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The Market as Sacramental Space: Eugene McCarraher

The most popular artifacts of contemporary business literature make much of “the soulful corporation”, complete with “credos” and “mission statements”. Often read as a high-minded farrago of moral platitudes, most of these documents should be read in appalling earnest, whether as perverse ecclesiological statements, parodies of liturgical labor, or twisted forms of sacramentality. One best-selling author, Laurie Jones (author of Jesus CEO [1998]), lauds “spiritreneurs”, employees who “fully integrate their souls in a workplace enterprise” and exhibit a “passionate commitment to the cause”—the cause of customer service, the post-Fordist evolutionary descendent of the corporal works of mercy. But the most uninhibited (and vastly popular) New Age panegyric to corporate business has come from George Gilder, whose encomia to wealth, computers, and cyberspace mark a new and dizzying apogee in capitalist enchantment. Echoing Emerson (with a touch of Carl Jung, another favorite among the New Age set), Gilder thinks that “capitalism succeeds” because it comports with the laws of “a higher consciousness”, a “collective unconscious, sometimes defined as God”. When the mind “merges” with this higher power, it “reaches new truths, glimpses new ideas—the projection of light into the unknown future—by which progress occurs”. Gilder reserves his greatest euphoria (and his purplest prose) for “the magic of the solid-state world”. The silicon chip that undergirds information capitalism both enables an “ever-expanding circuitry of ideas” and harbors “a truth that sets us free”. Silicon technology empowers a techno-vanguard which, replacing Shelley’s poets, comprises “the true legislators for the silent and silenced majorities of the world”. In short, the marketplace, we learn, is a sacramental space, “a vessel of the divine”

–Eugene McCarraher, “The Enchantments of Mammon: Notes Toward a Theological History of Capitalism” Modern Theology 21:3 (July 2005), pp. 454-55.

One Comment

  1. roflyer wrote:

    That is creepy.

    Thursday, October 18, 2007 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

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