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Migrations of the Holy: God, State, and the Political Meaning of the Church Paperback – February 10, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (February 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802866093
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802866097
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #196,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“William Cavanaugh continues to provide leadership and vision in the field of political theology. He addresses essential questions about the religious status of the nation-state, the political character of the church, and how the tradition of Christian political thought might be brought to bear upon contemporary politics. . . . Unfolds a theological response to present political conditions and a political response to our theological condition.”
— Luke Bretherton
King’s College London

“Another vigorous — but distinct — voice in the burgeoning conversation about the role of religion generally and the church specifically in political life. . . . Worth a careful read.”
— Robert Benne
Center for Religion and Society, Roanoke College

About the Author

William T. Cavanaugh is senior research professor at the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology and professor of Catholic studies at DePaul University. His other books include The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict and Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By N. Roark on March 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I struggled with the decision of whether to rate this book 4 or 5 stars. As I say in the title, this book is the best I've read in its field, which should surely necessitate a five-star rating. And if I rate it too low, it is only because Cavanaugh raises both expectations and possibilities in the area of political theology with this book, but does not quite manage to achieve them.

Having read all of Cavanaugh's books and having heard him speak several times, I was impressed with his writing here. Here is a book that would satisfy professional theologians while remaining accessible to non-academics. In terms of the content, Cavanaugh presents one sustained argument for relocating the church's politics within its own political identity. He does this by touching briefly (his pacing is flawless) on a large number of common topics and common names in political theology: America/democracy/freedom as an object of worship, just-war doctrine, the problem of the sinfulness of the church, the problem of the church's history involving torture, the church's position in relation to nationalism and globalism, and the best account I've seen of Augustine's City of God in its application to contemporary political theology.

Where Migrations of the Holy stands apart from other books addressing similar subjects is in the clarity of its central theme and the practicality of the view it articulates. The only thing that moves the book from 5 to 4 stars in my mind is the fact that it lacks a final conclusion that would tie all the pieces together and begin the process of giving the abstract idea concrete form.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By D. Layman on June 3, 2011
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Cavanaugh gives us a useful survey of the latest thinking in political theology from a left/radical Catholic perspective. There are some useful and illuminating discussions here. The ones I found helpful, in the order given: (1) the origins of the nation state, and its relation to war and society, and how the state has become omnicompetent in structuring our lives; (2) there is some interesting theologizing in the chapter that attempts to account for the sinfulness of the church Christologically, using the insights of Lohfink, Nicholas Healy and Balthasar; (3) the relationship between the life of the church and contemporary democracy, examined through the debates among Hauerwas, Stout, and Romand Coles. This was for me the strongest chapter.

Those 3 discussions constitute the first, and last two chapters of the book. Everything in between is, for me, much weaker.

I have two primary problems. The first discussion of the nation-state is Eurocentric, and doesn't take account of the uniquely American mode of the state (federalism, religious pluralism). Ch. 4 tries to address this with a "Theological Critique of American Exceptionalism," but I don't find it convincing. There is a dialectical quality to American Exceptionalism. It is not "Christian," but *almost* Christian. The messianic actions of the community are mediated through its pluralistic and "democratic" polity. The politics and history of this messianic ideal is much more ambiguous than his analysis would indicate. He seems to think that the errors of messianism are all on the conservative side, whereas the left-radical movements in American society drink from the same well.
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Cavenaugh has produced a great book, addressing one of the key areas of importance in the American church today: the idolatrous relationship between the church and the state, and how the church has surrendered so much to the American nation. This is a must read!
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Format: Paperback
I was thoroughly impressed with Cavanugh's writing style. It was easy to follow as he related theological, psychological, and ethical concepts with historical events.
Be forewarned, this is written in a more academic style with references to other scholars in the field. This might catch some people off guard once finishing the introductory chapters. It might be easy to get lost and lose track of names and works of other scholars.
My beliefs on how the church ought to interact with the state have been largely shaped by people like Greg Boyd. I would describe Cavanaugh as taking Boyd a few steps further- looking deeper into the history of things instead of preparing just a 45-minute sermon for a congregation. Cavanaugh's perspective as a Catholic is truly insightful for those interested in social justice. A must-have!
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 21, 2013
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The State is never neutral; it replaces the church with its own liturgies. The "Holy" migrates from the Church to the state, till we are asked to die to prove our loyalty.
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