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41. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
James P. Bailey Asset Development for the Poor
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This essay examines asset development for the poor as an approach to reducing poverty. Because there has been very little discussion of this approach by Christian ethicists, my primary purpose is to introduce and defend the rationale for developing assets for the poor. I begin with a discussion of conservative and liberal approaches to poverty reduction, arguing that the favored policies of both are founded upon the belief that poverty is best understood as a state of consumption deprivation brought on by deficient levels of income. I suggest that the focus on consumption and income, while obviously important in light of the material deprivations of the poor, is not in itself a sufficient response to the needs of the poor. This leads to a discussion of past and present public policies that have stimulated asset development. A characteristic feature of many of these policies is that they have provided both material and institutional support for asset development, but only for the nonpoor. If public policies have helped the nonpoor to save, why should we not develop policies that help the poor do the same? Some suggested approaches to developing assets for the poor are then reviewed. Finally, I briefly discuss points of convergence between Catholic social thought and asset-development approaches to poverty reduction.
42. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Traci C. West Constructing Ethics: Reinhold Niebuhr and Harlem Women Activists
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The ideas of Reinhold Niebuhr about public ethics that were generated in his essays and books during the 1930s and early 1940s coexisted in the same Harlem neighborhood with ideas about public ethics generated by black women activists working for social change during this historical period. This essay explores an approach to constructing Christian ethics by placing these perspectives, by Niebuhr and the Harlem women activists, in "conversation." Highlighting their common quest for ideas that help to bring radical social change to alleviate subjugating conditions, I specifically analyze the differing understandings of Marxist communism by Niebuhr and Harlem women Communist Party activists. I suggest that a dialogue such as this can fruitfully inform considerations of self-interest, political struggle, and the role of religion in building public ethics for a pluralistic society.
43. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Patrick T. McCormick The Good Sojourner: Third World Tourism and the Call of Hospitality
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International tourism has grown twenty-eight-fold since 1950, bringing one-fifth of its 698 million annual arrivals to developing nations. The industry is the second largest source of foreign exchange for the world's poorest forty-nine nations, and developing nations account for 65 percent of the 200 million jobs created annually by tourism. But half of tourist dollars leak back to the developed world, and tourism workers earn 20 percent less than employees in other sectors. Meanwhile, a flood of First World tourists threatens to exhaust local resources, and sex tourism enslaves millions of women and children. Before hospitality was a $4 trillion industry, it was a biblical mandate to aid the needy. Yahweh commanded Israel to extend hospitality to the alien (Lev. 19). Jesus demanded a radical hospitality to outcasts (Luke 14). And the early church saw hospitality as basic to discipleship (1 Tim. 3:2). In a setting where contemporary travelers have much more wealth and power than their hosts, the "good sojourner" is called to practice a hospitality that preserves and sustains the environment while protecting the rights, culture, and heritage of indigenous peoples.
44. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Rebecca Todd Peters The Future of Globalization: Seeking Pathways of Transformation
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The phenomenon of globalization is widely recognized as the dominant rubric for describing life in the twenty-first century, yet fierce debates are currently being waged over its definition and beneficence to society. This essay offers a typology of four competing globalization theories— neoliberal, development, earthist, and postcolonial—that currently dominate globalization discourses and briefly sketches the constituencies, ideological underpinnings, and moral vision of each as background. It then critiques these theories using a set of normative criteria offered by the author. These criteria are framed to answer the question "What constitutes the good life?" and are rooted in a feminist, Christian ethical analysis of globalization. They delineate a democratized understanding of power as the context of moral agency, define humanity's purpose as caring for the planet, and establish that human flourishing is evidenced by the social well-being of people. The paper concludes by suggesting some pathways of transformation that build on these criteria.
45. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Larry Rasmussen Environmental Racism and Environmental Justice: Moral Theory in the Making?
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This essay provides an analysis of environmental racism and the environmental justice movement with a view to implications for Christian moral theory. Three topics are analyzed: the collective and systemic nature of injustice, the presentation of the ecocrisis, and environmental justice as social transformation. The outcome for Christian ethics turns on the boundaries of moral community—who is in, who is out, on whose terms—and on revisions in theories of justice.
46. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Julia Fleming The Right to Reputation and the Preferential Option for the Poor
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For many centuries, moral theologians devoted significant attention to the significance of honor and fama (reputation), yet this extensive inheritance sparked little sustained analysis in the second half of the twentieth century. One particular challenge for a renewed theology of reputation concerns its consistency with a preferential option for the poor. Marginalized persons are often the victims of traditional offenses against fama, especially rash judgment, slander, and insult. Bad reputation poses a significant barrier to their social participation. The strengths and weaknesses of Catholic approaches to fama become clear when one considers them in light of the circumstances of the disadvantaged. Catholic moral theology should thus revisit and revise its treatments of reputation in light of a commitment to the preferential option for the poor.
47. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Margaret E. Mohrmann Integrity: Integritas, Innocentia, Simplicitas
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THE OBJECT OF THIS ESSAY IS TO EXPLORE PRIOR CHRISTIAN CONCEPTIONS of integrity to clarify and deepen current understanding of the term, by demonstrating its evolution and bringing forward nuances of meaning that may be overlooked or deemphasized. In doing so, I hope to contribute to a broader discussion of the place of integrity in present-day Christian ethics.
48. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Ann E. Mongoven Integrity versus Impartiality: Healing a False Dichotomy
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A FALSE DICHOTOMY BETWEEN INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY HAS become entrenched in contemporary ethical and political theory. Drawing on the work of Bernard Williams and Alasdair MacIntyre, this essay sketches the dichotomy and argues for its ultimate falseness. Eco-theologians' innovative use of the term "integrity" suggests directions for transcending the false dichotomy. Increasingly, the term "integrity of creation" is used to flag religioethical dimensions of ecology. This usage changes the subject of integrity from individuals to systems, implying that personal integrity is a derivative concept that is related to how one responds to the complexity of systems. A structurally parallel change in the subject of integrity would benefit political theory. It would promote an "ecological politics" that integrates alternative definitions of integrity as wholeness, consistency, and balance. It also would suggest new conceptions of civic virtue that avoid dichotomizing between personal integrity and public impartiality.
49. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
June O'Connor Ethics in Popular Culture
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ETHICS IS ABUNDANT IN POPULAR CULTURE—IN RADIO TALK SHOWS, television, films, moral advice columns, books and workshops on popular psychology and spirituality, and other venues. This essay explores the ways in which ethics is presented in three select popular settings; the ethical questions addressed in those settings; the moral theories, perspectives, and values that are privileged in opinions offered; and the judgments that are proffered. Of special interest to professional ethicists are the ways in which ethics in popular culture participates in the ways ethics is done in the academy and the ways in which popular media frame and foster ethics differently from the ways the academy does. This article was the Presidential Address at the 2004 Society of Christian Ethics annual meeting in Chicago.
50. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Timothy A. Beach-Verhey Exemplifying Public Discourse: Christian Faith, American Democracy, and Martin Luther King Jr.
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MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. IS UNIVERSALLY REGARDED AS ONE OF THE most important figures in twentieth-century American public life. Yet his subtle integration of Christian faith and democratic values runs afoul of many current theories concerning faith, liberal democracy, and public discourse. Putting John Rawls's secular liberalism and Stanley Hauerwas's Christian traditionalism in conversation with Martin Luther King's words and deeds reveals the weaknesses inherent in both Rawls's and Hauerwas's approaches. Furthermore, the exemplary model of public discourse that King embodied provides clues to a way out of the impasse between secular liberalism and Christian traditionalism. Ultimately, this examination of Martin Luther King Jr. points toward a theocentric model of public engagement that is appropriate (and necessary) for public discourse in a pluralistic, democratic context.