Today we’ll continue exploring  John Templeton’s thoughts on spirituality and business with another excerpt from his speech at Buena Vista College entitled “The Religious Foundation of Liberty and Enterprise.” In this excerpt, we’ll look at the second of five economic vices he discusses in the speech.

A related economic vice is greed. Because of greed, the modern form of capitalism is often too hedonistic and unethical, and too far removed from traditional virtues. This meaning of the term greed is more vague than envy. At the very least, it suggests an inordinate longing for material wealth.

It is not the acquisition of material wealth itself that constitutes greed. The desire for wealth becomes inordinate when it leads to value wealth accumulation above all else.

This can be done in our private lives. We can make a new car a priority over spending time with our young children or our elderly parents. Instead of helping a neighbor in need, we may choose to buy something entirely frivolous. These choices are the consequences of greed.

Let me make myself clear. It is not wrong to better our lot. In a theological context, greed occurs when the desire for material acquisition clouds over our vision of spiritual matters that should reign supreme. . . .

This economic vice is a source of many crimes, public and private. It can also turn up in bad personal habits, like accumulating too much debt or going on buying sprees to improve self image. If our image of ourselves is tied to what we own, that can be a symptom of greed. . . .