Financial Capitalism as Transcendent Spirituality

As some of you will know, I’ve been thinking at writing about capitalism and Christianity in preparation for a seminar at the Sydney University Evangelical Union’s Annual Conference. The seminar went well, thanks for asking!

In the seminar I tackled the underlying assumptions of capitalist economy, and showed how they’re in opposition to the basic assumptions of a Christian worldview, which I termed and presented as ‘God’s economy’.

Something else I’ve been thinking about for a while is the way in which ‘financialization’ (the transformation of non-material commodities into financial assets) seeks to transcend material constraints. William Cavanaugh has many useful things to say on this idea. Here’s a quote from a recent article on the ABC’s Religion & Ethics site.

We have been sold on the imperative of economic growth at all costs. Such faith in growth is not just a material but a spiritual aspiration, an attempt to get beyond our damnable servitude to material reality, and so overcome human vulnerability and limitation.

It is vitally important that the church begins to realise the spiritual dimensions of modern economics, and the ways in which they shape our thinking about living in the world. The Western church too easily falls into capitalist modes of behaviour instead of Christian ones.

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