Arnold Kling  

Movie Review

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I review "Call of the Entrepreneur."


I can imagine "The Call of the Entrepreneur" being shown to people in other countries. It has already been viewed by a large preview audience in Africa. I would like to see it translated into Arabic and shown in the Middle East. But it has very little chance of being shown in public high schools in America. It is far too explicit. "Call of the Entrepreneur" features the Reverend Robert A. Sirico, including a full-frontal shot of his clerical collar. As producer Jay W. Richards points out, the movie uses "the G word."

I went to a screening the other night in order to see what those involved in making the movie had to say about it. They see it as something to show in business schools. I see it as something that should be shown in sociology departments. I would rather try to convert the heathen than preach to the choir.

I think that the movie's strength is that it confronts directly the biases people have against successful capitalists, Wall Street, and finance. It conducts this confrontation from a Christian perspective, which makes me agnostic as to how well the movie will succeed. Some people may take the religious orientation as a signal that the movie's producers are serious about addressing ethical issues. Others may be suspicious of a religious "agenda."

The best after-showing question from the audience was, "What about usury?" Richards said that the proscription against lending at interest was originally developed to address people taking advantage of the desperation of others. If your neighbor needs money for survival, then lending at interest rather than offering charity is a sin. However, he argued that over the years Christian doctrine has evolved to understand the productive role of capital. Therefore, lending money at interest for investment, or for buying a home or a car, is not a sin at all.


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TRACKBACKS (3 to date)
TrackBack URL: http://econlog.econlib.org/mt/mt-tb.cgi/737
The author at Acton Institute PowerBlog in a related article titled 'A Threat to Tyranny Everywhere' writes:
    Arnold Kling had the opportunity to screen The Call of the Entrepreneur and published his reactions to it on Tech Central Station. In this rave review Mr. Kling, in the first paragraph, calls The Call both the “most subversive film” he has ev [Tracked on July 20, 2007 10:36 AM]
COMMENTS (7 to date)
Bruce G Charlton writes:

"from a Christian perspective"

This seems fine to me. If you are going to tackle moral prejudices, it seems sensible to recognize the plural, and to produce a variety of responses - tailored to the individual religious and other traditions.

Now - we need a movie tackling the moral prejudices against capitalism of people who were (like me) brought up as socialists.

IMHO the basis of the socialist prejudice against capitalism is the equation between helping the poor and redistribution, ie. between ethical behaviour and (socialist) economics.

If that link can be broken, which it can - with evidence and explicit (not covert) argument - then useful work can be done.

Mr. Econotarian writes:

While we definately need pro-free-market messages for non-Christians, I'm actually very scared of the new anti-capitalist movements within Christian evangelicalism (ranging from protectionism, anti-immigration, and even Christian environmental extremism).

Church and God are powerful organizing forces (probably why they evolved in humans in the first place...)

TDL writes:

I wouldn't go as far as saying that business schools are the equivalent of a capitalist choir. There are many socialists now teaching in these schools and they are preaching an anti-free market message. This was, to a degree, my experience in some of my MBA classes.

Regards,
TDL

Matt writes:

What perspective is there besides Christian that can credibly bridge the gap?

Ben Rast writes:

I agree with TDL. Business school is more about acquiring technical skills than ethical theory. When b-schools do teach ethics, it often comes from someone with an anti-business point of view.

Fundamentalist writes:

The video may be aimed at the growing number of socialist Christians. It is alarming!

chris writes:

Not to bore you with Christian theology, but if you are interested:
In the Old Testament, the law can be broken down into two main categories: moral law and symbolic law. The moral law is based on eternal truths. It is never right to rape a child. It does not depend on culture, time, location, or situation. The moral law is absolute.
The symbolic law, on the other hand, was God's way of setting apart his chosen people. They could not wear mixed fabrics. The single fabric symbolized purity. It is not immoral to mix fabrics. Likewise, it is not immoral to eat pigs. The symbolic law was only that, symbolic, meant to set apart God's people.
This was done away in Romans 9 after God finally rejected Israel when they rejected Christ after his death and resurrection. But that is a different story. The point is, symbolic law was never meant for everyone and is not in effect today.
A really good way to figure out the difference between symbolic law and moral law is to see if the law applied to those who were not Israel:

"19 " You shall not charge interest to your brother -- interest on money or food or anything that is lent out at interest.
20 "To a foreigner you may charge interest, but to your brother you shall not charge interest, that the LORD your God may bless you in all to which you set your hand in the land which you are entering to possess. (Deuteronomy 23:19,20)"

Long story short: It is not immoral to charge interest. It never has been and never will be. Hope that helps. I love reading your work.

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