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81. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Maria Antonaccio Asceticism and the Ethics of Consumption
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IN THIS ESSAY I PRESENT NEW RESOURCES FOR THINKING ABOUT THE RElation between asceticism and ethics. The aims of the essay are threefold. The first is to highlight the work of scholars who interpret asceticism within the wider context of theories of moral formation and education in order to call attention to the cultural dimensions of asceticism. The second is to deploy ascetic concepts and tropes to analyze contemporary debates over the ethics of consumption and to suggest that asceticism may have surprising descriptive and diagnostic power in a culture marked by a pervasive consumerism. The third and final aim of the essay is to draw some of the constructive implications of this analysis for the debate over consumption and for the adequacy of naturalist versus nonnaturalist approaches to ethics.
82. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Ulrik B. Nissen Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Ethics of Plenitude
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SINCE SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, THE DEBATE ON RELIGION AND POLITICS HAS attracted considerable attention. One of the problems in this discussion has been the challenge to find a common ground of discourse while maintaining the identity of diverse worldviews. In this essay I argue—from a Christian viewpoint—that a reformulated understanding of the secular, understood as saeculum, may serve as the source of a view of the plenitude of human reality that overcomes this tension. Drawing on the theologies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and John Milbank, I argue that human reality is always partaking in divine reality, and as such there is no being apart from God. In the light of this view, I endorse a Christological affirmation of reality that enables us to move beyond an antagonism of secular and religious worldviews and ethics.
83. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Mary Hirschfeld Standard of Living and Economic Virtue: Forging a Link between St. Thomas Aquinas and the Twenty-First Century
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NEOCLASSICAL ECONOMICS IS INSTRUMENTAL IN CHARACTER, FOCUSING on the efficient realization of the sovereign desires of consumers. The emphasis on instrumental reasoning leaves little room for consideration of economic virtue. The tradition of Catholic social teaching has drawn on St. Thomas Aquinas for a framework that approaches economic problems through the lens of virtue. Thomas's thought, however, hinges on the socially determined standards of living of his day, which have no modern counterpart. The neglected consumer economist Hazel Kyrk (1886—1957) offers a theory of consumption that does center on the standard of living and thus offers us a bridge between Thomas's thought and our modern economic setting.
84. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
John R. Bowlin Tolerance among the Fathers
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HOPING TO ADVANCE OUR UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT TOLERANCE INvolves and unsettling our assumptions about its history, in this essay I take a backward glance at some of the discourse about the virtue that emerged among the first Christian apologists in the debates they carried on with their pagan critics. Along the way, several conclusions come into view: that tolerance regards the objectionable differences of those with whom we share some sort of society, that the question of social membership always precedes the question of tolerance, and that the logic of Augustine's largely ignored account of the virtue emerges against the backdrop of these findings from the second, third, and fourth centuries. Compel them in and then tolerate them: In some perverse way, this might make sense after all.
85. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Aristotle Papanikolaou Liberating Eros: Confession and Desire
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THE BASIC THESIS OF THIS ESSAY IS THAT CONFESSION—DEFINED AS ACTS of truth-telling about that which one most fears to speak—affects the landscape of one's emotions and desires. How such acts of confession affect emotions and desires depends on where and to whom such a confession is spoken. The kind of effect confession will have on emotions and desires is determined, in part, by the identity of the listener (or the absence of one). Thus, the listener is not neutral in such acts of confession but assumes, de facto, a symbolic or iconic mediating role. I explore this relationship between confession and desire through an analysis of the Sacrament of Confession and in conversation with Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor, Charles Taylor, and Martha Nussbaum. I suggest an alternative understanding of the Sacrament of Confession that defines the Sacrament not in juridical terms but as an event whose purpose is to increase one's desire for God. Although I affirm the constitutive role of language and interpretation on desires and emotions, I argue that Taylor and Nussbaum give insufficient attention to how desire affects interpretation and to how the particular iconic role of the listener affects how confession affects emotions and desires.
86. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Tobias Winright Just Cause and Preemptive Strikes in the War on Terrorism: Insights from a Just-Policing Perspective
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ETHICISTS HAVE CRITICIZED THE GEORGE W. BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S INvocation of "war" language as a response to the threat of terrorism in the post—September 11, 2001, world. Calling instead for a "police" model, these ethicists are found among both the pacifist and the just war traditions. This essay explores what a policing model might entail. First, it highlights some expressions of interest by just war ethicists in a police approach for tackling terrorism. Second, it critically surveys some representative examples of pacifist appeals to such a paradigm. Third, it evaluates the call for a just-policing approach, showing how this model actually remains consonant with just war reasoning. Finally, the essay draws on the discipline of police ethics and examines what just cause, especially with respect to preemptive strikes, might look like in a just-policing approach to dealing with terrorism.
87. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
James T. Bretzke A Burden of Means: Interpreting Recent Catholic Magisterial Teaching on End-of-Life Issues
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THIS ESSAY FIRST PRESENTS GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR INTERPRETING magisterial documents using Lumen gentium's triple criteria of considering the character, manner, and frequency of magisterial teaching in order to better determine its relative authority and weight. Next, these criteria are applied to a close reading of Pope John Paul Il's various documents that deal with end-of-life issues, especially his controversial March 2004 address to the participants in the International Congress on Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas. This analysis concludes that the pope did not in fact assert that artificial hydration and nutrition had to be used in virtually every medical case, such as patients diagnosed to be in a persistent vegetative state.
88. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Elizabeth M. Bucar Speaking of Motherhood: The Epideictic Rhetoric of John Paul II and Ayatollah Khomeini
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IN THIS ESSAY, I PROPOSE A DISTINCT APPROACH TO ETHICS—COMPARAtive rhetoric—that attempts to analyze moral discourse at the intratradition and intertradition levels. Drawing on Aristotle's classification of modes of rhetoric, I demonstrate how the epideictic mode helps conceptualize moral discourse as attempting to convince and motivate through persuasion, even as it assumes as audience of adherence. I then elaborate a method of technical rhetorical analysis, drawing on the work of Stephen Toulmin and Chiam Perelman. This method is applied to two short rhetorical performances of John Paul II and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, focusing on motherhood. I conclude by briefly considering women's responses to clerical rhetoric.
89. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Jonathan Rothchild Moral Consensus, the Rule of Law, and the Practice of Torture
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THIS ESSAY ARGUES AGAINST LEGAL, POLITICAL, AND ETHICAL JUSTIFICAtions for torture. In the expository sections of the essay, I juxtapose international prohibitions against torture with the current U.S. administration's justifications for harsh interrogation methods on the basis of military necessity and presidential prerogative. I examine the systematic and individual causes of the specific abuses at Abu Ghraib that were tantamount to torture. In the constructive sections of the essay, I retrieve the evolving standards of decency from Supreme Court cases and jus cogens peremptory norms from international law. I contend that torture is deontologically wrong and that the administration's arguments on solely teleological grounds are ethically flawed and contradictory. Engaging numerous interlocutors in law, philosophy, and Christian ethics, I reconceptualize the rule of law in terms of moral vision and an emerging moral consensus, and I hold that these terms provide a more adequate framework for evaluating and repudiating the practice of torture.
90. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Jean Porter Christian Ethics and the Concept of Morality: A Historical Inquiry
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A COMPARISON OF THE CONCEPT OF MORALITY AS IT WAS UNDERSTOOD in the early Scholastic period with our contemporary understanding reveals both similarities and differences on a number of central points. Tracking these resemblances and divergences helps us to see how our conception of morality is the product of specific historical and social forces and that critical appraisal of this conception from the point of view of Christian ethics is both possible and desirable.
91. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Marilyn Martone What Does Society Owe Those Who Are Minimally Conscious?
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PERSONS WHO ARE IN A MINIMALLY CONSCIOUS STATE DIFFER FROM those who are vegetative in that they have some awareness of themselves and others. Because of this awareness, their care should differ from the custodial care that is given to people in a persistent vegetative state. It should also include rehabilitative services that would help to increase their ability to function at their optimal level. This care also needs to include assistance in restructuring identity. Because persons in a minimally conscious state have a story, a narrative, that both precedes and follows their time in health care institutions, their families are best equipped to help them work on their identity issues. Many families are willing to accept this challenge if proper support systems have been put in place. The principle of subsidiarity suggests that this should be done. In addition, this approach would build on the relational components of these individuals and would eliminate the feelings of abandonment that most patients in a minimally conscious state and their families currently experience.
92. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
David P. Gushee, Justin Phillips Moral Formation and the Evangelical Voter: A Report from the Red States
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THE STRONG SUPPORT OF EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS FOR PRESIDENT George W. Bush contributed significantly to his reelection in November 2004. This was cause for celebration in some quarters and despair in others. It has led to an avalanche of attention to the perennial issue of the relationship between faith and politics, the role of "moral values" in determining evangelical voting patterns, and the growing political visibility and power of evangelical Christians in the United States. This essay is written by evangelical Christians who currently reside in the western part of the "red state" of Tennessee. Its purpose is to shed light on several dimensions of evangelical engagement in contemporary American public life. First, we assess what is actually known about the voting patterns and motivations of evangelical Christians in the 2004 presidential election. Second, we consider the moral vision that animates the most visible conservative evangelical activists and organizations. Third, we consider alternative evangelical political/ethical stances that are being pursued today. Fourth and finally, we move to the normative ethical level, suggesting the contours of an evangelical political ethic in the U.S. context.
93. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Geoffrey Rees Original Sin in the Original Position: A Kierkegaardian Reading of John Rawls's Writings on Justice
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AMONG THEOLOGICAL WRITERS, MANY HAVE SUSPECTED THAT JOHN Rawls's writings on justice add up to a de facto manifesto of secularism. His writings especially provoke anxiety about the potential exclusion of theological affirmations from public political discourse. Much of this anxiety focuses on his concept of the "original position" from which principles of justice are negotiated. Consideration of the anxiety provoked by this concept, however, suggests that it is theologically richer than Rawls's critics allow. A turn to Søren Kierkegaard's The Concept of Anxiety enables interpretation of the original position as a device of representation that identifies every individual with the fact of original sin. Crucial to this interpretation is Kierkegaard's description of original sin in terms of anxiety that arises from the innocence that is ignorance in the comparable original position of Adam. Where anxiety arises, sin follows. Where sin arises, the need for justice follows. Reading Rawls and Kierkegaard together consequently offers insight into the relevance of the history of the doctrine of original sin to contemporary theorization of justice.
94. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 27 > Issue: 1
Joe Pettit The Spoil of the Poor Is in Your Houses: Profits and Prophets in a Disrupted Society
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THIS ESSAY CONSIDERS THE ROLE OF THE PROPHET IN CONTEMPORARY public policy debate. After identifying some problems that contemporary appeals to the prophets often encounter, the essay moves into an analysis of the Babylonian and Egyptian contexts out of which the Israelites and the Hebrew prophets emerged. A consideration of all three contexts shows that the central prophetic concern is a disruption of the divinely established social order that is most clearly indicated by the rich getting richer at the expense of the poor. The essay then explores how this prophetic context can be understood in light of ethical appeals to the common good. Finally, the essay applies the notion of disruption in the social order to two issues of public policy: affordable housing and the stock market.
95. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 27 > Issue: 1
Thomas A. Lewis Cultivating Our Intuitions: Hegel on Religion, Politics, and Public Discourse
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HEGEL'S LARGELY UNTRANSLATED VORLESUNGEN ÜBER RECHTSPHILO-sophie assign religion a vital role in shaping basic intuitions about justice and society. This role in cultivating intuitions gives society reason to be highly attentive to the political attitudes instilled by religious traditions. At the same time, since these intuitions can be questioned and revised, religion need not be a conversation stopper. Hegel thus connects religion to politics in a way that accounts for religion's political significance without conceiving it as immune to challenge. He brings religious claims into public discourse and contributes significantly to contemporary discussions of religion and democracy.
96. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 27 > Issue: 1
John Kelsay RESPONSE TO: "Cultivating a Liberal Islamic Ethos, Building an Islamic Civil Society"
97. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 27 > Issue: 1
Ted A. Smith The Price of Respectable Equality: Eschatological Memories of Actually Existing Democracy
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I ENGAGE TWO CONVERSATIONS: ONE ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP BEtween history and ethics, and another about the relationship of Christianity and democracy in the United States. In the first half of the essay I suggest two shifts in the ways ethicists engage history. I argue that ethicists should be concerned not only with ideas, but also with lived religion. I then propose "eschatological memory" as a genre for using historical studies for normative work. I develop it through contrast with MacIntyre's notion of tradition and through conversation with Benjamin's philosophy of history. In the second half of the paper I offer a long exemplum, an eschatological memory of the equality promised by Oberlin College. I recall the suppressed memory of a lynching, a memory that reveals the antinomies of equality and gives rise to a politics of piecemeal reform in the light of eschatological hope.
98. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 27 > Issue: 1
David M. Craig Debating Desire: Civil Rights, Ritual Protest, and the Shifting Boundaries of Public Reason
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THE CIVIL RIGHTS PROTESTS OF THE 1950S AND 1960S WERE AS MUCH about challenging normative conceptions of good desire as they were about claiming individual rights. Staged as rituals, these protests dramatized the social borders and sentiments existing in American society, and they performed a transforming vision of the desires and purposes appropriate to democratic citizens and institutions. This analysis of the reason-giving potential of ritual challenges John Rawls's criterion of "reciprocity" as the constraint on public reason and democratic legitimacy. Social activists sometimes have to revise public norms through asymmetrical appeals to religious ideals or moral convictions that other citizens may staunchly oppose. An expanded model of public reasoning teaches the importance and the difficulties of incorporating the arguments of ritual into other rights movements, including the movement for same-sex marriage.
99. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 27 > Issue: 1
Kathryn D. Blanchard The Gift of Contraception: Calvin, Barth, and a Lost Protestant Conversation
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ALTHOUGH BIRTH CONTROL REMAINS A CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC AMONG Roman Catholics, it has all but disappeared in Protestant discussions of sexual ethics, owing to the seemingly more pressing issues of abortion and in vitro fertilization, as well as to the almost unanimous approval of contraceptive use among Protestant church bodies in the mid-1900s. This essay seeks to revive some past Reformed arguments pertinent to the subject, especially John Calvin's and Karl Barth's teachings on marriage and children, which both theologians view as distinct goods. Marriage is seen as a covenant relationship, a good in and of itself, even apart from procreation; while children are a gift or "divine offer" from God that demands response. Reviving distinctively Christian descriptions of marriage and children is crucial to critiquing the utilitarian language that seeks to overshadow current conversations about marriage and children.
100. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 27 > Issue: 1
Dov Nelkin RESPONSE TO: "Cultivating a Liberal Islamic Ethos, Building an Islamic Civil Society"