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Giorgio Agamben’s The Kingdom and the Glory

Detail of the apse mosaic, Basilica Papale di San Paolo fuori le Mura, thirteenth century, Rome. Photo: Luca Marchi. Cover illustration of Giorgio Agamben’s The Kingdom and the Glory (2011).

The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government, by Giorgio Agamben, Translated by Lorenzo Chiesa with Matteo Mandarini. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011. 328 pages. $25.

EVERY PARENT—and certainly any attentive observer of parents “at work”—on some level understands the dynamic: If your authority with your children is tenuous, you end up being much more intrusively involved in the day-to-day and even minute-by-minute government of their activities. If your word carries no real symbolic power, you end up a capricious micromanager of their behavior, engaging in endless negotiations where you are constantly changing the rules in response to the exigencies of the situation—each time, of course, declaring the new decree to be absolute and final. Oikonomia is the name the Greeks gave to the activity of administering the

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