William T. Cavanaugh: Being Consumed



William T Cavanaugh professor of theology at DePaul University provides an excellent and thoroughly theological interrogation of the economic assumptions underlying our understanding of what it is to be uman and live in the world Rather than react to the reality of the free market Cavanaugh suggests Christians should uestion what it means to be free what it means to consume what is the relationship between the global and the local and whether the Babys Mealtime heart of reality is scarcity or abundance Instead of freedom being the absence of constraint Christians believe that freedom is a gift from God to orient ourselves toward the truly important Instead of reality being a commodity to be consumed God empties through kenosis into the Eucharist so that our desire is consumed into a drive to be a gift for others Instead of the local being sucked up into the universality of the multinational corporate market Christ gives us a picture of the absolute particular that reveals to us our common interconnectedness And instead of scarcity and competition being theeart of reality God s gift of Christ reveals that there is abundance than The Miracle Equation human imagination can conceiveCavanaugh does a beautiful job in a very short book He is readable while arguing consistently He uses biblical materials andistorical theologians such as Augustine and von Balthasar in a way that illuminates rather than overwhelms And The Dawn of Modern Thought he is careful not to fall into the trap of being either liberal or conservative but rather trying to reframe the terms in which we consider these vital economic uestions The only small critiue might be that Cavanaugh s particular suggestions buying local or fair trade participating in Church Supported Agriculture etc might be seen as too little or too modest But in a way even these critiues reinforceis argument that we are called to do small particular local and relational economic activities in a way that reinforces the kingdom Be warned if you are an uncritical devotee of the idol of the free market you will not like what Cavanaugh The Infamous Ellen James (Infamous, has to say becausee dissects it thoroughly and theologically But if you are open to the Spirit and to Cavanaugh s argument no matter what side of the uestion you thought you were on you will come away with many uestions about what it means to be Christian in an age that worships desire rather than God Hard to know Samael Aun Weor, The Absolute Man how to review this chapters 1 2 and 4 were great and well written Chapter 3 mayave been important too but felt like the kind of academic essay I wrote in graduate school cleaving so close to a specific thinker so as to never get to saying what one is trying to sayThe book did Dragonfrigate Wizard Halcyon Blithe (Halcyon Blithe, help me think better about markets vs communion Augustine s uti frui distinction andow being united in the body of Christ makes a difference for Satria dari Negeri Tayli 1-28 how we think about our giving A great introduction to important topics Left me wanting longer detailed arguments Hovered between 4 and 5 stars because of its brevity but I went and gave it the edge after the phenomenal chapter onow Christ embodies the problem of the one and the many in a way that satisfies and reconstructs economy and the forces that drive economy I would read a book 10x as long on the subject but this is a fantastic introduction to Goethean Science how Christian theology adresses economics the phenomena of globalismuman desire and proliferation of choice and wealth disparities Only problem is I wish the examples of Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets! how Christians are addressing this stuff was fleshed out a bit Probably slated for a re read soon Cavanaugh takes on as much of our economic life ase can in four short essays each approaching an aspect of economics through a dichotomy FreedomUnfreedom DetachmentAttachment GlobalLocal ScarcityAbundance and then seeking to resolve the dichotomy by means of a theological sleight of and He uses Augustine the monastic tradition von Balthasar and the Eucharist respectively as lenses by which to understand these particular tensions of economic life after the Fall ChristianlyCavanaugh elpfully frames all economic uestions within the clarifying concept of uman flourishing allowing the utilitarian dross that typically clings to economics as a discipline to be uickly burned away Should Christians be for or against the free market For or against globalization How are we to live in a world of scarcity William Cavanaugh uses Christian resources to incisively address basic economic matters the free market consumer culture globalization and

Ur producers in order to make God glorifying choices We don t realize that our clothes coffee and other consumables are produced by poor people in third world countries who are being exploited by businesses feeding our consumption Do we know ow our God given cows are being treated Cavanaugh does He buys The Einstein Theory of Relativity his beef from a local farmer who feedsis How to Negotiate Your First Job herdsealthy naturally produced food instead of drugs meant only to bulk them up The cows are clean and not penned up in their own muck Does the meat cost Definitely but a little less beef goes much farther in terms of satisfaction Adam Smith could not ave been wrong when e said that the market provides all the knowledge necessary for the consumer to make rational choices for the common good Cavanaugh argues that Adam Smith s and Milton Friedman s definition of freedom as the absence of coercion actually leads to a coercive capitalism He argues for a return to Augustine s definition of freedom as the ability not just to choose but to choose the Good We must choose the Good as defined by God who created Perfect Justice (Ben Kencaid, human nature Without the Christian understanding of the chief end of man nothing remains but lust for power through profitsCavanaugh compares the Mandarin Co who outsources jobs to El Salvador to the Mondragon Cooperative Corp in Spain whoires locally The Mandarin Co widens the gap between employer and employee by forcing workers to put up with substandard pay and working conditions If the workers protest as they The Literary Relationship of Lord Byron and Thomas Moore have the company simply threatens to leave El Salvador for cheaper labor elsewhere The workers aren t coerced Theyave a choice but few options and they can t afford the consumables they are producingA priest founded the Mondragon Co on Distributist principles which means that the employees are owners and the Suggestions for Marketing Small Timber highest paid in the co only makes six times than the lowest paid Compare that to the average CEO who makes 300 times than the lowest paid worker in a modern corporation Mondragon is a multi billion dollar company whoas created a ealthy educated local community with low crime rates Which as promoted The Shaping of Western Civilization human freedom asks Cavanaugh Neither group is coercing its employees to work there but one of them as enableduman flourishing and the other is oppressive What Cavanaugh doesn t address and this is probably the major weakness of the book is ow to restructure the state national and global economy along the lines of Augustine s definition of uman freedom and the principles of Distributism Distributism seeks not to redistribute wealth through taxation but to distribute ownership to as many people as possible G K Chesterton did address The Ecology, Exploitation and Conservation of River Turtles how to implement this at the national level ande needs to be Medicine and Religion heard along with Cavanaugh Consumption read 5 just deleted a bunch of stuff I wrote about the firstalf of this book bc it was critical and uninteresting than I wanted it s fine I m just not the audience I think in the second The Hockey Saint (Forever Friends, halfe makes the case that Jesus solves the problem of the particular and the universal which is the lens Cavanaugh used to think about globalization and the Eucharist is part of this I feel like I need to revisit this imo this is the strongestmost interesting part of the book but I am always so biased to the particular local and Valentino had some issues withow WC talks about universalsThis made me want a book that was focused on case studies in Christian economic endeavors like farm shares and fair trade networks and several other examples WC incorporates I m sure they re out there and part of what is interes Not bad Average His other book Migrations of the Holy is far better imo Summary An extended essay in theological reflection from a Catholic perspective on the economic realities of the free market consumer culture globalization and scarcityThere is something than vaguely disturbing in the word consumer as it is applied to uman beings It suggests an idea of I shop therefore I am and calls up reminders of the biblical warning that we risk our souls when we define our lives by the abundance of our possessionsIn a mere one undred pages William Cavanaugh explores four aspects of our economic activity and Shunned how Catholic theological resources might richly infor. Rary free market economies  Being Consumed puts forth a positive and inspiring vision ofow the body of Christ can engage in economic alternatives At every turn Cavanaugh illustrates is theological analysis with concrete examples of Christian economic practic.

One of the essays are comprehensive on their subject nor are they meant to be What Cavanaugh succeeds in doing is laying some groundwork for rejecting conceptions of markets and trade and labor and capital and consumption passively imbibed from the ambient culture and instead replacing them with particularly Christian realities A elpful starting point in other worlds for Kingdom Economics This book shifted my paradigm on Christianity in the sphere of economics Cavanaugh argues that globalism is a counterfeit of the church Consumerism is the worldview that drives the structures of globalism and it is a direct challenge to the Christian faith Cavanaugh writesConsumer culture is one of the most powerful systems of formation in the contemporary world arguably powerful than Christianity While a Christian may spend an Oba, the Last Samurai hour per week in church she may spend twenty fiveours per week watching television to say nothing of the Yonen Buzz, Volume 1 (Yonen Buzz, hours spent on the Internet listening to the radio shopping looking at junk mail and other advertisements Nearly everywhere we lay our eyes gas pumpandles T shirts public restroom walls bank receipts church bulletins sports uniforms and so on we are confronted by advertisingSuch a powerful formative system is not morally neutral it trains us to see the world in certain ways As all the great faiths of the world ave attested ow we relate to the material world is a spiritual discipline As one corporate manager frankly put it Corporate branding is really about worldwide beliefs management 47 48Consumerism seeks to exploit our restlessness while Christianity seeks to cure our restlessness St Augustine Cavanaugh s primary discussion partner and guide once confessed Thou The Wood Demon hast made us for thyself and ourearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee Thus the worldview of consumerism and its uasi church of globalism with its sacraments of technology are idols meant to replace Christ First Shapes his universal church and the sacraments of bread and wine Cavanaugh shows that as we consume we become detached from the things we consume Because consumerism is based on desire for desire instead of the object that is desired we constantly throw away what we consume as we move on to our next purchase But in the Eucharist the Lord s Suppercommunion we become consumed by what we consume Instead of detachment we experience greater attachment to Christ and thus satisfaction in Him Cavanaugh points out that in consumerism possession kills desire but in the Eucharist possession transforms and satisfies desire This is because God made us forimself We were created to know God and enjoy Dispatches from Dystopia him forever Westminster Confession of Fatih but we worship and serve the creation instead of the Creator Romans 1 Cavanaugh expertly diagnoses the problem bute also gives solutions at least on the individual and local level Cavanaugh is not as ascetic who is trying us feel guilty about consuming materials He wants to reform our view of what we consume Every created object contains traces of the Creator When we use created things we should be enjoying the Creator Created objects don t satisfy us when they are treated as an end in themselves The satisfy us when we use them to point us to their source in God Thus the things of earth don t go strangely dim as the misguided ymn says but they grow as one of my friends likes to say strangely alive Cavanaugh brings in Hans Urs von Balthasar for a philosophical discussion of ow we see the universal and the particular united in Christ In globalization we see only particulars unrelated to anything universal or as mere interchangeable stand ins for the universal as in the liberal idea that all religions lead to God so it doesn t matter which one Thus particulars are dispensable But in the incarnation of Christ we see the universal Son united with the finite Jesus By becoming man God makes room for every particular Every material object just like Christ s Ancient World humanity can be set apart for God s purpose God created us to create underim Thus we should consume what we produce and produce what we consume Cavanaugh realizes that we can t produce everything we consume so Fighter he says we should consume locally and get to know Carcity arguing that we should not just accept these as givens but should instead change the terms of the debateAmong other things Cavanaugh discussesow God in the Eucharist forms us to consume and be consumed rightly Examining pathologies of desire in contempo.

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Dr William T Cavanaugh is Associate Professor of Theology at the University of St Thomas in St Paul Minnesota He holds an MA in Theology and Religious Studies from Cambridge University and a PhD in Religion from Duke University