Harvey Cox was the Hollis Professor Divinity at Harvard Divinity School where he taught from 1865 through his retirement in 2009. He is well known for his thought-provoking and always imaginative books, including The Secular City, The Feast of Fools, The Seduction of the Spirit, Fire from Heaven, Common Prayers, How to Read the Bible,and The Future of Faith. In When Jesus Came to Harvard, he related stories about Jesus to some of the most nettlesome ethical and moral conundrums of our times.
At 87 years of age, Cox remains the compleat theologian able to move in and out of different religious traditions without losing touch with his Christian roots. He lets light in from all directions. He brings to the contemporary scene an informed sensitivity, sharpened discrimination, and an ethically awakened conscience. We always are stimulated by his books.
The Market as God builds on ideas first presented by Cox in a 1999 essay in The Atlantic. He alludes to Pope Francis's apostolic exhortation in 2013 in which he criticized the religion of the market and the public's subservience to those wielding economic power. Cox begins his own wide-ranging portrait of the market by describing it as an ersatz religion with its own all-encompassing worldview, its own priests and rituals, its own doctrines and theologies, its own saints and prophets, and its own "zeal to bring its gospel to the whole world and win converts everywhere." The worship of capitalism entails sacraments, a liturgical year, and teachings about the end of time.
With flashes of brilliance and focused energy, Cox charts the ways in which the Market became Divine and even achieved human status through the form of the corporation. Tapping into the ideas and ideals of the Book of Genesis, the Epistle to the Romans, and Saint Augustine's City of God, he points out that there are plenty of alternatives to the pseudo-religion that idolizes the Market.
Cox concludes: "The Market system is not part of nature. We as human beings constructed it, and we can renovate, dismantle, or transform it if we want to. Laying hands on it might not make one wildly popular but, unlike touching the Ark of the Covenant, it will not be punished by instant death. The market must be deprived of its sacred aura so we can think about it clearly. We do not need to take off our shoes or our hats when we enter its sanctuary."