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1. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Scott R. Paeth, Kevin Carnahan Preface
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selected essays
2. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
D. M. Yeager A Quality of Wonder: Five Thoughts on a Poetics of the Will
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What place has poetry in the teaching or reflection of ethicists? Even poetry that has no obvious political edge can play an important role in refining a poetics of the will, where will is understood at once as the motive power of action and as the seat of both our freedom and our bondage. Poems by W. H. Auden, Anthony Hecht, Galway Kinnell, William Carols Williams, and others are examined against a background provided by the work of Erazim Kohák, H. Richard Niebuhr, and Paul Ricoeur. A poetics of the will requires attention to affirmation, beauty, and wonder, but also to concrete embodiment, full recognition of the complex reality of persons and situations, and mature resistance to the temptation to righteousness and the seduction of despair.
3. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
David Bentley Hart A Sense of Style: Beauty and the Christian Moral Life
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This essay addresses the alienation of aesthetics from ethics in the context of modernity. In examining the modern development of moral theory, it offers a critique of the dominant trends within that tradition, arguing that the result is a fragmented and disordered conception of the good life. Christian ethics, grounded in a conception of the beauty of God’s being as a disclosure of the true good, can reaffirm the connection between ethics and aesthetics, that beauty is not simply a matter of inward reflection but also of action toward the world, which gives content to moral life. Christian ethics ultimately requires a “sense of style” through which we are attracted to a life lived in imitation of Christ, and through which our conceptions of virtue are grounded in a desire to act in such a way as to manifest God’s beauty before the world.
4. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Devan Stahl The Prophetic Challenge of Disability Art
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For many persons with chronic illness and disability, medical images can come to represent their stigmatized “otherness.” A growing group of artists, however, are transforming their medical images into works of visual art, which better represent their lived experience and challenge viewers to see disability and illness differently. Although few of these artists are self-professed Christians, they challenge the Church to live into the communion to which it has been called. Using a method of correlation, Christian ethicists can find within this art the potential for: (1) creative resistance to modern deployments of biopower, (2) a celebration of divine poiesis, (3) opportunities for communion, and (4) prophetic challenges to the cult of normalcy. Disability art encourages a new ethic of communion in which embodied vulnerabilities are shared, celebrated, and reoriented toward the ground of being.
5. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
David Cloutier Beyond Judgmentalism and Non-Judgmentalism: A Theological Approach to Public Discourse about Social Sins
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Contemporary social discourse oscillates between norms against being judgmental and discourse filled with highly judgmental conflicts. The paper suggests the inability to understand the scope and limits of judgment in society requires Christian ethics to recover its own understanding of judgment, including of a final judgment as something other than a courtroom encounter over one’s individual sins. After exploring the centrality of God’s judgment in Scripture as an ongoing activity of social ordering for justice and mercy, I draw on several theologians to develop a different imagination for what final judgment means, rooted in conflicts of social identities, and then identify four key lessons for ethical discourse about social sins.
6. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Brandy Daniels Is There No Gomorrah?: Christian Ethics, Identity, and the Turn to Ecclesial Practices: What’s the Difference?
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Ecclesial practices have long served as a resource in and for Christian ethical scholarship; drawing on both the postliberal tradition and critical identity studies, a number of contemporary theologians and ethicists have turned to ecclesial practices as a liberative resource for marginalized identities and oppressed communities. Through a close reading of two contemporary examples of this ethical approach, this essay outlines and critically examines how Christian identity, belonging, and practice function discursively, subsuming difference into religious sameness, in ways that perpetuate the systemic and social injustices they aim to address and combat. Drawing on recent critiques of the theo-ethical turns to practice by Katie Grimes and Lauren Winner, and on feminist philosopher Lynne Huffer’s ethics of narrative performance, this essay proposes a more critical attention to difference for and within ethical turns to Christian practices, and begins to outline potential paths forward.
7. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Myles Werntz Broadening the Ecclesiocentric Claim: Possible Futures for Christian Nonviolence
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Much discussion surrounding Christian nonviolence in the late twentieth century has centered around the ecclesiocentric version popularized by Stanley Hauerwas. In this essay, I assess the manner in which virtue is connected to internal church practices for Hauerwas, such that displaying nonviolence external to the church risks losing the formative nature of church life. Using examples from contemporary proponents, I argue that when internal church practices, such as prayer, economic sharing, and interpersonal reconciliation are performed publically, they form their practitioners in the virtues which Hauerwas values, but in a way which transposes nonviolence into a public key.
8. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Kristopher Norris Toxic Masculinity and the Quest for Ecclesial Legitimation
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This essay analyzes masculinity as an ecclesial strategy for maintaining cultural and political power. It begins by examining the masculine theology promoted by the German Christian Movement that gave religious justification for Nazism’s violence against those who did not conform to their masculine norms. Drawing on conceptions of ‘legitimation crisis’ and masculinities studies, it argues that the masculine theology of the German Christians, predicated on a desire for social and political relevancy, shares a similar logic with current American evangelical masculinity. In conclusion, it turns to Dietrich Bonhoeffer for resources of ecclesial resistance to these masculine temptations for cultural relevancy and political power.
9. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Karen Ross, Megan K. McCabe, Sara Wilhelm Garbers Christian Sexual Ethics and the #MeToo Movement: Three Moments of Reflection on Sexual Violence and Women’s Bodies
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These three reflections look at the theological and ethical implications of sexual violence in light of the attention brought by #MeToo. The first explores ethnographic interviews which indicate that Church leaders, teachers, and parents contribute to rape culture by leaving sexual violence unaddressed in Christian sexual education, arguing that it must be reconstructed to eliminate the Church’s participation in a culture that promotes gender-based violence. The second notes that feminist scholarship has made the case that rape and “unjust sex” are associated with what is considered acceptable heterosexuality, require the category of “cultural sin” to account for the social responsibility of persons. Finally, the third explores how a feminist political theological ethics of “dangerous memory” is required to critique of the structures and systems that violate women’s selves and bodies.
10. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Elizabeth Sweeny Block White Privilege and the Erroneous Conscience: Rethinking Moral Culpability and Ignorance
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This paper considers the problems that unconscious racial bias and social sin more broadly pose for moral theology’s concepts of the erroneous conscience and ignorance. It argues that systemic racism prompts us to reimagine the erroneous conscience and individual culpability for ignorance. I argue that the erroneous conscience is useful in protecting human dignity in the face of error and in acknowledging the many ways we err but also problematic because it equates error with concrete action and conscious decisions and does not account for responsibility for social sin. This paper asserts that people of privilege and white persons cannot be morally innocent, but the erroneous conscience as it has been understood in the theological tradition often implies that innocence is the goal of the moral life and only holds us accountable for conscious moral actions.
11. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Karen V. Guth Sacred Emblems of Faith: Womanist Contributions to the Confederate Monuments Debate
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This paper explores the power of womanist ethics to illuminate the Confederate monuments debate. First, I draw on Emilie Townes’s analysis of the “cultural production of evil” to construe Confederate monuments as products of the “fantastic hegemonic imagination” that render visible for whites the invisibility of “whiteness.” Second, I argue that Angela Sims’s work on lynching provides a vivid example of how “countermemory” functions as an antidote to the fantastic hegemonic imagination. Finally, I argue that Delores Williams’s re-evaluation of the cross as a sacred symbol enables a reading of Confederate monuments as realist symbols of violence that require displacement from the center to the periphery of national sacred space. I conclude that although the debate on Confederate monuments is important, womanist analysis warns against an overly-narrow focus on this issue, lest we neglect the already obscured gendered, classist, homophobic, and xenophobic dimensions of structural injustice that the monuments represent.
book reviews
12. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
James F. Keenan, S.J. College Hookup Culture and Christian Ethics: The Lives and Longings of Emerging Adults; and Faith with Benefits: Hookup Culture on Catholic Campuses. By Jason King
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13. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Jon Kara Shields Radical Friendship: The Politics of Communal Discernment. By Ryan Andrew Newson
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14. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Daniel P. Scheid From Nature to Creation: A Christian Vision for Understanding and Loving Our World. By Norman Wirzba
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15. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Eun Young Hwang Hegel’s Social Ethics: Religion, Conflict, and Rituals of Reconciliation. By Molly Farneth
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16. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Rubén Rosario Rodríguez Still Christian: Following Jesus out of American Evangelicalism. By David P. Gushee
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17. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Erin Dufault-Hunter Pilgrimage as Moral and Aesthetic Formation in Augustine’s Thought. By Sarah Stewart-Kroeker
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18. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Andriette Jordan-Fields The Sin of White Supremacy: Christianity, Racism, and Religious Diversity in America. By Jeannie Hill Fletcher
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19. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Néstor A. Gómez Mercy in Action: The Social Teachings of Pope Francis. By Thomas Massaro, SJ.
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20. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Andrew Stone Porter Just Debt: Theology, Ethics, and Neoliberalism. By Ilsup Ahn
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