In the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s new Religion and Ethics section, renowned American theologian Stanley Hauerwas asks, “Can greed be good?”—a question obviously prompted by the ongoing economic crisis. Hauerwas argues that greed is more than just an (individual) desire to be rich. Instead, it has to be understood in the context of wider economic relations. Greed can appear a virtue only in an economic system that is premised upon unlimited economic growth:
The very fact that we find it hard to conceive of an alternative to limitless economic growth is an indication of our spiritual condition. It is a condition well understood by the monks who thought the desire for honour and power to be an expression of the felt need to control the world around us, so that we might be more godlike.
Creating alternative “goods”—i.e., substituting generosity for greed—requires theological work within a community, whether monastic or the community of the eucharist.
Read all of Hauerwas’ reflection here.