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From Commodity to Communitas: Reconciling the Gap between Farmers and Roasters

Capitalism Capitalism drives our postindustrial world, and the traces of its presence can be found everywhere.1 Although it was initially theorized primarily as an economic system, capitalism’s influence is no longer simply economic; its effects are felt individually, collectively, culturally, socially, politically, theologically, environmentally, and globally. To review, the capitalist system, most often referred to as a free-market economy, is a system in which trade and industry—the... Read More

Spectacular Separation: The Marxist Notion of Sin and Why Every Christian Should Be a Revolutionary

But certainly for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, the appearance to the essence . . . illusion only is sacred, truth profane. Nay, sacredness is held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness. —Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity   When a patient first seeks help from... Read More

Marxism v. Global Finance: A Review of Kenneth Surin’s Freedom Not Yet: Liberation and the Next World Order

Kenneth Surin. Freedom Not Yet: Liberation and the Next World Order. New Slant Series: Religion, Politics, Ontology. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009.   Neoliberal capitalism is not working—at least not right now and not for many us. The golden age of capitalism—that period of growth between the end of World War II and the early 1970s during which advanced industrial economies experienced high employment, increased consumption, growing wages, and generally benign... Read More

Karl Marx and the Trouble With Rights

Introduction When I talk about the marketplace in non-Christian circles, I often have to do preliminary work to persuade my interlocutors that Jesus has any relevance to the conversation. For the most part, I don’t experience this scepticism as hostile. It feels more like having to rouse someone from a slumber; the consciousness of Jesus’s words on money has somehow slipped away from them. When I talk about Marx within the church I often find myself in the same position. Christian... Read More

From London to Durham: A Theological Peregrination

I recently moved from London, a city in which I was born and in which I have lived all my life, to Durham, a city where I am without reference points or roots.1 London has been a key stimulus and backdrop to my intellectual work and political activism, and yet this new city, Durham, is a place where I find myself already enmeshed in a complex history of interaction between one side of the Atlantic and the other. This move and these interactions are the subject of this essay, but... Read More

Scenes from the Mall

Just a few years ago, I worked in a mall. It was one of those large, fancy downtown malls where rich people go during the holidays to stock up on purses that cost more than my car, where the scent of perfume lingers on the echoing tile, where the economy is always portrayed as good, the songs always chipper. I sold expensive chocolates out of a little kiosk in the center of a large atrium, surrounded on every side by classy, understated clothing stores. At the time I was six months... Read More

The Economy of Salvation

In the Gospel of Mark, the story is told of Jesus’s encounter with a blind man at Bethsaida.1 Jesus touches the man’s eyes, and as a result the man begins to see. However, his sight is not fully recovered. He can see people, but they look like walking trees. So Jesus lays hands on him a second time, and the man is able to see clearly (Mark 8:22–25). The economy of desire—capitalism—produces a kind of virtual reality, and as a result we do not see what is really going... Read More

Always Historicize! On Fredric Jameson, the Tea Party, and Theological Pragmatics

Theodor Adorno, Alain Badiou, Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Slavoj Žižek: What do these thinkers have in common? First, they are all Marxists.1 Second, they have all received significant attention in the theological community; each of these theorists, for example, has been the subject of a full-length volume in Continuum’s exciting Philosophy and Theology series. Yet Fredric Jameson, given the title “America’s leading Marxist critic”... Read More

Eating for the Kingdom: A Response to Stephen Webb’s “Against the Gourmands” and William T. Cavanaugh’s “Out to Lunch”

Theological Reflection on Food: A Dialogue about Diet or Politics? Most Americans eat three meals a day, or thereabouts, and so what we eat is undeniably a significant part of our embodied life. But to what extent are our everyday dietary decisions part of a larger moral framework? How integrated is what we eat with who we are? The recent exchange of articles between Stephen H. Webb and William T. Cavanaugh—consisting of Webb’s “Against the Gourmands,” Cavanaugh’s response... Read More

This Is the Way the World Ends: A Conversation between Kara N. Slade and Amy Laura Hall on Domination and Solidarity in Young Adult Dystopias

Dystopian novels—stories of the future going badly wrong—have apparently now surpassed the vampire and fantasy genres in the young adult fiction market. The books, and the phenomenon of their popularity, have provoked numerous discussions online, in schools, and in the sort of serious, adult magazines that teenagers don’t read. (We know this, of course, only because we read about it in the New Yorker.) Some reviewers have interpreted dystopias written for and read by young... Read More