By Robert Brow    (

My first love was this dismal science. And I got through my first degree with the discovery that you can answer any question in economics by explaining that either the price will go up, or the price will go down, or it may possibly remain the same. But then I transferred my affection to the Queen of the Sciences, and I have been totally faithful to theology ever since. But today I was tempted back, for a moment. Perhaps it was the stock market this month.

I get my world news for free online, and I couldn't resist Lord Robert Skidelsky's account of his recent third volume biography of John Maynard Keynes (,The Economist : Ideas and the World, Nov. 25, 2000.

Skidelsky is a historian and he is sure "Keynes was the greatest economist of the 20th century." The biographer explains that unlike economics "there are no 'models' in history, because every event is unique." That puzzled me because I spend my time doing model theology to clarify the meaning of our very historical revelation of Jesus the Messiah.

As Keynes' wife, the ballerina Lydia Lopokova, put it in her Russianised English, "Maynar is more than economist." Skidelski says "He inhabited that frontier area where economic theory met philosophy, the arts, morals, finance and administration to create the modernist consciousness. He was both a thinker and a man of affairs; an aesthete and a manager; someone who glided between Cambridge academic life, the Bloomsbury Group of painters and writers, the City and Whitehall; as well as between homosexuality and heterosexuality."

And of all the stupid things written about him when he died (April 21, 1946) Lionel Robbins wrote: "He gave his life for his country, as surely as if he had fallen on the field of battle." The third part of Skidelski's biography is subtitled "Fighting for Britain." Which abruptly ended my temptation back into economics.

Skidelski adds that Keynes was " a product of the Cambridge civilisation of his day, heir to its loss of religious faith, the vigour of its philosophical speculation, its shift from the ethics of duty to the ethics of intimacy; heir also to its Edwardian optimism, which swept away late -19th-century angst, and the traumatic shock to that world-view, and Britain's position in the scheme of things, delivered by the first world war. The rest of Keynes's life was spent trying to restore the possibilities of civilisation which the war had destroyed." His Utopia, which he thought might not be far off, was Paradise Regained, whose inhabitants would live like the "lilies of the field who toil not, neither do they spin".

"Like all properly educated atheists, Keynes was steeped in theology." As opposed to the Christian theology which I have espoused, Keynes offered "a secularised Christian view of the good life." and the one purpose was that humans could live "wisely, agreeably and well."

Which is perhaps another reason why the article grabbed me in the middle of an election where politicians can say nothing about God or the purpose of life, and the only things that counts is how much each group of voters can grab of the gross national product. It makes me wonder how many sermons on Sunday will expound about living "agreeably and well."

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