Changemaker of the Week: Jacques Ellul

For about a year now I have been reading a daily devotional called ‘Resist the Powers’, based on the writings of French theologian/sociologist and anarchist Jacques Ellul. Jacques ideas are refreshing and radical… so much so, I make sure I read my Henri Nouwen devotional just to balance him out sometimes. But above all, Jacques makes a lot of sense.

Jacques was a fascinating character who encouraged Christians to think critically about the world around them. Born in Bordeaux, France on January 6, 1912, he adhered to the maxim “Think globally, act locally” throughout his life. During the mid-1930’s he was a member of the French Communist Party, and then fought with the French Resistance during World War II. He also taught at Bordeaux’s law school and its Institute of Political Studies. He wrote 43 books, mostly about theology and ethics, and was concerned about how to maintain moral values in a technological society.

Here’s one of my favourite quotes:

“There are moments when history is flexible, and that is when we must put ourselves inside to move the works. But when the atomic bomb is dropped, it is no longer the moment to attach a parachute to it. It’s all over. I don’t believe in a permanent determinism, in the inexorable course of nature. Fate operates when people give up; when the structures of and the relationships between groups, special interests, coalitions, and ideologies are not yet rigid; when new facts appear that change the rules of the game; then at these moments we can make decisions that direct history, but very quickly everything becomes rigid and mechanical, and then nothing more can be done. One of my greatest disappointments is the extreme incapacity of Christians to intervene when situations are fluid and their habit of passionately taking sides when it is too late for anything but fate to operate. They are pushing the wheel of a vehicle that is already rolling downhill by itself.”

In Season Out Of Season

More info on Jacques here.


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~ by humblemonkey on July 29, 2009.

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