The Economy of Desire: Christianity and Capitalism in a Postmodern World (The Church and Postmodern Culture)
In this addition to the award-winning Church and Postmodern Culture series, respected theologian Daniel Bell compares and contrasts capitalism and Christianity, showing how Christianity provides resources for faithfully navigating the postmodern global economy.
Bell approaches capitalism and Christianity as alternative visions of humanity, God, and the good life. Consideri...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 1st 2012 by Baker Academic
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Bell offers some criticism of capitalism in this book. In fact, he calls it a sin. This might not sit well with some American Christians, but I voiced a loud Amen when I came to this comment from series editor James K. A. Smith in the foreword: "By locating the challenges for Christian discipleship in arcane cults or sexual temptation or the 'secularizing' forces of the Supreme Court, evangelicalism tends to miss the fact that the great tempter of our age is Walmart." Or as Bell says, our moder...more
I should probably let it lie before reviewing, but this book seems too good. It ties together a range of key themes and issues, arguably the major practical issues facing Christian existence today, in a way which is beautifully clear and precise. It is about economics, but, drawing on Foucault and Deleuze broadens our vision of economic existence in terms of the social shape of our desires and their formation. This is an account of Christian economics and of the divine economy as it can be seen...more
Bell is fine at his Christian critique of Capitalism, but really no more enlightened than the atheistic critiques of Foucault, Deleuze or Zizek. When it comes to an alternative to Capitalism he offers monastic living for our global world order which is so pie- in- the- sky that it makes Marxist Communism (meaning that form of governance which has never been tested or tried) look downright possible.
Let me use an economic metaphor to recommend this book: bottom line, you should read it whether you're a Christian who believe capitalism is God's economic ideal or a Christian who thinks capitalism is the devil's economic farce. Bell's chapter on the theology of capitalism was an especially powerful critique. A few readers are going to have a hard time with a long section toward the end addressing the atonement; Bell is not a fan of the debt/accounting notion of the substitutionary atonement. T...more
I have enjoyed James K. A. Smith's books greatly. Because is the editor of this series, I was looking forward to reading Bell's book. I was quite disappointed. While Bell does a good job in critiquing a *laissez faire* capitalism, I believe he has some severe weaknesses in some of the principles of capitalism that he condemns. For example, his discounting of all self-interest in an economy for some type of idyllic altruism (which does not and will never exist) is problematic. Self-interest is no...more
Interesting - but not being a Christian put me at a distinct disadvantage - miracles? Yes, Bell's full remedy to man's natural state (one he describes in what I believe are delusional, optimistic terms) requires the "second coming" of GOD - Jesus. What's a Buddhist to do?
I hope to write a more substantial review of this excellent book. Suffice it to say that it had some absolutely amazing chapters and an overall argument that I am going to be working through for a while. I am very hopeful that it will shape my thinking and actions going forward. Sadly, the book could have used a more substantial edit for consistency of style as it didn't seem to know whether it wanted to be for an academic audience or a popular one. Nevertheless, it's definitely a book that need...more
This book is a great encouragement toward a Christian economic worldview. As a response to valid criticisms of consumerist capitalism, the author advocates creating "Christian economies" within the prevailing system while refusing to commit the error of conflating the status quo with Biblical righteousness. Recommended.
Daniel M. Bell Jr. (PhD, Duke University) is professor of theological ethics at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina. He is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and the author of Just War as Christian Discipleship and Liberation Theology after the End of History.More about Daniel M. Bell Jr....