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Free People

Tricia Gates Brown, Free People: A Christian Response to Global Economics (Wipf & Stock Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 2004).

In this well-written and easy to read (yet remarkably challenging) book, Tricia Gates Brown describes the problem of our current global economic system, describing how it victimizes the poor in the Global South.  Using the concrete images provided by true stories and case studies, she looks at the problem from the perspectives of the Global North, and then the Global South, to give a well-rounded perspective of the problem.  But rather than trying to outline a comprehensive solution, Gates Brown turns us to the New Testament, where she spends two chapters outlining the Biblical notion of economics (which is quite different from our complex system today) and Jesus' teachings about economy and wealth.  She then describes Paul's teachings on the "powers and principalities" and how they influence our institutions and social structures, such as our economy.  The book ends with a series of case studies, families and organizations the author knows personally, and how they have chosen to live in ways that reflect God's economy of grace rather than our global capitalist economy.  While the book overall is concerned with social justice, it very obviously considers sustainable and resilient living to be included in that category.  It is well-researched, and contains a resource section at the back with websites relevant for those inspired to make lifestyle changes; unfortunately, the resources are from 2004, and are almost all American.  The inspiration the book provides is well worth the read, and the ideas it offers as small samples of sustainable living serve to get us thinking.

Reviewed by Jeff Wheeldon

December 2010