Peter J. Leithart
David W. Opderbeck
Sarah Morice Brubaker
Spectacles designed to capture our attention surround us. Marketing, movies, shopping malls, concerts, and virtual realities capture our imaginations and cultivate our desires. We live in a “society of the spectacle” However, is the power and prevalence of spectacle unique to the modern era? In the pages of Gifts Glittering and Poisoned, early Christian voices echo across the centuries to show that the society of the spectacle is not new. Our era resembles a time when the spectacular entertainments of ancient Rome had a profound effect on every aspect of social life. By drawing on the rich theology and witness of early Christianity, Gifts Glittering and Poisoned asks what it means for us to live in a new era of empire and spectacle. Through Augustine’s description of the demonic, it shows how consumerism constructs a sophisticated symbolic order, a “society of the spectacle” that corrupts our deepest longings for God.
About the Author
Chanon Ross, PhD, is Director of the Institute for Youth Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary.
”Gifts Glittering and Poisoned is an astonishing read–and an interdisciplinary tour de force that establishes Chanon Ross as one of the most exciting practical theologians of his generation. Dense and delicious as chocolate lava cake, this book begs to be savored, line by unexpected line, as Ross reveals his unflinching gift for seeing our contemporary reflection in the ancient Roman culture of spectacle. Gifts Glittering and Poisoned is a dizzying and exhilarating ride through pagan metaphysics, Augustinian views on the demonic, Abercrombie and Fitch, ecstasy, vampires, Coldplay, exorcism, American politics, and the Eucharist’s power to turn human consumption on its ear. These pages left me breathless, convicted, and hopeful. Prepare to be amazed.”
Kenda Creasy Dean, Princeton Theological Seminary
”Gifts Glittering and Poisoned offers spot-on theology for the contemporary church, a church disenchanted with disenchantment but so often unaware of the idols by which we are bound. Ross takes us on a journey of the spectacular from Augustine to Bono, and he has the theological and spiritual insight to provide us with a sure guide along the way.”
Beth Felker Jones, Wheaton College
”Chanon Ross sees connections the rest of us cannot–between spectacle, then and now, between metaphysics and youth culture, between postmodern theology and demons (of all things!). But once he shows us, we cannot not see them. This book shows the mind of a theologian and the heart of a pastor.”
Jason Byassee, Duke Divinity School