God, liberation, myth (and fascism)

Jon Beasley-Murray jpb8 at acpub.duke.edu
Wed Nov 8 00:38:31 MST 1995

[personal sidenote: I don't think there's any particular link between
intellectual ability and religious faith.  This is part personal because
I come from a family of preachers and theologians.  On the other hand,
and contrary to popular opinion, I think science and religion tend to mix
much better than the humanities and religion; taking quarks and God
seriously is far easier than taking Nietzsche and God seriously]

I'd be interested in hearing either from Peter or others on the role of
Jesuits in liberation theology.  Or rather, more broadly, I'd be
interested in knowing more on the different strands of the Catholic
church and their relations to liberation theology.  It is my
understanding (though I'm prepared to be corrected) that most of those
known for elaborating said theology aren't in fact Jesuits--Leonardo
Boff, Gustavo Gutierrez etc.

Elsewhere, eg. in El Salvador, is not the point mostly that the Jesuits
have been the keepers of the keys to higher education more than anything
else?  Anyway, I wonder about a more structural, historical analysis of
the role of the order in Latin American religious and political
dynamics... remembering also that liberation theology is as important as
a communitarian practice (comunidades de base) as it is an intellectual

This goes to what I saw as my argument with Rakesh about the MMM, and
also to a comment someone made in reaction to my post some time ago on
Sternhell's _Birth of Fascist Ideology_.  If Sternhell's faith is in a
rationalist humanism (as it is), which is why he focusses on and against
Sorel so insistently, the reaction was that perhaps the left does need
its mobilizing myths.

I tend to agree, but uncertainly.  The challenge of fascism is its
modernity--by which I mean its modernist break with nineteenth century
rationalist and realist pieties--and as such its contemporaneity, and it
seems unfeasible to combat fascism through a return to the Enlightenment,
though that maybe the approach not only of Sternhell but also of Habermas,
for example.

Take care


Jon Beasley-Murray
Literature Program
Duke University
jpb8 at acpub.duke.edu

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