Common Hour Tackles Debt, Faith and Morality

Dr. Thomas James speaks in Lenfest Learning Commons
Photo by Trang Nguyen

On Tuesday, Feb. 21, Dr. Thomas James from Union Presbyterian Seminary presented his speech “Christianity and Consumer Capitalism: Your Debt is Infinity” in Lenfest Learning Commons. At the beginning of his speech, Dr. James brought up three main points: the connection between debt and morality, student debt, and the question of how individuals react to this problem.

In regards to the connection between debt and morality, Dr. James mentioned unequal social relationships, which are relationships between creditors- a person to whom money is owed- and debtors- a person that owes a sum of money. Creditors have the power to make pains and punishments for debtors. Debtors, on the other hand, suffer from obsession of having to work hard and pay off their large amount of debt. In these cases, creditors need to think about morality, an internal feeling of guilt when putting pressure on debtors. In his speech, James stated, “the world needs to follow Christ a good moral figure who represents goodness, virtue and honor.

When discussing student debt, Dr. James stated, “Student debt is a unique kind of debt that is totally different from a car loan or home loan.” Education is one of the important systems that prepare individuals for the work force.

“The relationship between creditors and debtors is also a kind of unequal partnership,” Dr. James continued. “To make the world better, and to follow the advice of God, creditors should not put any pressure on students and their families. They should get money back by providing a good working environment, encouraging workers to have a stable happy family life and getting them ready to produce and work.”

To answer the question of what should be done in order to release debtors’ pressure, Dr. James mentions Christian actions. One of them is to forgive debtors. Besides, creditors also should raise long-term debts instead of short-term debts to reduce pressure of paying big amounts of money for debtors. Furthermore, “Creditors need to use morality when interacting with their debtors.”

To listen to more speeches about society and education, come to the Common Hour every Tuesday at 12 p.m. held in Lenfest Learning Commons located in the John Stewart Memorial Library.

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