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Torture and Eucharist

(Challenges in Contemporary Theology)

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  212 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
In this engrossing analysis, Cavanaugh contends that the Eucharist is the Church's response to the use of torture as a social discipline.
Paperback, 298 pages
Published December 7th 1998 by Wiley-Blackwell (first published 1991)
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Matthew Hansen
Aug 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Cavanaugh’s task is to develop a Eucharistic ecclesiology that leads the church to be "deeply involved in the sufferings of this world" as a "sharp discontinuity with the politics of the world" (13/14). To accomplish this, Cavanaugh names and critiques the normative ecclesiology of the Catholic church at large, social Catholicism, and in particular, its effects in Chile during the Pinochet regime. Social Catholicism was perpetuated largely by Catholic theologian Maritain and according to Cavanau ...more
Derek Hale
Oct 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
If you are a conservative evangelical and believe that political torture is justified, you really must read this book. Cavanaugh is a trenchant writer whose writing causes his readers to think deeply about this troubling issue.
Aug 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ethics, theology
Top 5 theology book for sure.
Bob Price
Dec 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Does the Church have anything left to say to the world? Is there a 'Christian' response to torture as it is practiced by the state? How can we understand the work of the church in the world?

While these are not the obvious questions that William Cavanaugh answers in Torture and Eucharist, they are central questions that drive his work.

Cavanaugh main area of concentration is the the torture chambers that occurred under General Pinochet's reign in Chile. The Chilean government rounded up thousands
W. Littlejohn
Jul 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scary-stuff
Just finished reading through for the second time. Some things that were amazing revelations to me last time were old hat this time; some things that I missed entirely last time seemed very significant this time...all in all, a thoroughly rewarding re-read of a masterpiece.

Honestly, I tried hard to be pickier this time, but I still had trouble finding anything significant to gripe about. This book is rock-solid, and holds up remarkably well to interrogations and objections. Everyone must read it
Dec 14, 2010 added it
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
Oct 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
I feel like a superficial failure because I could not read this book. I found the topic relevant, interesting and compelling but it was so disturbing to me that I ended up with nightmares. The same thing happened when I was reading another book on capital punishment. The series is Challenges in Contemporary Theology - I guess it was too much challenge. What I did read was very thought provoking - how torture can signal the destruction of the social fabric of a nation. How responding to knowledge ...more
Trevor Thompson
Dec 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, religion
Drawing on Cavanaugh's own experiences living in Chile during Pinochet's dictatorship, this is a brilliant book of contemporary social ethics rooted in an ecclesiology arising/formed from an understanding of the Eucharist (Body of Christ) that is both spiritual and political, mystical and true, and reaching back in memory and forming lives in the present, celebrating the kingdom already here and yearning for the not yet. Can the church formed by the Eucharist live its own "politics" in a way tha ...more
Jennifer Powell
Nov 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Torture and the Euch is the gift that keeps on giving. I read it and now it haunts my thoughts as I ponder the meaning of it all. The content absolutely applies in today's world. The framework set forth here has given shape and language toward the Christian response to the principalities in the world and in the church that would seek to dismantle the body of Christ. A beautiful work and one I very much look forward to reading again as soon as time permits.
Jun 20, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a dissertation turned book. Cavanaugh spends more time reporting on the situation of torture in Chile than he does on theology (although one could argue that he does so partly to make the stories of the tortured, who have become invisible and silenced, visible), and I would have liked to hear more about the latter. He offers an interesting take on how excommunication might be used for social justice purposes--to take seriously the idea of making the body of Christ visible.
Oct 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Fantastic. His contrast of torture as anti-liturgy of the state with the liturgy of Eucharist for the church serves his argument well. His understanding of how the church became complicit in Pinochet's government is disturbing. It drags a bit during his discussion of ecclesiology but i think he paints a beautiful picture of the church without downplaying it's problems.
Kimmy Dumont
Jun 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
a book of life change.
Mar 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
tough slogging through it, but it's a very insightful theological analysis of torture and how the state wields it -- and how the church ought to respond to it as an alternative polis.
Sep 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in political theology
Great book; compelling, provocative.
Oct 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. Anyone with even a passing interest in politics, human rights or theology should read this book.
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating! Makes reading history that much more enlightening.
Jun 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Daniel Gaul
Apr 16, 2015 rated it liked it
A very heavy read
John Francis
Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Enthralling read. There were definitely some connections made here that I found to be completely original, which is hard to do in a theology text.
Mar 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Underlined the crap out of it. Cannot stop thinking about what the argument would look like if I substituted "Love Feast" for "eucharist."
Eric Sauder
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book...very insightful. Very important in light of recent discussions of torture in the US.
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Dr. William T. Cavanaugh is Associate Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He holds an MA in Theology and Religious Studies from Cambridge University and a PhD in Religion from Duke University.

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