Friday, August 23, 2013

New Book about Jacques Ellul

Jacques Ellul is one of those writers whose name I've seen here and there through the years.  But the passing references never piqued my curiosity, until now.  He is perceived as anti-technology and that is how I make my living.  I came to consciousness just as he published his 1954 work on the Technological Society.  The 1950's TV shows about space travel and the wonders that were appearing everyday defined my person.  Probably based on the following I'd written him off because I was given a wrong view of him.  Thanks to Len at Next Reformation summarizing and linking to a review over at Cardus.  The book is Understanding Jacques Ellul and it claims that he is misunderstood.  Seems he was perceived as a Luddite.  Perhaps he was patiently working through the implications and diagnosing our present situation. I liked this snippet from the Cardus review:
Thinking a bit more broadly, though, we might also observe that in setting forth ideas over the unexpected scale of several books, Ellul follows in the footsteps of other prominent thinkers, including Socrates/Plato, Jesus, and Kierkegaard, who have each in different ways recognized that pursuing the truth often requires a certain obliqueness in approach. And herein we glimpse an important strategy for doing public theology in this present technological society.
I discussed this indirectness  here in a summary of previous blogs. And a commenter gave the contra case, also very edifying for me.

Great to read the thoughtful comments to the Cardus article, clicked up on each of them.  One of them sent me to the Jesus Radicals web site.  Ummm. Interesting.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Evolution Moves Us to the Hyperpersonal and Ultrahumanity - Ilia Delio and Teilard de Chardin

Downloaded to my Kindle a third book by Ilia Delio, The Unbearable Wholeness of Being:  God, Evolution and the Power of Love.  I'm liking it.  She continues in this book to refer to the writings of Teilhard de Chardin as she did in the others.  I slogged through the Phenomenon of Man by him and it was rough going.  I picked up on some of it and it was profound.  It is a great thing that Ilia has lived with his writings and like John Haught can interpret and show how Teilhard's thinking and ideas are applicable to our times.  Below is from the chapter on Technology and Noogenesis.

She says:
Evolution is progress toward more being and technology is the new means:  "It is not well being but a hunger for more-being which, of psychological necessity, can alone preserve the thinking earth from the taedium vitae."  quotation from The Future of Man 317 (kindle loc 3530)
She gives this quote from The Human Phenomenon p185:
It is a mistake to look for the extension of our being or of the noosphere in the impersonal. The future universal cannot be anything else but the hyperpersonal.
and follows with this:

Teilhard’s vision of evolution is not based on personal enhancement (like the transhumanists) but on community and creativity. He sees the convergence of human and machine intelligence as completing the material and cerebral sphere of collective thought. His hopeful vision of transhumanism is a richer and more complex domain through the connectedness of minds joined together, a collective or global mind for the forward movement of cosmic evolution. He imagines psychic energy in a continually more reflective state, giving rise to “ultrahumanity,” by which he means the need for humanity to enter into a new phase of its own evolution. The value of science, according to Teilhard, can only be for the deepening of spirituality, since knowledge increases mind and mind deepens spirit. (kindle loc 3550)
  Long before the internet I was in a Philosophy of Religion class where the concept of the Omega Point and the noosphere were discussed.  At the time it made no sense at all to me.  But now that we are almost 20 years into the internet era and with our smartphones connecting us to each other and soon, via medical technology, to our insides; it is clear that he was a visionary and what he said is coming to us.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Thoughts on "The Marriage of Sense and Soul" by Ken Wilber

The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and ReligionThe Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion by Ken Wilber

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 I read this book in the fall of 1999, the first time, and it still holds up. His explanation of the Great Chain of Being and what others call Emergence has been a great help to me in reconciling science (which I live with everyday as a R&D professional and in which I have confidence)and religion (which I also have intimacy with by virtue of family, place, and personality).

We have names for different eras of time such as the Dark Ages, the Medieval Period, etc.  The age from the 18th to the 20th is generally considered to be the Modern Period and also the Age of Enlightenment.  It is the Enlightenment that gave us industrialization, the explosion of science, the movement of societies from religious to secular, and many other things.  But in recent decades there has been a recognition by many that we are at the beginning of the next stage.  Wilber begins by explaining and critiquing the Modern as an age that is emotionally and spiritually a "flatland", an era where enchantment and meaning have been negated.  Wilber also has critiques for critiques of modernism and works to arrive at synthesizing both in an intellectually and emotionally satisfying way.  Some call the new era the Postmodern.  I don't recall if he used that term or not.  But times are definitely different now and we have continued to move and develop into the Postmodern in the 14 years since he wrote the book. 

Another reason this book is important to me is that it prepared me to understand Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christian which I read three years later.  It was then that my inward life turned around and I could finally say I'd found what I'd been looking for since my early twenties.

View all my reviews

Blog Archive