Years ago, one of the world's richest men, John D. Rockefeller, was asked, "How much money is enough?" He famously answered, "Just a little bit more."

American culture and certainly its economy are built on that principle: you need more than you've got. You need to earn more. You need to spend more to accumulate more and better stuff.

Church leaders recognize the deeper issues here, financial and spiritual. To take financial issues first, experts these days are attributing current economic difficulties to a number of things: bad mortgage lending practices, lack of regulatory oversight, and globalized market structures. Economic conditions are complicated and grim.

I'm reminded of the assessment of Alfred Kahn, Jimmy Carter's outspoken inflation-fighting czar in another financially troubled time, who said, "Anybody who isn't schizophrenic these days just isn't thinking clearly."

As I talked with church leaders about the financial ...

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