Theology of Money – Conclusion: Of Redemption

Goodchild concludes with a short meditation on how the theology of money affects the task of theology going forward. The result, he affirms, is nothing short of calling for a revolution (258). I appreciated his summation, and think it presents us with a nice schematic:

  • “Does money promise value in such a way that value may be advanced? If so, then any effective theology must do likewise.”

By this, he means the job of theology is not to replace illusion with fantasy. “True meaning” or “final realization of truth,” glory now or glory later, are not its promises. Theology must, rather, be attuned to the immanence of its “situation,” the ecology in which it participates, and from there realize its potential from a fully embodied mode of evaluation.

  • “Is money the supreme value againt which all other values may be measured? If so, then any effective theology must do likewise: it must become capable of measuring all other values.”

Notably, this means identifying the “intrinsic value of all things” — i.e., without the definitive substitution of a single form of valuation. Such a substitution can only appropriate potential to itself, and in the process can never realize (or allow to be realized) the innovative power of potential.

  • “Is money a speculative value whose intrinsic worth awaits demonstration? If so, then any effective theology must be  likewise.”

I tried to address this last week in two comments. Goodchild seems to be saying such a theology must move beyond illusion, through fantasy, and immerse itself in its own radically fictive possibilities. He writes: “Theology belongs within the realm of the possible, the realm of ‘what if?’ One cannot know in advance what the outcome of any particular theology will be.” Such a theology must experiment, and not know fully where it it will lead. (I’m thinking at the moment of a kind of Benjaminian theology, in which a theological reflection is carried beyond itself into “speculative” interpretation, whereupon its isolated specificity is less important than the evolutionarily complex fluidity of its transmission and the resulting wealth of possibilities it discloses.) Perhaps it is time to move beyond even “constructive theology,” and revivify “speculative theology.”

  • “Is money a social obligation demanding that all interaction be ordered in accordance with the repayment of debt? If so, then all effective theology must do likewise.”

Theology has its own set of demands, and it should not shy from them. As Goodchild has repeated throughout Theology of Money, “Theology consists in the ordering of time, attention, and devotion.” What distinguishes the theology’s demand is that it does not seek possession, but rather “coordination and orientation of other powers so that the same time may be used to attend to a range of demands.” Theology recognizes its place in the ecological scheme of things — not to be confused with a hierarchy or chain — and recognizes that the demands of life are both multiple and connected. The goal, as such, is not so much to be “well-balanced,” as it is efficiently coordinated.

The aim, ultimately, is the creation or discovering a new basis for a coordination and cooperation that does not prioritize the individual sovereign and/or the promise of finality (i.e., when all things will be “made right”). This, Goodchild concludes, is the true nature of redemption, whereupon our existing powers and configurations of debt are recognized as the failures that they are. Perhaps in so doing we see them truly for the first time; and in so seeing, we finally see; and in so finally seeing, we begin, for the first time, creating.

Thoughts for reflection: What is the way forward for such a theology? Is it possible to institutionalize it? If so, which institution? If not, from where does its “authority” come to facilitate the re-ordering of time and attention and devotion? Are there perhaps preliminary “re-orderings” necessary before Goodchild’s vision for theology is fully translatable? Or has the state of theology decayed so much, or perhaps on the verge of such rapid deterioration, that a radical alternative, whether it be this or something else, is  not only necessary, but in some way inevitable?

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3 Responses to “Theology of Money – Conclusion: Of Redemption”

  1. Adam Kotsko Says:

    What I like about Goodchild’s proposals is the fact that he’s very straightforward that we need to meet capitalism (money) on its own ground and defeat it there. Obviously if capitalism is successful it must have some kind of appeal, and so we need to do what capitalism does, but better — it’s an “immanent critique” in every sense. Perhaps this falls under Zizek’s criticism of Hardt and Negri (which would be unsurprising given that Goodchild is also drawing on Deleuze/Guattari on some level), namely that the supposed solution borrows too much from capitalism, but I think it also shows how shallow that criticism is. (I’d also contrast it with more transcendence-oriented critiques, if discussions of Radical Orthodoxy weren’t so strongly discouraged in these book events.)

  2. The illogic of capitalism « Dømmer selv! Says:

    [...] in my reading for the Theology of Money book event that I mentioned a few weeks ago (which has just concluded over an An und fur sich). I’m way back in chapter three, so I doubt that I’ll have any [...]


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