The Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy Fund For four decades, the Fund operated a publishing wing, Argo Books, which published many of Rosenstock-Huessy's English-language works and unpublished manuscripts as books. (The German Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy Gesellschaft undertook similar efforts with the German-language works; the Dutch group Respondeo published a number of translations into Dutch.) The Fund recently decided to pass on responsibility for Rosenstock-Huessy's works to another publisher, and his English-language works are now available on Amazon, sold by Wipf and Stock of Eugene, OR, who also publish Jacques Ellul and William Stringfellow.)
Eugen Rosenstock-Hüssy (July 6, 1888 – February 24, 1973) was a historian and social philosopher, whose work spanned the disciplines of history, theology, sociology, linguistics and beyond. Born in Berlin, Germany into a non-observant Jewish family, the son of a prosperous banker, he converted to Christianity in his late teens, and thereafter the interpretation and reinterpretation of Christianity was a consistent theme in his writings. He met and married Margrit Hüssy in 1914. In 1925, the couple legally combined their names. They had a son, Hans, in 1921.
Rosenstock-Huessy served as an officer in the German army during World War I. His experience caused him to reexamine the foundations of liberal Western culture. He then pursued an academic career in Germany as a specialist in medieval law, which was disrupted by the rise of Nazism. In 1933, after Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, he emigrated to the United States where he began a new academic career, initially at Harvard University and then at Dartmouth College, where he taught from 1935 to 1957.
Although never part of the mainstream of intellectual discussion during his lifetime, his work drew the attention of W. H. Auden, Harold Berman, Martin Marty, Lewis Mumford, Page Smith, and others. Rosenstock-Huessy may be best known as the close friend of and correspondent with Franz Rosenzweig. Their exchange of letters is considered by scholars of religion and theology to be indispensable in the study of the modern encounter of Jews with Christianity. In his work, Rosenstock-Huessy discussed speech and language as the dominant shaper of human character and abilities in every social context. He is viewed as belonging to a group of thinkers who revived post-Nietzschean religious thought.
This is a fascinating book that, while very dated in terms of his examples primarily coming from his experience as German, is very insightful.
His purpose is to get people think about about how planetary peace is possible. Following the two world wars, the bomb and being in the midst of the cold war (being written in the 60's), many were talking about the fact that war had become impossible. His view is that a war-less planet is possible only as people are able to sacrifice themselves toward planetary service as they do when they are in war.
Rightly, he is against seeking an easy peace that costs us little, and is impatient. For him, meaningful change toward planetary peace can only come with 3 generations (at least), three deaths, of speaking meaningfully to people across the boundaries that divide us.
He has interesting things to say about how to help (or not help) "developing countries," with a view to helping these countries far more than simply sending them our money and technology - we have to develop relationships with them that equips them with the lessons we have learned through 2000 years of Western history.
Of especial importance to me is his focus on sacrificial, committed service to others that has a lasting impact on the earth, such that the service is more profoundly felt and understood two generations later - with the greatest benefits being in the relationships that are developed between people.
As always, I feel inspired, and yet sure that I am missing much of what he is trying to communicate.
A must read for those interested in Christian philosophy that is challenging as it is edifying.
Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy has written a 117-page book entitled “Planetary Service: A Way Into the Third Millennium. In this book, he shared profound insights on the pursuit of peace via the method of voluntary, disciplined service. Rosenstock-Hussey does not hand over his main points easily, nor does he waste our time by filling a whole book with the repetition of a straightforward message. Instead, he expresses his profound insights in a variety of contexts, leaving the readers to harvest – or glean, as did the Moabite Ruth – at their pleasure. The book’s method seems to follow a vague progression from addressing the nature of borders, to the oneness of the planet, to the lessons learned from past peace attempts, and finally, to the proper timing, attitude, and behavior of those participating in the Planetary Service Corps. This book is a valuable contribution to the study of topics such as diplomacy, international relations, spiritual life, and humanitarian concerns. This book acknowledges the dangers of providing humanitarian relief to “developing nations.” This concern has also been addressed in more recent books such as “When Helping Hurts” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikert. “Planetary Service: A Way Into the Third Millennium” successfully presents a persuasive appeal for the continuation of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy’s life-work. The author brings Christian hope into the practical realm by explaining how to wait for the return of Christ while pursing the peace of Christ here on earth. He presents a useful means of advocating for Christian peace on a global scale, without engaging in the evil regime illustrated in and prophesied in Saint John’s The Revelation of Jesus Christ. This book will encourage the Saints by demonstrating that their quiet, public service within their local sphere images the humble servitude of the Peace of Nations.
- short book by EHR on service corps and youth work service camps, a review of why they're fruitful, how he would improve them, and how they can be incorporated into or how they parallel the Christian mission - but, of course, with a helping of history surrounding World War I and World War II as well as numerous digressions on language and time and technology and peace.