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Anthropology of CatholicismA Reader$
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Kristin Norget, Valentina Napolitano, and Maya Mayblin

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520288423

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520288423.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 30 May 2020

Opulence and Simplicity

Opulence and Simplicity

The Question of Tension in Syrian Catholicism

(p.155) 12 Opulence and Simplicity
Anthropology of Catholicism

Andreas Bandak

University of California Press

In various forms of Catholicism sacrifice holds a central position. The centrality of the divine sacrifice literally embodied in the sacrament of the Eucharist works in a wider sense as a model for action and thought outside the Church as a place for worship. Sacrifice here places the individual in various positions of moral debt that one can more-or-less willingly work towards suspending. In Damascus, Syria, a popular Catholic ethic of simplicity often collides with clergy who appear to collect money for this-worldly purposes or for the sake of what is perceived as their own benefit. Lamentation over such perceived opulence attests to a tension between grace, gift, and debt. This chapter explores such tension in attending to how moral personhood is fashioned through various engagements with prayer, surrender, and debt. Where David Morgan has argued for a particular Catholic sacrificial economy (2009), wherein individuals are placed in charged relationships, this chapter examines the inherent tension between simplicity and opulence. Catholicism, it argues, may very well work by asserting a particular emphasis on the holy office that appear opulent, which necessitates a counter-movement in the form of purification and work towards greater simplicity.

Keywords:   Gift, Reciprocity, Economy, Moral debt, Money, Complexio-oppositorum

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