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The Economy of Desire: Christianity and Capitalism in a Postmodern World

ISBN: 9781441256034



In this addition to the award-winning Church and Postmodern Culture series, Daniel Bell compares and contrasts capitalism and Christianity, showing how Christianity provides resources for faithfully navigating the postmodern global economy. He approaches capitalism and Christianity as alternative visions of humanity, God, and the good life. Considering faith and economics in terms of how desire is shaped, he casts the conflict as one between different disciplines of desire.

Bell engages the work of two important postmodern philosophers, Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault, to illuminate the nature of the postmodern world that the church currently inhabits. He considers how the global economy deforms desire in a manner that distorts human relations with God and one another. In contrast, he presents Christianity and the tradition of the works of mercy as a way beyond capitalism and socialism, beyond philanthropy and welfare. Christianity heals desire, renewing human relations and enabling communion with God. This book will work well for courses in theology and ethics, philosophical theology, discipleship, and Christianity and culture. Pastors and church leaders will also find it enlightening.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

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Key Features

  • Connects Christianity and capitalism
  • Discusses how the global economy distorts relationships with God and with each other
  • Highlights the benefits of handling the economy with a biblical Christian attitude


  • The Multitude: The Micropolitics of Desire
  • Capital Desire: Capitalism as an Economy of Desire
  • What Is Wrong with Capitalism?
  • Capitalist Theology: The Agony of Capitalist Desire
  • Is Another Economy Possible? The Church as an Economy of Desire
  • The Economy of Salvation
  • Christian Economics
  • The Work of Mercy

Praise for the Print Edition

Dan Bell persuasively demonstrates that every economy presupposes a theology because they share in common the production, distribution, and communication of desire. Using Deleuze and Foucault without being used by them, he diagnoses the formation of capitalist desire and compares it to God’s ecclesial economy. This is the most thoroughly researched and accessible book on theological economics available today. Its breadth is impressive, its argument compelling. It deserves to be widely read and used at all levels in the university and church. Readers will be richly rewarded.

D. Stephen Long, professor of systematic theology, Marquette University

We need books that ask us to think carefully, and in a Christian manner, about what an economy is ultimately for. Bell’s The Economy of Desire enables us to go deeply into the heart of today’s economic activity so we can assess its inspiration in Christ and its participation in God’s redemptive work in the world.

—Norman Wirzba, research professor of theology, ecology, and rural life, Duke Divinity School

There is no getting around the cry for a just Christian economics in Bell’s argument, nor the vision for a virtuous market participating in the divine economy of salvation. Bell’s passion is prophetic, and this book screams out to be read in the new era of austerity that all of us are entering now. A revolution is needed, and it has to begin with a right disciplining of desire.

Graham Ward, Regius Professor of Divinity, University of Oxford

The most dangerous act in the world today is to believe, to desire. But desire alone is not enough. Bell’s book is radical because he teaches us not just how to desire but the content of desire itself—a desire for God, for the good, for something bigger than ourselves. The Economy of Desire is the manifesto for restoring dignity in the wake of injustice.

—Creston Davis, assistant professor of religion, Rollins College

In dialogue with postmodern philosophers and theologians, Daniel Bell delves perceptively into human desire and the ways desire is held captive by the culture and structures of capitalism. He matches his expertise in this endeavor with a sensitive and imaginative mining of the monastic traditions to elaborate a biblical economy of desire that serves life against death. The result is a rich portrayal of practices from which every congregation can benefit in this time of economic and political tumult. This book is a creative blend of urgency, realism, critical acuity, and spiritual depth.

—M. Douglas Meeks, Cal Turner Chancellor Professor of Theology and Wesleyan Studies, Vanderbilt University Divinity School

Product Details

The Rev. Dr. Daniel M. Bell, Jr., is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church. A graduate of Stetson University in Florida, he earned the Master of Divinity degree from Duke Divinity School and the Doctor of Philosophy degree (in theology and ethics) from Duke University where he taught several courses at the divinity school and worked with Dr. Stanley Hauerwas as his doctoral advisor. His book, Liberation Theology After the End of History, published by Routledge press in the Radical Orthodoxy series, is based on his dissertation, “The Refusal to Cease Suffering: the Crucified People and the Liberation of Desire.” Prior to joining the Southern Seminary faculty in the Fall of 2000, Dr. Bell was Assistant Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Il. Prior to that, he taught at Truman State University in Kirksville, MO, and at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC.


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