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Gaston Fessard, S.J. (1897–1978), was a major mid-twentieth century French intellectual. He was a Hegel expert, but also wrote on issues of the day ranging from the Vichy regime to Christian-Marxist dialogue. The product of several decades of reflection, Fessard’s work on the Dialectic of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola is the only one of its kind, a careful and penetrating study into the structure and tension of life-changing choices that Ignatius had in mind in his four week spiritual exercises. The Exercises insist on the way of making a spiritual Election, or choice in keeping with God’s will for oneself and for the Christian community at a particular moment in one’s existence.
Karl Löwith, Hans Blumenberg and Carl Schmitt in Polemical Contexts
In Contesting Modernity in the German Secularization Debate, Sjoerd Griffioen investigates the polemics between Karl Löwith, Hans Blumenberg and Carl Schmitt on the role of religion in modernity. He analyzes their contributions to the development of the broader German secularization debate between the 1950s and 1980s. As this development is traced, special attention is paid to how after 1968 this debate increasingly centered on Schmitt’s notion of political theology and its appropriation by the Left. This is evinced in the work of Jacob Taubes, who is opposed by Odo Marquard, assuming a Blumenbergian-secularist position in this new political landscape. Griffioen concludes with a methodological reflection on the value of ‘Geistesgeschichte’ and by identifying parallels with the contemporary discourse of postsecularism.
Italian Perspectives on Apocalypse and Rebirth in the Modern Study of Religion
In The Life and Work of Ernesto de Martino: Italian Perspectives on Apocalypse and Rebirth in the Modern Study of Religion, Flavio A. Geisshuesler offers a comprehensive study of one of Italy’s most colorful historians of religions. The book inserts de Martino’s dramatic life trajectory within the intellectual climate and the socio-political context of his age in order to offer a fresh perspective on the evolution of the discipline of religious studies during the 20th century. Demonstrating that scholarship on religion was animated by moments of fear of the apocalypse, it brings de Martino’s perspective into conversation with Mircea Eliade, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and Clifford Geertz in order to recover an Italian approach that promises to redeem religious studies as a relevant and revitalizing field of research in the contemporary climate of crisis.