It is important to notice the ways in which economic language seeps into theology and to be attentive to the ways in which interpretations of scripture can either reinscribe exploitative harm or help imagine alternative possibilities for human flourishing.
Before the COVID pandemic, low-wage workers were already living in precarious circumstances because these jobs often lack benefits necessary to provide for health care and additional income necessary to build things like emergency savings and retirement funds.
I have argued that economic theology should lead to political praxis and change. Economic theology has to open a space for emancipatory politics that resists the capitalist future.
A second expression of relationality is covenant. It is a bond between distinct parties where each gives for the flourishing of the other. Unlike contract, which protects interests, covenant protects relationship.
Blaming Covid 19 on the World Health Organization or on a lab in China and calling Black Lives Matter “radical leftist extremists” follow the American-populist playbook of responding to duress by targeting an alien “other” who have wronged “us” and whom “we’re” right to combat with force.
Thoreau is a figure who all at once embodies, hyperbolizes, and in that hyperbolization lays excruciatingly bare the contradictions of what Michael Warner calls “liberal culture,” and that for our part we might name secular capitalist modernity.
Thoreau’s asceticism was always also related to his hope for just economy – a way of life beyond slavery or exploitative capitalism. I am thus invested in thinking about Thoreau’s religion – his ascetic practice in the woods and the theological commitments that drove it – as deeply tied to his politics.
Thoreau’s generative ambivalence, the reason we keep returning to him, comes from a specific move he makes, over and over again. Thoreau does something very particular for us. He recasts problems of political economy as ethical questions about the conduct of life.
When placed in the tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., civil disobedience is premised on nonviolent resistance. But Thoreau understood that, under certain conditions, the protestor’s nonviolent resistance may lead to violence by the state.