Radical, OP

Herbert McCabe’s Revolutionary Faith

Che Guevara once wrote that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love. For some—especially those over fifty—that remark will call up the illusions of the 1960s, when many a callow undergraduate succumbed to the charms of revolution. And remember liberation theology, in which left-wing Christians discovered a modern variation on the Exodus tale? To such Christians, imbued with the spirit of the time, a vision of peasants and workers seizing state power became an augury of the heavenly kingdom.

Worn down by political repression and condemned by conservatives in the Vatican, the alliance of Marx and God broke apart with the triumph of neoliberalism, creating a large cohort of spurned and sometimes angry ex-revolutionaries.

One such enragé was the Irish Dominican Herbert McCabe. (Born in England, McCabe renounced his citizenship as an act of solidarity with his ancestral homeland, and subsequently spoke of “your government” to his English confreres.) McCabe, who died at age seventy-five in 2001, possessed an extraordinary personal and intellectual magnetism, and over the decades befriended or instructed an impressive array of philosophers, theologians, and writers, including Alasdair MacIntyre, Fergus Kerr, James Alison, Seamus Heaney, Anthony Kenny, and Terry Eagleton, to name just a few. His sometimes tumultuous tenure as editor of New Blackfriars, the Dominican journal, is the stuff of legend. Removed from his post in 1967...

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About the Author

Eugene McCarraher is associate professor of humanities and history at Villanova University. He is completing The Enchantments of Mammon: Corporate Capitalism and the American Moral Imagination.