New Book: Theology, Ethics and Technology in the Work of Jacques Ellul and Paul Virilio: A Nascent Theological Tradition

Theology, Ethics, and Technology in the Work of Jacques Ellul and Paul Virilio: A Nascent Theological Tradition. By Michael Morelli. Lexington Books (Available June 25, 2021) Hardcover ISBN 9781793625434 – Ebook ISBN 9781793625441

Theology, Ethics, and Technology in the Work of Jacques Ellul and Paul Virilio examines biographical and textual connections between sociologist-theologian Jacques Ellul and philosopher-phenomenologist Paul Virilio. Through an examination of their embeddedness in the socio-historical context of postwar France, Michael Morelli identifies a relationship between these critics of technology that bears the marks of a nascent theological tradition. Morelli shows from various vantage points how Ellul and Virilio’s nascent tradition exposes technology as modernity’s primary idol; and, how these thinkers use multiple disciplines—including history, sociology, philosophy, phenomenology, theology, and ethics—to resist the perilous consequences of the modern world’s worship of power and the kinds of technologies this misdirected worship produces. Jacques Ellul’s death in 1994 and Paul Virilio’s death in 2018 may have prevented the maturation of this nascent theological tradition, but this book will aid in this tradition’s ripening through the presentation of an illuminating way to read these two unique, prophetic intellectuals.

Review

Theology, Ethics, and Technology in the Work of Jacques Ellul and Paul Virilio is a ground-breaking engagement with the stark divergence in Christian assessments of technology after the Second World War. As North Americans revelled in the wealth unleashed by the industrial might that had ended the war, Christians in Europe who had seen its effects first-hand found less to celebrate. In excavating the underappreciated tradition of thinking about technology in Ellul and Virilio, Michael Morelli recovers essential resources and insights for Christians desiring to critically engage the brutal efficiency of our technological present. – Brian Brock, University of Aberdeen