Monday, December 07, 2009

Quotes from Jacques Ellul's "Violence"

I began reading Jacques Ellul's book Violence today. I encountered a few quotes worth pondering.

Christians and Culture
"What troubles me is not that the opinions of Christians change, nor that their opinions are shaped by the problems of the times; on the contrary, that is good. What troubles me is that Christians conform to the trend of the moment without introducing into it anything specifically Christian. Their convictions are determined by their social milieu, not by faith in the revelation; they lack the uniqueness which ought to be the expression of that faith. Thus theologies become mechanical exercises that justify the positions adopted, and justify them on grounds that are absolutely not Christian." page 28

Ends Justify the Means?
"Here the age-old question of ends and means raises its head again. I shall deal with it later. Now I say only that the act of torturing a human being, though it be intended to advance the noblest of causes, cancels out utterly all intentions and objectives." page 29

Happiness
"Dancing, fighting, experiencing religious ecstasy, working, eating a steak or owning an automobile--whatever your idea, you will find happiness in realizing it. But--for a thousand reasons I cannot go into here--it is society that expresses, constructs, and proposes conceptions of happiness; and the members of the society participate in them.

Thus in a society like ours it would never be suggested that the poor should be persuaded to seek happiness elsewhere than in consumption of goods. Every inequality of consumption is felt to be a frightful injustice, because consumption is the Number One objective of the social body. Regrettable, perhaps, but we must take things as they are. And Christians, too, accept that objective." page 37

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