Posted by: Dan | December 2, 2007

The Church and Capitalism: Part V (end of the series)

V. Conclusion: A Community of Beggars, a Final Appeal

Prayer, Hauerwas argues, teaches Christians to know themselves as “creatures who beg,” not only from God, but also from one another, and so they can “never be at peace with a politics or economic arrangements built on the assumption that we are fundamentally not beggars.”[202] As beggars, Christians offer the world a glimpse of another political economy, premised upon dependence on the other. After all, as Johnson notes, “[a] steward may practice her craft without a church, but the beggar must have one.”[203]

Yet it is precisely this type of living that is repugnant to capitalism. As Adam Smith writes: “The fortunate and the proud wonder at the insolence of human wretchedness, that it should dare to present itself before them, and with the loathsome aspect of its misery presume to disturb the serenity of their happiness” and again, “nobody but a beggar chuses [sic] to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow-citizens.”[204]

This paper, then, is perhaps best understood as an appeal made by one who is situated among beggars, and who, realizing his own dependence, is begging his brothers and sister in Christ to recover the Church and restore her political economics, so that the world can be made new.
[202] Performing the Faith, 241.
[203] Johnson, 141; cf. 16, 22, 110-12, 197.
[204] The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. by D. D. Raphael and A. L. Macfie (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), I.iii.2.1; An Inquiry in the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, I.ii.2.

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