I recently spoke with Eliana de Castro, editor of the Brazilian online magazine of art and literature, Fausto. She asked my about my book, Divine Currency, as well as the relation of religion and economics to Islamophobia in the West. Read it in Portuguese here, or pop it into your favorite online translator.
I’m often struck by how little I see written about Gen Xers (1965-1980) in the workplace or Gen X leadership. There is, of course, a ton on our younger siblings, the Millennials (1981-1996), and still plenty coming out on our aging Boomer (1946-1964) parents. There’s even a lot of coverage on the tense relationship between those two!
We Xers seem to have been left out of things, which, of course, totally fits our life experience.
But why fail to consider the important challenges faced and contributions made by GenXers in the workplace?
I’m sure there are a few books out there that I’m missing on this topic, but here’s a quick and dirty list of five things that Gen Xers bring to leadership, the workplace, and organizations in general:
May 22, 2018
In this TCM mini-episode, we hear a short talk given by Devin Singh last November as part of the Race, Coloniality and Philosophy of Religion Unit at AAR in Boston. Devin has recently written a book Divine Currency: The Theological Power of Money in the West. We'll hear more about that in an upcoming episode... Stay tuned.
Dec 4, 2018
In this public lecture, for “Radboud Reflects,” a program hosted by Radboud University, Nijmegen, I explain some of the main themes from my book, Divine Currency, and ask how God and greed may be more closely related than we assume.
This summer I received word that I had been selected to participate in a Luce Foundation-funded project called Public Theologies of Technology and Presence, administered through the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley.
My project, “Decentered Sovereignties and Spectral Transactions: Cryptocurrency, Public Theology, and the Ethics of Presence” will examine the hidden ethical vision of cryptocurrency and evaluate its potential impact on community. Click the link to learn more!
The Briefing, Powered by Dartmouth
May 5, 2018
Money is significant in Western culture, and as the saying goes, money is power. But how did it become such a central part of Western life? Dartmouth’s Devin Singh examines the religious and theological sources of money’s influence in his new book Divine Currency: The Theological Power of Money in the West.
The Briefing Powered By Dartmouth on SiriusXM Insight Channel 121. Airs Saturdays at 8am EST, rebroadcast Sundays at 6am and 7pm EST. A lively hour dissecting the history, facts and perspectives shaping this week's news.
Sirius Radio’s legal prevents me from posting the whole thing but feel free to message me for a file of the entire interview for your personal use.
Last year I was interviewed by a Dartmouth student and this profile was recently published. Click the image for a link to a readable online version!
As an extension of his fight against racist laws at home, Martin Luther King Jr. became increasingly critical of US policies abroad. Indeed, many speculate that King’s progressively strident critique of US militarism and intervention, particularly in Vietnam, and his challenge to American market priorities were factors that accelerated plans for his assassination—the 50th anniversary of which we recently marked as a nation. Among his many detractors were white clergy who, already incensed at King’s challenge to segregation and Jim Crow, were dumbfounded that he would move to oppose US warmongering and to call out the evils of capitalism. As King’s confrontation revealed, their theology was not only implicated in their racist vision of society, but also in a worldview that prioritized economic supremacy by any means necessary.
On April 4th, 1967, exactly one year to the day before he was murdered, King gathered with other religious leaders to protest the war in Vietnam at the Riverside Church in New York, where he delivered his famous sermon, “Beyond Vietnam.” As he began, King addressed his critics, those who asked, “Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent?”; “Peace and civil rights don’t mix.” To such complaints, King responded: “the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment, or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.”
I was recently invited to join the Westar Institute's annual gathering in Santa Rosa, CA, as part of a new discussion in their God Seminar on decolonizing theology. Mary Keller (Wyoming), An Yountae (Northridge) and myself were asked to share reflections about theism and post-theisms in light of post- and decolonial thought. I spoke on the question of the secular in light of decolonial reflection, arguing that some notion of the secular as a space to protect difference should be preserved, and perhaps can be theologically legitimated and defended from a variety of religious and humanist traditions, suggesting that the decolonial turn may open up new perspectives on the question.
It was a lovely gathering of scholars, including Jeff Robbins, Clayton Crockett, Karen Bray, Noelle Vahanian, John Caputo, Wilson Dickinson, Jordan Miller, Michael Zbaraschuk, Sarah Morice Brubaker, and Mike Grimshaw. This was a chance for me to learn about the interesting work of the institute and seminar, and consider some of the contemporary challenges being tackled.
Since we were in prime wine country, some of us were able to sneak off to sample the local varietals.
I recently spent a few days on the campus of Saint Paul's School in Concord, NH, as part of their Chapel Program review committee, where they gathered a team of external reviewers to assess their fulfillment of their mission on campus.
As part of this visit, I was invited to address their community in their morning chapel. This gathering of their entire student body and faculty took place in their impressive and imposing Chapel of St Peter and St Paul. I took the opportunity to speak about a topic that has remained near and dear to my heart for most of my life: anger.
Our attitude toward anger is ambivalent, at best. Usually, it is an emotion and affective state that is feared, resisted, and repressed... until it explodes. In these brief reflections, I suggest a slightly different attitude toward anger, one that recognizes it as a major resource in our lives for change.
I recently participated on a panel as part of a broader conference on Christianity, Race, and Mass Incarceration at Harvard Divinity School:
"Christianity, Race, and Mass Incarceration will gather scholars of various disciplines in conversation alongside activists, organizers, and formerly incarcerated persons. We hope to advance through this workshop a critical study of carceral punishment, especially as it relates to questions of Christian thought and practice, and to provoke awareness and activism around incarceration in America."
After a first, brilliant panel on "Religion and the Historical Roots of US Incarceration" followed by a second, equally brilliant and hard-hitting panel on "Race and Religion in Modern Mass Incarceration," the third panel was a "Theology and Humanities Roundtable" where scholars shared their perspectives on how their work relates to this pressing social and conceptual problem.
On the panel, I was accompanied by Michelle Sanchez, Todne Thomas, Cornel West, and Andre Willis:
My brief remarks, titled "Guilty Debt? The Economy of Carcerality" emphasized the role of debt in supporting imaginaries that deem pain and punishment an appropriate "repayment" for crimes committed and that construe indebtedness as moral culpability and guilt.
I also asked whether Christian theories of salvation that make repayment of the "debt" of sin a central piece might not be reinforcing this broader social imaginary that sacralizes and centers on debt. Can we rethink salvation outside of the terms of redemption, recompense or repayment?
Watch the full video of this particular panel:
Is money transcendent or immanent?
Some might suggest that money is the preeminent symbol of immanence. It enables exchange, the dyadic interface of two agents, passing values about on the same plane. It requires no “outside.” Money has supposedly become the be-all and end-all of our age, as the horizon of the good, and, as such, forges a closed, self-contained system. The modern era, the age of immanence, is also the age of money and capital, as economy has come to ground and delimit much of how we understand ourselves. Money and its preponderance appear correlated to the immanent.
Others may counter that money appears irrevocably tied to transcendence. After all, money only works by serving as an abstract “third” position to mediate two incommensurate articles of exchange. Money signifies value, itself an ethereal category not fully exhausted by materialist definitions. Money “stands above” the plane of objects of labor, commodities, and use-values. Some might press further to claim that money has usurped the place of God in societal imagination, trading on theological residues to become the index for ultimate concern and even sovereign decision. Implied here is a critique of false transcendence. The immanent has overstepped its place. Which brings us full circle.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this circularity reveals the shortcomings of the opening query. It cannot be asked meaningfully without specifying the types of immanence and transcendence in question, for clearly their registers are multiple, layered, and textured...
Read the the full, original post at The Immanent Frame.
The Panama Papers caught some of the most powerful people on the globe in the act of self-dealing. Now the public wants the guilty to come clean, step into the light, and confess their financial misdeeds.
While such confession might be an important public ritual, there are reasons to believe that confession won’t make the sins disappear and they’ll likely happen again.
Read the rest of the piece at Patheos.com
Should theological texts and other insider religious documents be part of a curriculum at a secular, liberal arts college? What use or relevance do these objects of study have? Why would students need to spend time reading them to prepare for success in today's world?
My recent post in the Huffington Post makes the point that theology offers many benefits to students as part of a robust and well-rounded liberal arts curriculum. We shouldn't write it off too swiftly.
As a nation, we recognize the dangers of special interest politics—the influence of lobbyists and impact of corporations. We’re rightly cautious of the ways money is used to commandeer the political process and undermine democracy. But Trump is far from the untainted outsider that he purports to be. To the contrary, he is a one-stop-shop for all these dangers that we rightly fear. In his campaign, the seeds of tyranny lie waiting to take root.
What do I mean by associating Trump and tyranny? It's not a question of likeability or character, really. Rather, insights from the ancient Greeks, from whom we get ideas of democracy, provide warning. They highlight the dangers of extreme wealth used by private citizens to step around established political norms and processes. This leads to a lack of accountability by leadership and possible betrayal of the people.
Debt cancellation has become part of the public conversation over the past decades in response to our cycles of financial crises.
It’s in part because of its proximity to language of salvation and its association with divine activity that debt cancellation has garnered an altruistic aura. It smacks of profound mercy and justice. Progressive social movements, whether religiously inspired or not, champion debt cancellation in various forms, from the famed Jubilee 2000 campaign to groups associated with Occupy Wall Street. Thus, Jubilee is part of a set of purportedly radical options marshaled to challenge the excesses and abuses of our current global capitalist order.
If we assess the originary logic and historical context of Jubilee, however, it’s clear that we should pause before we champion debt cancellation policies today. For debt cancellation in its ANE context is unquestionably an act and prerogative of sovereign power. Jubilee is an exceptional act, occurring in moments of transition in sovereignty or in times of crisis. It is a declaration of sovereignty, a statement of total supremacy over the economy and society of a territory or empire. Only the sovereign can declare Jubilee. Such acts, while framed as benevolent and while certainly providing a temporary relief, ultimately reinforce sovereign authority and emphasize the system’s dependence upon sovereign will and decision. Debt cancellation is a form of sovereign crisis management.