Fernand Dumont (1927-1997) was a sociologist, philosopher, theologian, and poet. A prominent intellectual in Quebec, he is recognized for his research on the sociology of knowledge and the foundations of modern culture. Dumont's work conceives of culture in terms of both memory and distance, arguing that without culture, man would be immersed in the monotony of his present actions, never achieving the distance necessary to create a past or a future. In Fernand Dumont: A Sociologist Turns to Theology, Gregory Baum interprets Dumont's L’institution de la théologie, which studies the assumptions and commitments implicit in the rational reflection of Catholic thinkers on the meaning of their faith. Baum shows that while Dumont’s book is preoccupied with the theoretical, its methodology is informed by the cognitive presuppositions of the social sciences, and its contents - dealing with the spiritual, personal, and social struggles that constitute daily life - are concrete. For Dumont religious truth is insufficient, and may have no impact on everyday life. What counts is relevance, insights that reply to urgent questions and unresolved conflicts. He offers an innovative interpretation of Catholicism that is faithful to the Gospel and relevant to the problems of modern life and the serious questions Quebecers are asking themselves. In Fernand Dumont: A Sociologist Turns to Theology, Baum elucidates Dumont’s main ideas and connects the concerns of the Christian gospel with those of contemporary society.
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