Symposium Introduction


Rhon S. Manigault-Bryant

Mayanthi L Fernando

Timothy E Gloege

Carrie Bramen


What are you drawn to like, to watch, or even to binge? What are you free to consume, and what do you become through consumption? These questions of desire and value, Kathryn Lofton argues, are questions for the study of religion. In eleven essays exploring soap and office cubicles, Britney Spears and the Kardashians, corporate culture and Goldman Sachs, Lofton shows the conceptual levers of religion in thinking about social modes of encounter, use, and longing. Wherever we see people articulate their dreams of and for the world, wherever we see those dreams organized into protocols, images, manuals, and contracts, we glimpse what the word “religion” allows us to describe and understand.

With great style and analytical acumen, Lofton offers the ultimate guide to religion and consumption in our capitalizing times.


“There is no more perspicacious observer of the relentless religious innovation of contemporary consumer culture than Kathryn Lofton. With restless brilliance and erudition, she takes us on a chilling tour of the American marketplace figured as religion. Having revealed the sacrificial violence at the heart of our common life, Lofton urges us to commit ourselves to making religion ‘do something different’—to ‘freedom from the primal horde.’”   Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, author of A Ministry of Presence

“In a critical voice recognizably hers and only hers, Lofton brilliantly probes the most cunning junctures of contemporary neoliberal religion. Ranging over corporate cubicles; the advertising industry; finance; the dark arts of the creation, promotion, and destruction of celebrity; and much, much more, Lofton shows how at the deepest levels of imagination, desire, and discipline the modern histories of neoliberalism and religion—and the contemporary practices of both—have been and remain utterly entwined. Consuming Religion is a learned, incisive, often revelatory work; it is also deeply humane and compassionate. With this book, Lofton not only emerges clearly as the contemporary study of religion’s Walter Benjamin; she also helps restore the social critical voice of religious studies. Such a project was never more urgent than it is today.”  Robert A. Orsi, author of History and Presence

“Kathryn Lofton breaks wide the definition of religion, and in so doing, redefines the interplay between the sacred and the so-called secular—whether it’s pop icons or parenting, the Kardashians or corporate culture. We have been waiting for a book that elevates the discourse about how marketing and faith collide and co-mingle. Consuming Religion is that book.” Mara Einstein, author of Black Ops Advertising and Brands of Faith

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