Doing Virtuous Business: the Remarkable Success of Spiritual Enterprise by Theodore Roosevelt Malloch combines one of my favorite subjects with one of my least favorite – ethics and money. The book is short (only six chapters) covering the concepts of virtual capital, virtue, the Christian triumvirate of faith, hope and charity, the hard virtues, and soft virtues. The author interlaces conceptual teaching, historical anecdotes and modern testimonies to make his point – capitalism and the free market are the best expression possible when infused with spiritual capital.
Capital is that which is accumulated through various inputs into the economy. Economic capital refers to monetary resources accumulated. Social capital refers to the social inheritance one generation leaves for the next. Spiritual capital, therefore, is the spiritual inheritance one generation leaves for the next, primarily the capital of virtues.
Malloch’s virtues include: faith, honesty, gratitude, perseverance, compassion, forgiveness, patience, humility, courage, respect, generosity, discipline, chastity, and thrift. Some of these virtues are what the author calls “hard” virtues, while others are “soft.” Hard virtues are those that exhibit themselves primarily in action and, if unchecked by the soft virtues, tend toward selfishness. The soft virtues are those that primarily form the inner person.
While there are several aspects of the book that I don’t agree with there is some capital to be gained. First, the author makes a compelling case that opponents of capitalism have overlooked the potential of capitalism to better humanity. I agree that if business was done virtuously, as the author describes, then humanity’s condition could be bettered. However, there is no shortage on non-virtuous business being done these days. Second, the author is (in my opinion) absolutely right in his implicit insistence that faith and business should not be separated.
Since I am not a CEO I cannot comment on the cover’s claim, “Every CEO should read this book and regain the moral energy to lead both their firms and the global economy.” However, I can recommend the book to anyone engaged in business and seeking to be faithful to God.
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