The Politics of Continual Thanksgiving

Alastair's Adversaria

The Political Theology Today blog has been offline over the past week, so my latest post has gone up a week late.

To some, this defining Christian practice of thanksgiving may appear to be rather unpromising as a source of political challenge. Indeed, it may be at such points that the force of Marx’s designation of religion as the ‘opium of the people’ makes itself felt: continual thanksgiving prevents us from articulating and addressing our suffering and keeps us compliant with powers that bind us. Yet, as Peter Leithart observes in his recent book, Gratitude: An Intellectual History, the Christian approach to gratitude is profoundly subversive, especially within patronage cultures where political and social advancement and dominance arise in large measure through unilateral impositions of obligation and the gaining of honor by means of gift-giving.

Within the first century world, the New Testament’s teaching concerning gift-giving and reception was…

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