Issue 22: Marxism

In this issue, we examine the potentially surprising intersections of Marxism with Christianity and the ways in which these resources may help us contend with and recognize the powers of the market. Our interest here isn’t to attempt to locate “orthodox Marxism” or to parrot the ideologies of the twentieth-century Eastern bloc, as if the thousand Marxisms of today could be reduced to these vulgar expressions. Instead, in this issue we set out to learn from the critical theories associated with Marxism as a way of demystifying the new secular powers that reign over our world. Indeed, if it is true that the emperor (or the medieval church) has been replaced by the market as the dominant structure of the day, then it is finally time to broaden the resources our theology engages in order to help us unmask the pretensions of the market’s power.

Erika Vogt, Jen Grabarczyk-Turner

Stranger Debris Roll Roll Roll

An art installation by Los Angeles artist Erika Vogt that combines pulleys, plaster, found objects, drawings, and videos to create tension between our understanding of objects and to challenge prescribed art-making systems.

Alex McCauley

Tax Season

A bathroom rendezvous ends in karaoke.

Rob Clements

Marxism and the God Question: Perspectives from the Frankfurt School

The much-neglected Frankfurt school of critical theory, which draws richly on Marxist theory, opens a path for collaborative opportunities between religious and social movements. Through an examination of the religious images present in Marx, Horkheimer, Benjamin, and Bloch, Rob Clements argues that there are dialectical possibilities that help us critique, and eventually overcome, the social inequalities evident in advanced capitalist societies.

Jonathan Hiskes

Pamoja House

This is the story of a wealthy group of students who willingly gave up everything and the one vegan stew that kept them all together.

Silas Morgan

What Marx Can Teach Christian Theology—and the Church—about Being Christian

Karl Marx’s critique of religion is often misunderstood, and so the relevance of its insights for the Christian church go unrecognized. Taking Marx to church will present us with challenges and opportunities to struggle in solidarity with and for others in a world that is impoverished and decimated by global capitalism.

Nathaniel Rogers

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 […]

Brett Foster

William Banks’s Wager

In “William Banks’s Wager,” Brett Foster reconstructs a letter from William Banks, a British clerk who venerated the famous Mount Grace Priory, in which Banks beseeches the monks’ prayers and confesses, with slight pleasure, a certain theft.

Brett Foster

Luke 13:30: Tired Application

In a weary admonition, the narrator of “Luke 13:30: Tired Application” instructs us to be watchful at the end of days, to look with grim hope at the “One coming who’s casting out devils, making the blind see.”

Kevin Hargaden

Karl Marx and the Trouble With Rights

How can Christian engagement in conversations around human rights claims be sharpened by considering Karl Marx’s scepticism of such rhetoric?

Meredith Kunsa


Meredith Kunsa’s prose poem retells the memory of a Pentecostal service where her grandmother, “jabbering in a voice” she cannot understand, gives a command that both haunts Kunsa and compels her to conclude that there is no Jesus in her, that “I’m not who I think I am.”

Luke Bretherton

From London to Durham: A Theological Peregrination

Taking London, England, and Durham, North Carolina, as geographical and narrative bookends, Luke Bretherton looks at the history of movement between these two locations as a step toward making sense of his own recent move from London to Durham. By situating his own work on community organizing within this flow of movements, or peregrinations, between the two cities, Bretherton provides a historical and theological argument for a constructive relationship between Christianity and democratic politics.

Hannah Faith Notess

For Money

A sonnet about work.

Daniel Colucciello Barber

The Actuality of Liberation’s Problem

Christianity and Marxism are bound together by the thought of liberation, but it is time to think liberation as a problem in itself, as a matter of prophecy rather than of conversion.

D. L. Mayfield

Scenes from the Mall

D. L. Mayfield explores her personal experiences of American inequality and considers what social justice might really looks like.

Daniel M. Bell Jr.

The Economy of Salvation

The economy of salvation enacted by Christ on the cross displays the divine economy of plenitude, ceaseless generosity, and superabundance.

Thomas J. Millay

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 […]

TOJ Editors

Issue #22: Marxism

We live in a world shaped by capitalism, an economic model that (we’re told) provides the very best opportunity for economic and social mobility, the very best economic system to promote human flourishing. It’s a narrative the Western church has dogmatically adopted and, as a result, the good news of Christianity has become fused with […]