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McCarrharer on Capitalism & Theology

“Paradise and beatitude are, in the end, the unacknowledged longings of economic life.  Our imperium of money has been an elaborate attempt to divert our attention from these desires.  For the last generation, we’ve been admonished to lock “utopia” in the attic of historical nightmares and dwell within the cheerfully commercial boundaries of the capitalist imagination.  It’s been busy and entertaining and, until recently, it’s been safe.  The poor were forgotten or chastised, the critics were stifled or bribed, and the billions in the slums of globalization’s wake were silenced with promises and missiles.  But as Mike Davis puts it in Planet of Slums with grim and austere elegance, ‘the gods of chaos are on their side.’  The wretched are increasingly unwilling to abide our imperial theodicy and our condescension. And as even McCloskey concedes, the imperium has gotten boring – a possible symptom of ontological dread, a dim recognition of some failure or lack in the fulfillment of our real desires.  Perhaps soon – sooner than we think, or has it already begun? – much of what passes for realism will appear as the romanticism of venality, the mythology of avarice and dominion.  ‘All is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil.’  Hopkins knew that avarice was a yearning for the dearest freshness deep down things.  Like him, I’ll wager that only theology can truly tell us the name of our desire; only theology can reveal love as the metaphysical foundation of the world.  It can unfasten the padlock on ‘utopia,’ soar over the walls of mercenary realism, commence a breakthrough to the other side.”

 –Eugene McCarraher, “Break on Through to the Other Side,” Books and Culture 13(6) (November/December, 2007): 41.

One Comment

  1. adamsteward wrote:

    McCarraher just murders people. If I were a book editor, I would give every prospective author a set of his reviews to warn them against writing a crappy book.

    Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

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