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31. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 1
Preface
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selected essays
32. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 1
Luke Bretherton Exorcising Democracy: The Theopolitical Challenge of Black Power
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The first part of this article analyzes the Black Power movement within the context of wider debates about how black nationalism conceptualized the need to form a people as a response to white supremacy. The second part examines how white supremacy conditions the nature and form of democratic citizenship in the United States and how the formation of a “nation within a nation” is a vital adjunct to dismantling white supremacy as a political system. Part three situates Black Power within a theological conception of poverty understood as powerlessness. Building on James Cone and Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, it closes by suggesting that forming a people as a response to powerlessness constitutes a double movement of healing and exorcism.
33. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 1
Sarah MacDonald, Nicole Symmonds Rioting as Flourishing?: Reconsidering Virtue Ethics in Times of Civil Unrest
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From Black Power to Black Lives Matter, political resisters protesting systemic racism have used riots and other manifestations of outrage as a way to grasp at flourishing. Yet such a tactic seems antithetical to the core concept of flourishing as recognized within virtue ethics. Building on the work of womanist and feminist ethicists and moral philosophers who have defended anger as a morally apt, even virtuous response to injustice, we reconsider the relationship between a community’s flourishing and public manifestations of anger and rage. We argue for expanding the moral response to rioting as a tactic of political resistance, and we suggest that more culturally particular understandings of both virtue and flourishing can open space to better see the role anger may play in a community’s flourishing.
34. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 1
David P. Henreckson Resisting the Devil’s Instruments: Early Modern Resistance Theory for Late Modern Times
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In the midst of religious conflict in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, a number of prominent Protestant theologians and lawyers wrote on the collective moral obligation to resist systemic injustice. My essay focuses on Johannes Althusius, who offers a theological account of the political community and its obligation to preserve the common good and resist injustice. Thinking alongside Althusius, I will consider not only the conditions that may prompt acts of resistance but also the lawful means and ends of resistance. In other words, how might resistance be carried out rightly? By whom? And to what end? Finally, I argue that we have good reasons to use Althusius’s political thought to revive an account of resistance that is internal to the Christian theological tradition—an account that relies on a broader conception of divine justice, covenantal responsibility, and mutual accountability.
35. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 1
Vic McCracken Can Love Walk the Battlefield?: A Reply to Nigel Biggar
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This essay considers more closely Nigel Biggar’s account of the role love plays in orienting and qualifying the moral experience of just warriors. The evidence that Biggar employs is highly selective and belies a more complex picture of the motivations of soldiers, the experience of killing, and the moral ends of training for modern warfare. This essay argues that a more ambivalent account of love can be reconciled more easily with recent research on the experience of moral injury among combat veterans and is a more useful starting point for grounding the Christian community’s service to combat veterans.
36. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 1
Angela Carpenter Exploitative Labor, Victimized Families, and the Promise of the Sabbath
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Families and children are hidden victims of labor exploitation in the US economy across the economic spectrum. The Sabbath commandment, however, provides a theological basis for resisting this structural evil. In Karl Barth’s discussion of the commandment, Sabbath rest not only limits the scope of economic activity in human life but also sets the stage for reflection on the meaning and purpose of work. As a recurring reminder that human life is a gift to be lived in joyful fellowship with God and neighbor, Sabbath observance can be a crucial practice to orient work toward the flourishing of individuals, families, and communities.
37. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 1
Kathryn Getek Soltis Raising Our Kids: Social and Theological Accounts of Child-Rearing amid Inequality and Mass Incarceration
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There are 2.7 million children with an incarcerated parent, resulting in profoundly negative consequences for these children and society at large. Whether this is viewed as an injustice, however, depends on our account of parenting. This essay argues for an understanding of child-rearing as contributive justice, correcting for an overly privatized concept of parenting and specifically challenging the invisibility of parents and children in our criminal justice system. After examining the sources of the more private, children-as-pets account of parenting, I consider accounts of child-rearing that emerge from the Catholic theological tradition, noting both the promising directions and the obstacles. This analysis is then applied to the realities faced by children of incarcerated parents, revealing the urgent need to see child-rearing as integral to any system of justice.
38. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 1
Ki Joo Choi The Priority of the Affections over the Emotions: Gustafson, Aquinas, and an Edwardsean Critique
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The association of emotions as kinds of affections is not unusual. This essay, however, considers whether the tight association between affections and emotions is conceptually satisfactory and advantageous. Does an emphasis on the boundedness of affections and emotions inadvertently mask their distinctive natures? In turning to Gustafson, Aquinas, and, ultimately, Edwards, I propose that, while affections are not emotionless, noticing their differences can reveal the limitations of the emotions for moral deliberation and draw greater attention to the moral significance of the affections.
39. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 1
Kate Ward Toward a Christian Virtue Account of Moral Luck
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Structural evil impacts persons’ experiences differently, a reality that feminist philosophers Claudia Card and Lisa Tessman have termed “moral luck.” As Christian ethicists grapple with privilege and oppression, we lack a satisfactory framework to describe how particular life circumstances impact moral lives. This essay develops a Christian virtue account of moral luck, drawing on Thomas Aquinas and womanist theologians including Melanie L. Harris and Rosita deAnn Mathews. Moral luck helps Christian ethicists attend to the impact of difference on the moral life as well as to the common experience of contingency harming virtue, requiring dependence on God’s grace.
40. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 1
Emily J. Dumler-Winckler Personal Responsibility in the Face of Social Evils: Transcendentalist Debates Revisited
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American transcendentalists were eager to oppose structural evils such as slavery and poverty. The 1840s were characterized by experiments and debates about whether and how such evils could be opposed. Orestes Brownson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau, following Thomas Carlyle and William Ellery Channing, set the terms of this debate. In the end, despite their different anthropologies, ecclesiologies, and prescriptions for opposing evil, they agree that spiritual reform is integral to sociopolitical reform. This transcendentalist debate illuminates the role of personal responsibility and reform in efforts to oppose structural evil in our own time.