William T. Cavanaugh

William T. Cavanaugh
  • DePaul University
  • Professor of Catholic Studies; Director of the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology
  • Residential Fellow (2018-2019)
  • "Disenchantment and Idolatry"

William T. Cavanaugh is Professor of Catholic Studies and Director of the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology at DePaul University. He is a theologian who specializes in political theology and ecclesiology. His project is entitled "Disenchantment and Idolatry." In it he will explore Max Weber’s idea that modernity is disenchanted through the lens of the biblical concept of idolatry, which blurs the line between explicit and implicit forms of worship.

Professor Cavanaugh is the author of seven books, including Torture and Eucharist (1998), The Myth of Religious Violence (2009), Migrations of the Holy: Theologies of State and Church (2011), and Field Hospital: The Church’s Engagement with a Wounded World (2016). He is the co-editor of three volumes, including The Blackwell Companion to Political Theology (2003), and co-editor of the journal Modern Theology. He has published over a hundred journal articles and book chapters, has lectured on six continents, and his books and articles have been published in twelve languages.

Professor Cavanaugh’s research has been supported by a dissertation fellowship from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, as well as a visiting fellowship from the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at Notre Dame.


  • The Splendid Idolatry of Nationalism

    PRO PUBLICO BONO – Public Administration, 2021

    William T. Cavanaugh

    This article addresses the question ‘Do we live in a secular, disenchanted world devoid of gods, or do we live in a world populated by new gods?’ Some cite Max Weber in assuming that disenchantment is a fact. Others cite Émile Durkheim who points to ongoing forms of enchantment and the development of new religious forms to take the place of Christianity. In this article I use the case of nationalism to examine this question. I analyse two arguments, one that sides with Weber, the other with Durkheim. I not only side with Durkheim, but argue that Weber sides with Durkheim, too. I then go beyond Durkheim, and argue, from a Christian theological point of view, that nationalism is not only a religion, but an idolatrous one at that.

    View on CurateND