grace, Louis-Marie Chauvet, market

Chauvet on the Language of Market and Gift

But these two poles in dialectic tension belong to two different levels of exchange. The logic of the marketplace (under the form of barter or money) is that of value; it belongs to the regime of need which seeks to satisfy itself immediately through the possession of objects. The logic of symbolic exchange is of another order. For what is being exchanged through yams, shells, or spears, as through a rose of a book offered as gifts in our own culture, is more and other than what they are worth on the open market or what they may be useful for. It is more and other than what the objects are in themselves. One is here outside or beyond the regime of usefulness and immediacy. Rather, the principle which rules here is one of super-abundance. The true objects being exchanged are the subjects themselves.

… Therefore, theologically, grace requires not only this initial gratuitousness on which everything else depends but also on the graciousness of the whole circuit, and especially of the return-gift. This graciousness qualifies the return-gift as beyond-price, without calculation — in short, as a response of love. Even the return-gift of our human response thus belongs to the theoligcally Christian concept of “grace.”

… Grace must be treated as something outside the boundaries of value, according to the symbolic mode of communication, and in the first place communication of the word. Rather than being represented as an object-value that one would “refine” through analogy, the “treasure” is really not separable from the symbolic labor by which the subject itself bears fruit by becoming a believer.

Louis-Marie Chauvet, Symbol and Sacrament: A Sacramental Reinterpretation of Christian Existence, Translated by Patrick Madigan, S.J., and Madeleine Beaumont, pg. 106, 108, 109.


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