Douglas A. Hicks, Money Enough; Everyday Practices for Living Faithfully in the Global Economy (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010), 208pp.
Douglas Hicks is well-positioned by practice and profession to consider the many complexities of a Christian's economic life. He earned his PhD at Harvard studying the interface of economics, religion, and ethics under the tutelage of the Nobel economist Amartya Sen and theologian Ron Thiemann. He has been a Presbyterian pastor and is now a professor at the University of Richmond. The book is slightly mistitled inasmuch as one of its strengths is how Hicks shows that one's economic life is about far more than just money.
After a short preface, Hicks devotes one chapter each to nine everyday economic practices. A consideration of valuing reveals that life cannot be reduced to monetization. Only a theocentric view is anything less than idolatrous. In discerning desires we must take into account how marketers and advertisers manipulate our desires, and how a desire is far different than a need. Providing leads to a discussion of divine providence, which in turn leads to asking how we can speak about providence in a world where a billion people scrape by on a dollar a day (hint: food is available but distributing it equitably is a problem). His treatment of laboring requires thinking about work as both a divine call and a human curse. Other chapters examine recreating, expanding the community, doing justice, and sharing.
Hicks is as comfortable quoting economists Amartya Sen and Adam Smith as theologians John Calvin and Reinhold Niebuhr. In one chapter he's quoting Bono, in another he's critiquing Costco. He knows the opportunities and limitations of the free market as well as the farmer's market. In chapter after chapter he freely shares not only his intellectual knowledge but his personal experiences from both his life in Richmond and in service all around the world. Hicks never oversimplifies complex problems. He knows his Bible well, and also the challenges of applying an ancient text in our modern context. There are many forces at work in our economic life, both personal and structural, and Hicks acknowledges them all — government regulations, free markets, micro-credit, environmental concerns, technology, politics and, let us hope, the life and witness of the Christian gospel.