Cover image for The Powerless Church and Other Selected Writings, 1955-1985 By Ivan Illich, Foreword by Giorgio Agamben, Assembled byValentina Borremans, and Sajay Samuel

The Powerless Church and Other Selected Writings, 1955-1985

Ivan Illich, Foreword by Giorgio Agamben, Assembled by Valentina Borremans, and Sajay Samuel

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$79.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-08228-8

192 pages
5.5" × 8.5"
2018

Ivan Illich: 21st-Century Perspectives

The Powerless Church and Other Selected Writings, 1955-1985

Ivan Illich, Foreword by Giorgio Agamben, Assembled by Valentina Borremans, and Sajay Samuel

“Ivan Illich was one of the most interesting thinkers of the twentieth century, profound and incapable of being pigeonholed. In this collection of writings one can trace the connection between Illich’s radical critiques of bureaucratic, managerial modes of production in both church and state and his deep spiritual sense that vulnerability to God and to other people is necessary for a life that is truly alive. Illich’s thought and spirit remain surprisingly relevant in the current cultural context.”

 

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  • Reviews
  • Bio
Dalmatian-Austrian philosopher, Roman Catholic priest, and radical cultural critic Ivan Illich is best known for polemical writings such as Deschooling Society and Tools for Conviviality, which decried Western institutions of the 1970s. This collection brings together Illich’s shorter writings from his early publications through the rise of his remarkable intellectual career, making available works that had fallen into undue obscurity.

A fervent critic of Western Catholicism, Illich also addressed contemporary practices in fields from education and medicine to labor and socioeconomic development. At the heart of his work is his opposition to the imperialistic nature of state- and Church-sponsored missionary activities. His deep understanding of Church history, particularly the institutions of the thirteenth century, lent a historian’s perspective to his critique of the Church and other twentieth-century institutions.

The Powerless Church and Other Selected Writings, 1955–1985 comprises some of Illich’s most salient and influential short works as well as a foreword by philosopher Giorgio Agamben. Featuring writings that had previously appeared in now-defunct publications, this volume is an indispensable resource for readers of Illich’s longer works and for scholars of philosophy, religion, and cultural critique.

“Ivan Illich was one of the most interesting thinkers of the twentieth century, profound and incapable of being pigeonholed. In this collection of writings one can trace the connection between Illich’s radical critiques of bureaucratic, managerial modes of production in both church and state and his deep spiritual sense that vulnerability to God and to other people is necessary for a life that is truly alive. Illich’s thought and spirit remain surprisingly relevant in the current cultural context.”
“Ivan Illich breaks through the haze of contemporary humanism and unabashedly affirms ‘the autonomy of the ludicrous in face of the useful’ and the ‘spontaneous as opposed to the rationalized and planned.’ Carefully read these idiosyncratic essays: they are a bracing antidote to your cherished ways of seeing—and living.”
“We tend to normalize the teaching of the Gospels, but then someone like Ivan Illich comes along and shows us how radical it is. This collection offers a series of reminders of Illich’s ability to surprise us and wrench us out of the ruts that our thinking easily slides into. Whether it is about the Kingdom, virginity, or death, and whether we agree or not, Illich’s insights open up new avenues of understanding.”

Ivan Illich (1926–2002), a philosopher, theologian, and historian, was considered one of the most important and lucid thinkers of the second half of the twentieth century. He was the author of several books, including Celebration of Awareness, Medical Nemesis, Gender, and In the Vineyard of the Text. He was Visiting Professor of Philosophy, Science, Technology and Society at Penn State University in the 1980s and 1990s.