Don’t expect any breadth or grandeur from the Empire’s Christian divines. Across the board, the imperial chaplains exhibit the most obsequious deference to the Plutocracy, providing imprimaturs and singing hallelujahs for the civil religion of Chrapitalism: the lucrative merger of Christianity and capitalism, America’s most enduring covenant theology. It’s the core of “American exceptionalism,” the sanctimonious and blood-spattered myth of providential anointment for global dominion. In the Chrapitalist gospel, the rich young man goes away richer, for God and Mammon have pooled their capital, formed a bi-theistic investment group, and laundered the money in baptismal fonts before parking it in offshore accounts. Chrapitalism has been America’s distinctive and gilded contribution to religion and theology, a delusion that beloved community can be built on the foundations of capitalist property. As the American Empire wanes, so will its established religion; the erosion of Chrapitalism will generate a moral and spiritual maelstrom.
What will American Christians do as their fraudulent Mandate from Heaven expires? They might break with the imperial cult so completely that it would feel like atheism and treason. With a little help from anarchists, they might be monotheists, even Christians again. Who better to instruct them in blasphemy than sworn enemies of both God and the state? Christians might discover that unbelievers can be the most incisive and demanding theologians.
–Eugene McCarraher, “Love is Stronger than Debt” in Books and Culture.
Another example of why Books and Culture continues to be my most anticipated mail. You’re a subscriber, right?
5 thoughts on ““…Chrapitalism: the lucrative merger of Christianity and capitalism…””
Insightful post about capitalism and anachronism where huge and indecent amount of wealth is being amassed at the cost of human development.
I disagree. Capitalism has produced more human development than any other economic system because it includes freedom of the human to prosper (develop) and determine his future. Just look at the countries without captialism and observe the greater human degradation and enslavement. Look at how people flock to capitalism when they can. I find it interesting that most all who oppose capitalism choose to not live where there is only economic control. It is all quite common for the human to blame others for the natural consequences of his own bad choices.
There are elements of raw socialism in mixed in with capitalism. Where it exists, it enhances laziness, envy and tends to shred existing human responsibility in family dynamic.
Two thoughts: Having not arrived at the end of history, I’m not sure how confident we should be in capitalism’s goodness. The original quote had to do with the ugly mix of Christianity and capitalism; the author points to the way such Christianity is blinded to the destructive aspects of capitalism.
There are many forces at work on our version of capitalism, many to corrupt it. The fact that it is being corrupted, a work in progress by the destroyer, the father of lies, need not be a reason to abandon it and claim the saints are addicted to it for purely selfish reasons. This is gross assumption and judgementalism. I would say the mix of Christianity and institutionalism is a far greater ugly mix than with capitalism. Where does capitalism conceptually contradict God’s instructions? Institutionalism does in many points.
I hear the author driven by his ideology and using God and whatever Bible as a twisted tool to attack Christians. His foundation is his ideology, his own self-described worldview, not God’s Word.
Oh American Christian academics. Always 40 years late to the conversation. The marriage of Marxism and Christianity has a long storied history in Europe and without spoiling the ending, nothing much came of it. Why? Because they are incompatible. A materialist ideology cannot have any room for the Transcendent. The attempt to merge them results in the gutting of both. McCarraher is endlessly frustrating. Anachronistic, myopic. Christianity as a real sociological force is dead. It has been for some time now. The idea that it still somehow has force in the American economic system is a weak one. McCarraher is swinging at ghosts here, the show is over. It’s funny to see that not much has changed in the last 1,500 years of church history. Christians are always trying to find a place in the dominant sociological trend (they’re always late as well). The trend of our age just happens to be what we call “socialism” or marxism. Certainly we need a trenchant critique of our economic system, that is obvious, but how about one that is uniquely Christian? That would be something. On a side note Zizek is far more compelling because he is an unapologetic materialist as any marxist should be. And oddly at times he makes for a better theologian.