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Quite a few concern the role of the Church in the modern world. Others are concerned with questions of the developing world and how best to provide aid. The book was first published in The thoughts and insights in it are if anything more relevant today. Perhaps rather infused with the tone of the late sixties, early seventies. A call to live a life of self-realisation and mutual co-operation. There is no critical discussion about the lack of a unitary set of values to live by in the West.
People are just enjoined to pick a value system which embodies values of self-realisation and non-dominion — and work it out themselves. That said; what else can one do in the West? In the model of pre-figurative change individuals and groups are called upon to live, now, the kinds of life that they wish to see as the future of humanity. In our review of Chp. Essentially; it does not fully address the power of power to frustrate change.
However; there is some awareness of the political situation in this piece. For example the piece acknowledges systemic problems which mean, for example, that industry must always accept whatever innovations increase productivity and then must use whatever methods of advertising ti can to sell the resulting over-produced goods. This is an acknowledgement that economic systems not just cultural attitudes are the problem. These ideas are not present in the other essays in this book.
A lot packed into a short paper. Illich is good because he realises that Americans do not invade and bomb the world because they are evil. The truth is far more alarming than that. The problem is that they are idealists:. Its origin and expression are associated with generous motives and a high ideal to provide a richer life for all men. But as the threatening implications of that ideal begin to emerge, the enterprise grinds down to one compelling purpose: to protect the style of life and the style of death that affluence makes possible for a very few; and since that style cannot be protected without being expanded, the affluent declare it obligatory for all.
The mission of the US to spread its way of life to the whole planet derives from a naive belief in the superiority of the American system. They are not cynical and evil. They really believe that they can spread the boons of living life the American way to the whole planet. However; for practical reasons, this is not possible. The levels of consumption cannot be sustained on a global scale.
What happens then is that only a small elite in a target country adopts Western liberal values and consumption levels. They then have to be protected by arms. This paper was of course written at the time of the Vietnam war. Furthermore; the population reacts more against the imposition of Western idols than they do against the sheer fact of military domination. There are some passages here which could almost be taken as prophetic in connection with Al-Qaeda and militant Islamic groups.
For example:. If I read present trends correctly, and I am confident that I do, during the next few years violence will break out mostly against symbols of foreign ideas and the attempt to sell these. Finally; Illich comments that once the poor take guns into their hands they become at risk of being led astray — of becoming not a peasant army, but a force for evil and gangsterism.
This paper is about the large-scale influx of people from Puerto Rico to New York city in the late s. As such it does not have an immediate relevance to British readers of today. Except that Illich brings to his discussion of this matter his usual patient insightfulness.
Immigrants can be welcomed as foreigners but not simply as foreigners — that would be condescending. Either approach avoids seeing the other in the other. How do their own customs map onto the new life? The mediation discuses how simply learning the language of another is not enough to be able to be in solidarity with him. Illich walks us through several stages of silence, in positive and negative aspect and interpreted in terms of Christian theology.
Will he simply learn the language of the native people to whom he has been sent, or will he learn about the silences in their language as well? Silence in prayer is linked to silence before the language of the other and contrasted with one whose pauses in speech are merely delays while he prepares the next platitude or even the silence of one who is busy preparing hostile words.
Beyond this kind of silence is the silence which is beyond words altogether. Here one faces the Word logos in silence or one turns away from Him in silence. And this too has an analogy with the situation of the missionary. Should he simply learn the language and preach in order to bolster his own ego he will not connect with the natives — he will be in a kind of a hell. Ultimately the missionary must know the silence of the Christian mystery; the redemption of mankind by God who sent his Son into the world to suffer at the hands of men and thus redeem them.
And in terms of Christian missionary work one can clearly see how this would be such poignant advice. The text is redolent with Christian doctrine. For non-Christians this may seem a little like a cult. Nonetheless the article can be read as being a sensitive call to remember the value of silence in communication with someone from another culture.
Words may assist but being with people is something which happens in silence. The context for this article, which appeared in a Jesuit magazine in , was a missionary programme by the American Church to South America. Illich criticises the programme. We find here familiar Illichian themes. The priests who are sent consciously or unconsciously act as salesmen for the American order — capitalism. To use priests to promote an ideology — any ideology — is an abuse of the gospel. The programme was geared towards developing the ecclesiastical hierarchy.
It saw a flow of funds into the South American churches and raised them to a financial level which they could not natively support. This induces dependency. The investment in the Church hierarchy stifled community level experimentation with ways of celebrating Christ — for example, married priests, communion celebrated within the family circle. There was little money available for training — which might have represented a long-term investment in local capacity building. What money there was was spent on training in bureaucratic methods.
In short — this kind of help props up the giver in this case the Church hierarchy and is unhelpful to the recipient. For example in Afghanistan. There is insufficient local capacity to make use of it. And it appears alien and strange. The donor has reinforced certain of his own favoured institutions contracting companies, certain NGOs. Certain members of local elites may have benefited.
The world keeps making the mistakes outlined by Illich 50 years ago. This paper was published in It concerns the future of the Roman Catholic church. Here he appears to believe that the Catholic Church as an institution is about to collapse.
In this context he proposes a new model for a clergyman. Illich envisages priests who may remain celibate disembarking from the sinking, he thinks ship of the Church and yet continuing to fulfil the spiritual role of priest as they live and work in the community in an ordinary way.
This is a vision of a distributed Church. Illich does not believe that institutional bureaucracies can do any good. He is forthright about this:. Fewer still see that the Pope himself would grow in evangelical stature and fidelity in proportion as his power to effect social issues in the world and his administrative command in the Church decline.
Illich was, apparently, a man of faith. Being outside the formal Church hierarchy there will be a level playing field between them and their consecrants. Whether the collapse in numbers of serving priests in the Catholic Church has ever happened the present writer is unable to determine; as he has no familiarity with life in Roman Catholic communities.
On the question of celibacy Illich is clear. He values celibacy as an authentic spiritual choice one saves oneself for a mystical bridal intimacy with the divine but does not believe that celibacy should be tied to the role of priest. Others not. Illich was against the ordination of married men as priests because he felt that would give an extra lease of life to what he saw as a dying institution.
Better to move straight on to the future. Illich naturally envisaged that in the future, reformed, Church the role of theological colleges would be reduced. Learning would be distributed, more personal. Organised courses in theology are not very good at communicating the special essence of the Christian revelation — a sense of the Church of Christ.
A more personal learning will in turn be reflected in the style of Church teaching moving away from issuing encyclicals on abortion and social justice and towards supporting networks of local communities each sustained by the living Word. It is not hard to see why Illich was not popular with the papal authorities. It seems he aimed at the top.
But; did the clergy vanish? As already mentioned, this writer does not have any first-hand knowledge of the contemporary Catholic Church.
But there is no obvious sign that the Church has indeed collapsed as Illich envisaged.
Celebration of Awareness: A Call for Institutional Revolution
By Ivan Illich. This call to celebration was a manifesto jointly enunciated by and reflecting the mood of a group of friends in , among them Robert Fox and Robert Theobald. It was written at the time of the March on the Pentagon. This call to face facts, rather than deal in illusions—to live change, rather than rely on engineering-is an attempt to re-introduce the word celebration into ordinary English.
Review: Celebration of Awareness by Ivan Illich
Parents, teachers, and students: Visit our new K Student Library. Last edited by Clean Up Bot. February 13, History. By Ivan Illich. Go to the editions section to read or download ebooks. Celebration of awareness Ivan Illich.