“An End to Every War”: The Politics of the Eucharist and the Work of Peace (Cavanaugh, 2016)

“Christian non-violence imitates Jesus’s nonviolence, but it also participates in Jesus’s self-emptying into sinful humanity, his sharing in the brokenness of the world. It is this peacemaking that we enact in sharing the broken bread of the Eucharist”.

A GodSpy Interview with William T. Cavanaugh (Cavanaugh, 2008)

What do you think best characterizes the essence of your thought? Cavanaugh: What I’m trying to do is make connections between Sunday on the one hand and Monday through Friday on the other. In other words, to make connections between Church life—especially the Eucharist—and everyday life. I want to bridge the gap that shouldn’t be there but is.

Messianic Nation: A Christian Theological Critique of American Exceptionalism (Cavanaugh, 2005)

I want to distinguish between two broad types of American exceptionalism, one with Judeo-Christian roots, and the other with its roots in the Enlightenment. There is of course much mixing of the two types, but they represent two quite distinct ways of approaching the question of exceptionalism. The first explicitly appeals to Christian theological concepts such as the election of Israel and God’s providence. The second appeals to Enlightenment concepts concerning the universal applicability of the American value of freedom…. My basic argument is that when a direct, unmediated relationship is posited between America and a transcendent reality – either God or freedom – there is a danger that the state will be divinized.

The Liturgies of Church and State (Cavanaugh, 2005)

Today the most significant misunderstanding of the Christian liturgy is that it is sacred. Let me clarify. The problem is that “sacred” has been opposed to “secular,” and the two are presumed to describe two separate—but occasionally related—orbits. The problem is not simply that this separation leaves the church’s liturgy begging for relevance to the “real world.” The problem is rather that the supposedly “secular” world invents its own liturgies, with pretensions every bit as “sacred” as those of the Christian liturgy, and these liturgies can come to rival the church’s liturgy for our bodies and our minds. In this brief essay I want to explore in particular some of the liturgies of the American nation-state. I will suggest first that such liturgies are not properly called “secular,” and second, that the Christian liturgy is not properly cordoned off into the realm of the “sacred.”

Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Social Imagination in Early Modern Europe (Cavanaugh, 2001)

My explorations will proceed by way of showing the “fittingness” of the rise of the modern social order with certain conceptions or misconceptions of sacrifice in the Reformation era. I will begin with an examination of Martin Luther’s critique of the Mass as sacrifice. Then I will show how Luther’s arguments on sacrifice —as well as those of his opponents—serve as a bridge from the medieval to the modern, specifically in partially reflecting the shift from an organic idealization of society to a contractual conception of social processes. Finally, I will conclude with some brief comments on alternative Christian conceptions of sacrifice which do not succumb to the modern logic of gift and exchange.

The Unfreedom of the Free Market (Cavanaugh, 2003)

There is a gap between dual perceptions of the market economy that seems to be getting wider in the age of globalization. On the one hand, we are told that we live in an era of unparalleled freedom of choice…On the other hand, there is a profound sense of resignation to fate in attitudes toward the market…The argument of this essay is that there is a fundamental connection between these two types of perception of the market. In the ideology of the free market, freedom is conceived as the absence of interference from others. There are no common ends to which our desires are directed. In the absence of such ends, all that remains is the sheer arbitrary power of one will against another. Freedom thus gives way to the aggrandizement of power and the manipulation of will and desire by the greater power. The liberation of desire from ends on the one hand, and the domination of impersonal power on the other, are two sides of the same coin. If this is the case, then true freedom requires an account of the ends of human life and the destination of creation.

Dying for the Eucharist or Being Killed by It?: Romero’s Challenge to First-World Christians (Cavanaugh, 2001)

We first-world Christians want to be in solidarity with Oscar Romero and the persecuted church in Latin America. The problem for most of us here is that when we go to church no one shoots at us. We do not fear for our lives, unless we count the fear of being bored to death.

The World in a Wafer: A Geography of the Eucharist as Resistance to Globalization (Cavanaugh, 1999)

I was going to subtitle this essay “How to be a Global Village Idiot”, but “A Geography of the Eucharist” better captures what I hope to accomplish, for I believe that much of the Christian confusion over globalization results from a neglect of the Eucharist as the source of a truly Catholic practice of space and time. Globalization marks a certain configuration for the discipline of space and time; I would like to juxtapose this geography with another geography, a geography of the Eucharist and its production of catholicity.