American Protestant Ethics and the Legacy of H Richard Niebuhr

Author: William Werpehowski
Publisher: Georgetown University Press
ISBN: 9781589012370
Format: PDF, ePub
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In this careful analysis and evaluation of the monumental influence of Niebuhr, Werpehowski traces four streams that flow from Niebuhr's theology, particularly as it deals with ethics. In a tightly knit and comprehensive investigation of the work of four contemporary ethicists, important in their own right, Paul Ramsey, Stanley Hauerwas, James Gustafson, and Kathryn Tanner, Werpehowski explores how the legacy of Niebuhr has made an impact on their thought and work. He presents a clear, concise, nuanced, analytical criticism of the development of the four ethicist's construction of ethics-and does it in a way that interweaves and puts the four into a dialogue and conversation with Niebuhr and each other. Addressing a number of substantive issues, including the viability of just war tradition and the relationship between "church" and "world," American Protestant Ethics and the Legacy of H. Richard Niebuhr demonstrates that Christian ethics operates within a set of polar tensions and that such "conversations" as are developed within need to be a part of moral discourse inside and between a variety of communities of faith.

United States Welfare Policy

Author: Thomas J. Massaro, SJ
Publisher: Georgetown University Press
ISBN: 9781589014800
Format: PDF
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The Welfare Reform Act of 1996 drastically changed the delivery of social services in the United States for the first time in sixty years. More than a decade later, according to Catholic social ethicist Thomas Massaro, a disturbing gap exists between the laws we have enacted as a nation and the moral concerns we profess as a people. Massaro contends that ethicists too often focus on strictly theoretical concerns rather than engaging concrete social and political issues, while public policy experts are uncomfortable drawing ethical judgments about legislation. United States Welfare Policy takes a fresh approach to the topic by using Catholic social teaching as a lens through which to view contemporary American welfare policies, citing the tradition's emphasis on serving the needy—including a preferential option for the poor—and the common good. Massaro maintains that the most important outcome of welfare policy is not the cost-effectiveness of programs, but the well-being of individual families. The concluding analysis of this thoughtful study applies Catholic ethical concerns to specific aspects of welfare reform, including the funding mechanisms for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, work participation requirements affecting the bond between mothers and children, eligibility rules, the intrusion of family caps into reproductive decisions, and the imposition of disproportionate burdens upon particular demographic groups. Massaro offers possible alternatives in each case and, as the fight over reauthorization of the welfare act continues, he calls on Catholic churches and clergy and laity to take action and advocate publicly for a more ethical approach to welfare reform.

Heroes Saints and Ordinary Morality

Author: Andrew Michael Flescher
Publisher: Georgetown University Press
ISBN: 9781589013414
Format: PDF, ePub
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Most of us are content to see ourselves as ordinary people—unique in ways, talented in others, but still among the ranks of ordinary mortals. Andrew Flescher probes our contented state by asking important questions: How should "ordinary" people respond when others need our help, whether the situation is a crisis, or something less? Do we have a responsibility, an obligation, to go that extra mile, to act above and beyond the call of duty? Or should we leave the braver responses to those who are somehow different than we are: better somehow, "heroes," or "saints?" Traditional approaches to ethics have suggested there is a sharp distinction between ordinary people and those called heroes and saints; between duties and acts of supererogation (going beyond the expected). Flescher seeks to undo these standard dichotomies by looking at the lives and actions of certain historical figures—Holocaust rescuers, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, among others—who appear to be extraordinary but were, in fact, ordinary people. Heroes, Saints, and Ordinary Morality shifts the way we regard ourselves in relationship to those we admire from afar—it asks us not only to admire, but to emulate as well—further, it challenges us to actively seek the acquisition of virtue as seen in the lives of heroes and saints, to learn from them, a dynamic aspect of ethical behavior that goes beyond the mere avoidance of wrongdoing. Andrew Flescher sets a stage where we need to think and act, calling us to lead lives of self-examination—even if that should sometimes provoke discomfort. He asks that we strive to emulate those we admire and therefore allow ourselves to grow morally, and spiritually. It is then that the individual develops a deeper altruistic sense of self—a state that allows us to respond as the heroes of our own lives, and therefore in the lives of others, when times and circumstance demand that of us.

Loyal Dissent

Author: Charles E. Curran
Publisher: Georgetown University Press
ISBN: 9781589013636
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Loyal Dissent is the candid and inspiring story of a Catholic priest and theologian who, despite being stripped of his right to teach as a Catholic theologian by the Vatican, remains committed to the Catholic Church. Over a nearly fifty-year career, Charles E. Curran has distinguished himself as the most well-known and the most controversial Catholic moral theologian in the United States. On occasion, he has disagreed with official church teachings on subjects such as contraception, homosexuality, divorce, abortion, moral norms, and the role played by the hierarchical teaching office in moral matters. Throughout, however, Curran has remained a committed Catholic, a priest working for the reform of a pilgrim church. His positions, he insists, are always in accord with the best understanding of Catholic theology and always dedicated to the good of the church. In 1986, years of clashes with church authorities finally culminated in a decision by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by then-Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, that Curran was neither suitable nor eligible to be a professor of Catholic theology. As a result of that Vatican condemnation, he was fired from his teaching position at Catholic University of America and, since then, no Catholic university has been willing to hire him. Yet Curran continues to defend the possibility of legitimate dissent from those teachings of the Catholic faith—not core or central to it—that are outside the realm of infallibility. In word and deed, he has worked in support of more academic freedom in Catholic higher education and for a structural change in the church that would increase the role of the Catholic community—from local churches and parishes to all the baptized people of God. In this poignant and passionate memoir, Curran recounts his remarkable story from his early years as a compliant, pre-Vatican II Catholic through decades of teaching and writing and a transformation that has brought him today to be recognized as a leader of progressive Catholicism throughout the world.

Theological Bioethics

Author: Lisa Sowle Cahill
Publisher: Georgetown University Press
ISBN: 9781589014756
Format: PDF, ePub
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The field of bioethics was deeply influenced by religious thinkers as it emerged in the 1960s and early 1970s. Since that time, however, a seemingly neutral political liberalism has pervaded the public sphere, resulting in a deep suspicion of those bringing religious values to bear on questions of bioethics and public policy. As a theological ethicist and progressive Catholic, Lisa Sowle Cahill does not want to cede the "religious perspective" to fundamentalists and the pro-life movement, nor does she want to submit to the gospel of a political liberalism that champions individual autonomy as holy writ. In Theological Bioethics, Cahill calls for progressive religious thinkers and believers to join in the effort to reclaim the best of their traditions through jointly engaging political forces at both community and national levels. In Cahill's eyes, just access to health care must be the number one priority for this type of "participatory bioethics." She describes a new understanding of theological bioethics that must go beyond decrying injustice, beyond opposing social practices that commercialize human beings, beyond painting a vision of a more egalitarian future. Such a participatory bioethics, she argues, must also take account of and take part in a global social network of mobilization for change; it must seek out those in solidarity, those involved in a common calling to create a more just social, political, and economic system. During the past two decades Cahill has made profound contributions to theological ethics and bioethics. This is a magisterial and programmatic statement that will alter how the religiously inclined understand their role in the great bioethics debates of today and tomorrow that yearn for clear thinking and prophetic wisdom.

Virtue and the Moral Life

Author: Professor of Christian Ethics William Werpehowski
Publisher:
ISBN: 9780739194522
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Virtue and the Moral Life brings together distinguished philosophers and theologians with younger scholars of consummate promise to produce ten essays that engage both academics and students of ethics. This collection explores the role virtues play in identifying the good life and the good society.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Author: Reinhold Niebuhr
Publisher: Fortress Press
ISBN: 9781451412826
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Reinhold Niebuhr, the most significant North American theologian since the eighteenth century, has decisively influenced the shape of Christian thought and action in the United States for much of the twentith century. Niebuhr addressed social and political issues from the perspective of "Christian Realism." This was his blend of liberalism, shrewd social analysis, and elements within the Augustinian tradition. His legacy continues to be influenced through his writings and the work of many of his distinguished students. Larry Rasmussen's introductory essay and notes on the selected texts set Niebuhr in his historical context, chart the development of his thought and indicate the significance of his theology in the development of Christian theology as a whole.

Karl Barth and Christian Ethics

Author: William Werpehowski
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1317109597
Format: PDF, ePub
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This critical study of Karl Barth's Christian theological ethics discusses Barth's controversial and characteristically misunderstood ethics of divine command. The surprising relation of his 'divine command ethics' to contemporary 'narrative theology' and 'virtue ethics' and specific moral themes concerning bonds between parents and children, the nature of truth telling, and the meaning of Christian love of God and neighbor are all discussed. This book reveals Barth's richness, depth, and insight, and places his work in constructive connection with salient themes in both Catholic and Protestant ethics. Attentive to the fullness of Barth's Christological vision and to the purposes and limits of his reflections on the Christian life in pursuit of the good, William Werpehowski also advances conversations in Christian ethics about the nature of practical deliberation and decision, the orientation and dispositions that embody moral faithfulness, and the question and features of 'natural morality.'

The Development of Moral Theology

Author: Charles E. Curran
Publisher: Georgetown University Press
ISBN: 1626160201
Format: PDF
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Charles Curran in his newest book The Development of Moral Theology: Five Strands, brings a unique historical and critical analysis to the five strands that differentiate Catholic moral theology from other approaches to Christian ethics—sin and the manuals of moral theology, the teaching of Thomas Aquinas and later Thomists, natural law, the role of authoritative church teaching in moral areas, and Vatican II. Significant changes have occurred over the course of these historical developments. In addition, pluralism and diversity exist even today, as illustrated, for example, in the theory of natural law proposed by Cardinal Ratzinger. In light of these realities, Curran proposes his understanding of how the strands should influence moral theology today. A concluding chapter highlights the need for a truly theological approach and calls for a significant change in the way that the papal teaching office functions today and its understanding of natural law. In a work useful to anyone who studies Catholic moral theology, The Development of Moral Theology underscores, in the light of the historical development of these strands, the importance of a truly theological and critical approach to moral theology that has significant ramifications for the life of the Catholic church.