In Search of the Good Life

Rebecca Peters, Continuum, 2004, reviewed by Vern Ratzlaff

        Globalization has a mixed press. One version lauds its success as technology draws the world closer together; another blames globalization for destroying cultures, promoting the dependency of ‘developing’ countries, and decimating the environment. We make decisions that have remarkable ramifications regarding the shape of commerce, labour and culture. What we buy and where we buy it are important ethical choices that affect the pathways that globalization will take in our world (p 3).

        Peters writes from a convinced Christian theological perspective; ’the bible remains a critical foundational resource….a living document to how G-d is calling humanity to live in the face of a changing world’ (p 19), eg what is the telos of human life? (p 25), what constitutes human flourishing? (p 28). The answer? To strive for social justice for the entire earth community! She critiques these perspectives from a reformed feminist liberationist epistemology.

        Peters sketches four theories of globalization: growth (neoclassical economics a la Adam Smith and David Ricardo, self-proclaimed value free; social development, with agencies, institutions and non-governmental organizations holding to common assumptions of how development of the two-thirds world should take place; ‘earthism’, taking earth’s care and redemption seriously; post colonialism, groups and coalitions working to ‘effect transformative social change in their settings’ (p 140). We need to rebuild community, whichever of the models of globalization we commit to.

        This is an insightful treatment of economic options; our values shape and inform our decision making, ‘making sure that we envision a future that offers justice for all of G-d’s creation’ (p 208).

Vern Ratzlaff is a pastor and professor of historical theology at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.