What I liked about this book: 1. All the great talk/testimony about the Eucharist. 2. The comparison/contrast of our innate human desire/longing for theWhat I liked about this book: 1. All the great talk/testimony about the Eucharist. 2. The comparison/contrast of our innate human desire/longing for the Eucharist with our desires for material things and how this all relates to the local and global economy. 3. The words "Republican" or "Democrat" or any other specific political agendas were NOT part of this book! 4. It was short (I read it in a week and could have easily read it faster if I didn't have other more important things (family) to keep my occupied).
When I read the introduction and saw the word "Eucharist" I was immediately intrigued and wondered how this could fit into a book about Economics. All in all, I am glad I read it, it has been the first book that I've read that has discussed economics with the subject of Christian desire, from a Eucharstic-centered Catholic tradition with writings from Augustine, Balthasar, John Paul II, etc.
I have to admit, however, I felt that his writing style was a bit hard to follow and didn't do as good a job of illustrating his point as I had hoped and this left me feeling somewhat disappointed with the book. Perhaps I had set up my expectations too high or compared it too much with Crunchy Conservaties or thought it would go into more detail but others may enjoy it more so I still recommend it and am glad I read it.
That said, I still understood and appreciate the 3 main points Cavanaugh makes: 1. It is in Christ, specifically our 'being consumed' by the Eucharist, that we will find fulfillment vs. being consumed by temporal and 'empty' products/desires that will never fully satisfy us and leave us always wanting. 2. It is also in our participation in the Eucharist (communion) that we are able to connect with 'others' while at the same time maintaining our own particular identities. 3. The Eucharist is the ONLY answer for bringing together the local and global without sacrificing either, Jesus gives himself EQUALLY to the ONE and the MANY at the SAME time.
He contrasts this Eucharist-centered mutual consumption with the consumer and material-based local and global economy. This is where I felt he lost me a little but basically he used different examples to show how we, as people and consumers, have drifted far from the Eucharistic-centered and other-centered practice of economics to a more selfish and ‘get-as-much-as-I-can-for-as-little-as-I-can’ economy. While this “buy, buy, buy” environment of producing/buying has resulted in ‘more’ it has left us with less: less quality, less personal satisfaction for the buyer and the laborer, less focus on the ‘particular’ or the ‘one’ and more on the ‘many’ (local vs. global) and, perhaps most importantly, less interaction between the consumer and the laborer.
I related to his point with all that but I felt like he ‘ranted’ about all these things but then never really offered a solution. However, as I finished the book and reflected on it more, I realized he wasn’t trying to say that there is a concrete or even worldly solution to this, in fact, his solution does not belong to this world, it comes from another Kingdom – Christ’s which we can go to and have with us through the Eucharist. Through the Eucharist, we find fulfillment to our real desires and are able to find true communion with others. If we allow it, the graces that come to us through this great Sacrament, can help us turn our own individual buying/selling choices to a more “other-centered” and “Christ-centered” economics and, in turn, have an effect on our local and global economics. Therefore, the answer is not necesarilly more or less government, the change starts with each person and like I said, with the Eucharist--the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
There's more I could say about this book and I will be thinking about it for a while and perhaps come back and write more.(less) ...more