that this tension is the result of our cognitive dissonance, or the burden of holding several conflicting ideas simultaneously. While we may want to reduce a complex situation to simple platitudes, it may be that in risk analysis we cannot do so. Yet clearly the degree to which these practices conflicts or aligns with the lender’s moral code is of critical importance to the analysis.

 

 

To provide the PLNU community a wide variety of perspectives and experiences on economics, the CJR and the FBEI have coordinated a series of students, alums, and professors to share their ideas on a variety of topics, most of which can be found in the PLNU Weekly, the school newspaper. PLNU, the Center for Justice and Reconciliation (CJR) and the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute (FBEI) value different viewpoints on important topics, and therefore we have also posted the articles here in the News Section (to the right). The opinions expressed in these articles, as well as those of Ched Myer, are those of their individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of PLNU, the CJR or the FBEI.

Fermanian Business & Economic Institute
29
Mar

Contribution for a guest commentary series entitled “Radical Economics.”

by Mark Undesser

PLNU MBA Student


Answer: Accountability and vocation is a significant topic, one made even more complicated by the current economic crisis. The tendency to compartmentalize and prioritize vocations, with some as “godly” (pastors, physicians, etc.) while others are “ungodly” (business, politics, etc.), and others perhaps “neutral” (farming), is in error. In Ruth 2:16, Boaz instructed his harvesters to pull out extra bundles of grain and leave them on the ground for Ruth, but while G_d made extra provision for her the entire crop was not given away to feed the poor. Why? To do so would be ridiculous.  If Boaz’s lands became unprofitable then all would starve.

Similarly, in ancient Israel landowners were forbidden to pick their fields clean (Lev. 19:9-10; 23:22), allowing for the practice of gleaning.  The principle of vocations working together to serve all is the higher principle, not that some are godly and others are not. In Leviticus 5:7&11, G_D makes provision for the acceptable sacrifice of the poor.  If someone could not afford a lamb or a goat, they could sacrifice turtledoves, pigeons or flour.  Hence, G_D made provision for the poor to survive physically and spiritually.

 Why are these ancient principles important to the PLNU community? Several things stand out. First, there must be a harmonious balance between provision of our resources and self-sustainability.  This is not just the task of formal leaders, but rather all are accountable to love G_D, to love each other and to help guide the hearts and minds of all people towards G_D, just as He provides for us.  The occupations we choose and the businesses we run must be ethical and we should contribute to society in a positive way. But we are a body, and room must be made for a diversity of talents, occupations and gifts.

Second, everything (including how we make a living) belongs to G_D and is on loan to us.  We are to steward our talents in a way that produces fruit (Matt 25:14-28). My calling may be in starting businesses that focus on social impact issues like hunger or protection for battered women. For me, this is how I try to make myself accountable in making a living. I believe I can be a far more effective Christian in service through these means.

Third, it does not matter if you own a company or work for one, as we can adapt or influence their employers, products and fellow employees for the common good. This is every bit as vital a ministry as more “formal” service, and as a PLNU MBA student, I want to have my studies and vocation to be a blessing to G_D.

 

 

To provide the PLNU community a wide variety of perspectives and experiences on economics, the CJR and the FBEI have coordinated a series of students, alums, and professors to share their ideas on a variety of topics, most of which can be found in the PLNU Weekly, the school newspaper. PLNU, the Center for Justice and Reconciliation (CJR) and the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute (FBEI) value different viewpoints on important topics, and therefore we have also posted the articles here in the News Section (to the right). The opinions expressed in these articles, as well as those of Ched Myer, are those of their individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of PLNU, the CJR or the FBEI.

Fermanian Business & Economic Institute
29
Mar

Contribution for a guest commentary series entitled “Radical Economics.”

by Mary Conklin

Professor of Sociology

I do not have a magic formula for determining the level of acceptable debt.  I do not evaluate my life in terms of the things I own (Luke 12:15), but how I live, including stewardship of the things I have been given.  Accordingly, I subscribe to the concept of living simply–I live comfortably, but not lavishly.  Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by Ron Sider prompted me to rethink my attitudes about buying things just because I had the money.  I have become a more careful, thoughtful, and restrained consumer.  I acquire what I need, plus a few wants.  My informal guidelines is never to owe more than I can easily pay off.  I think wise investments, like the purchase of a home, are worth the accompanying levels of indebtedness, as long as one’s financial future is not jeopardized by the size of the debt.  These principles determine what I consider acceptable levels of indebtedness.

The other side of this issue is being debt free or what can I do with money not needed to pay debts.  In the parable of the widow giving her mite, we are reminded that the Lord’s concern is about how much we keep, not the total of what we give.  If our giving corresponds to the widow’s, enough money is given to enable the church to care for the poor and finance missions in a significant way.  The Lord reminds us that we are to care for the poor as if they were us.

Debt also brings us to the issue of interest.  I have only loaned money to friends and charged no interest.  Just as I have been given resources, I want to distribute the resources to others.  Charging interest would not be consistent with the desire to help others.  The Old Testament practice of Jubilee where debts were cancelled every 50 years and the land returned to its original owner is an important principle.  Jubilee is a way to produce economic leveling and in so doing, care for the poor.

 

 

To provide the PLNU community a wide variety of perspectives and experiences on economics, the CJR and the FBEI have coordinated a series of students, alums, and professors to share their ideas on a variety of topics, most of which can be found in the PLNU Weekly, the school newspaper. PLNU, the Center for Justice and Reconciliation (CJR) and the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute (FBEI) value different viewpoints on important topics, and therefore we have also posted the articles here in the News Section (to the right). The opinions expressed in these articles, as well as those of Ched Myer, are those of their individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of PLNU, the CJR or the FBEI.

Fermanian Business & Economic Institute
28
Mar

PRESS RELEASE

Point Loma Nazarene University

Contact: Nicholle Jaramillo

Point TV: Channel 23 Marketing & Promotions Mgr.

Advisor: Alan Hueth (619) 849-2358

Date: March 26, 2011

Written by: Nicholle Jaramillo

 

 

Student-Produced Documentary Gets National Recognition

 

            Rip, Shred, Tear.  To some, these three words may sound like a papier-mâché project.  For one PLNU junior, though, these three words have evolved into a project that has received global recognition.  Madison Dyer, a film studies major, spent his summer working on a 30-minute surf documentary, Rip Shred Tear,  in conjunction with San Diego’s Captain Fin Surf Company and Hurley. 

            A standard surf movie takes about a year to film.  Dyer and his crew took a different approach by completing all filming in a two-month period.

            “I started shooting in May and we had it all wrapped up by August,” said Dyer. “The whole point of it was to showcase surfing and the long board alternative community in that summer.”

            Dyer was in charge of shooting and editing the film.  Although he had some creative input, the concept alone came from Mitch Abshere, Captain Fin Surf Company owner.  With over 20 hours of footage, a lot of behind the scenes work had to be done to complete a successful project.

            “It was a really good learning experience—especially for the other side of shooting,” said Dyer.  “The scheduling and contacting people was the part I haven’t dealt with, so it was a really good experience.”

            The film has had its premieres across the globe, most notably three in Japan with distribution by Hurley.  With a country geared towards surfing and ‘60s culture, most surfing companies have a Japan branch. 

            Although Dyer spent his summer in the realm of surfing, he has turned his interests toward the more sophisticated side of film in marketing.  As a PLNU marketing intern, Dyer has been responsible for making mini documentaries and commercials that focus on alumni profiles, departmental profiles, professors, business events and even television commercials.

            “Ideally, the stuff I am interested is mostly short stuff, commercials, music videos,” said Dyer.  “I’ve made a few connections with people in  the commercial world, and hope I can try to get away from surfing and get to a strictly professional marketing base.”

            As for personal side projects, Dyer has a couple in the works.  After a successful completion of last year’s short film, Rungs, which won best film at PLNU’s film festival, Dyer is embarking on another short adventure.  The film is being produced in one of the film production courses, and focuses on a guy who secretly cheats on his girlfriend and accidentally sends a text that might get him in trouble.  In an attempt to save himself, he tries to erase the text message while a close friend documents the whole process.  In addition to this, he will also be working with Captain Fin Surf Company on another surf project that will be pitched to Fuel TV.

            It is evident that Dyer possesses the drive and talent to be successful.  Although he has already gained some notoriety for his work, he says that his ethic has started with class projects.  They have inspired him to produce quality work and continue to drive him to expand his mind creatively.    

            “Having professors and peers that have pushed you to do stuff out of your comfort zone--as repetitive as a lot of school projects can get--really pushes you to work under a deadline and learn the whole process,” said Dyer.  “Really, I have both of those to be thankful for.”

 

For more information regarding Madison Dyer and the projects he is involved in, please contact him at mdyer101@pointloma.edu. 

 

 

 

 

Communications & Theatre