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I Bet I Get in Trouble

March 30, 2010

Next semester I’m going to teach a course that discusses the evolution of Christianity in the modern period, and I’m going to use a number of readings that I’ll scan to pdf. The only books I’m going to have the bookstore order are the Bible and a book on capitalism (of course a critical one).

My claim in the class will be that capitalism is the horizon against which modern Christianity is best understood—hence we need to understand capitalism before we can understand Christianity.

Seriously: students won’t be able to understand with any seriousness why Walter Rauschenbusch said the things he said without a substantial understanding of Marx’s critique of capital. They won’t understand Carnegie’s gospel of wealth without a critical understanding of how capitalism works. I would go so far as to say that we can’t understand something like Stephen Mitchell’s or Elaine Pagels’ Jesus without reading them against late capitalism.

But I bet I get in trouble for ordering just the Bible and a book on capitalism for the course!

Here’s a game: in the comments I’d like to hear what sort of objections you think I’m likely to see. This could be funny.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2010 11:58 am

    Would it be improper to ask for a list of the readings? Sounds really interesting.

  2. larry c wilson permalink
    March 30, 2010 11:58 am

    Why should you get in trouble? Does your school oppose academic freedom? As for your students they will be happy that they do not have to spend to much for texts. In fact, it may be that some of them already have access to a Bible.

  3. March 30, 2010 12:27 pm

    Dear Professor Marx,

    It has come to my attention that a number of your students have been stealing bibles from my hotel. Please be advised that while this may be appropriate within the laws of dialectical materialism, this is Bedford Falls.

    Yours in Christ.

    Holi Day-Inn

  4. Beelzebub permalink
    March 30, 2010 6:14 pm

    I can’t speculate on any objections you might be likely to receive, but lately I’ve been thinking that more Christians believe in Capitalism than actually believe in the things Jesus said. But I might be in the minority in thinking that the two are often contradictory.

  5. March 30, 2010 9:51 pm

    From what you have said about your students they probably won’t get it.
    I think it would be really interesting to assess how Vatican I and Vatican II were both products of different stages of Capitalist development though, reeaaaalllyy interesting.

  6. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    March 31, 2010 7:43 am

    Chris: send me an email and I’ll let you know.

    Larry: I think there are some economics or business professors who might complain that a religion professor is teaching about something outside his area of expertise—infringing on their turf, so to speak—especially since I’m going to be critical.

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