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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

Lord, Make Me Unchaste, but Not Yet: A Review of Brett Foster’s The Garbage Eater

Brett Foster, The Garbage Eater (Evanston, IL: TriQuarterly Books, 2011).   It is said that we are what we eat, that our appetites and outputs are in sync. Often, that’s also the case in the relationship between reading and writing. In reading Brett Foster’s debut poetry collection, The Garbage Eater, it becomes readily apparent that—for better or worse—Foster does not eat much literary garbage. Of course, one could gather that from a brief look at Foster’s CV,... 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

What Are You Waiting For? A Meditation on Isaiah 61:1–4, 8-11, Luke 1:53, and Luke 3:7–18

All the time John the Baptist spent waiting and preparing in the wilderness was in order to steep his identity in God.1 Even before John’s conception, God had already claimed his life; John’s primary identity would always be in relation to Jesus and in how John lived out his call to ministry. Someone like John is makes us uncomfortable because his very existence points us away from ourselves and toward the kingdom of God. We do not naturally and without some inner resistance... Read More

The Petitionary Prayer of Gethsemane in the Event of Divine Desire: Faith’s Undoing or Refiner’s Fire?

Composing this essay has been difficult. I suspect that much of my difficulty in writing it resides in the fact that, in many ways, this piece embodies the liminal state of religious studies that I try to highlight herein. Professor Ellen Armour describes this branch of academia as “a site where symptoms of the erosion of modernity have become legible,” and her metaphor of erosion is also apt for this paper.1 Your reading of this essay will be much like my writing of it, more... Read More

Evil in the Classroom: Deception and Desire

It was my first year as a college professor, and I (Kent) was halfway through a large stack of essays when I thought, “This one doesn’t sound quite right.” It was not that the essay was terrible but that it was way too good, and inconsistently so—I noted that the quality of the prose subtly shifted between the introduction and the middle part of the essay. My idealistic vision of my students was keeping it at bay, but a thought was nagging at me, “Could this paper be... Read More

A Mall is just a Mall, and (Sometimes) That’s All We Want

In their recent essay in The Other Journal, Cory Willson and Robert Covolo position themselves between James K. A. Smith’s approach to culture and cultural practices, as depicted in Desiring the Kingdom, and my own, as they see it depicted in Poetic Theology.1 I basically agree with both their analysis and their creative response to these two approaches. As far as our cultural critiques are concerned, Jamie Smith and I begin at different starting points but end up in fundamental... Read More

The Real Jeff Koons: Consumer Culture and the Grammar of Desire

In 1980 the young artist Jeff Koons presented his first major solo exhibition, a window installation at New York’s New Museum of Contemporary Art, titled, appropriately, The New. Alongside hermetically sealed vitrines showcasing “ready-made”1 household appliances like a New Hoover Deluxe Rug Shampooer and a New Shelton Wet/Dry 10 Gallon, there were images: meticulously reproduced advertisements of debuting products like “New 100’s! Merit Ultra-Lights” and the... Read More

“Why Are You Apologizing for Bleeding?” Confronting the Evangelical Embrace of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga, Part I

Real love happens between two people of value, not between a girl who thinks she is nothing and the boy is everything. —Beth Felker Jones, Touched by a Vampire   Since the publication of Twilight in 2005, Stephenie Meyer’s teen vampire romance saga has rapidly gained ground as a pop culture phenomenon to rival that of Harry Potter. The most marked difference between the current media explosion and that of Harry Potter is that the Twilight saga’s fan base is made... Read More

Consumption Junction, What’s Your Function? A Review of William Cavanaugh’s Being Consumed

William T. Cavanaugh, Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008), 103 pages, $10.11 paper. Click here to buy Being Consumed from Amazon.com and to help support The Other Journal. People everywhere are being forced to pay attention to the transnational economy these days, and they are asking questions about the meaning of production and consumption in the brave new world of the twenty-first century. Though the... Read More