*The Jesuits: A History*

That is the forthcoming book by Markus Friedrich, a kind of definitive history at 671 pp. of text but also interesting throughout.  It is the book this year I am so far most excited about, and it is highly likely I read the entire thing. The Jesuits started off as ten men, they had major impact on many parts of the world, and centuries later they still exist and with broadly the same mission.  How’s that for success?

Here is one passage that for obvious reasons caught my eye:

The Jesuits invested the lion’s share of their bureaucratic efforts in personnel planning.  We have already encountered the Society’s obsession with the quality, education, and development of its members several times — this passion was translated into bureaucratic procedures to an astounding degree.  Every Jesuit’s mental, spiritual, intellectual, and physical capacity was routinely evaluated.  The Society devised elaborate procedures for conducting such examinations.  Even the wording of these assessments was prescribed.  A kind of grading system with standard content was devised that was then used to answer about a dozen questions from each member.  Every three years, local and provincial superiors were required to prepare interviews of the staff under their authority, whom they were required to assess in table form.  These catalogues have justly been celebrated as an outstanding example of the bureaucratization of the modern period.

Definitely recommended, I am keen to read more.


Comments for this post are closed