Tag Archives: Economics

Upcoming Conference: Nurturing the Prophetic Imagination

On March 24-26, Point Loma Nazarene University will be hosting a four-day, interdisciplinary conference entitled: Nurturing the Prophetic Imagination. This promises to be an exciting and stimulating event, drawing a diverse and distinguished ensemble of plenary speakers (not to mention something like 70 additional session papers). Particularly noteworthy is the panel session wherein Nate Kerr, Rosco Williamson, and William T. Cavanaugh will discuss Cavanaugh’s new book, The Myth of Religious Violence

Plenary Speakers

  • Bill McKibben Christian environmental activist, scholar in residence at Middlebury College, and author of Deep Economy; The End of Nature; Hope: Human & Wild , and The Age of Missing Information.
  • Kathleen Norris — A Poet and Essayist, Norris is author of Acedia & me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life; Dakota: A Spiritual Geography; Cloister Walk; Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith and The Virgin of Bennington.
  • Michael Eric Dyson — A Sociologist and Theologian  from Georgetown University, Dyson’s newest book April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Death and How it Changed America, joins his others: Can You Hear Me Now?; Come Hell or Highwater: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster; Holler if You Hear Me.  
  • Emmanuel Katongole — Theologian and priest, associate professor of theology and world Christianity and co-director of the Center of Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School, Katongole is author of A Future for Africa: Critical Essays in Christian Social Imagination; Beyond Universal Reason; and African Theology Today.

Special Guests

  • Joining us will be Dr. William T. Cavanaugh, a professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN) who will be hosting a special conference session to review his most recent book, The Myth of Religious Violence. He is also the author of Torture and Eucharist: Theology, Politics, and the Body of Christ (1998); Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire (2008).
  • Dr. Ron Benefiel is the president for Nazarene Theological Seminary (Kansas City, MO). Trained as a sociologist, he is also an ordained minister who has pastored churches in a variety of urban settings. He is author of A Theology of Place: Ministry in Transitional Communities (1996).

A revised and comprehensive conference schedule can be accessed here.


Additional Cavanaugh resources on free market economics and global capital, broken bread and distributed wine

For more William Cavanaugh insights on economics, consumption, hunger, and the Eucharist have a look at the following excellent articles:

(1) “Consumption, the Market, and the Eucharist”, The Other Journal

(2) “The Unfreedom of the Free Market”, The Economy Project

(3) “The World in a Wafer: A Geography of the Eucharist as Resistance to Globalization”, Modern Theology

(4) “Coercion in Augustine and Disney”New Blackfriars

Market and Eucharist


William T. Cavanaugh - Being Consumed

William T. Cavanaugh, Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), £6.99, pp103, ISBN: 978-0-8028-4561-0.

Cavanaugh argues that a eucharistic account of everyday economic life provides Christians resources to resist capitalistic pathologies of desire. Challenging presupposed conditions of neo-liberal economics, Cavanaugh provides a nuanced, yet accessible theological analysis of consumer culture. Rather than blindly condoning or condemning free markets as such, Christians bear witness to a different kind of economics through the creation of imaginative alternatives truly free and just; that is, concrete practices, spaces, and transactions that participate in the life of God.

In four short chapters, Cavanaugh first exposes the illusory claims of the free market, arguing that genuine freedom must be ordered towards good ends. Absent transcendent telos, only the arbitrary power of one will against another remains. Second, he describes consumerism as a spiritual disposition that perpetuates a vacuous desire for desire itself. Its logic is not fundamentally a greedy grasping for possessions, but a hollowing detachment from production, producers, and the products we consume. Third, despite globalization’s claim to accommodate the local through diversity, difference often gets absorbed into the universal gaze of multinational corporations. Finally, Cavanaugh contends that scarcity, the axiom of contemporary economics, is not based on empirics, but the assumption that human desire is inexhaustible. This failure to rightly order desire resigns us to the reality that there will never be enough to feed the world’s hungry.

Cavanaugh engages these challenges through a robust theological account of the Eucharist as the normative embodiment of the church’s life and practice. Throughout, Cavanaugh points to tangible exemplifications of this eucharistic economics. Christians are consumers, but of a radically different sort. In consuming the Eucharist, Christians are consumed by it, re-made, re-membered into Christ’s body and given again for the life of the world.