Page 6, 3rd August 1973

3rd August 1973
Page 6
Page 6, 3rd August 1973 — Cybernetic action
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Cybernetic action

Ecclesial Cybernetics by Patrick Granfield (Macmillan £4.50) Despite its forbidding but honest title, this brilliant book is of the greatest concern to the Church, which cannot immunise itself against or isolate herself from a prevailing; inorsigical climate. The full solution of its problems depends on recognition of environmental factors since the People of God belong to the family of man.

The Church is organisation as well as organism, institution as well as movement. Always and everywhere it is uniquebut remains, nevertheless, a living system and, as such, a very proper subject for cybernetic analysis.

The Greeks called their helmsman kybernetes, a word technology appropriated to the study of message-transmission for the comportment of certain purpose-orientated mechanisms. The concept expanded to the fields of communications and control, biology and the social and political sciences.•

Applicable to all functioning organisms, itmeasures entropy, a state of inertness resulting from a lack of "information." Indeed, it is essentially an information-processing unit, information consisting in whatever causes change in another: all of which may sound very bleak until the laws involved are applied to the Church.

Four crucial instances of cybernetic interaction are selected from areas of current interest, vig: the slavery question, the birth control debate, the ecumenical movement and the controversy over priestly celibacy. The programmed is the same in each — the data or "output"; the inflow of information or "input"; the interaction or conversion process and, finally, the evaluation, clinically dispassionate and deadly accurate.

One ineluctable conclusion is that communication deficiencies cause ploarisation and stagnation.

Cybernetic analysis indicates an imbalance in the Church's role-structure. Loss of confidence in leadership is in proportion to the level of influential informational flow, whence the concluding exploration of ecclesial democracy, its meaning, its historical development and theological foundation, its problems and techniques.

The book is distinguished by a vast but benignant erudition in Church thought and tradition and by a protound and scholarly respect for the eternal claims and imperatives of what is, in essence, the New Covenant, the Kingdom of God.

It is presented to the Church very humbly but with the urgency and potency of truth. Pius XII said: Il Christianismo nato gigante. Here is another born giant, ready to serve and safeguard the Church's good estate.

Fr. Kenneth Green

Status white?

Majority Rule — Why? by Major-General H. W.

Hutson (Johnson Publications £2.25)

Majority Rule — Why? is about as articulate and provocative a defence of the status quo in Southern Africa as one will find.

The scene is set with the comment: "Progress has been greatest in the territories which have remained in white control — South Africa, Rhodesia and the Portuguese Provinces.' The sense in which this is true is in the field of materialism, but there is no analysis of how wealth is created and distributed in white Africa.

It is not the policies of Vorster, Smith and Caetano which are critically examined and assessed, rather it is the activities of all their opponents which are subjected to vilification and misrepresentation.

The donors of humanitarian aid to the liberation movements are condemned for fermenting terrorism. Supporters of antiapartheid organisations are accused of misunderstanding the traditions and virtues of separate development. The concern of the Christian Churches is dismissed as misinformed and due to Left-wing influence.

The book concludes with a topical and jaundiced look at the Pearce Commission's work in Rhodesia. Naturally, the African National Congress and Bishop Muzorewa are dismissed as unrepresentative of black opinion and there is the quite remarkable statement: "No one can charge Mr. Ian Smith with intransigence or unreasonableness."

Roger Darlington




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