Villanova University professor Eugene McCarraher to deliver 4th Annual Commonweal Magazine Lecture at Fairfield University



Image: Eugene McCarraherAuthor Eugene McCarraher, Ph.D., researcher of the intersection of corporate business and religious culture, will deliver the Fourth Annual Commonweal Magazine Lecture at Fairfield University, on Wednesday, March 30, at 8 p.m.

McCarraher, assistant professor of Humanities and History at Villanova University, will speak on "The Enchantments of Mammon: Corporate Capitalism and the American Moral Imagination." The public is welcome and admission is free to the event, which will take place in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room.

The annual lecture features speakers associated with "Commonweal," a journal of opinion edited and managed by lay Catholics that reviews religion, politics, and culture. It is sponsored by the university's Center for Catholic Studies, in partnership with "Commonweal."

The lecture will be a reflection on why McCarraher thinks capitalism is a form of enchantment. To make his point, he'll weave into his talk the thinking of the German sociologist Max Weber. A little over a century ago, Weber declared "the disenchantment of the world." Fewer and fewer people, he argued, believed that the world was inhabited or controlled by supernatural forces - gods, spirits, magical forces.

"With its insistence on mercenary, bottom-line thinking, capitalism was one of the major reasons for disenchantment, according to Weber," explained McCarraher, author of the forthcoming book, "The Enchantments of Mammon: Corporate Capitalism and the American Moral Imagination." "I think Weber was wrong."

"It's a form of moral and religious life," he continued. "That's why I think it's not just unjust; it's malevolent in ways that Americans don't often realize. Most Americans are always trying to serve two masters; they try to compose the difference between God and Mammon and get them to form a lucrative partnership."

In addition to exploring capitalism as a form of enchantment, McCarraher will explain how that enchantment has played itself out in American history, and why there is a need to dispel that enchantment to confront the turbulence that lies ahead for us.

He is the author of the book, "Christian Critics: Religion and the Impasse in Modern American Social Thought" (Cornell University Press, 2000). He has been published extensively, and wrote an article entitled, "Me, Myself, and Inc.: Social Selfhood and Religious Longing in American Management Theory, 1908-1956," for editor Wilfred M. McClay's soon-to-be-published book, "Footprints in the Carpet: Historical Perspectives on the Human Person" (Johns Hopkins University Press).

The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including a National Endowment for the Humanities stipend, McCarraher was a visiting lecturer in the Department of Religion at Princeton University and a visiting assistant professor of history at the University of Delaware. He earned a Ph.D. from Rutgers University, an M.A. from Villanova and a B.A. from Ursinus College.

For information about the Center for Catholic Studies and events it sponsors, visit http://www.fairfield.edu/cs/. For more information, please contact the Center for Catholic Studies Administrative Coordinator at (203) 254-4000 ext. 3415.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 18, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 248