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Theopolitical Imagination: Discovering the Liturgy as a Political Act in an Age of Global Consumerism

Theopolitical Imagination: Discovering the Liturgy as a Political Act in an Age of Global Consumerism

William T. Cavanaugh

| T&T Clark | 2002

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The task of responding to Enlightenment and Postmodern understandings of socio-economic reality has become increasingly urgent in a world where Christian communities feel themselves drowned and eroded by global consumerism. Radical Orthodoxy and its related movements and groups of thinkers have confronted today's secular triumphalists with the evidence that its own political theories are deeply, if unconsciously, theological. There is no escape from theology, which alone cuts deeply enough to expose the violence at the root of modern secular society and the deceptive promise of salvation through the State. Catherine Pickstock has drawn attention to the importance of the liturgy at the heart of Western civilization. Now William T. Cavanaugh develops the theme of liturgy as a political act, and the Eucharist as the basis for Christian resistance to 'structures of sin'.

In terms reminiscent of Rowan Williams and Michel de Certeau, Dr. Cavanaugh explores the way we imagine ourselves into space and time. The false catholicity of globalization calls for an answer from within the Christian communion itself. In the nation state, and in the so-called 'international community,' the universal dominates the particular. In the eucharistic community, which is both universal and local, we see the birth of 'free alternative spaces, cities of God in time'. The Eucharist offers an alternative model of humanity, uniting people as fellow-citizens not only in heaven but on earth. It offers a new space and a new time beyond the public square. With Cavanaugh's radical critique, Catholic social teaching reaches the cutting edge of contemporary thought.