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Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire
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Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire


Eerdmans 2008

Runs on Windows, Mac and mobile.


Should Christians be for or against the free market? What about globalization? How are we to live in a world of scarcity? William Cavanaugh uses Christian resources to incisively address basic economic matters—the free market, consumer culture, globalization, and scarcity—arguing that we should not just accept these as givens but should instead change the terms of the debate.

Among other things, Cavanaugh discusses how God, in the Eucharist, forms us to consume and be consumed rightly. Examining pathologies of desire in contemporary “free market” economies, Being Consumed puts forth a positive and inspiring vision of how the body of Christ can engage in economic alternatives. At every turn, Cavanaugh illustrates his theological analysis with concrete examples of Christian economic practices.

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Key Features

  • Examines economic issues from a Christian worldview
  • Presents a new vision of consumption and economic alternatives
  • Challenges our common economic assumptions
  • Discusses how God has made us to consume and be consumed


  • Freedom and Unfreedom
  • Detachment and Attachment
  • The Global and the Local
  • Scarcity and Abundance

Praise for the Print Edition

Many Christians vaguely sense that all is not well with their relation to consumer society, but find it difficult to name just what ails them. In Being Consumed William Cavanaugh offers the clearest, most helpful diagnosis I have ever seen. No liberal guilt-tripping here, just some serious theological reflection on matters like God, desire, justice, pluralism, and the nature of human freedom. I especially like Cavanaugh’s concrete examples of economic practices consistent with life in the body of Christ. This book will be required reading in my introductory theology course.

Joseph Mangina, professor of systematic theology, Wycliffe College, Toronto

Rampaging retail therapy in our Western economics requires a radical analyst. We have an Augustinian prophetic voice in William Cavanaugh, who subjects the free market, consumer culture, globalization, and scarcity to Catholic interrogation. He employs the traditions of Augustine, Aquinas, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and John Paul II, proposing an alternative desire that transforms the church and our practices. Envisioning a eucharistic justice that leaves us rich in community-caring and prosperous in our constant sharing, Cavanaugh is lucid, personal, practical, and theologically wise.

Gavin D’Costa, professor of Catholic theology, University of Bristol

Can a book free Christians from the ‘invisible hand’ that seems more and more to dominate every aspect of our lives? William Cavanaugh provides a much-needed how-to manual for just such a liberation. Clearly written and even entertaining, Being Consumed frees us from the ironic position of ‘having no choice’ but to live by the rules of free-market consumerism in a globalized world of scarce resources . . . Cavanaugh makes clear that the everyday economic life of Christians can be different and can make a difference. And he sows seeds that could, if taken seriously by Christians and churches, produce well over a hundredfold—produce, that is, a revolution.

—M. Therese Lysaught, associate professor, department of theology, Marquette University

Being Consumed is a thoughtful look at a difficult set of issues. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand better how we might apply Christian teaching within our modern economic framework.

Catholic Register

Product Details

About William T. Cavanaugh

William T. Cavanaugh is senior research professor at the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology and professor of Catholic studies at DePaul University. His other books include The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict and Migrations of the Holy: God, State, and the Political Meaning of the Church.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition

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