Murray Jardine on Christianity and Modern Technological Society

Tradition and Discovery 37 (3):39-58 (2010)
Abstract
Murray Jardine’s The Making and Unmaking of Technological Society further develops several of the author’s political and economic concerns articulated in his earlier Speech and Political Practice. It probes the impact and implications of both Christianity and modern technology for our understanding of, and ability to cope with, problems that have become endemic to Western and, specifically, American culture. Jardine’s major continuing themes include: the importance to a well-formed self and society to be concretely grounded in a sense of place; the participation of the knower in the dynamic processes of creativity and discovery; how even a highly literate culture is nourished and equipped for its communal endeavors by the temporal and tensional vestiges of its oral beginnings; and how the crucial element of faith, understood as trust and commitment, gives to speech acts the power to shape self, society, and history. The major new focus of this book is suggested in the subtitle: How Christianity Can Save Modernity From Itself. More thoroughly than in Speech and Political Practice, Jardine elaborates how Christianity is important in shaping our understanding of the speech act as a creative force. He outlines how Christianity and the Greek tradition have been significant forces shaping modernity; he argues that Christianity offers potential for addressing the nihilism found in the consumer society of post-modernity. Jardine is critical of those who are unable to recognize the perversions of Jesus’ message in Western history, but he is also critical of those who attribute virtually all positive developments during the past two millennia to Christianity. Nevertheless, he emphasizes the positive difference that Christian values and doctrine have made in the course of the past two thousand years. As in his earlier work, Jardine draws from an impressive range of sources, in order to make an original contribution. He is especially indebted to William Poteat, Michael Polanyi, and Ludwig Wittgenstein; his teacher Poteat’s influence is pervasive
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