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1. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
John Kelsay, Sumner B. Twiss Preface
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presidential address
2. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Harlan Beckley Moral Justifications for the Welfare State
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poverty, welfare, and inequality
3. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Mary Jo Bane Social Science, Christian Ethics and Democratic Politics: Issues of Poverty and Welfare
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4. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Emilie M. Townes Response to "Social Science, Christian Ethics and Democratic Politics: Issues of Poverty and Wealth" by Mary Jo Bane
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5. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Christine Firer Hinze Dirt and Economic Inequality: A Christian-Ethical Peek Under the Rug
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This essay argues that cultural practices surrounding body-related dirt form a crucial axis along which racial-ethnic, class, and gender disparities are illumined, and ideological supports for inequities in household and public economies exposed. Late-modern technological, information-based societies valorize nearly-disembodied freedom and demand high degrees of bodily control, while denying or scorning bodies' limits, messiness, and incorrigibility. This leads to subtle but powerful prejudices concerning bodily dirt, dirty work, and those who perform it. A contemporary concatenation of dualistic leanings and purity rules fuels these prejudices, which in turn help legitimate otherwise patently unacceptable social and economic inequities. Effective Christian analyses of economic inequality, therefore, will uncover and challenge distorted cultural assumptions concerning bodily-related dirt, and develop strategies for renovating them.
6. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Douglas A. Hicks Inequality, Globalization, and Leadership: "Keeping Up with the Joneses" across National Boundaries
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Economists and sociologists have shown that social norms and relative standing are significant factors in the perception of one's well-being. Globalization increasingly extends the scope of the "neighbors" with whom persons compare themselves. Worldwide income inequality currently stands as high as inequality in Brazil, Guatemala, and South Africa. While Christian ethicists can applaud certain dimensions of globalization, we must also develop critiques of those inequalities that obstruct the full participation of persons in their societies. This paper considers how a social-relational anthropology informed by the preferential option for the poor should understand global inequality and deprivation. It offers a constructive account of how relative factors (local, national, and international) should count alongside absolute concerns in our understanding of well-being, and it suggests ways in which leaders, scholars, and citizens can respond to inequality and globalization.
religion and liberalism revisited
7. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
John R. Bowlin Nature, Grace, and Toleration: Civil Society and the Twinned Church
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Various theological benefits accrue as similarities are noted between Christian churches and other intermediate associations in societies like ours. Above all, we come to regard the church in ancient ways, as a twinned body, as a gemina persona, one thing by nature, another by grace. This in turn helps us see the morally ambiguous character of graced nature, even ecclesiastical nature, exemplified most plainly in the mixture of virtue and vice that natural societies yield, but also in the church's ambivalence about natural virtue and its supernatural transformation in time.
8. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
William T. Cavanaugh Is Public Theology Really Public?: Some Problems with Civil Society
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This paper sketches two ways in which the concept of civil society is currently being used to carve out a space for Christians to be "public," and makes some suggestions of problems that arise from these models. The first way involves the theoretical appropriation of John Courtney Murray's work by authors who advocate a "public theology." The second is a practical application of Harry Boyte's work on civil society which is being appropriated in Catholic schools to advance the public mission of Christian education. Despite differences, this essay argues that, though both seek to create a space for the church which is both "public" and "free," neither succeed. At the end of the paper, suggestions are made of a more adequate ecclesiology of the public.
9. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Charles T. Mathewes Faith, Hope, and Agony: Christian Political Participation Beyond Liberalism
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The recent emergence and maturation of "agonistic" political thought, in explicit opposition to liberal political theory, offers opportunities for Christian thinkers in two ways. First, it releases Christians from the unnecessarily narrow political etiquette of received liberal political theory, and makes possible a more comprehensive public debate in which thick Christian commitments can plausibly play a role. Second, it sets Christian thinkers the task of determining how they can legitimately participate in this movement for a more "agonistic" democratic theory (and, by extension, a more agonistic democracy.) Some agonists argue that Christianity is the sort of worldview which is blind to the ineliminable pervasiveness of violence, and so is potentially a dangerous participant in the development of agonistic theory. Others challenge the idea that Christians can comfortably participate in a pluralistic conversation at all, given that their aim inevitably is (or should be) the conversion of other participants. The former group claims others ought not allow Christians to participate; the latter claims Christians ought not want to participate. This paper explores and responds to these challenges in order to uncover a new and properly Christian approach to understanding political life, by contesting both sorts of challenges about Christian participation in agonistic democracy. It argues that, in contrast to agonists who see conflict as necessarily violent because essentially governed by a zero-sum logic of winners and losers, Christians can imagine and approach moments of conflict in the conviction that no one need lose or win, but that the struggle can be a struggle for conversion of one's loves and the loves of one's interlocutor. By so interpreting conflict, Christians can re-imagine politics as a conflict about loves, and the movement for "agonistic democracy" can be seen as clarifying the possibility of re-interpreting politics as a struggle over peoples' loves.
10. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Jean Bethke Elshtain Response to Panel Papers
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11. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Eric Gregory Augustine and Arendt on Love: New Dimensions in the Religion and Liberalism Debates
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This paper illustrates the need for a more integrated theoretical account of two large but typically isolated subjects in twentieth century Augustine studies: love and the ambiguous relation of Augustinianism to liberalism. The paper is divided into three parts. First, by aligning Augustinian caritas with a feminist "ethic of care," it presents a morally robust ethics of liberalism that differs from both liberal-realist and antiliberal extrapolations of the Augustinian tradition. Second, and most extensively, it presents Hannah Arendt's provocative reading of Augustine that issues both "Kantian" and "Nietzschean" challenges to a political ethic that moves beyond liberal reciprocity and relates love for neighbor to love for God. Finally, and more tentatively, it argues that Augustine's much maligned categories of "use" and "enjoyment" should be redeemed by those who defend a version of Augustinian liberalism that does not sentimentalize or privatize love.
critiques and new directions in catholic moral theology
12. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Aline H. Kalbian The Catholic Church's Public Confession: Theological and Ethical Implications
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The Catholic Church, as part of the year 2000 Jubilee celebrations, issued a prayer of confession for sins committed in the past. Most notable was the confession for "actions that may have caused suffering to the people of Israel." In this paper I identify two prominent metaphors in the magisterial literature associated with this act of contrition—the metaphor of Church as mother, and the metaphor of repentance as purification of memory. I analyze these metaphors and place them in the context of important conversations about the Catholic Church and the Holocaust, and about collective responsibility and repentance.
13. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
William McDonough Alasdair MacIntyre as Help for Rethinking Catholic Natural Law Estimates of Same-Sex Life Partnerships
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Christian ethics struggles to articulate a method for thinking about homosexuality and the sexual acts of same-sex oriented persons. In 1988, Hanigan suggested a promising "social import" approach and then judged homosexual acts deficient. MacIntyre's Dependent Rational Animals (1999) articulates a fuller social import approach to morality. Although he does not address homosexuality, MacIntyre rejects narrow understandings of family and of "disinterested friendship": we need "communal relations that engage our affections" to grow in "the virtues of acknowledged dependence." How do gay people grow in these virtues? What if Hanigan got the method right, but the evaluation wrong?
14. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Todd David Whitmore John Paul II, Michael Novak, and the Differences Between Them
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Unnamed sources have claimed that Michael Novak is "credited with considerable input" into John Paul II's encyclical, Centesimus annus, such that the former's thought "is said to be reflected in" the document. However, while John Paul II affirms economic rights, Novak rejects them. In addition, the Pope critiques the gap between rich and poor and the consumerism that drives it; Novak finds them to be morally irrelevant. Following Catholic teaching before him, John Paul places restrictions on the accumulation of private property for one's own use, while Novak identifies no such limits. Finally, while the Pope rejects the affirmation of any one system as a form of "ideology," Novak argues, "We are all capitalists now, even the Pope." Such dramatic differences suggest that the claim that Novak has influenced John Paul's thought is unfounded and that the former's position may even be one of dissent.
15. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Christopher Steck Tragedy and the Ethics of Hans Urs von Balthasar
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The goodness in many people's lives is often obscured by the limitations and brokenness which mark those same lives. The saint as moral icon, in which the moral beauty of the individual is clearly visible to all, cannot be the exclusive paradigm of Christian holiness. The kind of obscurity effected by limitation and human imperfection can be described as tragic—events and circumstances beyond the agent's control seem to determine the agent's moral fate. I argue that von Balthasar's theological aesthetics helps illuminate the tragic features of Christ's own life and can, in turn, help us understand the tragic dimension present in varying degrees in every Christian life. In tragic situations, where the brokenness and sin of the human condition threaten to undermine human love, the Christian's moral response, like Christ's own, will be inspired more by a hopeful fidelity to God's call than by a confident expectation of the fruitfulness of her love.
historical studies in christian ethics
16. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Jennifer A. Herdt Divine Compassion and the Mystification of Power: The Latitudinarian Divines in the Secularization of Moral Thought
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William Placher and others have charged seventeenth-century theologians with "domesticating" divine transcendence, with fostering an understanding of God that was clear and comprehensible, but unattractive, unpersuasive, and easily undermined by secular thought. This essay tests that claim by analyzing the discourse of divine compassion which became prominent among post-Restoration Anglican divines. While the second generation of latitudinarians do exemplify the trends Placher traces, the first generation of latitudinarians, notably Cambridge Platonist Benjamin Whichcote, succeeds in finding a way to affirm divine compassion without undermining divine transcendence. Moreover, Whichcote argues that an insistence on divine incomprehensibility fosters a voluntaristic conception of divine power and—contrary to Placher—undermines efforts to promote transformative justice in human society. The present case study suggests that we must reconsider our modes of articulating divine transcendence.
17. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Jean Porter Natural Equality: Freedom, Authority and Obedience in Two Medieval Thinkers
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The middle ages is commonly seen as an age of inequality, when society was structured by fixed social hierarchies. However, beginning in the late eleventh century and continuing through the thirteenth century, widespread economic and cultural changes, together with a revival of spiritual intensity and widespread concern for religious reforms, transformed the dominant structures of Western European society. These changes did not immediately transform Europe into an egalitarian society, but they did give new saliency to ancient Christian ideals of equality, particularly among scholastic theologians and canon lawyers of the period. In this paper, I focus on the virtue of obedience and its limits as one entrée into the scholastic concept of natural equality, further restricting myself to a comparison of Bonaventure and Aquinas on this topic. I will argue that while both theologians value the virtue of obedience highly, both also place clear limits on the obligation of obedience, limits which point beyond themselves (explicitly, in Aquinas' case, but clearly in Bonaventure's case) to a norm of natural equality which constrains the exercise of authority.
judaism and bioethics
18. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Elliot N. Dorff Is There a Unique Jewish Ethics?: The Role of Law in Jewish Bioethics
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19. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Aaron L. Mackler Is There a Unique Jewish Bioethics of Human Reproduction?
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20. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Laurie Zoloth Nursing Fathers and Nursing Mothers: Notes toward a Distinctive Jewish View of Reproductive Ethics
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