Wednesday, 11 June 2008

The market and the eucharist

“We live our lives at the intersection of two stories about the world: the Eucharist and the market. Both tell stories of hunger and consumption, of exchanges and gifts; the stories overlap and compete…. The call to Christians is not so much either to embrace or try to replace abstractions such as ‘capitalism’ with other abstractions. It is rather to sustain forms of economy, community, and culture that recognize the universality of the individual person…. The Christian is called not to replace one universal system with another, but to attempt to ‘realize’ the universal body of Christ in every particular exchange.”

—William T. Cavanaugh, Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), pp. 89, 86, 88.

14 Comments:

Lilith said...

Eucharist means "thanksgiving", from the root words "thanks" and "giving". This implies one who gives, and one who thanks. Christians unite their sacrificial giving with the sacrifice of the Eucharist, but we dare not compare our meager gifts with the infinite gift of the blood of God's only Son. So there is no quid pro quo, no talk of markets or capitalization.

Halden said...

"capitalization"?

Lower case then is the appropriate Christian liturigical text format?

Lilith said...

This is not the fork in the road I wanted to take, but here goes:

capitalization

Definition 1

The sum of a corporation's long-term debt, stock and retained earnings. also called invested capital.

Definition 2

The market price of an entire company, calculated by multiplying the number of shares outstanding by the price per share. here also called market cap or market capitalization.

Halden said...

I was just having a bit of fun. Normally when people see the word 'capitalization' they think of it in its normal usage rather than the context of the highly specific economics terminology of 'market capitalization'.

But as I say, I was just having a bit of fun. Let us allow the road to meander back to its original course as you had desired.

dan said...

I'm excited for this book. I'm just finishing up Debord's Society of the Spectacle and Sobrino's No Salvation Outside the Poor (both of which are excellent), and then I'll be jumping into it. Thanks for whetting my appetite!

steve martin said...

Christ's body...broken and given for you. Christ's blood...shed and given for you.

Let's overthink this and build a real conundrum out of it.

Halden said...

Better yet, lets underthink this and not let its revolutionary significance impact our lives in any real way!

Richard said...

I've just finished the book a couple of days ago - it's brilliant.

Ben Myers said...

Hi Steve: Sorry, I'm with Halden on this one. I can't really imagine a parallel universe in which anyone had managed to "overthink" the eucharist. Our real problem lies in the opposite direction.

tortoiseofdissent said...

Ben - might we tentatively suggest that our historical tendency to overthink the mechanics of Eucharist as event (so that a sacrament of unity has scandalously become a locus of division) has issued in a habit of underthinking the consequences of Eucharist as proclamation/prolepsis?

Lilith - I'm not sure the etymology of 'Eucharist' necessarily contains within itself the duality of giver and thanker that you suggest (rather, it simply implies 'one who gives thanks'). In any case, whilst of course you're right that we 'dare not compare' our offering with that of Christ, I wouldn't want the impossibility of 'quid pro quo' to lead us into complacency regarding the kind of response that Eucharist calls for.

Christopher said...

"to 'realize' the universal body of Christ in every particular exchange."

Good words.

steve martin said...

Halden,

When Jesus said that "we must become as these little ones to enter the Kingdom of God." I didn't think that He was then going to make this stuff so complicated that it would require too much unraveling.

I think it is our rational minds that can't stand the simplicity of it and that are always looking for much more than there really is.

I may be dead wrong. it wouldn't be the first time (today!).

Thanks Halden!

- Steve M.

Halden said...

Entering the Kingdom is certainly not something we do through intellectual prowess or through cognitive skills. However, living well in the Kingdom entails immersing ourselves in its mysteries, penetrating deeper into them so as to more rightly come to know the riches of the infinite gifts of God.

Perhaps we've come to construe notions of "understanding" in a dominative, rationalistic way: to seek to understand something is to seek to master it, to control it, etc. I propose that we recover a better way to think about what we are doing when we "overthink" the mysteries of faith. We are trying to under-stand them. We are trying to stand under them. Our acts of understanding are our submission to the initiative of the Triune God, and our corresponding support and affirmation of that which God speaks. We do not seek to master the mysteries of faith through reason. Rather it is one tool along the path of discipeship through which we seek to place ourselves under the Lordship of Christ.

This is not a distraction from the gospel's simplicity. Rather it is an attempt to avoid the gospel's reduction to something easily managed and integrated into our lives. (i.e. "I have a personal relationship with Jesus and that's really all I ever need to say.")

steve martin said...

Halden,

Very well said! I see your point.

I just see sooo much intellectual gymnastics going on in my neck of the woods. While the things you said are true, I do think there is a point where we do have to let go and let God.

It seems that much of today's Christianity revolves around 'us'.
What we are thinking, what we are doing, what we are feeling.

I think all the 'we' stuff is what got us into the fix we're in to begin with.

I believe that is exactly why God gave us the sacraments. To take it out of our hands, lest we screww the whole thing up again with our religious projects.

"This is my body...this is my blood." I imagine Him saying, "alright..go and try to top that one!"

Thanks very much, Halden!

- Steve M.

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