Capitalism and Catholicity: Ecclesiological Reflections on Alain Badiou's Pauline Universalism
Article first published online: 2 FEB 2011
© 2011 The Author. New Blackfriars © 2011 The Dominican Society.
Volume 92, Issue 1041, pages 574–590, September 2011
How to Cite
Hiebert, K. G. (2011), Capitalism and Catholicity: Ecclesiological Reflections on Alain Badiou's Pauline Universalism. New Blackfriars, 92: 574–590. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-2005.2010.01391.x
- Issue published online: 1 AUG 2011
- Article first published online: 2 FEB 2011
Emancipating Saint Paul from both his imagined “spiritual” prison and interpretations that cast him as Nietzsche's venomous priest, Alain Badiou reads Paul as providing the resources necessary for standing in the face of the endless flows of global capital that characterize the geopolitical landscape at “the end of history.” Read against the background of the apparent triumph of political and economic liberalism I will argue that the most compelling aspect of Badiou's reading is that he finds in Paul a universalism that resists the rampant automatisms of capitalism. Moreover, I will be primarily interested in the extent to which Badiou's reading of Paul radically calls into question the conclusions not only of those self-proclaimed prophets of the ethics of alterity but also of those theologians that are finally unable to give up the desire to control outcomes and master contingency. In this way I will argue that, despite his proclamation of Christianity as a fable, Badiou can be helpfully read as a profound theological resource that points toward the shape of a radical ecclesiology that refuses to be defined on the artificial terrain of modernity and struggles instead in all its fragility to remain faithful to the resurrection.