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Torture and Eucharist: Theology, Politics, and the Body of Christ
John Wiley & Sons / 1998 / Paperback
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In this engrossing analysis, the author contends that the Eucharist is the Church's response to the use of torture as a social discipline. The author develops a theology of the political which presents torture as one instance of a larger confrontation of power over bodies, both individual and social. He argues that a Christian practice of the political is embodied in Jesus' own torture at the hands of the powers of this world. The analysis of torture therefore is situated within wider discussions in the fields of ecclesiology and the state, social ethics and human rights, and sacrament theology. The book focuses on the experience of Chile and the Catholic church there, before and during the military dictatorship from 1973-1990. The book uses this example to examine the theocratic bases of 20th century 'social Catholicism' and its inability to resist disciplines of the state, in contrast to a truer Christian practice of the political in the Eucharist. 286 page softcover from Blackwell Publishers.
In this engrossing analysis, Cavanaugh contends that the Eucharist is the Church's response to the use of torture as a social discipline.
William T. Cavanaugh is Assistant Professor of Religion at the University of St Thomas, St Paul, Minnesota. He is the author of several articles, including A Fire Strong Enough to Consume the House: The Wars of Religion and the Rise of the State (Modern Theology, Vol. 11 No. 4, 1995).
"Cavanaugh begins with an engrossing analysis of the dynamics of torture and disappearance as a mode disciplining the body politic. He judiciously uses psychological and social scientific sources without letting them override the theological focus of the book. He then gives an equally engrossing account of the Church in Chile under Pinochet. His analyses both of Maritain and the 'New Christendom' ecclesiology provide as interesting critique of the failures of the Church to respond to Pinochet's repression, while his concluding chapter on eucharistic theology points towards the source of the successful responses made by the Church. Particularly useful and interesting is the way in which eucharistic theology is tied to concrete eucharistic practice. The book is extremely well written and engaging." Frederick C. Bauerschmidt, Loyola Collage in Maryland
"This is a very important book. It should be mandatory reading for anybody concerned with the issue of torture, and will be of vital interest to all those of us involved in Amnesty International and human rights organisations. It has an appeal and a significance far beyond the classroom. Though it is much more theological than Helen Prejean, in its narrative power it has some affinities with Dead Man Walking and will likewise speak to those outside the church." T. J. Gorringe, University of St Andrews
"Torture and Eucharist not only has superb qualities as a textbook, but is an outstanding piece of creative ecclesiology. Drawing on the work of scholars such as Milbank, Hauerwas, MacIntryre and Lindbeck, Cavanaugh moves ecclesiology out of the realm of the abstract ands ideal into the real world where the Christian Church must struggle to witness to the gospel. In doing so he shifts the Church into a new and much more exciting area of inquiry" Nicholas Healy, St Johns University, New York
"Cavanaugh's achievement is remarkable: profound theology linked with interviews and close social analysis, stimulating argument, and a tight yet imaginative writing style. The book deserves a wide audience." L. Gregory Jone The Divinity School, Duke University
"Why read such a book?....Here is authentic background information relating to the possible extradition and further trial of General Pinochet.....Here is reflection on the church's theological temptation to separate soul from body, spiritual from political."Eleanor Kreider, lecturer in Worship and liturgy, RPC Oxford
"The author... offers an elegantly written reflection on Church, Eucharist, and the politics within the context of the Pinochet regime following the overthrow of Allende in Chile."First Things
"This is theology made flesh in the story of Pinochet's Chile....I greatly acknowledge that it is a great measure of the success of the book that it causes such unease."Peter Cornwell, The Tablet
"His analysis is a closely disciplined, well informed study of the self-discernment and conduct of the Roman Catholic Church under the Pinochet regime in Chile...I found this a hard read, but breath-taking. I have not read anything in a long time that so moved, so disturbed, and so educated." Walter Brueggeman, Columbia Theological Seminary, Theology Today
"...the book has broadened my understanding of the theo-politics of torture. Those who are working against the practice of torture will benefit from reading this well-written book." Eleazar S. Fernandez, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in Religious Studies Review
"Cavanaugh's book combines narrative and argument, is beautifully written and presents us with a creative ecclesiology." International Journal in Philosophy and Theology
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