Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture

I'm doing some independent coursework in market theology right now (hence the weird Cal dreams last night), which is, in effect, a fascinating combination of economics and theology and sociology.  And am pretty much in love.

So this morning I revisited an old chestnut from Harvey Cox, contemporary theologian, professor of divinity at Harvard, and general badass.  His article, "The Market as God: Living in the New Dispensation" appeared in The Atlantic back in March 1999.  It's an excellent layperson's introduction to the whole market-as-theology notion, a diverse and cross-religious look at the ways in which "The Market" - aka Western capitalism, or Adam Smithian laissez-faire philosophy, or the economics of supply and demand - has taken on a secularized divinity in the contemporary West.  Cox argues that this Market God is "a postmodern deity - believed in despite the evidence."

Wouldn't recent headlines concur?  It's fuckin fascinating.  Cox highlights the ways in which business and religion share the same vocabulary, the same "grand narrative about the inner meaning of human history," the same notions of "will" and "mystery" and "reverence" that result in a radical desacralization of the land, the body, and the spirit.

Given the roller-coaster economic situation of late, Cox's article feels especially relevant.  He writes of the faith placed in this "omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent" divinity, the ways in which "econologians" create sacraments, liturgies and eschatologies around it, and the "reverse transubstantiation" that takes place when the body is turned into a commodity for consumption.

Whew.  Big words, all, but worth your time, and eerily accurate.  As we watch the economy falter and see what was once steadfast faith in the salvific meaning supposedly inherent in the Market disappear into buyouts and crashes, Cox's words seem ever more prescient.

Read it.  It's lighter and easier to get through than you'd expect.  You'll feel smart.  And the morning economic headlines will never be the same to you again.

(And that's late Andy Warhol, above left: "Dollar Signs," 1981)


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