By Arnold Kling
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.