See all my reviews on Amazon.com
See menu of all book reviews on this site
Philosophers and some scholars of other disciplines present essays on topics related to the role of Christian faith in the current culture. It seems odd to use the term "Culture of Modernity," since the universal perspective is that we have moved from modernity — though with various definitions and datings in different streams of thought — into Post-Modernity. The introduction speaks of "late modernity."
The focus turns out the same, attempting to evaluate and propose how Christianity does or can meet the challenges of the current culture, which has little in worldview similarity to the traditional western classical, rational, scientific worldview. There was a great shift from the Reformation period, with the rise of rational scholarship in the wake of the free-thinking introduced or encouraged by the Protestant Reformation.
This supposedly objective rationality undergirds the "modern" perspective, leading to the secularization currently decried in many circles. Dupré contends that there is a greater continuity between modern perspectives and postmodern than between premodern and modern worldviews.
A major contribution of Dupré was his investigations into the spiritual foundations of the current cultural crisis. Change is the primary characteristic of the "modern" or "Post-Modern" era. Lack of stability is thus a characteristic, leading to a questioning of but a questing for some standard reference base or authority. Nihilism was one early response, among some of the radical Existentialist philosophers, while other Existentialists provided some positive strategies.
Most of the scholars speaking here are of the Roman Catholic stream of faith. The sub-title expresses the intent and purpose of the collection of new essays: The Thought of Louis Dupré. This Catholic theologian-philosopher analyzed the changing trends of modern life and proposed approaches or strategies for dealing with the changing situation. A major contribution of Dupré was his investigations into the spiritual foundations of the current cultural crisis.
Change is the primary characteristic of the "modern" or "Post-Modern" era. Lack of stability is thus a characteristic, leading to a questioning of but a questing for some standard reference base or authority. Nihilism was one early response, among some of the radical Existentialist philosophers, while other Existentialists provided some positive strategies.
Breakup of Reality
Dupré's analysis showed how the modernist Enlightenment stream departed from the concept of Unity which entailed theistic assumptions about the source and identity of human and material existence. This idea of the unity of reality was the foundation of medieval thought that God is integral to creation, not a separate category above it.
The problems accompanying medieval development of classical concepts have led to the division of material and spiritual into separate realms, with the "spiritual" getting squeezed down to a smaller and smaller portion of reality. God became only the answer to what we do not yet know or understand, and thus equivalent to Mystery or Ignorance! As science discovered more and explained more, God got smaller and smaller.
Some aspects of modern philosophy continued in concert with some of the pre-modern thought that had laid the basis for modernism. What these essays do is review the themes and concepts of the medieval philosophers, particularly in regard to how they used the classical themes. They evaluate how these ideas laid the foundation for the modern viewpoint.
These essays analyze and extend Dupré's thought and wrestle anew with the possibilities of current roiling dynamics of the post-modern societies we now live in, and may have an opportunity to assist if the structures and terminology of faith are renewed and extended into the current realities.
Dupré's proposals and their cultural and philosophical sources are re-evaluated in this excellent, challenging and insightful series of essays from Eerdmans.
See related reviews and articles on this site:
Graduation to Reality — The Church Emerging
Liberal Protestantism: History and Personality
Postmodern Challenges to a Rising Evangelicalism
Postmodernism — The Church's Challenge and Opportunity
Resources for Diversity
The Rich, Persistent Centre
See this book on Amazon.com.
See all my reviews on Amazon.com
See menu of all formal book reviews on this site
See my reading lists
Many other books have review notes with the reading list entry
First reading notes written September 2006
Review prepared and posted on Thoughts and Resources 29 June 2007
Rewritten 8-9 November 2007, Last edited 10 November 2008
Reviewed on Amazon 3 March 2009
Copyright © 2007 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use. Other rights reserved.