Hugues Deletraz: ‘Modernism Has Reached Its Limits’

I’m working my way through an academic paper by Jesuit priest Hugues Deletraz on Post-Modernism Opens New Perspectives for Evangelization. Deletraz spent many years serving in Tanzania and was director of the Social Justice Secretariat for the Jesuits in Rome.

A Public Protest and Memorial on the Gulf Coast

I think I’ll post a few random excerpts as I grapple with the material. Here’s one that I’ve been reading alongside news of BP’s “engineered environmental catastrophe” in the Gulf of Mexico:

One must admit that modernism has today reached its limits. It is the case, for example, in the economic field, dominated by the neo-liberal paradigm of globalization. Intensive use of natural resources has two limitations: the resources get exhausted, and the environment is unable to absorb the amount of pollution produced. Sometimes, these two limitations cross, as in the case of oil, with its reserves being depleted, while the production of greenhouse gas is not tenable anymore.

Not only is the global economy under stress, but the economic development of emerging countries forces developed countries to reduce their living standard. However, such an evolutionary turn is not part of the scheme of modern economy which, moved by the ideology of infinite progress, is forced to grow. In other words, the neo-liberal workings of the economy and the Anglo-Saxon understanding of globalization have no future.

The recent financial crisis and its economic and social consequences due to a speculation that takes money without creating value calls for reforms more fundamental than a better regulation of financial markets. It calls for reforms that aim at a post-modern redefinition of the standing and the role of the economy in the lives of societies. — Hugues Deletraz (Post-Modernism Opens New Perspectives for Evangelization)

I have found Deletraz’s description of the decline of modernity and the rise of post-modernity as it relates to global politics and Christianity to be very helpful in interpreting the “signs of the times.” His framework of inviting the church to move from the Tree of Knowledge toward the Tree of Life is beautiful.

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