2011 Religion & Philosophy Speakers

A Conversation with Professor Philip Goodchild (University of Nottingham)


Dr. Philip Goodchild, professor of philosophy and religion at the University of Nottingham, participated in a colloquium conversation on “Religion and Capitalism” with Dr. Jeff Robbins of the Religion and Philosophy Department. The public conversation was held on Monday, November 28, 2011 at 7pm in Zimmerman Recital Hall of the Suzanne H. Arnold Art Gallery on the campus of LVC. The event was the last event of the fall colloquium series on “MONEY.”
Goodchild is the author or editor of six books, and over 30 articles or book chapters. His current book project is entitled “Credit and Faith: On Economics and Theology.” He has established himself as a visionary philosopher of religion, and an authority on the work of the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. But even more, it is by Philip’s critical inquiry about, and intervention into, what he calls the “theology of money” that he has cemented his influence.

His first foray into this subject was his 2002 book, Capitalism and Religion: The Price of Piety, a work that was immediately hailed as a “defining book of this first decade of the new century.” It is a book astonishing by its ambition and achievement: at once a genealogy of modern philosophy, a social and ethical analysis of the nihilism of contemporary society, a survey and immanent critique of the reigning orthodoxies in economic theory and policy. The book shatters the illusions of the infinite expansion of economic globalization and exposes how the failure of capitalism is revealed by the almost constant state of crisis that is as much ecological as it is existential—a crisis of capitalism that has moral, metaphysical, and theological significance.


Capitalism and Religion bequeathed a Theology of Money, a book that was first published in 2006. Its argument is that money is predicated on faith, and that as an elaborate global system, it binds us all in an inescapable web of debt and obligation functioning as a system of social control that carries with it its own piety, and thus ripe for its own theological analysis and critique. His analysis of the values, institutions, and practices of the current market economy is a dark and pessimistic one—it paints a picture of the incessant desire for cheap labor that is remaking the world’s demographics, the unrelenting need for cheap energy that is remapping geopolitics and leading to untold environmental destruction, and wherein almost everything from clear air to clean water, to public airwaves and education, has been already successfully commodified. In this way, and in many fundamental ways, therefore, this book, can be read as a prediction of the 2008 global economic collapse, from which we are still reeling.


As one reviewer has written of these two landmark books, “As Goodchild was awakening to the intersection between our ecological and economic crises, he began developing the theological investigations that issued in these two books. His Capitalism and Religion and Theology of Money are written to shake us out of our familiar thinking and open us to what matters to us ultimately, whatever our story. They provide new and provocative interpretations of economics, religion, and thinking in a dense prose that at times verges on poetry without losing its rigor, invoking the awe and wonder that alone give rise to real thinking.”