Sylvia's Reviews > Torture and Eucharist

Torture and Eucharist by William T. Cavanaugh
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's review
Dec 22, 12

Read in December, 2012

Parts of this book are so dense, but it is certainly worth trudging through. Cavanaugh uses the details of Pinochet's oppressive regime to paint the big picture of torture and its ultimate antidote -- the Eucharist.

Some big ideas: the function of torture is to break down social bodies. By breaking down individual bodies, torturers use pain to isolate individuals and destroy communication. This, in turn, destroys communities. Cavanaugh gives examples of how the confessions of torture victims are used to create a state that wields power over individuals.

The Eucharist, on the other hand, physically and spiritually builds communities. It is the ultimate communion that brings individuals together in one body.

How paradoxical -- that the answer to torture is the Eucharist -- the very tortured body of Christ! But the answer lies in the fact that his body, after torture and death, has resurrected and lives eternally. The Heavenly nature of the Eucharist gives hope.

The Heavenly nature of the Eucharist also gives the Church a totally unique place in the world and among temporal states. Cavanaugh gives a lengthy discussion to the relationship between Church and state -- what that relationship has been historically and speculations as to what it should be.

So many of these ideas were new to me, but they stacked naturally onto the experience and knowledge I already had about the Eucharist. I learned so much about Pinochet's regime in Chile, and I appreciated the extensive research (and helpful footnotes). I hope to return to this book again after some further reading on these topics.

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