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Harvard Divinity School Episcopal/Anglican Fellowship Tackles Capitalism and Christianity

Harvard Divinity School Episcopal/Anglican Fellowship Tackles Capitalism and Christianity

For the past four years, the Harvard Divinity School Episcopal/Anglican Fellowship has brought together leading Christian scholars and practitioners for an ecumenical and academic summit. This year, the Episcopal/Anglican Fellowship put together a symposium called, “Christianity and Capitalism” based on student interest.


In an interview on “Faith and Free Markets” in the Harvard Gazette, faculty sponsor Charlie Stang, associate professor of early Christian Thought at Harvard Divinity School, writes:

“I’m the faculty sponsor of “Christianity and Capitalism.” But the conference really emerged from the passions of HDS students who were involved in the Occupy movements. Our Call for Papers (hdsepisc.org) tries to capture the motivation for the conference, and its aims and purposes. I’m speaking here as a participant, not as a single spokesman…

Christians argue endlessly about what are properly Christian values. But Jesus was unequivocal about two commandments: to love God and to love your neighbor (Matthew 22:36-38). What does it mean to love your neighbor when he or she is struggling to survive, to secure such basics as food, shelter, health care, and education? What does such love call you to do? And what does it say about your love of God when you don’t respond to your neighbor in need, as most of us do not? I speak now as a Christian of wealth and privilege, that is, as one directly implicated. But when I look at our world, I see a Christianity that has cozied up to capitalism, just as when I look in the mirror I see a Christian who has cozied up to capitalism. I take Jesus’ challenge to be a revolution in our stance toward wealth, a revolution from the scale of the individual to the corporate. But I’m no “revolutionary” because I know how I fail to love my neighbor, which is why I feel so conflicted by the question…

Learn about contemporary capitalism and learn about Christianity’s history of collusion with and resistance to oppressive economic structures. Our current economic system, what we call “global capitalism,” is not a given, and it is certainly not working for an ever-increasing number of people. How can it be fixed, or even replaced? Christianity is no monolith: Its history is full of twists and turns. As Franz Kafka once said, “Religions get lost as people do.” I think some of us worry that Christianity has gotten itself lost, and we Christians with it. This conference is a small effort to find our way back again.

The rest of Charlie Stang’s interview in the Harvard Gazette is here.

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