Archives For Ivan Illich

“Modern medicine is a negation of health. It isn’t organized to serve human health, but only itself, as an institution. It makes more people sick than it heals.”
– Ivan Illich, social critic,
who was born on this day, 1926

*** Watch this important lecture by Illich, “What Makes a City?”

Poem of the Day:
“The Uses of Light”
by Gary Snyder  [ Tweet this ]

Kindle Ebook Deal of the Day: 
The Wisdom of Leopold Kohr
by Ivan Illich
Only $0.99!!!      [ Tweet this ]
One of the most significant E.F. Schumacher lectures, as today is not only Illich’s birthdate but also the anniversary of Schumacher’s death…

*** NOTE: This stated price is for the United States. Unfortunately, this offer may or may not be available in other countries. Sorry!

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The Wake Up Call – September 4, 2014


Today is the birthday of philosopher and social critic, Ivan Illich (1926-2002)

Below is a two-part video of a 1984 talk that he gave based on his book

H2O and the Waters of Forgetfulness.

Ivan Illich

Paperback: Marion Boyars, 2000.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Other Illich resources on the ERB Site:

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An Excerpt from Ivan Illich’s classic study of Hugh of St. Victor …

In the Vineyard of the Text:

A Commentary to Hugh’s Didascalicon.

Ivan Illich.

Paperback: U Chicago Press, 1992.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Free Ebooks (and More!)

January 10, 2012 — 1 Comment


Here’s a sampling of some of
the free stuff we give away on the ERB site…

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to keep up with our latest giveaways!)

Choose a FREE ebook when you
sign up for our free weekly email digest!

Our collection of FREE ebooks for the Kindle!

Download Mp3’s of
Wendell Berry reading his poetry!

Via NPR’s Speaking of Faith website…

Mp3’s of Wendell Berry reading 7 of his poems,
Including “How to be a poet”
and “The Man Born to Farming”…

DOWNLOAD these Mp3’s here.

Free Ebook:
The Church, Change and Development By Ivan Illich
Illich was among the sharpest Catholic philosophers and cocial critics of the 20th century
DOWNLOAD the ebook here…

Not familiar with Illich? (You should be…)
Download an audio recording of John McKnight telling stories about his friend Illich…

Other free goodies:


Greg Boyd Launches a Critique of
the New American Patriot’s Bible

The Patriot’s Bible opens with several prefaces, one of which is an essay entitled A Call To Action. Here the contributors sound the alarm that “[o]ur freedom to serve God and to promote the gospel in our land is disintegrating.” No evidence is given in support of this alarming claim, but fighting this alleged encroaching loss of freedom is one of the reasons this Bible was published. To this end, Christians are encouraged to persevere like George Washington (who elsewhere is referred to as the “American Moses”). Washington, we are told, lost most of his early battles in the Revolutionary War, but through perseverance he ultimately defeated his foes. Consequently, we American’s “won our independence from the British and became a free people.” And then the contributors to the Patriot’s Bible add, “Our Lord taught us that when we put our hands to the plow of a righteous cause, we are never to look back, but to persevere and prevail” (Luke 9:62).

This is most certainly not what our Lord taught us in this passage. In the context for this verse, Jesus repeatedly emphasized the need for people to forgo normal social conventions if they wished to become his disciple (vss 56-62). All of this followed right on the heals of Jesus’ rebuke of his disciples for wanting God to violently punish those they perceived to be enemies of the Gospel (vs. 52-55). In this context, Jesus said, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Notice how the Patriot’s Bible completely subverts Jesus’ teaching.


Read the full review:

Reflections on Ivan Illich’s

Give an underprivileged child a new set of clothes, a ruler and lunch box at the summer’s end and you will be called a hero. Tell that same child that if she knew what was good for her, she should run the other way when the proverbial school bell rings, and you will be branded a blasphemous heretic.

Yet according to Ivan Illich, Roman Catholic educator, author and social critic of the 1970’s, this latter action would be by far the more humanitarian approach.

In his powerful tirade, Deschooling Society, Illich shows how the institution of school, in it’s very essence, is the primary generator of our consumption driven society.

Read the full piece:

Deschooling Society.
Ivan Illich.
Paperback: Marion Boyars, 1999.
Buy Now:  [ Doulos Christou Books $10 ] [ Amazon ]

Rod Dreher Reflects on

Last night I read a fascinating book, “Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes,” an account of living in the Amazon jungle written by a linguist, Dan Everett, who initially went into the jungle as a missionary, but who came out an atheist. Everett’s website is here; you can order the book through it, if you like, and read interviews with him.

Everett spent decades living with the Piraha tribe, learning their extremely difficult language so he could translate the Bible for them, and lead them to the Christian faith. How he lost his own Christian faith in the process is a story that he tells in the book all too briefly; this is primarily a book about language. Still, I find myself this morning taken by a concept that recurs in the book: the subjectivity of knowledge, or, to phrase it another way, the cultural contingency of epistemology. Which is simply a fancypants way of saying not simply that the truths we know are culturally conditioned, but our way of knowing truth is also.

Everett begins his book with a startling anecdote. One morning, he and his family were awakened in their riverbank hut by the sound of the tribe rushing down to the river to see something amazing: a theophany. The excited Piraha were pointing to a beach on the opposite side of the river, where they saw “Xigagai, the spirit” appearing, and threatening the men with death if they went into the jungle.


Read the full review:

Dan Everett.

Hardcover: Pantheon, 2008.
Buy now: [ Doulos Christou Books $22 ]  [ Amazon ]


[ UPDATED!  10 April 2009…
We have raised the levels so that John McKnight’s talk is easier to listen to…]

From the Audio Archives of Doulos Christou Books, we are offering you today a very special presentation, a recording of John McKnight’s talk on Ivan Illich’s life and work, given just last night at Broadway United Methodist Church here in Indianapolis!  Includes two excellent poems by Mari Evans!

Books Featured:


Doulos Christou Press has just released a free, e-book version of Ivan Illich’s out-of-print book The Church, Change and Community Development.    Reprinted here from that volume is the essay “Missionary Poverty.”

I challenge churches that understand themselves as missional to listen carefully to Illich here and to imagine how his words might apply to missional church communities, instead of just individual missionaries/missioners.

[ Free e-book: The Church, Change and Development ]

[ Printable PDF version of this essay ]

Missionary Poverty

by Ivan Illich 

 As intensified search for methods of missionary education now parallels the heavy demand for missionaries.  However, before one can attempt to decide what should be the nature of a missionary training program one must determine what are the specific qualities which distinguish the missionary.


The simplest way of exploring these qualities is to study what the missionary has in common with the non-missionary, and to decide what is proper to him alone.  It seems absurd to search for a specific difference in depth of generosity or competence or sanctity between the priest or the sister or the doctor or the layman who considers himself a missioner, and the person who does not.  Evidently the missioner is intended to be a fully dedicated human being, but is not complete dedication equally characteristic of any man or woman totally given to God in any circumstances?


The difference between the missioner and the non-missioner is, therefore, not one of degrees.  Neither is it, as we shall see, a difference in the field of action chosen.  For to distinguish the missionary by his field of action is at best misleading.  To say, for example, that the missioner is he who preaches the gospel to the infidel or the heathen would exclude the MaryKnoller in Peru and the Jesuit in the Philippines from that vocation.  And to say that a missioner is a person who leaves his country would imply that the home missioner in the South of the United States or the priests of the Mission de France have no right to be included in the missionary category.


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You are Cordially Invited to Attend

 An Evening with John McKnight & Ivan Illich

Monday, April 6, 2009, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Broadway United Methodist Church
609 East 29th Street, Indianapolis , IN 46205, 317-924-4207
This event is free and open to all!

 This sort of event is rare (and even moreso in Indianapolis!)
You will not want to miss this special evening!!!

Ivan Illich was one of the foremost social critics of the latter decades of the twentieth century. His work parallels that of Jacques Ellul and Neil Postman.

John McKnight was a friend and collaborator of Ivan Illich and the author of THE CARELESS SOCIETY: COMMUNITY AND ITS COUNTERFEITS. He is also one of the fathers of Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) which we here at Englewood have deeply appreciated.

If you are not familiar with Illich, there is an online archive of many of his works:

Mark your calendars!!!

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
will be at Englewood Christian Church
Wednesday evening May 6

Leading a conversation on his book:

Facebook Invite and More details: