Thursday, August 25, 2016

Book 21 of 2016 -- The Church, Change and Development

The Church, Change and Development  
Ivan Illich (Urban Training Center Press) 125 Pages

In the spring I was asking on Facebook for possible books around Community Development. One of my colleagues sent me to a PDF link of this (free) book. Free books are almost always worth the cost so....

Until downloading this book I had never heard the name Ivan Ilich. Then he ended up as one of the people discussed in the last book I read. So as I was reading this I had to look him up and learn more about him.

It was an interesting piece. The book itself is a selection of letters, papers and speeches from the 1960's. They largely focus on Catholic mission work in Latin America but there are insights that also fit a broader (and later in time) context. Indeed in reading the first paper (which is the on the book is named for) I was struck by how prescient Illich is in describing both the era of his writing and the eras that followed.

Illich does a good job of pushing the church-folk he is working with (or possibly against?) to consider seriously the context in which they act. He also pushes them to consider seriously the ways in which their actions might actually be damaging to the people with whom they are working. He challenges the assumptions made about mission work and actively calls the church to focus on the needs of the people.

In the end, for my purposes anyway I found the first paper the most useful. The others were interesting reading and had some good insights but were a bit to narrowly focused for me.

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