Theology of Money – Notes 10 (Conclusion)

In the final chapter of the book, Goodchild primarily seems to address philosophers of religion, offering his audience a brief reflection on how thinking into Theology of Money might cause them to view their own intellectual efforts in a different light. A political theology, he argues, needs to be embraced, which brings together nature, society, and God in a metaphysical unity founded on promise and credit. “The modern rejection of political theology consists in the ideal of autonomy: instead of asking how one may serve nature, society, or God, one asks how nature and society may be made to serve oneself. The disavowed spiritual energy that gives authority to such an autonomous subject is embodied in money. Money has replaced God. In its pure form, such energy is in fact the power of credit.” [pp. 258]

To think a metaphysics of credit will require a revolution in theology. The theology of the future must take its inspiration from the theology of money. If money promises value in such a way that value may be advanced, then any effective theology must do likewise. That is, rather than pursue the true meaning of value in the abstract, such a theology must identify potential in the concrete form of capital, the means of production that can itself be produced, and then pursue the proliferation of such capital. If money is the supreme value against which all other values may be measured, then any effective theology must seek to understand what those other values are, in terms of the intrinsic potential in each thing (what might it become?), rather than reduce all things to a uniform scale of evaluation (what is it in transcendental terms?). If money is a speculative value whose intrinsic worth awaits demonstration, then any effective theology must risk experimenting with alternative possibilities for the realization of value without prejudging the outcome. If money is “a social obligation demanding that all interaction be ordered in accordance with the repayment of debt” [pp. 260], then any effective theology must recognize that “as a spiritual perspective, debt cannot exist harmoniously in the world with other demands. It is ecologically illiterate.” [pp. 260] whereas the function of theology is to create new bases for cooperation between divergent demands on our time, attention and devotion. “Such is the true meaning of efficiency. Such is also the true meaning of redemption.” [pp. 260] Therefore, to redeem someone from debt is to create something new, a higher purpose to which that someone may devote his time, attention, and devotion. “Forgiveness is not a matter of sovereign decision. It is not something that already lies within our power. Forgiveness is a matter of divine creation. It consists in creating or discovering a new basis for cooperation. It is a challenge to be achieved. Redemption from debt therefore consists in the creation of a new basis for cooperation with debt. It consists in a new ordering of time, attention, and devotion alongside debt so that the renewal of life in all of its fullness is once more possible.” [pp. 261]

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One comment

  1. Janet

    Strangely, I had been thinking along just these lines in trying to figure out over the last few days how to pay attention to my Facebook page without being overwhelmed by all the divergent stuff that shows up on there. And I’m not sure all the tools I would need to do that are in place there yet — I feel Facebook is trying to limit my options for its own expansion and colonization. Yet Facebook certainly has its moments….

    I miss a lot if I ignore it, as I have been doing. I suppose this is obvious. But the constant evolution of social media (for and against its users) and the general take-over of the web by advertising is a really instructive paradigm, isn’t it?

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